The importance of protein
What is protein?
Proteins are the basic building blocks for the body. They are made of amino-acids and are found in every cell, tissue and organ in the human body.
Why is it important following Bariatric Surgery
- It increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) when eating smaller portions.
- It helps you heal after surgery.
- It helps to preserve more muscle mass while losing body fat.
- Helps to keep blood sugars stable.
What happens if I don’t get enough protein?
Not consuming adequate protein may cause your body to break down its own protein stores (muscles) to meet its needs. Your body burns more energy digesting protein than it does other nutrients, therefore a poor intake may lead to an earlier eight loss plateau. Signs of inadequate protein intake can include delayed wound healing, frequent infections, weakness, increased hair loss / thinning and dry / brittle nails.
How much protein do I need after surgery?
After having bariatric surgery you should aim to consume 60 to 80g protein a day. This may be difficult to achieve immediately following surgery, due to the small amount of diet that you are able to take. Ensure that each meal and snack is based around protein. By 3 to 6 months, your protein target should be split between 3 or 4 meals, aiming for 20 to 30g protein in each meal.
High protein milk
You can use high protein milk for a few weeks after your bariatric surgery if you feel you are not getting the recommended protein intake. High protein milk provides an additional 20 gms of protein per pint of milk and can be used with your cereals, in teas/coffees, sauces and soups.
- Item: 60g or 4 dessertspoons of skimmed milk powder, Protein: 21g
- Item: 568ml or 1 pint skimmed milk, Protein: 20.4g
- Item: 568ml or 1 pint high protein milk, Protein: 41.4g
The following recipe is for high protein milk:
- 1 pint or 568ml of skimmed milk
- 60g or 4 heaped dessertspoons of skimmed milk powder
- Measure 1 pint skimmed milk into a measuring jug.
- Put the skimmed milk powder into a bowl and gradually add the measured skimmed milk, mixing to a smooth paste with a whisk, wooden spoon or hand blender until all the skimmed milk is added and you have a smooth liquid with no lumps.
- Keep the high protein milk in the fridge and use within a 24 hour period.
Source of protein
Dairy / Alternative milk
- Milk, amount: 200 ml, Protein: 7g
- Skimmed milk powder, Amount: 20g, Protein: 7g
- Soya milk, Amount: 200ml, Protein: 6g
- Almond Milk, Amount: 200ml, Protein: 0.8g
- Yoghurt (dairy/ soya), Amount: 150g, Protein: 7g
- Low fat Greek strained yoghurt e.g. Skyr, Amount: 150g, Protein: 12g
- Hard cheese: for example cheddar, Amount: 25g, Protein: 6g
- Low fat cottage cheese, Amount: 75g, Protein: 10g
- Low fat soft cheese, Amount: 75g, Protein: 6g
Meat and Poultry
- Beef, amount: 75g, Protein: 22g
- Lamb, amount: 75g, Protein: 22g
- Pork, amount: 75g, Protein: 22g
- Chicken, amount: 75g, Protein: 22g
- Corned beef, amount: 75g, Protein 19
Beans / Lentils / Vegetarian Protein
- Beans, amount: 200g, protein: 12g
- Baked beans, amount: 200g, protein: 10g
- Lentils: cooked, amount: 100g, protein: 8g
- Spilt lentil: cooked, amount: 100g, protein: 8g
- Quorn, amount: 75g, protein: 8g
- Nuts, amount: 25g, protein: 5g
Eggs and fish
- Eggs, amount: 2 large, protein 16g
- Fish (fresh / tinned), amount: 75g, protein: 18g
- Prawns, amount: 75g, protein: 17g
The portion sizes and meal pattern mentioned below are likely to be reached by 6 months post surgery.
- Breakfast: 1 Weetabix with milk
- Snack: 1 yoghurt
- Lunch: Salad with chopped boiled egg and cheese
- Snack: Hummous & 2 crackers
- Dinner: Shepherds Pie with vegetables
- Snack: Hot cocoa made with milk
- Breakfast: Scrambled egg &1 / 2 toasted potato cake
- Snack: Fruit
- Lunch: Jacket potato with beans
- Snack: Cheese spread with melba toast
- Dinner: Fishcake with vegetables
- Snack: Small handful of nuts
- Breakfast: Grilled bacon & 1 slice toast
- Snack: Fruit and yoghurt
- Lunch: Lentil soup
- Snack Rice crackers with peanut butter
- Dinner: Poached white fish, vegetables & rice
- Snack: Milky coffee
• Always eat the protein portion on your plate first.
• During the first few weeks after surgery, to increase protein further, add one to two dessertspoons of dried skimmed milk powder to a portion of strained soup, yoghurt or low fat custard.
• Read labels and compare products to achieve low sugar and high protein choices.
• Protein powders, shakes and bars are not necessary and can often be high in fat/sugar. Aim to meet all requirements through the food choices mentioned earlier.
Bariatric Surgery Service
St Richard’s Hospital
Bariatric Surgery Service 01243 83165
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.