Protein, a Priority After Bariatric Surgery

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on April 13th, 2012 in Weight Loss

Even before you undergo weight loss surgery, you will need to make various changes to your diet to both prepare your body for surgery and help you transition to your post-op diet.

The pre-op and post-op bariatric eating strategy will focus on optimizing your intake of protein, which is needed by the body to function properly.

After undergoing weight loss surgery, you will not be eating as much food as before, but you will still need all the same (or even more) of the essential nutrients and vitamins.

This means that it is very important to ensure that everything you eat is highly nutritious. One of the main priorities for patients who have had weight-loss surgery is protein intake.

Unlike carbohydrates and lipids, protein is not stored by the body and must be consumed in sufficient quantities every day during the recovery phase and for the rest of your life following weight loss surgery.

What Is the Role of Protein After Weight Loss Surgery

The reason protein is so important is because it is an essential component of our cells, tissues, and organs. Body proteins are continuously being broken down and need to be replaced. A lack of protein in your diet could mean the body can't make enough nutrients to be able to rebuild muscle, which is crucial as you are focusing on your health and weight loss.

As proteins are composed of amino acids, protein consumption is vitally important after bariatric surgery because the body must either get the essential amino acids from food intake or it will produce its own supply by breaking down muscle tissue.

Understanding the focus on eating enough protein after weight loss surgery:

  • synthesize collagen which is necessary for the restoration of the damaged tissues
  • helps with wound healing
  • form antibodies to fight infections
  • helps maintain the fluid balance between blood and tissues and carry oxygen through your body
  • increase your level of energy

After Gastric Bypass: Dietary Protein Recommendation

Dietary protein must be assessed based on its quality and potency in meeting body protein needs which depend on several factors such as muscle mass, activity level, age, and fitness goals. Moreover, the sources and type of protein chooses are also influenced by how well they overlap with an individual’s lifestyle and/or restrictions.

Since the restrictive-type weight loss procedures dramatically reduce the overall capacity of the stomach, the impact of digestion rate and efficiency should be evaluated as well, especially in the form of high-protein drinks.

Dietary protein recommendation after undergoing bariatric surgery:

  • build your meals around lean high-quality protein and nutrient-dense foods
  • eat your protein first to ensure that if you do feel full, you have consumed adequate protein in every meal
  • checking in regularly with your dietitian about your protein levels
  • combining certain protein sources in order to achieve adequate amounts of the essential amino acids

Recommendations for protein consumption vary, but in general, we recommend that our patients consume 60 to 80 grams of protein a day. A three-ounce serving of lean chicken breast, which is about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand, has 21 grams of protein. A person eating a healthy, varied diet should be able to take in enough protein to meet his or her nutritional needs with no problem.

Follow Your Surgeon's Directions From Immediately Post-Procedure Through the Long-Term

Weight-loss surgery can give you a new start toward health and fitness. Following the recommended pre-op and post-op bariatric diet will go a long way toward your success.

As your body recovers after a weight loss surgery, it is essential for you to follow the specific eating guidelines given to you by your bariatric surgeon. Discuss with your weight loss surgeon about ways that you can increase your protein intake after weight loss surgery.

Making some simple meal adjustments, following basic nutrition tips, and eating a more balanced diet is part of adapting to a healthier way of living after bariatric surgery.