The Importance of Protein After Weight Loss Surgery

Dr. Choi Guide: Your bariatric surgery

The Importance of Protein After Weight Loss SurgeryIf you have ever entered a health food store, watched a commercial about supplements, or read a website about healthy eating, you know that getting more protein is important. From encouraging high-protein foods with low-carb diets to selling protein shakes, powders, and supplements, this advice never changes, and for good reason. Here are some reasons everyone should get more protein, but specifically patients who have undergone weight loss surgery (WLS).

What is the significance of protein?

Protein is important, but why? You actually already have protein in your body, as it exists in the cells, organs, and tissues. These are known as body proteins and are continuously broken down. When that happens, they must be replaced, which is accomplished by the foods you consume or supplements you take. If you fail to have enough protein to replace what is broken down, your body begins to show the effects of that.

What are the best ways to get protein?

You don’t need just any kind of protein after weight loss surgery, but rather high-quality protein. The best source of nutrients, high protein included, will always be from natural food sources. Meat, fish, dairy, eggs and nuts are all great sources of protein.

However, after weight loss surgery, you might not be able to get enough protein into your limited diet every day. This is where supplements come in. There are protein supplements in powder and liquid form that can be added to your diet. There are also oral protein supplements that come in pill form but at the time of writing, most people report that they are not palatable or practical because of the low protein content (1 gram per pill).

What are isolates and concentrates?

Isolates and concentrates are two forms of protein. The higher concentration of protein is called an isolate. These will be liquid or powder supplements that have more protein in them and don’t have as much of the nutrients removed during the filtration process. Concentrates have a lower concentration of protein. They are still good quality, but you should be aware of the percentage of protein when consuming a concentrate supplement.

How much protein should a weight loss surgery patient have?

Your doctor may have a specific goal for how much protein you need after weight loss surgery, but it is usually around 60-80 grams a day. This is typically the range for people who have had surgeries like the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band, and the vertical sleeve gastrectomy/gastric sleeve. If you had the duodenal switch, you might need more protein each day due to the malabsorption that occurs from this surgery.

Remember to try and get your protein from food sources first, then move on to protein supplements.