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Proteins are the building blocks of our cells, organs, muscle (including HEART muscle), hair, nails, cartilage, and more.  After bariatric surgery, it is important to reach the goal given each day. If not, a lack of protein intake can cause long term detrimental health problems which can sometimes be irreversible.

Signs and symptoms of low protein intake:

  • Swelling/edema
  • Hair loss/breakage
  • Weakened hand grip
  • Nausea or increased hunger
  • Low energy
  • Decreased muscle mass/muscle wasting
  • Osteoporosis (susceptibility to falls)

Muscle mass relies heavily on protein intake from our diet.  Although our bodies can build proteins from within, we still need those essential proteins found only in our diet.

If muscles become weak, functionality changes can arise and cause inability to perform normal activities of daily living and increase body fat mass.  Some consequences are as follows:

  • Sarcopenic obesity – more fat than muscle
  • Disproportioned body changes – frail upper body frame, gaunt facial features
  • Low immune – protein aids in building immune cells
  • Protein energy malnutrition – see more information in next paragraph

Disease can take over, causing disabilities and even death.

Protein energy malnutrition would be correlated with any constant vomiting, diarrhea, food avoidance  or intolerance, food insecurity (lack of protein foods available or lack of funds to purchase), addictive behaviors like alcohol/drug abuse and fear of gaining weight (potentially leading to anorexia).  This is generally uncommon for post-surgery bariatric patients, however, if you are having any of these extreme symptoms, please contact your surgeon’s office as soon as possible!

How to put your focus back on protein:

Protein goals are given to bariatric patients generally at the initial consultation, however, may be discussed again when going over your pre and post op diet instructions.  Please check your handbook for your goal or call the office to discuss with dietitian.

The diet progression requires protein supplements before and for a short time after surgery. Between 6 – 12 months, you may be able to consume your protein goal every day with whole foods by eating every 3 hours.

Start your morning with a good protein rich breakfast and drink your hydrating fluids in between meals and snacks.

My Bariatric Solutions have sample menus with portion sizes and meal ideas to help maximize your protein intake for pts 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months post-surgery. Please let us know if you need a menu!

Best sources:

  • Lean meats – chicken, turkey, lean cuts of red meat, pork loin, fish, shrimp
    • 1 ounce of lean meat cooked = approximately 7grams of protein
  • Low fat dairy – cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, skim/1% milk, cheese sticks
    • Protein content varies on portion sizes
  • Eggs –
    • 1 large egg = 5-6 grams of protein

Good sources:                                                                                                                                           

  • Legumes – beans, lentils, soy (beans), peas (green, chick)
    • 1 cup, cooked = 15 grams of protein
  • *Nuts – walnuts, almonds, pistachios
    • 1 ounce = 7 grams of protein
  • Veggies – broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts.
    • 1 cup, cooked = 4-5 grams of protein


  • Protein sources – Quinoa, spirulina, tempeh, Edamame, seitan (wheat gluten), nutritional yeast w/ B12, tofu
    • 5ounces of seitan = 25 grams of gluten protein
    • 1 ounce of tofu = 7 grams of soy protein


If you are not able to obtain protein goal solely by whole foods, consider protein supplements made from quality protein.

All protein supplements should have 20-30 grams of protein and <5 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

Do not consume more than 30 grams of protein per every 3-hour window as this can lead to storing the excess as fat.

Whey protein isolate is the BEST source when looking for a protein supplement.

Listed are supplements in order from BEST to LOWEST in protein digestibility:

(best) Whey Isolate – Soy – pea – Rice – Collagen (lowest)

My Bariatric Solutions