Easy Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake

Easy Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake

Alex Brecher

Protein is critical after weight loss surgery. Are you getting enough? Here are 10 easy ways to increase your protein intake.

Protein Requirements after Weight Loss Surgery

Protein is critical for many reasons.

  • It helps maintain muscle mass as you lose weight.
  • It helps your immune function normally.
  • It promotes recovery after weight loss surgery.
  • It helps reduce hunger to help you lose weight.

Your surgeon can tell you exactly how much protein to get after bariatric surgery, but most patients need at least 65 grams per day. Many patients are deficient. But you don’t have to be!

  • Have protein throughout the day.
  • People can only absorb 15 to 20 grams of protein at once and use it for protein-related functions. If you have more than that in a meal or snack, your body will break it down and use it for energy or for storage of fat or carbohydrates. Plus, after bariatric surgery, your stomach is smaller and you can’t eat that much at once anyway. Having protein at most meals and snacks can help you get more throughout the day.

  • Use high-protein versions of starchy foods.
  • Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates, and they’re often low in protein. Chips, pretzels, bread, pasta, and potatoes are examples. You don’t have to give them up, though. Just use high-protein versions! Protein Pretzels, Protein Chips, Protein Pasta, Protein Bread and Bagels, and Protein Mashed Potatoes are just a few of the types of high-protein food swaps that you can find at The BariatricPal Store.

  • Start the day off right with a high-protein breakfast.
  • Are you having cereal, pancakes, or muffins for breakfast? That’s a waste of an opportunity to get a good start for the day, unless you’re having high-protein versions of these foods. The BariatricPal Store has Protein Cereal, Protein Pancakes, Protein Muffins, and even Protein Donuts that are low in carbs and sugar. We also have Protein Omelets and Protein Oatmeal.

  • Choose portable proteins.
  • It can be hard to prepare proteins in advance, and often it’s hard to store or transport them. Chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt are examples of foods that are great sources of protein, but that require preparation and/or refrigeration. Ready-to-eat, portable protein sources can be easier. Tuna pouches, Pea Snacks, Protein Snacks, and Protein Bars are examples.

  • Always include a source of protein.
  • Whenever you plan a meal or snack, include a source of protein. Throughout the day, those protein choices will add up to help you hit your goals. Examples of ways to add protein include the following.

    • If you’re having apple slices, dip them into cottage cheese.
    • If you’re having toast or crackers, spread peanut butter onto it.
    • If you are eating a baked potato with sour cream and broccoli, sprinkle it with low-fat cheese.
    • If you’re having pasta, add lean ground turkey to the sauce or top your pasta with parmesan cheese.
    • If you’re eating a salad, toss in some garbanzo beans, roasted soybeans, or diced cooked skinless chicken breast.
    • If you’re having a fruit salad, sprinkle on some flaxseed, sunflower seeds, or chopped peanuts.

    Whenever you are getting ready to serve a meal or snack, get in the habit of doing a quick mental check to see if there’s a protein source.

  • Find alternative sources if you have intolerances.
  • Many bariatric surgery patients develop food intolerances. A common one is an intolerance to meat or poultry. That’s definitely challenging because those foods are nearly pure protein! Lactose intolerance can also develop and make it harder to drink milk. That’s another good source of protein.

    If you find that there are certain high-protein foods that you can’t tolerate anymore, try to find good swaps for them. These are some examples.

    • If you can’t handle milk anymore, put your cereal in plain yogurt, or choose Protein Cereal and add almond milk.
    • If you can’t tolerate meat or chicken, consider soy-based alternatives or veggie burgers.
    • Try making up your protein with side dishes, such as Protein Mashed Potatoes, soups, such as Protein Soup, or supplements, such as Protein Bars and Shakes.
  • Stash protein snacks and supplements everywhere.
  • You can increase your protein intake by making sure there’s always some protein available wherever and whenever you need it. Select some non-perishable, ready-to-eat sources of protein, and put them anywhere you may be when you need them. You might put them in these places.

    • Purse
    • Gym bag
    • Office or desk drawer
    • Pantry
    • Car

    Nuts, canned tuna, and peanut butter are some examples. Other ideas are Protein Snacks such as Protein Puffs, Protein Cookies, Cheese Snacks, and Bean Snacks. Protein Bars and Meat Snacks are also good choices.

  • Make it easier with ready-to-heat meals.
  • What if you need some protein but don’t feel like cooking, or don’t have ingredients on hand, or don’t have time to cook? Protein Entrees can help. They’re low in carbs and high in protein, portion-controlled, ready in minutes just by heating them, and delicious. A few examples are Macaroni and Cheese, Vegan Chicken Curry, and Vegetable Chili Mix.

  • Add protein powder.
  • Protein powder is kind of like magic. It can give you more protein no matter what you’re eating! Your favorite flavor Protein Powder can give a nutritional boost to a smoothie or shake with ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, or yogurt. Unflavored Protein Powder, the possibilities are limitless. You can mix it into oatmeal or cottage cheese, stir it into soups, or mix it into casseroles for a boost of protein anytime.

  • Try lots of flavors.
  • There’s absolutely no need to be bored when there are so many flavors available at The BariatricPal Store. We definitely have the classic flavors that you may love, such as chocolate and vanilla Protein Shakes or Chocolate Brownie Protein Bars. But we have tons of variety to keep you on your toes. Mocha Mint, Lemon Lime, Strawberry Kiwi, Chocolate Caramel, and Peanut Butter are just a few examples.

    Protein boostProtein snacks