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High Protein Drinks & Bariatric Surgery

By Derek Helderman ; Updated July 18, 2017

Originally developed in the 1960s, bariatric surgery offers an option to overweight and obese patients looking to improve their quality of life through weight loss. Though bariatric surgery should not be the first option in your quest to lose weight, it is a viable choice for those who have struggled unsuccessfully to lose weight in the past. Most bariatric surgery centers require that patients meet many criteria before surgery, including having a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, or a BMI of 35 to 40 and a serious medical condition that can be improved with bariatric surgery.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

There are three major types of bariatric surgery: laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, or lap banding; gastric bypass; and sleeve gastrectomy. Lap banding is generally considered the least invasive. In lap banding, a small band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach, creating a small pouch. The band can be adjusted to be tighter or less tight. In gastric bypass, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch by dividing the stomach and attaching it to the small intestine. Sleeve gastrectomy reduces the size of the stomach and makes it into a narrow tube. In all three procedures, the volume the stomach can hold is greatly reduced and patients feel full much sooner.

Importance of Protein

Protein is important for everyone but even more crucial in patients who have weight-loss surgery. While losing weight rapidly after surgery, patients will lose from all types of body tissue, including muscle and fat. To combat the loss of lean muscle mass, bariatric patients need 60 to 80 grams of protein per day. It is generally considered best to obtain this protein from food sources, but if this is not possible due to intolerance of foods or volume restrictions, a protein supplement drink is acceptable.

All Supplements Are Not Equal

When considering a protein supplement, avoid commercial meal replacement drinks. Generally, these drinks do not contain adequate protein and are too high in carbohydrates and fat. For supplementation purposes, your protein drink should contain 15 to 25 grams of protein and fewer than 200 calories per serving. If mixing a protein powder, you can use skim milk to boost protein content.

General Bariatric Nutrition

Patients who've had bariatric surgery should stay in close consultation with their surgeon and a registered dietitian. After surgery, you should follow a lifelong vitamin and mineral supplementation regimen. Have lab work done annually to ensure no vitamin deficiencies are present. In addition to striving to consume 60 to 80 grams of protein per day, bariatric patients should try to enjoy a wide variety of foods from all groups. Gastric bypass patients should avoid foods very high in sugar as these foods can induce dumping syndrome, which results in abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea. By maintaining compliance after surgery, bariatric surgery patients can enjoy a healthier lifestyle with fewer long-term health conditions.

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