Importance of Protein Intake after Bariatric Surgery
After weight loss surgery, adequate protein intake is essential for optimal tissue function, muscle building and the prevention of tissue breakdown during the rapid weight loss period that immediately follows surgery. In addition to higher protein, a post-bariatric diet should be lower in fat and carbohydrates. This style of eating will lead to excess fat loss due to the mobilization of excess fat used for energy. Higher protein diets will prevent the breakdown of body tissues as well as preserving muscle stores. This will enable greater weight loss as energy consumption during exercise is proportional to your muscle mass.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends a minimum of 60 grams of protein per day. Lean proteins and all protein supplements that you choose should be lower in fat and refined sugars. Protein supplements come in many forms. Most commonly used are the liquid form (already mixed and ready to drink) such as Premier Protein, Muscle Milk light, Lean 25-GNC, EAS, Ensure Max Protein, etc. Some people prefer the powder form of protein which is mixed with water or milk. Try to choose a whey protein (if tolerated) that has low sugar (less than 8 grams), low calorie (less than 200) and high protein (20 grams or greater per serving). Also, be sure not to add fruit juice or whole milk to the powder form as it will increase unnecessary calories, sugar and fat and in some cases promote a dumping effect which will inhibit the full absorption of the protein.
It is important to note that protein intake should be spread out throughout the day to ensure adequate/full absorption. Although protein supplements (shakes) are a critical part of your pre and immediate postsurgical diet period, lean solid proteins such as all lean meats, fish, seafood, dairy, beans, nuts, tofu, eggs, etc. should be the main part of your daily diet when instructed to incorporate in your diet by your surgeon/dietician.