How to eat enough protein post weight loss surgery
Protein. The building blocks of muscles, cells, organs and every cell of the human body. Protein is a hot topic in the world of nutrition. Protein are long chains of amino acids that are broken down in the body to build and repair the aforementioned cells.
Protein is abundant in foods, however is particularly found in meat, dairy and protein supplements. Protein is no issue for the general population. However, for those that have had weight loss surgery, protein needs are higher to prevent muscle breakdown, hair loss and to ensure all body cells receive enough protein daily. I talk all day about getting enough protein with my patients. Here are some easy tips that you can implement today to improve your protein intake after weight loss surgery.
Here are three top tips on how to eat enough protein post weight loss surgery:
1) Plan your meals in advance
Sit down on Sunday night and plan your meals for the week ahead. It is important that you choose the meat or dairy foods first to make sure that you are making those foods a priority. The stomach is very small after surgery, which means you have to be clever about what foods you choose to eat first.
2) Snack smart
Choose snacks that help you reach your protein intake. Snacks should be smaller meals and should turn turn into graze sessions. Aim to have snacks to be more than 10g of protein to have a significant impact on your daily protein intake.
Be consistent with your protein intake. To prevent deficiencies in protein, you need to make sure that you’re not only eating enough protein on one day of the week, but all days. This will prevent your hair from falling out and your muscles breaking down.
Roux-en-Y (Gastric Bypass)
Gastric bypass surgery is when the surgeon makes a small pouch out of the stomach and reconnects it to the small intestine. The stomach remains intact (ie. it is not removed from the body), however there is a small pouch (30-40mls) – the size of an egg, that prevents too much food or fluid being consumed. The new stomach is attached to the middle of the small intestine. This allows some mis-match absorption of foods and restricts the food allowed into the stomach. This leads to greater suppression of hunger and appetite and subsequent weight loss. With less food being absorbed, there is a greater need of vitamin and mineral supplements.
Figure 1: Roux-en-Y Bypass (Gastric Bypass)
Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery:
- Diabetes remission – diabetes is never reversed, the symptoms dissipate, meaning that diabetes is in remission.
- Reflux or heartburn remission – There is less acid producing cells in the stomach, which reduces how much acid is left in the stomach. Additionally, there is less
- Greatest speed of weight loss– weight loss of up to 50% excess weight in six months. The weight tends to be maintained in 60-70% of patients up to ten years post-op.
- Remission ofhypertension or high blood pressure. Weight loss decreases blood pressure.
- Remission of sleep apnoea. Weight loss will improve your sleep and reverse sleep apnoea.
- Improved quality of life.
Negatives of Gastric Bypass Surgery:
- Requires a permanent change in dietand lifestyle.
- Gallstones – caused by rapid weight loss. Bile, released when you eat fat, builds up in the gallbladder when on a consistent low-fat diet. When bile is not released, stones form in the gallbladder, which then need to be removed.
- Dumping Syndrome: An outcome after eating foods too high in fat/sugar. There is a hormonal change, which causes the gut to move too quickly, causing diarrhoea, nausea, pain, cramps or reflux.
- Risks of not absorbing nutrients. Multivitamin supplementation is very important.
- Post-surgical complicationsare low but not to be discarded.
Bariatric Surgery, Is it for me?
Weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is gaining popularity with a 54% increase of procedures being undertaken in one decade(1997-2007). In 2007-2008, 17,000 bariatric surgeries were completed (1).
Bariatric surgery is a tool for weight loss. It is not a ‘quick fix’.
You cannot have this procedure and eat the same foods that led you to the weight you started at. Junk food has no place in your diet after the surgery.
Bariatric surgery has a good success rate. Most patients lose 45-55% of their excess weight within 6-12 months. Excess weight is the weight you are carrying above a BMI of 25.
For example for a person that is 170cm and 170kg, their weight at a BMI of 25 is 72.25kg.
Excess weight = Current weight – weight at a BMI of 25
Excess weight = 170kg – 72.25kg
Excess weight = 97.75kg
For this example, I would suggest that that person’s weight loss would be between 44-64kg within 6-12 months. You wouldn’t get this with a regular diet. This does seem like the answer, however you need to know that there are some nutritional concerns that are important to consider with this surgery – which I will discuss at a later date.
Over the next few weeks, I will highlight the different types of surgeries, how they work and how they allow weight loss to be sustainable and permanent. I will review some elements of eating post-surgery and how to maintain your health/nutrition with these procedures.
As a bariatric dietitian, I have specialised knowledge in this field to advise and assist those that have chosen to use bariatric surgery as their permanent solution to overweight. If you’re keen to learn more or schedule a consult with myself to talk about your issues with diet and bariatric surgery, contact my office.