July 2022
Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

Why Protein is Important After Bariatric Surgery and What to Eat

Protein-rich food like brocolli

Your surgeon and dietitian have probably reiterated several times how important it is to eat a healthy
and balanced diet after your Weight Loss Surgery (WLS). The focus is protein, protein, and protein!

We bet it's to the point where hearing about this macronutrient one more time will make your eyes pop out,
so let's explain why protein intake is so critical after WLS. As the central nutritional
focal point after WLS, there are five main reasons
your body needs a consistent proper daily protein intake.

1. Protein Builds Muscle Mass

Consuming protein is a great way to energize your body and prevent it from burning your muscle mass. If you are consuming proper amounts of protein, your body will use it to build and support muscle, which helps your body burn more calories and give you strength. 

2. Protein Benefits for Hair, Skin & Nail Strength

Protein is also essential for your hair, skin, and nail health. If you live with a protein deficiency after Weight Loss Surgery, you may notice your hair thinning or nails becoming more brittle.

This is because you are eating far less than you were in the past and, therefore, cannot meet the ideal protein levels without some boost or supplement. But don't worry!

 You can prevent hair loss with good nutrition, such as incorporating protein powders into a morning smoothie.

3. Metabolism Support & Burning Body Fat

You may be asking, "How does protein help metabolism?" Your "metabolism" refers to the rate at which your body burns calories. Those who seem able to eat anything without gaining an ounce have a genetic disposition where their body metabolizes calories faster. 

The simple answer is that incorporating adequate daily protein intake for your age, sex and activity level will help maintain the muscle you currently have. It helps build more muscle tissue if you regularly do some form of resistance training. 

To draw an analogy - when you have more active muscle on your frame, it's like putting a larger engine into a car. Even when sitting still at the lights - the larger engine needs more fuel just to function. This is the key to keeping your "metabolic fire" burning bright!  

4. Satiety

Protein increases satiety (another word for how satisfied or contented you feel after a meal) and keeps you feeling full much longer than any other nutrient. Around 12-18 months after surgery, you will find that your appetite will return, which is also why protein after Bariatric Surgery is necessary: it will prevent you from overeating or feeling deprived. Staying full for longer periods is critical for long-term or sustained weight loss. 

Now that you understand the" Why's" behind protein intake after Bariatric Surgery, you may think, "How many calories from protein should I eat after my bariatric procedure?" This is determined by your dietitian based on your unique weight loss goals.

However, the rule of thumb is to consume between 60-80 grams of protein daily.
1 gram of protein = 4 calories. All you need to do is multiply the number of grams
you are consuming from protein and multiply it by 4.

Sources of protein appropriate for Weight Loss Surgery patients are pretty extensive. They include:

  • Lean meats: White meat - chicken and turkey, all fish, eggs
  • Nuts and legumes: However, nuts also have a high fat content so watching portion control is critical 
  • Dairy: Low-fat cheese, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Protein supplements: Bars and powders that come in a variety of flavors

BN Healthy carries an extensive list of flavors to accomodate all taste buds. Not only do we have an extensive range of protein options on our site, but we have a variety of recipes that incorporate BN Healthy protein supplements, which you will find taste great.

To discuss nutritional options that your body needs and that you will also enjoy, you can always consult with your Bariatric dietitian. Knowing the nutritional intake goals before surgery will prepare you for maximizing your long-term results. Planning your post-op diet before the surgery is key.

This will help you visualize what your new lifestyle might look like. Although your weight loss plan is unique to your personal journey, the fundamentals of what nutrients your body needs to function are the same for everyone. 

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