One of the biggest topics any of us will hear discussed in the days around our bariatric surgeries (and ad infinitum after that) is protein consumption. Some folks get a very brief introduction to protein and why it is important, some folks get a more in-depth indoctrination into the how important protein is after bariatric surgery, and some folks nerd out and go do research of their own and learn about different types of protein and the purpose it serves in a post-bariatric surgery world.
I fell into the first group to start with. I played football in school, I took a few sports nutrition classes in college for other folks (good money, bad ethics), and I’m a nerd. I started doing a little research to offer up more details on protein for you fine folks.
What is Protein, Anyway?
Protein is to your body what LEGO are to that cool Millenium Falcon you never got to build because it cost too much. It’s the building blocks of your fleshy soul-ship from your individual skin cells all the way to your organs and fingernails. It’s also a bio-molecule made of amino acids essential to the continued life of your… life. Those amino acids are the building blocks of the building blocks; it takes aminos to build the proteins that your body assembles to keep you rolling. It’s more complicated than that (proteins serve so many functions in the body it would take for…evvv…errrr… to explain all of those functions here). Protein is magic, capisce?
Why is Protein So Important After Bariatric Surgery?
Protein should be included in all of your meals after surgery as it provides many important benefits to weight-loss surgery patients, including:
- Protein is an integral part of healing after surgery
- Your bones, skin, nails and hair? They all need protein to stay healthy
- Adequate protein means less muscle loss; less muscle lost means more fat burned
- Supports your metabolism (carbs are like kindling, protein is like big logs… one burns fast then the fire dies out, the other can burn forever)
- The kindling/logs thing? It applies to hunger as well. The chips that sound good will have you hungry again in 45 minutes. The meat? You’ll be full substantially longer off of it.
And of course, because our stomachs end up very restricted after surgery… protein should absolutely be eaten first. Get enough protein first to keep the body running right, then enjoy the not so important accompaniments with any room you have left.
What Are The Types Of Protein?
Think meat, eggs, egg whites, milk, and dairy. Leaner sources of protein are thought to be better. Poultry and fish are great choices for meat based proteins
Whey protein is technically an animal protein as it is derived from milk. In fact, whey protein is taken straight from the watery liquid left over after producing cheese. Whey is easily digestible and absorbs quickly, making it great for consumption after a workout. Most protein shakes and powders consist of mixtures of whey.
Casein is also technically an animal protein. Whey is they liquid part left after cheese-making; casein is everything else. Casein absorbs more slowly and takes longer to be absorbed and utilized by the body. Want some protein to last through the night while you sleep? Casein is your go-to! Looking for a good dose of caseins? Look towards high-protein dairy sources such as cottage cheese and yogurt.
Vegans, rejoice. There remains a concentrated protein source for you. Soy is the only complete vegetable protein and it’s digestibility falls between whey and casein. Soy protein is also available in many different products and can be modified to fit almost anyone’s tastes.
Other Protein Sources
You should be thinking beans, nuts, and seeds here. Most of the protein sources in this category are considered incomplete (they lack some of the essential amino acids for life) and need to be consumed with other sources to ensure complete amino acids are being eaten.
What Is Your Favorite Protein Post-Bariatric Surgery?
I’ve covered they types of protein and why they are important (and skipped a recommendation for amounts… that’s between your medical team and you!) and introduced some protein you maybe hadn’t thought of. With that in mind, what is your go to protein right now? What irritated your stomach after surgery? I’m living on Fairlife Chocolate Protein Shakes and Oikos Triple Zero yogurt.