Protein is indeed an integral part of any diet. It helps you build muscle and keep your body healthy. But for people with gastric bypass, getting enough protein in their diets is especially important. Many doctors recommend that patients take the best protein powder after gastric bypass surgery because it can help them meet their daily nutrient needs. Knowing which options are safe and what to look for when deciding on one is essential if you’re considering taking protein powder after surgery.
What Exactly Is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Bariatric, or weight loss, surgery includes gastric bypass surgery. This procedure alters the digestion and absorption of food in your stomach and small intestine. Gastric bypass aids weight loss by limiting the amount of food your stomach can hold, the number of calories and nutrients your body can absorb, and changing your gut hormones, which makes you feel less hungry and fuller for longer.
Bariatric patients must follow a liquid diet 7-14 days before surgery. It helps reduce fat around the liver, which is crucial because it is on top of your stomach. The surgeon will perform the surgery here, and a large liver can make it difficult for the surgeon to see your stomach during the procedure. Protein shakes are essential during this time. Because protein is the most satiating (filling) macronutrient, protein shakes can help you get through the preoperative liquid diet and satisfy cravings.
Most bariatric patients must also follow a liquid diet seven days after surgery. You will only be able to drink clear liquids for the first day or so after surgery. Once you can tolerate clear liquids, you can incorporate thick liquids into your diet. Protein shakes are included. The phrase “thick liquid” also lasts about seven days, and getting plenty of protein during this time is critical for several reasons.
To begin with, protein aids in recovery. Eating too little protein after surgery can impair your ability to heal and lengthen the stages of wound healing. Furthermore, research indicates that postoperative protein consumption is associated with weight loss. In other words, eating a high-protein diet after surgery can help you achieve your long-term weight loss goals.
How Crucial Is Protein Following Weight Loss Surgery?
Protein consumption is critical during a rapid weight loss period to maintain muscle mass and a healthy metabolism. If you don’t eat enough protein while losing weight, your body will take protein from your muscles, resulting in muscle loss and weakness. The body will lack the nutrients required to rebuild that muscle. Many patients experience hair loss within six months to a year, which can be minimized by including adequate protein in your diet. Maintaining muscle mass can also help to reduce sagging skin after bariatric surgery. Preventing muscle loss and building new muscle can help fill out your skin, reducing the loose skin resulting from fat loss.
Tips for Maximizing Protein in Your Diet
Given that calories are strictly limited at each meal, here are a few pointers to help you get more protein in your diet:
- Include protein in all meals and snacks.
- Always eat protein first at every meal; protein should always take precedence over fruits and vegetables.
- Add protein powder to foods that would otherwise be deficient in protein.
- Protein shakes are an excellent choice because they help you meet your protein requirements and contribute to your recommended liquid intake.
How Long After Bariatric Surgery are Protein Shakes Added to my Diet?
Protein shakes are recommended by The Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as part of your pre-op regimen (2 weeks before surgery) for bariatric patients.
Whey protein shakes are an essential part of the initial recovery diet in the hospital (first or second day) post-surgery and for the next nine days. Bring your whey protein to the hospital so your body is already used to it.
While your stomach heals, your protein intake will need to be almost entirely protein shakes for the next few weeks, beginning immediately after surgery. After a few weeks, you can add other protein-rich foods like meat, chicken, fish, tofu, Greek yogurt, eggs, beans, nuts, quinoa, and so on.
Even with the introduction of solid foods, many children struggle to meet the 60g protein intake recommendation. High-quality whey protein, and even better high-quality whey protein powder, can be the most effective and versatile way to meet the RDA.
Refrain From Food Additives
The majority of protein powders contain food additives. Although additives are not necessarily harmful in small amounts, they can quickly accumulate (especially if you consume a protein shake daily) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are generally difficult to digest. They stay in your gut longer than food, giving your gut bacteria more time to eat. These bacteria produce gas as they eat, causing bloating and stomach pain. Gas can also cause constipation by slowing colonic transit (the time it takes for food to pass through the colon).
Avoid Protein Concentrates And Isolates
Most protein powders are made from protein concentrates and isolates, which are foods that have been stripped of all but the protein. On the ingredient list, they are referred to as “pea protein” and “whey protein” rather than “peas” and “whey.” I won’t go into specifics, but protein concentrates and isolates are subjected to extensive mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein powder. Manufacturers may isolate (separate) the protein from the food using chemical solvents such as hexane. This means that what you put into your body has nothing to do with real food. The issue with ingredients that do not resemble real food is that they are difficult to digest. (Your gut instinct always prefers the real thing over a heavily processed imitation.)
The Bottom Line
Unflavored protein powder is a healthy way to increase your daily protein intake, whether you’ve undergone bariatric surgery or are simply trying to lose weight. Make sure you choose a brand that doesn’t contain additives or fillers. And always opt for unflavored protein powder over flavored varieties because the latter may contain extra sugar and artificial sweeteners