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Protein For Bariatric Surgery Patients

Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in the human body. The word "protein" is derived from the Greek word meaning "of first importance." This is literally true for the bariatric surgery patient. Protein is undeniably the most important nutrient in the bariatric diet.

Weight loss surgery causes severe trauma to the body. After bariatric surgery, you must take in sufficient protein every day to speed wound healing, preserve your lean body mass, enhance your fat-burning metabolism and minimize hair loss. Foods that are high in protein should always be eaten first during meals. The recommended long term post-surgery protein intake may vary from 55 to over 100 grams per day, depending on your individual needs and the bariatric diet provided by your surgeon or dietitian. The generally accepted minimum protein requirement for women is about 50 to 60 grams per day and men need at least 60 to 70 grams of protein per day. The preferred sources of protein from food include poultry, eggs or Egg Beaters, lean meats, fish, low fat cheese, skim milk, beans and lentils. Some red meats such as beef, pork, lamb or veal can be difficult for a bariatric surgery patient to digest.

It's very difficult to consume enough protein from foods alone during the first several months after weight loss surgery. Most bariatric surgery patients integrate liquid protein supplements such as shakes, cold drinks, hot drinks, soups and puddings into their diet after surgery, and many continue to use them as a balanced, convenient source of protein and nutrition for the rest of their lives.

Protein provides many important benefits to the bariatric surgery patient:

  • Protein aids in proper wound healing after bariatric surgery. It helps to build and repair body tissues including skin, muscle and major organs.

  • Protein helps keep your hair, skin, bones and nails healthy.

  • Protein helps form hormones, enzymes and immune system antibodies to help your body function properly.

  • Protein helps your body burn fat instead of muscle for a healthier weight loss. When you are trying to lose weight after bariatric surgery, you reduce calories. Unfortunately, the human body tends to view fat stores as more precious than lean muscle tissue, and will burn or "catabolize" muscle tissue, before it goes to fat for energy. By consuming sufficient protein each day, you will spare and preserve your muscle tissue, which forces your metabolism to go to your fat for energy. This particular benefit of protein is often referred to as "protein sparing" or "anti-catabolic".

  • Protein supports your natural metabolism so you lose weight quicker. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism and the more fat calories your body will burn, even while at rest. Pound for pound, your lean muscle burns 25 times more calories than fat! Conversely, less muscle tissue means a slower metabolism. To illustrate this, one pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 calories in a day, or 350 to 500 calories a week. On the other hand, one pound of fat only burns about 2 calories a day, or 14 calories a week. Therefore, building and preserving lean muscle tissue not only makes fat loss easier, put more permanent.

  • Protein curb's your hunger between meals and avoid "snacking temptation". One of the amino acids in protein, tryptophan (a precurser of serotonin) has been shown to work on the satiety (hunger) center in the brain.

Your body is actually made up of thousands of different proteins. Because your body is constantly making new proteins and because you don't store amino acids (the building blocks of protein) as you do fats, you need to intake a new supply of protein each day. The body can make 13 amino acids, but 9 amino acids are essential, meaning they cannot be made by your body and must come from food sources. There are both complete and incomplete protein sources. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids needed for the body to make new protein. Incomplete proteins are lacking one or more essential amino acids. A good source of complete proteins is animal protein which includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Vegetable or plant protein is incomplete protein.

As you follow your bariatric diet, keep in mind that plant proteins are not "complete" proteins. (A complete protein is one food item that contains all of the essential amino acids). Plant proteins should be used together with animal protein sources to provide you with all of the essential amino acids you need.

Protein Content of Foods

Examples of Animal Protein Foods
Amount
Grams of Protein
Beef, lean
1 ounce
7 grams
Cheese (American, cheddar, provolone, Swiss)
1 ounce
7 grams
Cheese, cottage
1/4 cup
7 grams
Cheese, ricotta
1/4 cup
7 grams
Chicken
1 ounce
7 grams
Egg or egg substitute
1 egg
7 grams
Fish, catfish
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, clams
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, cod
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, crab
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, flounder
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, haddock
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, herring
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, lobster
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, orange roughy
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, oysters
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, salmon (fresh or canned)
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, scallops
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, shellfish (imitation)
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, shrimp
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, trout
1 ounce
7 grams
Fish, tuna (fresh or canned in water only)
1 ounce
7 grams
Milk, skim (recommended)
8 ounces
12 grams
Pork
1 ounce
7 grams
Turkey
1 ounce
7 grams
Yogurt, nonfat or low-fat fruit flavored
3/4 cup
12 grams
Yogurt, plain nonfat
3/4 cup
12 grams
     
Examples of Plant Protein Foods
Amount
Grams of Protein
Beans and peas (black-eyed, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, split, white)
1/2 cup
7 grams
Cereal, ready to eat
3/4 cup
3 grams
Corn
1/2 cup
3 grams
Lentils
1/2 cup
7 grams
Lima beans
2/3 cup
7 grams
Non-starchy vegetables (tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers)
1/2 cup cooked
2 grams
Oats
1/2 cup
3 grams
Pasta
1/2 cup
3 grams
Potatoes, baked or mashed
1/2 cup
3 grams
Soy burger, veggie burger
1 ounce
3 grams
Soy milk
8 ounces
7 grams
Tofu
4 ounces
7 grams

 

Liquid Protein Powder Supplements

Following are examples of liquid protein bariatric diet supplements designed for bariatric patients.

Product Portion Size Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar
BariCare Drinks
1 Packet
140
20g
3g
8g
4g
WonderSlim Pudding/Shakes
1 Packet
100
15g
1.5g
7g
4g
WonderSlim Fruit Drinks
1 Packet
60
12g
0g
1g
0g
WonderSlim Smoothies
1 Packet
100
15g
1g
7g
5 g
WonderSlim Gourmet Shakes
1 Packet
90
12g
1.5g
9g
3g
Wonderlife Egg Protein
1 Scoop
113
23g
0g
2g
0g
Nature's Best Low Carb Isopure
1 Scoop
100
25g
0g
0-3g
0g
WonderSlim Hot Cocoa
1 Packet
70
12g
1g
6g
3g
WonderSlim Puddings
1 Packet
80
12g
0.5g
9g
4g
WonderSlim Soups
1 Packet
70-100
12-15g
0-1.5g
5-10g
1-4g
Syntrax Nectar
1 Scoop
90
23g
0g
0g
0g
Bariwise Gelatins
1 Packet
60
15g
0g
0g
0g
BariWise Cappuccinos
1 Packet
90
15g
1g
5g
3g
BariWise Teas
1 Packet
65-90
15g
0g
>1g
0g