If you have had weight loss surgery or know someone who has, then you know that eating enough protein is one of their key nutritional goals after surgery.
The goal of 60-80g of protein a day is the general guideline for most people, but your actual goal will depend on several variables such as the type of surgery, your height and other individual factors.
Protein is such a key nutrient for several reasons.
- Post-surgery protein is vital for healing and going forward for general body metabolism
- We can’t store protein, so if you don’t eat enough your body needs to start taking the protein it needs from tissues such as your muscle (and we want you to keep your lean body mass (muscle) as you lose weight)
- Protein is a nutrient that is highly satiating, meaning protein keeps you fuller for longer. A focus on eating enough protein will serve you well in your weight loss journey and help you to maintain it!
Related Read: 5 Essential Nutrients Post Gastric Sleeve Surgery
So how do you eat 60-80g of protein each day when you can’t eat the same size meals as you use to?
Well here are some tips:
- Eat your protein foods first: Thus make protein a priority of your meal.
- Change the proportions on your plate: What I mean is that if we look at our dinner plate your protein food would take up half of the space, your vegetables say 2/3 of the remaining half, and high carbohydrate foods the remainder (so not much).
- Use high protein smoothies: Very useful for the first few months to increase your protein intake with ½ volume smoothies once or twice a day (depending on your needs).
- Choosing the right protein powder: Ensure it’s high and protein and low in carbohydrates (follow the rule that each serve of your powder needs to have >20g of protein and <10g of carbohydrates).
- Fortify your foods: If you are having some foods which are not high in protein, such as Weetbix you can add some more protein, try adding some protein powder, skim milk powder (8g protein per tablespoon) or yoghurt. Low-fat cheeses and protein powders are also great to add to vegetables, soups and dips etc.
- Choose high protein snacks: It’s very easy to go back to eating high carbohydrate snacks over time. Choosing a boiled egg, low- fat cheese on crackers or high protein yoghurt is so much better at filling you up and lessening food cravings later in the day.
- Incorporate a collagen hydrolysate powder into your diet: These are different to the Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) powders as they are collagen-based, not whey protein based. While not a complete protein (don’t contain all the amino acids required), they are a good protein. Highly versatile as they are non-milky, have minimal flavour and blend well into water and foods.
If you are struggling to eat enough protein, consider seeing a bariatric dietitian for personalised nutritional counselling to help you reach your health and weight loss goals.
Related Read: Planning a Healthy Diet Post Weight Loss Surgery
Written by Jane Stoltze, Accredited Practicing Dietician