The Importance of Protein in a Bariatric Diet

The Importance of Protein in a Bariatric Diet

Alex Brecher

The first three rules of a bariatric diet are protein, protein, and protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for so many reasons. The BariatricPal Store can help you get more, since sometimes it seems hard to reach your goals. Here is what to know about the importance of protein in a bariatric diet,  

Roles of Protein After Bariatric Surgery

Everyone needs protein. Protein is an essential nutrient for supporting normal immune function. It is also essential for keeping your body running, since every reaction in your body has something to do with proteins. 

Protein is even more in the spotlight after bariatric surgery. Because of its role in wound healing, protein is necessary for supporting your surgery wounds as they heal. Also, protein is necessary for maintaining lean muscle mass, which helps you keep up your strength.

Protein and Weight Loss

Some of the extra focus on protein is because of its role in keeping you full. It takes a while for protein to digest. That means your stomach, sleeve, or pouch can feel full for longer, so it takes a little longer for you to get hungry again. That can help you eat less at the next meal or snack, and that can help you lose weight. 

Since protein helps maintain lean muscle mass, it is important after weight loss surgery when you are losing weight quickly. The goal is to lose as much fat as possible and to lose as little muscle as possible. The more muscle you can retain, the higher your metabolism will be, and that means you can burn more calories and lose weight more easily. 

Protein Goals on a Bariatric Diet

For most bariatric surgery patients, the goal is to get at least 65 grams of protein per day. Your own surgeon or dietitian may have a different personalized recommendation. You are likely to have a higher daily protein goal if you are a larger or more active individual, for example, or if you are on a high-protein, keto diet. 

Your body can only absorb so much protein at one time, so there is no purpose in having all of your protein in one meal. Instead, having 15 to 30 grams at once may be a good goal. 

Challenges to Getting Enough Protein

For bariatric surgery patients, it can be challenging to get enough protein. One reason is that your stomach pouch or sleeve is small. It fills up quickly, after eating only a small amount of food. For that reason, healthcare providers may suggest eating your protein first at a meal or snack. 

Another challenge is that some bariatric patients develop food intolerances. Some common ones are meat, chicken, and dairy products, such as cottage cheese and yogurt. These are high-protein foods. Limiting or eliminating these foods can make it hard to hit your protein goals every day.

A third challenge to getting enough protein each day is that the diet can become boring. Think about a daily routine with high-protein foods such as tuna, cottage cheese, yogurt, chicken breast, and ground turkey, for example. At some point, even if you feel good eating those foods, they may seem boring. 

The BariatricPal Store has all kinds of high-protein foods that can make your diet more interesting. Choices include sweet and savory flavors, solid and soft foods, and low-carb, gluten-free, and dairy-free options. 

Examples of High-Protein Foods

There are many high-protein foods. Some are mostly protein, while others have some fat or carbohydrates.

These are some high-protein foods that are low in carbs and fat. That is, they are nearly pure protein.

  • Canned tuna and lean fish
  • White-meat skinless chicken and turkey, and lean ground turkey
  • Shellfish
  • Extra-lean meats
  • Eggs and egg whites

These are foods with protein and fat.

  • Fatty meat
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, peanuts, nut butters, and peanut butter
  • Seeds

These foods have protein and carbohydrates.

  • Beans, lentils, and split peas
  • Yogurt
  • Edamame
  • Tofu

The BariatricPal Store has many foods that are high-protein versions of traditionally high-carb or low-protein foods. That means you can have foods such as cookies, bread, pasta, candy, and mashed potatoes with a good dose of protein and without many carbs.

High-Protein Meals on a Bariatric Diet

Most of your meals should include a serving of protein as the main feature. These are some examples of bariatric-friendly meals that have a good amount of protein.

  • Tuna melt on a portobello mushroom.
  • Chicken breast baked with green beans or carrots.
  • Tofu stir-fried with vegetables. 
  • Salmon served over riced cauliflower. 
  • Cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and berries.

These may be delicious, but they can get tedious. Along with those foods, you can try Protein Entrees from BariatricPal. Examples include high-protein Chicken Enchilada Verde, Beef Stew, Cheesy Mac, and Vegan Lentil Pasta. You don’t have to cook; just heat them and enjoy them!

You can also use low-carb components to put together a high-protein meal. For example, the BariatricPal Store has Protein Pasta of all types, from spaghetti and fettuccine to fusilli and penne. Protein Bread and Wraps can hold fillings for a sandwich at lunch, and Protein Bagels and Pizza Crust give plenty of room to enjoy decadent brunches and family lunches or dinners without guilt. For breakfast, Protein Omelets, Pancakes, Oatmeal, and Cereal are all great choices.

High-Protein Bariatric Snacks

Traditional snack foods tend to be low in protein. Examples include crackers, fruit, chips, candy bars, and cookies. But you can easily switch to high-protein options. These are some high-protein snacks at the BariatricPal Store.

Protein on a Liquid Diet

A liquid diet can be necessary before and after surgery, but protein is still important. You might also want liquid proteins because of their convenience. The BariatricPal Store has liquid proteins, as well. These are some examples. 

Getting enough protein can help you stay healthier and lose more weight, but it can be challenging on a bariatric diet. The BariatricPal Store can help you boost your intake so you can support your weight loss and health goals.