The recommended protein intake varies depending on an individual needs, their type of bariatric surgery, and the bariatric diet prescribed by the surgeon or dietitian. Because bariatric surgery reduces the capacity of the stomach, it makes it difficult for patients to consume enough protein from foods alone during the first several months following surgery, which is why many patients add protein supplements and other convenient protein sources such as protein bars, shakes, pancakes and protein water to their diet in order to meet the daily protein requirements.
Keeping up with your protein intake is vital as it provides many significant benefits to weight-loss surgery patients. An adequate protein intake after bariatric surgery is highly recommended for the following reasons:
- Proteins aid in proper wound healing after surgery
- Helps your body burn fat instead of muscle for healthier weight loss
- Protein promotes muscle repair and growth
- It slows down digestion making you feel more satisfied consequently reducing hunger between meals
- It curbs carbohydrate highs and lows
It is worth mentioning that not all protein supplements, ready to drink shakes or bars are necessarily suitable for bariatric patients. Some are formulated for bodybuilding and others for individuals who need to add weight. For that reason, it is important to look for some specific nutritional guidelines when choosing protein supplements after bariatric surgery.
There are many bariatric protein replacements options on the market today, which can make selecting an appropriate supplement even more challenging. A good rule of thumb is to look at the calories per serving, fat content, and carbohydrate count when choosing the best protein that supports your weight loss goals.
- Premier protein – this is a high protein shake that contains 24 vitamins & minerals, 30g protein, 160 calories, and 1g sugar. Premier protein shakes come in different delicious flavors and a host of nutritional and health benefits for bariatric patients such as providing energy throughout the day, promoting muscle mass and strength, and boosting satiety,
- Genepro – the flavorless and odorless medical grade Genepro comes highly recommended for bariatric patients who need to add more protein to their diet as it contains an equivalent of 30g protein serving per tablespoon. It mixes well in any hot or cold beverage to improve recovery time and build muscles quickly after bariatric surgery.
- Isopure – is a low carb protein shake that is extremely low in fat and carbs and perfect for bariatric patients because it contains 50 grams of high-quality protein supplement and weight loss shake components that provide a bariatric patient with adequate minerals and vitamins. The Whey protein content in Isopure will boost muscle growth without adding weight and reduce body fat.
- Quest Nutrition Protein Bar – these bars come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate chip cookie dough, banana, coconut, peanut butter, cinnamon, lemon, raspberry, strawberry to name a few. They make a great guilt-free snack as they are gluten-free and contain 21g of protein, only 1g of sugar, 21g of carbs, and 17g of fiber.
- Pure protein bars – these are also gluten free protein bars that contain 20g of protein, 17g carbs, 6g total fat and 2g sugar. They come highly recommended because they do not have a protein chalky aftertaste and are great for a boost of energy and weight loss.
- Atkins protein bars – they are high-protein, low-carb meal replacement or snack bars ideal for bariatric patients who are looking to cut down on their calories and carbohydrate consumption. They are made using a high-protein – Whey protein isolate, contain fiber, are very low in carbs and, and rate very low in the glycemic index, making them ideal choice for diabetics
- Carbquick – this great tasting low-carb baking mix is made from wheat, low in both sodium and calories compared to other traditional bake mixes. It has no sugar, sugar-alcohols, or trans-fats and contains 8g fiber and 4g protein making it an ideal choice for weight loss surgery patients. It can be fried and used in making pancakes, biscuits, pizza bases and waffles.
- Premier protein water – this delicious tasting filtered water has been infused with 20 grams of Whey protein isolates and natural flavors. It has no added sugar or calories. It is not only a convenient way to boost your protein intake; it is a hydrating drink that promotes muscle gains particularly for bariatric patients who lose muscle mass and strength, it is a refreshing boost of good energy any time of day especially when taken cold and helps curb hunger.
