Post Op Bariatric Sleeve Surgery Diet
Incorporating plant based proteins that add nutrients, vitamins and minerals while adding flavour and texture.
What you eat in your post op Bariatric surgery diet, will dictate the success of your surgery. What you eat now is crucial for the long term success of what was one of the important decisions of your life. Protein is your key to success. For both the short term and the long term, the nutritional emphasis is to consume enough high quality foods and protein. This is to not only aid healing, but to reduce the loss of lean muscle mass while you lose weight
You have been told that you need to focus on protein in your diet, and that eating enough of it is vital after weight loss surgery, but why? Many patients ask why there is such an emphasis on protein? How can they vary their diet with different sources of protein?
You may find that the recommendation of eating around 60-80 grams of protein each day (or 80-100 of protein for some bypasses) can be difficult due to your reduced stomach size. In fact in the early days post-surgery it will not be possible to eat all your protein. So high protein drinks are used for as long as necessary to ensure your required protein needs are being met. As you progress from this liquid diet through to the different stages of puree, soft and eventually foods of normal consistency, the challenge really begins. Your protein intake needs to be considered carefully. Remember you should aim to consume protein at every meal and snack to minimise the complications of muscle loss.
Protein supplements can be very effective in ensuring that you maintain muscle mass. It is also very important to be learning and thinking about a healthy long term diet. One that continues to deliver the results you are looking for.
Why Protein after Bariatric Surgery?
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for the body. Protein is a component of every cell. Your body uses protein to not only build and repair tissue, but to also make enzymes and hormones. It is one of the integral nutrients that build bone, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood. Your hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Consuming high-protein foods reduces muscle loss, builds lean muscle, helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and as an added bonus – can curb hunger.
Protein is a core Macronutrient. This means you need good quantities of protein to stay healthy. However, unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store protein for use in times of famine. If insufficient amounts of protein are consumed, your body will leach the protein from muscle to meet its needs, leading to muscle wasting.
Although the best and perhaps easiest sources of “complete” protein are found in animal products like chicken, eggs, milk and fish. Other foods can also add to your protein intake. The term “complete protein” refers to amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein. Nine of these amino acids, your body can’t produce on its own. These are called essential amino acids. They are essential because the body can’t make them – we need to consume them. For a protein to be “complete,” it must contain adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
Now, although animal proteins are generally complete and plant based protein sources are generally incomplete. That doesn’t mean that plant based foods are not good sources of protein. Your body doesn’t need every essential amino acid in every bite. Only a sufficient amount of each amino acid each day.
High Protein Plant Based Foods
There are many plant based foods that are high in protein that can add flavour, texture and interest, which can contribute to your goal of 60 – 80 grams of protein (or 80-100g in some cases) per day. Most can be eaten in puree form as well as a more normal consistency. The right plant-based foods can be excellent sources of protein and other nutrients, often with fewer calories than animal products.
Legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds and whole grains contain the highest levels of protein and are excellent for your health. While many other vegetables and fruits contain some level of protein, it’s generally in smaller amounts but can still contribute to your goal as well as add other nutrients, flavour and texture.
Eaten alone, these foods are not enough to meet your daily protein requirements, but some vegetable snacks can increase protein intake, particularly when combined with other protein-rich foods.
Post Op Bariatric Sleeve Surgery Diet – Protein Examples:
Soy beans and quinoa, are complete proteins, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids that humans need.
1. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame are among the richest sources of plant based protein. The protein content however varies with how the soy is prepared. For example firm tofu (soybean curds) contains about 10 g of protein per ½ cup, edamame beans (immature soybeans) contain 8.5 g of protein per ½ cup and tempeh contains about 15 g of protein per ½ cup. Tofu takes on the flavour of the dish it is prepared in so that it can be a versatile addition to a meal.
There are many different ways you can use soy products in your meals, however, it is important here that you choose pure forms. There are many products available on the supermarket shelves that are highly processed soy products which have very little nutritional value. Remember that whole, unprocessed foods are the best for your long term health.
Quinoa is derived from the seed of a plant that is related to spinach. It is highly nutritious, gluten free, a good source of iron and as mentioned a complete protein- rare in a plant based food. So it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscleRinse your quinoa first and then boil it until tender. You can then add it to porridge and soups in your early stages of recovery and later on in salads or side to a meat. Quinoa can fill in for pasta in soups and stews. Quinoa has a mild neutral taste so try boiling it in stock for extra punch. Half a cup of cooked quinoa delivers just over 4 grams of protein
Red or green lentils contain lots of protein, fibre and key nutrients. Although they are not quite a complete protein (almost but not quite). They are a brilliant source of folate, iron, B vitamins and magnesium. Lentils are low in methionine so you need to pair lentils with another plant based protein like brown rice or quinoa to make it complete. Cooked lentils contain 8.84 g of protein per ½ cup. Lentils are a great source of protein to add to a lunch or dinner routine. They can be added to stews, curries, salads, or rice to give an extra portion of protein.
Cooked chickpeas are high in protein, containing around 7.25 g per ½ cup. Not a complete protein but mixed into a balanced diet adds a powerful nutritional boost. Chickpeas can be eaten hot or cold, and are highly versatile. They can be added to stews and curries, or spiced with paprika and roasted in the oven. Hummus, which is made from chickpea paste can be used as a healthy, protein-rich alternative to butter.
Peanuts are protein-rich and full of healthy fats. They contain around 20.5 g of protein per ½ cup. Peanut butter (made from just pureed peanuts) is also rich in protein. With 8 g per tablespoon, making peanut butter sandwiches a complete protein snack. Try teaming pure peanut butter with sprouted grain bread for a delicious protein filled meal. However, as with all nuts and nut spreads they are high in calories. This means they need to be carefully considered in your daily meal plan.
These are just a few examples of the wide range of foods that add nutritional value to your diet. In addition, they also add also flavour, texture and interest.
The foods you eat in your post op Bariatric Sleeve Surgery diet, are key to your long term success and the achievement of your goals. By consuming a wide range of high protein, healthy foods you are enhancing your diet with different nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The value of consuming a variety of foods cannot be underestimated for both your emotional and psychological wellbeing, and your ultimate goal of long term weight loss. Not to mention a healthier you!
For more information on your post surgery diet, we recommend viewing our article ‘Are you eating enough protein after weight loss surgery?‘. Remember, arming yourself with as much information as possible is an important for those first few post surgery months.