How much protein after Bariatric Surgery? 60 grams? 80 grams? It depends…

Protein after Bariatric Surgery

How much protein after Bariatric Surgery?

Everyone seems to be so focused on protein after surgery (I’m certain you were told to eat your protein first!), but is this really the best bariatric diet? It turns out the eating your protein first is excellent advice immediately after surgery, during the Recovery Phase. During the first few months following Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery, meeting your protein needs can be difficult. If you fail to meet your proteing requirements following surgery, you are at risk for suffering hair loss, muscle loss and even more severe illnesses. During these first few months after surgery, you need to focus on eating as much protein as you can comfortably.

Eat your protein first

The recommendations for the amount of protein you should eat after bariatric surgery varies from program to program. Most commonly, the range is 60 grams to 80 grams, but some programs encourage even more. However, in the first few months after surgery, eating is difficult, so you should really try to eat as much protein as you can, rather than getting hung up on a number. Many patients don’t fully meet their protein requirements in the first few weeks after surgery, but this tyypically doesn’t cause any negative side effects.

What is the ideal bariatric diet?

protein after bariatric surgery

Over time, meeting your nutritional goals becomes easier and you leave the Recovery Phase and enter those wonderful Honeymoon Years. You can now eat comfortably and getting enough protein no longer is that difficult. It’s common for most patients to just start to coast once they’ve fully recovered from surgery and just enjoy the easy weight loss, taste changes and appetite control that the favorable hormonal shifts drive, but this is not your best option.

The Metabolic Reset Diet

Your best option is to start to move your diet slowly toward the Metabolic Reset Diet (the best long term bariatric diet in my opinion) by adding more vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and beans to your daily routine. During the early months of the Honeymoon years, you should continue to focus on meeting your protein goals, but as your weight loss slows, your hunger begins to return and your lab values normalize, it’s time to switch to a produce based diet. Most people believe that eating more protein causes weight loss, but this simply isn’t true. It’s eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans that triggers more weight loss.

Once you’ve made it through the recovery phase and are feeling good, you can relax! You’re not at risk for malnutrition (Note: this statement only applies to Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy patients). Instead, focus on the task at hand, losing more weight and making sure that your setup to maintain your weight loss long after your surgery. Also, make sure to take advantage of your Honeymoon years to set yourself up for long term success! In short, you should switch your focus from protein to produce!

When should I shift from protein to produce?

For some people this can happen as early as six months after weight loss surgery or as late as 18 months, but for most people, this occurs somewhere around the 9-12 month mark after surgery. So, how much protein should you eat after you begin to focus on produce? However much you eat! If you’re no longer focusing on protein, you no longer have to track it! Your body has nutritional intelligence that will cause you to crave high protein foods if you need more protein. When you’re hungery for lean animal protein, or even better, beans and nuts, eat those foods, but, if you’re not craving them, focus on produce!

5 thoughts on “How much protein after Bariatric Surgery? 60 grams? 80 grams? It depends…”

  1. I’m 13 months past my gastric sleeve and doing great. I’ve taken up weight training and probably work out about an hour per day. Should my protein intake be higher (5’ 9” 180lvs)? I’ve been shooting for 100 grams. I typically will drink one protein shake a day and eat normal meals otherwise. Feeling great. Thanks for all your content. I’m shooting to lose 10-15lbs.

    1. Yes, if you are trying (and able to) build muscle, then increasing protein intake is reasonable, even after we usually encourage pivoting from protein to produce. This is generally possilbe for men under 40 and women under 30. 100 grams seems plenty high, if not even too high though – a reasonable guideline is 1g daily/kg of ideal body weight, this would put you around 80g/day.

  2. I just want to say how refreshing it is to see a recommendation that bariatric patients eat more vegetables. I had a sleeve gastronomy done in 2018 at Smart Shape in Toronto, Canada.

