Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine
Spotting Protein Deficiency & What to Do About Prevention
Whether you had a Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass Surgery, protein is one of the most reiterated words you will hear.
Protein is an essential part of so many critical functions in the human body, including:
Functionality for neurotransmitters in your brain and muscles
There are two types of protein: complete and incomplete.
The building blocks of protein are called amino acids. Twenty essential amino acids exist, of which eleven are naturally produced in our bodies. The remaining nine come from protein sources. Complete proteins refer to foods containing all nine essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins don't have all nine.
If you are eating a plant-based diet, you need to eat various foods for your body to absorb all nine amino acids. Complete proteins come from animals, and incomplete proteins almost always come from plants.
Complete proteins include:
- Red Meat
Incomplete proteins include:
- Dairy Foods
- Beans and Legumes
A growing favorite in the Bariatric community is collagen powder.
While this is a trendy protein supplement for Bariatric patients, it's an incomplete protein. It's pertinent to note that collagen powder is meant to supplement protein intake, not replace it.
What is Protein Deficiency?
When you do not meet your daily protein intake, a range of health issues can arise due to a deficiency. These include loss of muscle tissue, weakness and feeling unstable on your feet, and impaired immune function (critical at this point). Severe impacts of protein deficiency can result in a condition known as Sarcopenia - or loss of function and strength and displacement of muscle tissue with fat. It can lead to physical disability, poor quality of life and death.
Protein malnutrition can become visible as it starts to slow the growth of hair, skin and nails. In obese patients with malabsorption and malnutrition, hair loss, splitting or thin nails, and legs and arms are "skinny" while the abdominal area is still plump. Protein malnutrition can become visible as it starts to slow the growth of hair, skin and nails.
In obese patients with malabsorption and malnutrition, hair loss, splitting or thin nails, and legs and arms are "skinny" while the abdominal area is still plump. Weight Loss Surgery is implemented to decrease some absorption of calories from food to support weight loss. However, Bariatric patients need to be aware that the requirements for protein and some vitamins and minerals are increased.
Signs of Protein Deficiency
Weakened Integumentary System
Protein is an essential building block of our "integumentary system," which protects the inside of the body from elements in the external environment such as bacteria and pollution. Your integumentary system consists of skin, hair, nails, and glands.
Signs of a protein deficiency include thinning hair, brittle nails, and various skin conditions. Protein supplementation such as BN Pure Pro can reverse these protein deficiency symptoms.
A lack of protein can become evident when we feel extra "saggy" and "floppy". After malabsorptive procedures such as the Gastric Bypass, some patients feel like they're just saggy skin and bone.
If there is insufficient muscle tissue to keep them feeling strong and healthy. As a result, some people feel unsteady on their feet or experience falls, increasing the risk of fractures.
Protein also plays a massive role in appetite control and increases certain hormones that tell your brain you have had enough to eat. Research has shown that eating protein at breakfast can reduce the number of calories consumed for the rest of the day by up to 80%.
Getting the protein-rich breakfast habit manages hunger and sweet cravings in the afternoon and evening.
If you suddenly feel hungry between meals or unsatisfied, your carbs will likely sneak in and promote snacking and hunger throughout the day.
Trouble falling asleep and staying that way could mean protein deficiency; research has shown that protein intake lower than 20% of calories impacts sleep quality and difficulty falling asleep.
Loss of precious muscle tissue will leave you feeling weak and tired as your strength diminishes. This is a risk anytime but is exacerbated in the rapid loss phase. It's mainly a low activity level, and food can be hard to accommodate as you recover from the Weight Loss Surgery.
What is the Effect on Health Overall?
When you continually lack the correct protein level in your diet after surgery, you can expect to see:
- Decreased metabolism, which can result in weight regain over time.
- Compromised immune system frequent colds, cold sores, coughs, and other infections such as regular Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), Candida, yeast overgrowth and itching skin rashes become hard to heal.
- Mood swings many neurotransmitters that maintain a healthy mood, such as Serotonin, GABA, and Dopamine, are made from single units of a protein called amino acids. So a regular lack of protein in your diet after a Sleeve Gastrectomy, or Gastric Bypass Surgery, can make you feel relatively low and depressed if left unchecked.
What Can Be Done?
- Familiarize yourself with protein-rich foods and include them in every meal and snack to keep you fighting fit after any Bariatric procedure.
- Exercise regularly and include resistance training to help build muscle.
- If you are having trouble meeting your needs with food, add a protein supplement or meal replacement to ensure you reach 2-25g of protein at each mealtime and about 10-15g at each snack.
Here you'll find some fabulous protein-rich snack recipes: click here.
How much Protein do you Need Every Day?
The standard recommendation for those who have had Bariatric procedures is 60-80g per day. However, the research into best outcomes for obese patients is slowly showing that this is underestimated.