The Importance of a High-Protein Diet After Bariatric Surgery

Eating enough protein after weight loss surgery is key to staying healthy and maintaining weight loss results. Here’s what you need to know.

Changing your diet is an essential part of weight loss, as no amount of rigorous exercise will cancel out a diet high in fat and sugar. Even for people who decide to undergo weight loss surgery, diet plays a key role in long-term success. 

Protein in particular can help you recover after the procedure and maintain the numerous health benefits in the years following your weight loss surgery. Here’s what you need to know about sticking to a high-protein diet. 

Why Is Protein So Important? 

The benefits of bariatric surgery are wide-ranging — reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, better sleep, and longer life, to name a few — and a high-protein diet adds to these advantages. 

Protein helps your body accomplish two important tasks after weight loss surgery: heal and regain muscle. Protein strengthens and protects muscle tissue, which is why your bariatric surgeon will put you on a high-protein diet before you have the procedure. Eating a lot of protein before your surgery will keep your body healthy, and doing the same after surgery will help speed up recovery. Protein also helps keep your hair and nails strong and your skin elastic in the months and years after surgery.

Similarly, a high-protein diet will help you regain muscle mass. Bariatric surgery reduces your body’s excess body fat, but you’ll also lose some of your muscle mass along the way. A high-protein diet builds lean muscle, which revs up your metabolism and helps you burn more calories when you start exercising again after surgery. Also, eating a lot of protein keeps you full in between meals and helps you stick to your post-surgery diet

How to Incorporate Protein into Your Diet

Women should try to eat 60 to 80 grams of protein per day, while men should aim for 70 to 90. This might not seem like that much, but after weight loss surgery your stomach will only be about the size of an egg, so you’ll have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle. No matter which protein source you choose at each meal, make sure you eat your protein serving first before you get too full.

To start following a high-protein diet, turn to lean meats that are high in protein and nutrients and low in calories. Chicken breast (boneless and skinless), turkey, and tuna are great options for a healthy lunch or dinner. Egg whites, non-fat milk, Greek yogurt, and cheese are also high in protein, but make sure you look at the nutrition facts on yogurt and cheese to make sure they’re not too high in sugar or fat. 

 Incorporating more protein into your diet doesn’t mean you have to start eating meat constantly or try your hand at a ketogenic diet. There are plenty of plant-based protein sources out there for you to try. Tofu, nuts, beans, soy products, and grains like kamut and quinoa are all protein-rich. Combine a meat and grain from this list into one meal for a protein-packed punch.

If you’re interested in learning more about bariatric surgery, the weight loss professionals at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors will walk you through the process. Our experts are well-versed in everything related to weight loss surgery, from eligibility requirements to recovery to diet. Contact us today to set up an appointment.