    I was so pleased when interviewing the doctor that he didn’t push a meat only diet, as I don’t eat meat. The fear that any bariatric doctor would insist that I ate meat really prevented me from looking into bariatric surgery sooner, that and the un warranted stigma still attached to the surgery. During the non solid food phase I did have a lot of butternut squash soup, and protein shakes 🤢. I unfortunately hate protein shakes, so that part was tough, it would be so nice if there were protein shakes that I didn’t find chalky. When I transitioned to the solid food phase I did focus on having faux veggie meats. Some might feel these aren’t healthy, but I say they no better or worse than meat, some have higher sodium content but in the scope of how little food I could eat I don’t this was a major concern. I was definitely eating some vegetables in that first 6 months, mostly mashed potatoes made with soy milk, lots of herbs and tons of nutritional yeast. I very gradually started to add beans, starting with micro amounts, this is the best way to add in beans.

    I occasionally watch bits of TLC bariatric weight loss shows but most irritate me a but because it seems like they have such outdated and slightly inaccurate dietary information. They all seem to be still saying to not eat carbs, which isn’t even accurate because they do have the patients eat vegetables. I just don’t understand why this inaccurate information is being presented by the doctors when they must have dieticians on the team. I don’t understand why they can’t accurately educate on what is a carb and that its is a necessary macro. I wish they would stop saying eliminate carbohydrates when they really mean eliminate pastries and potatoes chips. They need to stop presenting that bread makes people fat, over consumption is the problem regardless of the food type. I just feel like they are setting people up for failure by not teaching them accurate dietary information.

    1. Glad you’re having a good experience without eating meat. Humans are omnivores- we can live healthily on a wide variety of diets, even after Bariatric Surgery.

  3. I would LOVE to eat produce but I have an intolerance to Rutin (a bioflavanoid found in most, if not all fruits and vegetables) AND cruciferous vegetables. It makes “getting my greens” exceptionally challenging. I’ve started my journey with bariatric surgery (have 3 more monthly appointments with nutritionist as per insurance provider’s “pre-op” checklist) before my case is submitted to insurance provider for approval or denial. It has been suggested that some of my food intolerances may be corrected after bariatric surgery. I’d be curious to hear from others if that did occur. In the meantime, I’m challenged with trying to create new habits of eating 5 small meals/day (I’ve been eating only 1 meal a day for years). I did manage to find an animal protein (beef only) enriched powder that I use in hot water and sip like a broth. Plant based protein powders or shakes wreak havoc on me. I’m unable to drink smoothies (casein protein intolerant, almond milk has Rutin, I’m intolerant of soy and oatmilk). So tinkering with my pre-op diet has been very challenging due to all the food intolerances. I seem to only tolerate 1-3 ingredients at a time. If a food label has a paragraph of ingredients (including broths with onion, garlic, celery, paprika seasoning), it’s a sure bet that I will have a reaction to it. It’s very frustrating! I’m severely limited on what I can eat, even though I’m significantly overweight. I really avoid trying to eating in general but when I do, I eat a great deal in that one sitting and of items that I don’t have a reaction to (i.e cheeseburger patties, french fries, beef and cheese quesadillas or tacos; all these examples with no garlic, onion, lettuce, avocado). I’d give my right arm to dig consume a platter of fruit. I miss the delicious taste of citrus, melons and berries and/or a hardy Cobb salad. I’m not just counting on weightloss but the ability to eat items I have not eaten consistently for 15-20 years. I was not always like this. In my youth I was lean, active and could enjoy a variety of produce. Endometriosis (severe) was diagnosed at 37 years of age and I was prescribed Lupron (once a month for a year) and that is when my health declined and significant weight gain occurred (40 pounds in 3 months). My PCP suspects Lupron may have disrupted the efficiency of my once healthy functioning metabolism. I certainly hope bariatric surgery can reset my metabolism. I trust it will. The challenge will be my diet if I’m unable to correct the food intolerances. Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

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