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Importance of Protein with Bariatric Surgery Patients


Next to water, protein is the most abundant substance in the human body. The word "protein" is derived from the Greek word meaning "of first importance." This is literally true for the bariatric surgery patient. Protein is undeniably the most important nutrient in the bariatric diet.

Weight loss surgery causes severe trauma to the body. After bariatric surgery or gastric bypass surgery, you must take in sufficient protein every day to speed wound healing, preserve your lean body mass, enhance your fat-burning metabolism and minimize hair loss. Foods that are high in protein should always be eaten first during meals. The recommended long term post-surgery protein intake may vary from 55 to over 100 grams per day, depending on your individual needs and the bariatric diet provided by your surgeon or dietitian.

It's very difficult to consume enough protein from foods alone during the first several months after weight loss surgery. Most bariatric surgery patients integrate liquid protein supplements such as shakes, cold drinks, hot drinks, soups and puddings into their diet after surgery and many continue to use them as a balanced, convenient source of protein and nutrition for the rest of their lives.

Protein provides many important benefits to the bariatric surgery patient:
" Protein aids in proper wound healing after bariatric surgery.
" Protein helps keep your hair, skin, bones and nails healthy.
" Protein helps form hormones, enzymes and immune system antibodies to help your body function properly.
" Protein helps your body burn fat instead of muscle for a healthier weight loss.
" Protein supports your natural metabolism so you lose weight quicker.
" Protein curb's your hunger between meals.

Your body is actually made up of thousands of different proteins. Because your body is constantly making new proteins and because you don't store amino acids (the building blocks of protein), you need to intake a new supply of protein each day. The body can make 13 amino acids, but 9 amino acids are essential, meaning they cannot be made by your body and must come from food sources. There are both complete and incomplete protein sources. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids needed for the body to make new protein. Incomplete proteins are lacking one or more essential amino acids. A good source of complete protein is animal protein which includes meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Vegetable or plant protein is incomplete protein.

As you follow your bariatric diet, keep in mind that plant proteins are not "complete" proteins. (A complete protein is one food item that contains all of the essential amino acids). Plant proteins should be used together with animal protein sources to provide you with all of the essential amino acids you need.

Protein Content of Foods

Examples of Animal Protein Foods Amount Grams of Protein

Beef, lean 1 ounce 7 grams
Cheese (American, cheddar, provolone, Swiss) 1 ounce 7 grams
Cheese, cottage 1/4 cup 7 grams
Cheese, ricotta 1/4 cup 7 grams
Chicken 1 ounce 7 grams
Egg or egg substitute 1 egg 7 grams
Fish and shellfish 1 ounce 7 grams
Milk, skim (recommended) 8 ounces 12 grams
Pork 1 ounce 7 grams
Turkey 1 ounce 7 grams
Yogurt, nonfat or low-fat fruit flavored 3/4 cup 12 grams
Yogurt, plain nonfat 3/4 cup 12 grams
Examples of Plant Protein Foods Amount Grams of Protein
Beans and peas (black-eyed, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, split, white)
1/2 cup 7 grams

Cereal, ready to eat 3/4 cup 3 grams
Corn 1/2 cup 3 grams
Lentils 1/2 cup 7 grams
Lima beans 2/3 cup 7 grams
Non-starchy vegetables (tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers)
1/2 cup cooked 2 grams

Oats 1/2 cup 3 grams
Pasta 1/2 cup 3 grams
Potatoes, baked or mashed 1/2 cup 3 grams
Soy burger, veggie burger 1 ounce 3 grams
Soy milk 8 ounces 7 grams
Tofu 4 ounces 7 grams

Liquid Protein Powder Supplements

Following are examples of Medibar Diet's liquid protein diet supplements designed for Bariatric Patients.

Product Portion Size Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar
Medibar Diet BOA Pudding/Shakes 1 Packet 100 15g 1.5g 7g 4g
Medibar Diet BOA Meal Replacement Shakes
1 Packet 200-250 29-35g 3-3.5g 15-23g 9-12g

Medibar Diet BOA Fruit drinks 1 Packet 60-70 12-15g 0g 1-3g 0g
Medibar Diet BOA Smoothies 1 Packet 100 15g 1g 7g 5 g
Medibar Diet BOA Gourmet Shakes 1 Packet 90 12g 1.5g 9g 3g
Medibar Diet BOA Hot Drinks 1 Packet 60-80 12-15g 1g 2-6g 0-3g
Medibar Diet BOA Puddings 1 Packet 80-90 12g 1-2g 6-7g 3-5g
Medibar Diet BOA Soups 1 Packet 70-100 12-15g 0-1.5g 5-10g 1-4g