Protein after bariatric surgery
After you have your bariatric surgery, whether it’s a sleeve or bypass, the team will talk to you about your protein needs. They do so for good reason too!
The below information is for patients on a solid diet; in the first weeks after surgery you will need to have a liquid diet followed by soft foods. Your surgeon and bariatric dietitian will advise you.
Why you need protein
Protein is an important nutrient for our bodies. We can’t store it like we can some vitamins, so we need to reach our intake levels every day, rather than relying on stores when our intake is low (because the ‘stores’ it will access is muscle tissue, which we want to keep!). Protein helps the body keep muscle and minimise the sagging skin.
One of the main benefits directly after weight loss surgery is that protein aids in proper wound healing, as well as helping the metabolism.
As you have limited space in your stomach pouch now, you will find that you fill up quickly. Consuming protein first will ensure you manage your cravings, as they can help you stay fuller for longer. Without enough protein hair may thin or fall out, nails may become brittle and you may feel nausea and fatigue.
Protein is also important to forming hormones, enzymes and antibodies, helping our body function effectively.
How much protein do you need?
On average, a person needs around 60-80g of protein each day.
More isn’t always better, as excess protein also means excess calories. So try and stay around your daily requirements.
Tips to reach your protein intake
Protein should make up about ½ of your main meals and should be eaten first. That way, if you get full, you’ve still had your protein requirements. You should also choose high protein snacks to help you stay full throughout the day.
Using protein powder can increase the protein content of otherwise low protein foods, but remember that adding protein powder to your chocolate brownies doesn’t automatically give you a free pass!
Protein shakes or smoothies are a great way to add extra protein to your diet, and you can add fruit or vegetables to give them more flavour and vitamins and minerals.
Vary your protein sources over the day and week; eating chicken for lunch and dinner every night will get boring very quickly.
Protein rich foods and snacks
The best protein rich foods contain around 25g of protein per 100g. These include:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
- Beans and legumes
Animal sources provide ‘complete’ proteins, whereas plant sources often only provide incomplete proteins. So, if you’re not vegan, try to consume a mixture of both animal and plant proteins. Choose lower fat lean meats, such as skinless chicken, pork loin or beef sirloin.
If you’re having trouble meeting your protein intake, or coming up with new ideas of high-protein snacks, make an appointment to see one of our bariatric dietitians today.