What is protein and why is it so important? Protein is an essential part of life and it’s found in almost every part of our bodies. It makes up the enzymes that power many of the chemical reactions in the body and the important hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood. Appropriately, bariatric surgery or not, its classical meaning is “first importance.” Indeed, the protein heavy diet prescribed after surgery helps the body heal and regain its former strength.
We’ve all had a sensation of being hungry shortly after a big meal. This is usually a result of eating emptier calories in the form of sugars and saturated fats and foods low in protein. Foods that are high in protein, such as chicken, beef and most beans, slow the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine and reduce the blood sugar spikes that can be disruptive to the continuity of our day (and eventually cause insulin secretion problems).
The result of eating a diet high in protein is that you will feel full sooner and stay full longer. Further, gastric bypass patients reduce their risk of “dumping syndrome” which can be very uncomfortable albeit not usually life-threatening. Protein also has a secondary effect in that it forces your body to work harder to break down and digest the food you’ve eaten. This means that you’ll burn a few additional calories just by eating the right foods.
The benefits of eating protein after bariatric surgery are huge. Not all protein is equal though, so check to make sure that what you are eating is a “complete protein,” which means it contains all the amino acids you need.
So when planning meals after your surgery, make sure you have plenty of protein. You might find that you are not able to consume enough protein to satisfy your daily requirement in which case you speak to your dietitian about supplementing your diet with appropriate bariatric friendly protein shakes. No two people are the same, so stay in touch with your dietitian who will work to make sure you lose weight safely and receive the appropriate nutrition to remain healthy.