Why is Protein Important After Bariatric Surgery?
From chicken to beef to beans, protein isn’t hard to find on most Texan plates. While you will be limiting your daily food intake after a bariatric procedure, the good news is that it doesn’t mean you’ll be cutting out everything you love. In fact, not only do we encourage specific animal and plant-based proteins in moderation, it’s actually essential for optimal post-surgery results.
Continue reading to learn why protein is important, our recommended daily intake and how to incorporate supplements into your diet. As always, if you have if you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (806) 677-7952 and our registered dietitians can answer your questions. You can also learn more in our Resource Center.
Why Is Protein Important After a Bariatric Surgery?
Protein is made of amino acids, which make up a large proportion of our cells, muscles and tissues. Meaning, amino acids help carry out many important bodily functions, including cell structure, the transportation and storage of key nutrients, and influencing the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. Most importantly, during your post-surgery recovery, amino acids are essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair, as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.
During times of increased stress, such as after bariatric surgery, the body requires more amino acids, which means increasing the need for protein. In addition to helping repair the body, proteins also:
- Produce and maintain lean body mass
- Help maintain fluid and electrolyte balance
- Provide energy when carbohydrate and fat intake are limited
- Encourage satiety, or a “full feeling,” and curb the appetite
What Is Considered a Protein?
Protein can be found in a number of plant and animal-based sources and the daily requirements for adequate health can be easily met.. Before we dig into the daily allowances, let’s discuss the differences between animal and plant proteins.
Animal Proteins are “complete” proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids needed by the human body. The most common include:
- Lean meats: beef, pork, poultry, seafood, fish
- Dairy: low fat milk, Greek yogurt, low fat cheeses, eggs
Plant-Based Proteins are deficient in one or more essential amino acids. However, they are still considered a good source of protein and it is easy to achieve the full complement of amino acids by adding consuming a variety of plants in your diet, including:
- Legumes, lentils, beans
- Whole grains, seeds
- Soy products
How Much Protein Is Required after a Weight Loss Procedure?
The proper protein intake varies by procedure. For our patients, we recommend the following:
- Women: 60-80 grams of protein per day
- Men: 80-100 grams of protein per day
- Women 80-100 grams per day
- Men 100-120 grams per day
It’s important to note that not all proteins are created equal. For example, a 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless turkey breast has 26 grams of protein while one egg provides 6 grams of protein.
Many of our patients find success in using the palm of their hand as a way to estimate a serving. Meaning, a 3-4 ounces piece of lean meat that is the size of your palm approximately equals 21-28 grams of protein. To help plan your protein intake, the following is our recommendation for consistent meal and snack patterns:
- Meal: 20-30 grams of protein
- Snack: 5-10 grams of protein
- Meal: 20-30 grams of protein
- Snack: 10-15 grams of protein
Supplement Your Protein Intake
When recovering from bariatric surgery, the body often struggles to process tough and dry meat. To guard against developing a chronic protein deficiency, we recommend considering protein supplements. Not to mention, during your post-bariatric surgery recovery you’ll want protein servings that aren’t time-consuming to prepare and can offer variety in your menu planning, especially when you are in the softer food phases.
The protein supplements our patients enjoy the most from the Panhandle Weight Loss Center Store include:
- Protein2o Water – a low calorie, low carb alternative to protein drinks packed with empty calories, carbs and sugar. It has been expertly formulated with 15g of the purest whey protein isolate, rich in branched chain amino acids with the highest Leucine content of any known protein, necessary to build and support lean muscle.
- Whey Protein Shakes – our Bariatric Fusion® Meal Replacement is intended to provide patients with a fast, convenient, and affordable way to receive the highest quality protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential before and after weight loss surgery, especially during the clear liquids phase.
- Protein Bars – from peanut butter to cinnamon raisin, protein bars are a great on-the-go snack that’s loaded with 10 to 15 grams of amino-rich protein. These are typically consumed during the advanced solid food phase of post-op.
It is critical to consume protein supplement products that are from a reputable company and do not have a lot of added ingredients. To learn which is best for your post-surgery needs, please call us at (806) 677-7952. Or, check out Panhandle Weight Loss Center Store for more information and to purchase our recommended and vetted supplements.