High Protein Bariatric Diet: 
A Simple Guide to WhatWhy, and How

high protein bariatric diet chicken

What is a "High Protein Bariatric Diet?" 

60-80 grams of protein per day is generally considered a high protein bariatric diet. However, there is no universal protein guideline that all bariatric surgery centers adhere to, and many surgeons recommend higher amounts.

60-80 grams of protein covers the vast majority of people's daily needs, but you could need more. If you’re over 6’ you may need as much as 100-120 grams of protein per day.

Getting 60-80 grams of protein per day is a good start, but be sure to discuss your unique protein needs with your surgery team and follow your surgeon’s recommendation.

Why Do I Need to a Eat High Protein Diet After Bariatric Surgery?

1. Helps you heal.  Your stomach is cut, stitched and stapled during surgery and all that tissue has to grow back together and heal. Protein makes that happen. Carbs don't. Fat doesn't. Empty calories don't. Prioritize protein.

If you waste valuable space in your stomach by eating foods that aren't good sources of protein, you risk falling short of your daily 60-80 gram protein goal. Pick foods wisely because you fill up fast, especially early on.

2. Keeps you full. High protein foods fill you up and keep you full. Protein takes a longer time to empty out of the stomach than carbs do, so it stays with you up for a longer time. This helps control hunger and cravings...which is important for controlling calories...which is ultimately important for controlling weight. Prioritize protein.

3. Prevents muscle loss

During weight loss, your body doesn't discriminate between burning fat and burning muscles (YES...you DO have muscles in there!).

If you stand on a scale and it shows you lost 10 pounds, it doesn’t necessarily mean you lost 10 pounds of fat.

You could have lost 10 pounds of muscle and the scale would still show minus 10. You could even lose 5 pounds of fat + 5 pounds of muscle, and the scale will still register minus 10. Does that make sense?!

While it's certainly nice to see numbers going down on the scale...

...it's NOT GOOD if you're burning up your muscle mass! This will make you feel tired and weak.

AND...

...this is HUGE...

...muscle loss translates to slower metabolism. Definitely NOT GOOD! A slowed metabolism makes it harder to maintain lost weight. The goal is to have the highest metabolism possible at the end of your weight loss period. Who wants to lose a lot of weight only to gain it back? Prioritize protein.

4. Prevents hair loss

This seems to be the reason everyone seems to cares about the most! Because we all understandably love our hair. Yes, it's true, if you don't eat enough protein, you can experience excessive hair loss. 

Some hair loss is expected, especially in the first 3-4 months after surgery. If you're still losing significant hair past 6 months post op, you may not be getting enough protein. 

Prioritize protein.

What Happens if I Don't Get Enough Protein?
Summary:

  • Slow healing
  • Feel hungry/low energy
  • Muscle loss
  • Hair Loss

High Protein Bariatric Diet:
How TO

Immediate Post Op

It's physically impossible to get 60-80 grams of protein from real food early on after surgery. So for the first ~ 60 days post op, protein shakes are the foundation of the diet.

Fluids empty from the stomach faster than solid foods do, so you can fit down 2-3 protein shakes over the course of a day to meet your protein goal.

Long Term

Like a baby learning to eat real food, early post op you start on mushy protein foods. Then you advance through a series of bariatric diet stages eventually ending with being able to eat solid dense protein foods.

The more real high protein foods you can eat, the less protein shakes you need to drink. The ultimate goal is to meet your protein goal with these high protein foods.

High Protein Bariatric Diet:
Can I Eat TOO MUCH Protein?

Question: If 60-80 grams of protein is good...isn't more better?

Answer: NO!

Eating more and more and more protein won’t make you lose weight any faster.

TOO much protein translates into TOO many calories, which can ultimate slow weight loss, or make you start gaining weight. Also, too much protein is taxing on your kidneys to filter out. As with anything....Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

High Protein Bariatric Diet:
The Bottom Line

  • 60-80 grams protein per day is generally considered a high protein bariatric diet. Follow your surgeon's specific recommendation.
  • Protein shakes are the foundation of your diet early on.
  • Prioritize eating protein first. That means if your meal is only 4 bites, at least 3 bites should be a protein.
  • Slowly add protein from high quality protein foods. Start with soft mushy ones and progress to solid dense proteins. Ultimately, solid dense proteins will fill you up the most.
  • Choose the best, leanest high protein foods.

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