GUEST POST: If you haven’t yet had your bariatric surgery, it’s important to prepare yourself for the process, and Lori Rosenthal, a registered dietician specializing in weight loss and bariatric issues suggests the following. “You need to create good habits that you’ll follow after your surgery. To be realistic, you need to start small, eating three small meals a day with protein in each one.”
Once you can begin adding solid foods back into your diet, post-surgery, Lori points out that good pre-surgery protein habits can come in handy. And, the main rule? Eat protein first.
Importance of protein in weight loss
- Muscles are made up largely of protein.
- The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism.
- The higher your metabolism, the more fat your body burns, even while you’re at rest.
- Lean muscles – pound for pound – burn 25 times more calories than fat.
Looking at this another way:
- Half Kg/ One pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 calories per day – 350 to 500 per week.
- Half Kg/One pound of fat can burn only 2 calories a day – 14 per week.
Plus, protein helps to curb hunger and therefore to reduce the temptation to snack. One amino acid that makes up protein – tryptophan – actually works in the satiety (hunger fulfilment) part of your brain.
Importance of protein after bariatric surgery
The human body needs protein to maintain itself, with every single cell in the body having some protein, and muscles being comprised largely of protein. Plus, substances that manage bodily functions – substances such as hormones and enzymes – are made up of protein, and protein also helps form blood cells, plus antibodies that provide protection from infection and illness. The word “protein” itself means “of first importance” and protein is the most important nutrient in the bariatric diet (and the most important substance overall other than water). After your surgery, protein:
- Assists in wound healing by building and repairing skin, muscle and major organs
- Speeds up fat burning and supports your natural metabolism so you can lose weight more quickly; the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism and the more fat calories you burn
- Maintains your lean body mass; by eating protein, you preserve your muscle tissue, causing your metabolism to burn fat for energy
- Minimises hair loss
- Helps to keep hair, skin, bones and nails healthy
Protein recommendations, post-bariatric surgery
Protein intake depends upon the recommendations of your surgeon. General guidelines are as follows:
- Post-surgery intake varies from 55 to 100+ grams, depending upon individual needs and medical recommendations
- Women typically need a minimum of 50 to 60 grams
- Men typically need a minimum of 60 to 70 grams
Preferred sources of protein include:
- Eggs or Egg Beaters
- Lean meat
- Low fat cheese
- Skim milk
- Beans and lentils
Please refer to the dietary charts to see recommended amounts of protein sources and grams of protein provided by each. We have a guide here. Protein sources that can be difficult to digest post-surgery, include:
Because it is difficult to get enough protein into your diet after surgery, ask your doctor or team if you’re really struggling as to how to add liquid protein supplements – such as shakes, cold drinks, hot drinks, soups and puddings into your diet too although it is always better to get your protein from food rather than a supplement long-term.
More about proteins
Your body is continually making new proteins, with thousands of different types of protein making up your body. The building blocks of protein – amino acids – aren’t stored in your body like fat is, so you need to take in protein through food each day.
Amino acid facts:
- Your body can make 13 amino acids
- Nine amino acids are considered to be “essential,” which means that they must come from food sources
Types of protein sources:
- Complete: these contain all of the essential amino acids needed for your body to make new protein:
- Animal proteins, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products
- Incomplete: one or more essential amino acid is missing:
- Vegetable/plant proteins
Plant proteins should be used together with animal protein sources to provide you with all of the essential amino acids you need.
To help with ensuring that you get sufficient protein in the correct proportions we have developed our Bariatric Portion Plate (details here). Our instructions for use (which come with the plate) ask you to eat the protein portion of your plate first. See some examples of food choices in our Bariatric Portion Plate Gallery (see here)
Feature courtesy of bariatricchoice.com