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?
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!