- Isopure protein water – this zero carb drink it contains 40g of 100% pure whey protein isolate and other essential nutrients for your muscles. They come in several flavors such as orange, apple melon, passion fruit, raspberry, pineapple and coconut, which bariatric patients can enjoy for an additional energy boost, weight management, exercise and endurance support during workouts, and an easy way to get their daily protein. Isopure is also ideal for individuals who are on special diets because it is not only vegetarian, it is gluten, lactose, lactose, sugar-free as well.
Protein for Bariatric Surgery Patients
Obesity is partly the outcome of excessive calorie intake beyond the body’s requirement for optimal functioning. Fat provides the body with the highest quantity of calories per gram (9kcal) while carbohydrate and protein provide the same amount of calories per gram (4kcal). However, irrespective of where the calorie is coming from, as long as it is more than what the body requires, conversion to fat becomes inevitable.
In achieving weight loss, the aim is to reduce calorie intake and mobilize the excess fat for energy production. However, the muscle bulk must be preserved. Therefore the reduction in calorie is targeted at fat and carbohydrate and not protein. This is the rationale behind most weight loss diet: they are low in carbohydrate and fat but contains adequate protein quantity.
The mechanisms by which bariatric surgeries induce weight loss can either be restrictive or malabsorptive. Both will result in protein deficiency if no supplement is provided. Restrictive operations will cause a reduction in appetite and low protein intake. Malabsorptive surgery, on the other hand, will cause protein deficiency by reducing the absorption of nutrients.
The body responds to small protein in the diet by mobilizing protein from body tissues such as muscles. This protein is broken down into small units (amino acids) which are then used to produce other proteins/biomolecules such as hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters that are needed by the body.
Amount of Protein to Consume
Adequate protein intake after bariatric surgery is therefore essential to prevent protein deficiency and preserve muscle bulk. This can be achieved with an appropriate protein supplement. For those with restrictive surgery, as appetite improves, the need for protein supplement may gradually reduce as well. However, following malabsorptive procedure, protein supplement may be a lifelong dietary practice.
After bariatric surgery, the protein intake should be at least 60g per day. The American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery recommends at least 60 grams of protein per day after bariatric surgery. This should be taken in smaller quantities across multiple meals as the body can only absorb about 30grams at a time.
Common protein sources are meat, fish, egg, milk, beans, etc. There are also numerous protein supplements. Even vegetarians can get protein supplements that are appropriate for them. You can prepare your protein drink (shake) with a protein powder supplement or use a liquid protein supplement. The following tips will help you in ensuring adequate protein intake.
Pay attention to the content of the supplement. The protein content of the supplement should be calculated to make sure that you are meeting up with your daily protein requirement. If you are to prepare your protein supplement by yourself, you should be careful not to add anything that will significantly increase the amount of calories. Examples of materials you should be careful of are butter, fruit juice, and whole milk.
They are high in calories and will significantly increase the sugar content of your protein shake. This will be counterproductive to your weight loss.
Sugary Protein Risks and Dumping Syndrome
Also, if you have undergone a gastric bypass surgery, high sugar content in your protein drink will aggravate the risk of dumping syndrome. Instead, you can add things like ginger, cinnamon, or cloves. Other extracts can be added; they are free of or deficient in calories. Examples include almond extract, coconut extract, vanilla extract, peppermint, etc.
Some examples of the liquid protein supplements include; premier protein, muscle milk light, and GNC total lean. Go for those with less sugar (<15grams), low calorie (not higher than 250 calories). Choose a supplement with whey protein.
Many protein supplements are available in the pharmacies and groceries. Choosing the best may be a bit confusing. Discuss with your doctor/dietician and use the one prescribed for you. Any other protein supplement you discover should be discussed with your dietician before consumption.
A protein supplement is an essential component of post-bariatric surgery dietary plan. The aim of using it is to prevent protein malnutrition and to preserve muscle bulk. However, it should be low in refined sugar, fat, and calorie as these may prevent adequate weight loss.