High Protein Bariatric Diet: 
A Simple Guide to Getting What You Need

A high protein bariatric diet is generally considered 60-80 grams of protein per day.  However, many surgeons recommend more. There is no universal protein guideline that all bariatric surgery centers adhere to.

Protein requirements vary based on height, body composition, and activity level. A 6'2" man needs more protein than a 5'1" woman!

60-80 grams covers the vast majority of people, but you may need more. If you’re over 6’ you may need as much as 100-120 grams of protein daily. Assuring 60-80 grams of protein per day is a good start, but be sure to discuss your unique protein needs with your surgery team.

Follow your surgeon’s recommendation.

What Happens if You Don't Get Enough Protein?

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

After gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or gastric band, a high protein bariatric diet:

1. Helps you heal after surgery. Tissue repair requires protein. Your stomach is cut, stitched and stapled during surgery and all of that tissue has to grow back together and heal itself. 

2. Keeps you full. Protein takes a longer time to empty from the stomach than carbs do, so it fills you up for a longer time.  This helps control hunger and cravings and provides long lasting energy.

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.


...this is HUGE...

...muscle loss translates to slower metabolism. Definitely NOT GOOD! This makes it harder to maintain lost weight. The goal is to have the highest metabolism possible at the end of the weight loss period.

4. Prevents hair loss

This seems to be the reason everyone seems to cares about the most! Because we all love our hair understandably!

Yes, if you don't eat enough protein, you can experience 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.

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

Yes! Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

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.

High Protein Bariatric Diet: The "Goldilocks" Amount

Eat enough protein…but not too much.

Just right: 60-80 grams per day (unless told otherwise by your surgeon).

What are the Best Protein Sources? 

You may think of beef when someone says the word protein...

...BUT there are PLENTY of other sources!

Best Bariatric Protein Sources:
Clear Liquid Diet Stage

  • Bone Broth
  • Clear Protein Drinks/Protein Waters like Premier Clear, Atkins Lift, Isopure
  • Liquacel 

Best Bariatric Protein Sources:
Full Liquid Diet Stage

Any food from previous stage plus:

  • Protein Shakes (Ready made or homemade)
  • Fairlife milk (use nonfat/skim or 2%)
  • Skim/fat free milk, low fat milk

Best Bariatric Protein Sources:
Puree Diet Stage

Any food from previous stages plus:

  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Nonfat/low-fat cottage cheese
  • Blended fat free refried beans
  • Crushed lentil soup
  • Split pea soup- blended
  • Pureed poultry or fish

High Protein Soft Food

Any food from previous stages plus:

  • Eggs: poached, scrambled
  • Egg salad: mash hard boiled eggs with plain nonfat Greek yogurt vs mayo
  • Canned tuna, salmon, sardines: mix with plain nonfat Greek yogurt vs mayo
  • Canned chicken: mix with plain nonfat Greek yogurt vs mayo (…you see a theme here?!) Tofu
  • Whole beans (pinto, black, kidney, garbanzo, etc.)
  • Black bean soup
  • Lentil soup

Best Bariatric Protein Sources:
Solid Diet

Any food from previous stages plus…

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish: salmon, whitefish
  • Seafood: shrimp, scallops
  • Bison
  • Venison
  • Beef
  • Lean Ground Meats (93/7% or 99/1%): Ground Chicken, Ground Turkey or Ground Beef  

Is the High Protein Bariatric Diet FOR LIFE?

A high protein diet, or “protein first” nutritional strategy is used in the Recovery phase and the Rapid weight loss phase.

But once you get to the Rest of your life, you should shift into a “produce first” nutritional strategy to maximize your chances for long term weight loss success.

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