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How Important is Protein After Gastric Bypass?

By Samantha Bangayan
Updated May 17, 2024
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Doctors suggest gastric bypass surgery to treat patients who are morbidly obese, and consuming protein after gastric bypass is important for reaping the benefits of the surgery. Protein allows patients to achieve the best recovery possible, facilitates further healthy weight loss, and ensures permanent weight maintenance. Even though the stomach has been surgically made smaller, patients must continue putting in the effort for long-lasting results. Doctors not only advise patients to continue exercising, but to change their eating habits after a gastric bypass. This includes seeing that there is a lot of protein in their diet.

Immediately after a gastric bypass, patients need protein to help their bodies mend. Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, boost the immune system. With the help of certain amino acids, the immune system can heal the wounds from the surgery, rebuild the body, and create antibodies to fight possible infections during this vulnerable stage.

Protein after gastric bypass remains very important even after recovery from surgery is complete. Eating protein promotes healthy weight loss by preserving muscle and assisting in the breakdown of fats. Consuming a high-protein diet also helps to build muscle tissue and contributes to overall nutrition. Gastric bypass patients who feel strong — a benefit of protein consumption — have increased energy and are motivated to continue exercising and dieting for their health.

When consuming protein after gastric bypass, patients should plan to eat around 71 grams of protein a day. At least half of each meal should consist of high-quality, high-protein foods that make the patient feel full faster. A nutritionist or dietitian can calculate the exact amount of protein needed for a post-gastric bypass diet that’s specific to a patient’s body type. The specialist can also help the patient choose appropriate foods and incorporate such high amounts of protein into daily meals and snacks.

Examples of good protein-rich foods include lean red meat, poultry, pork, turkey, fish, cheese, beans, eggs, milk, nonfat yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese. There are also artificial protein options, such as protein shakes and protein bars, for gastric bypass patients. Some patients prefer to add protein powder to food and drinks to help them meet their protein goal. One should be careful when choosing protein after gastric bypass, though, because some patients can develop temporary or permanent food intolerance to red meat or dairy products. Watch out for signs of such intolerance, including stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, when eating these foods post-surgery.

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Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Jul 21, 2014

When one of my best friends had this surgery, she just couldn't eat red meat anymore. She could eat eggs and a very little dairy, but not much else in the way of protein like that. She could eat some fish, but said it was like when she was pregnant, and even the smell of any other proteins cooking made her sick. She had to get a lot of her protein from the powders and shakes. She said those didn't make her sick.

This can be kind of an odd surgery in how it affects different people. I know people who have sailed right through it, while others had problems from the very beginning.

By Pippinwhite — On Jul 20, 2014

A co-worker's husband has had gastric bypass surgery, and she has been giving him protein shakes made with whey protein powder. He has had great success in losing weight while still maintaining adequate protein intake.

I've thought about getting a container of protein powder and trying to incorporate more into my diet, even though I'm not a gastric bypass patient. I just need to eat more protein and fewer carbs, so this might help me.

I think the protein powder is probably easier for a bypass patient. My friend tells me her husband sips on the shakes throughout the day and has said he is satisfied with them.

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