Nutrition, Post-Surgery, Protein

Meeting Your Protein Requirements After Bariatric Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery.Photo Credit Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images


Bariatric surgery helps patients lose weight by blocking calorie absorption and restricting stomach size, says University of Wisconsin Health. Maintain your health and avoid losing lean muscle mass during rapid weight loss by consuming 60 to 80 grams of protein every day for the rest of your life. Eat eight ounces of protein equivalents — meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and meat substitutes — to meet this goal.

Lean beef.     Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

A single three ounce serving of meat has about 21 grams of protein, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Choose lean cuts of beef, lamb or pork and prepare them by grilling, roasting, microwaving or other low fat cooking methods. For variety, substitute flaky fish, including tuna, tilapia or salmon, and poultry such as turkey or chicken as your protein source. You may find it difficult to digest shrimp and other shellfish, stringy meats and dry fish.



Eggs are high protein. Photo Credit kyoshino/iStock/Getty Images


Substitute eggs for part of your protein foods. One serving equals one egg, two egg whites or one quarter cup of egg substitute, according to Highland Hospital. Prepare eggs without added fat by using nonstick spray in your skillet. Make an omelet of whole eggs, egg substitute or egg whites topped with spinach, onions, cheese or meat for added nutrition.




Beans and Peas

Peas in a peapod. Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images


Legumes — dried beans and peas — provide about 16 grams of protein per cup, says the CDC. Add kidney or garbanzo beans to your salad or top brown rice with black beans. Other meatless protein sources include peanut butter, tofu and soy burgers. While beans are high in protein, they are also high in fiber and should not be eaten until you have progressed to regular food, according to




Milk Products

Cottage cheese. Photo Credit Viktorija Kuprijanova/iStock/Getty Images


Dairy products provide both protein and calcium, but choose the nonfat versions to avoid consuming too many calories. One cup of nonfat milk provides 11 grams of protein and a serving of sugar-free, nonfat yogurt provides 8 grams, according to the CDC. Avoid full fat cheese in favor of one ounce of low fat or part-skim milk cheese.  Mix 1/4-cup of fat-free or low fat cottage cheese with crushed pineapple for an easy breakfast or lunch, or top a small baked potato with cottage cheese instead of butter.



Protein Shakes

Protein shakes. Photo Credit Svetl/iStock/Getty Images

Until your pouch matures, you may have difficulty eating enough solid food to meet your daily protein goals. Protein shakes made of powdered protein and liquids such as water, milk soy milk, almond milk or yogurt provide a convenient way to add protein to your diet. When choosing a protein powder, look for one that offers at least 15 grams of protein per serving and no more than 5 grams of fat and 5 grams of sugar. Add fruit and flavorings for variety, as desired, but plan your meals to avoid adding too many calories.

About Janet Klein

Janet Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE. is Orange Regional's Bariatric Surgery Program Director. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from the State University College at Oneonta and her Master of Science in Education from Queen’s College University. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator, a Registered Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist, American Heart Association Certified Cardiovascular Counselor and a member of the Integrated Health group of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). She brings more than 35 years of clinical, educational and leadership experience to Orange Regional, where she spearheaded the Bariatric Surgery program in 2008, received Accreditation for the program through the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) in 2011, re-accredited the program through the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Bariatric Surgery Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) in 2014, and continues to lead the program with passion 10 years later. Janet can be reached at 845-333-2123 or


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