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Protein Intake After Weight Loss Surgery: Are You Getting Enough?

protein

Protein is essential for just about every bodily process, including regenerating strength and promoting healing. That is why dietary recommendations after weight-loss surgery emphasize the importance of adequate protein intake. 

The recommended protein intake after weight-loss surgery is 60 to 80 grams a day.* To determine the protein content in various food items, read the nutrition fact label. In general, most protein-rich foods contain at least seven grams of protein per ounce. 

Examples of protein-rich foods

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Nuts

After weight loss surgery, dense, protein-rich foods must be reintroduced slowly, allowing time for the stomach to heal and decreasing the likelihood of obstruction. This timeline provides step-by-step tips for safely and healthfully reintroducing protein into your post-surgical diet:** 

Two weeks after weight loss surgery

For the first two weeks after your surgery, it is critical to stick to a full liquid diet and rely on protein drinks to fulfill your protein needs. Continue drinking protein drinks until you can meet the daily protein recommendations with solid food alone. Read more about finding a protein supplement that meets your dietary needs.

Three weeks after weight loss surgery

Approximately three weeks after your surgery, you can start eating pureed foods. The best way to incorporate solid protein in your pureed diet is by using a blender. If blended protein sources don’t appeal to you, there are other softer forms of protein to opt for instead, including:

  • Eggs
  • Finely flaked, water-packed tuna
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese

Baby food is discouraged after weight loss surgery because it has low protein content.

Five to six weeks after weight loss surgery

Once you progress to the “soft diet,” which usually occurs about five to six weeks after surgery, you can begin introducing soft, but solid foods into your diet. These foods include:

  • Ground or chopped meat and poultry
  • Moist fish
  • Cooked beans
  • Lentils
  • Soft, soy-based meat alternatives

Eight weeks after weight loss surgery

Two months after your surgery, you can begin adding all forms of low-fat protein into your healthy diet. The best way to prepare protein-rich foods is by moist cooking methods and reheating it in a microwave to prevent dryness and food intolerance. 

In general, the best way to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of protein is by keeping a food diary and tracking your protein intake. See the chart below for a protein content guide.

Food

Serving     

Calories     

Protein (grams)

Meat Group 


Sirloin Steak, lean 2 oz 95 16
Ground Beef, 95% lean 2 oz 92 14
Pork Loin 2 oz 94 17
Chicken, white meat, no skin       2 oz 93 17
Ground turkey 2 oz 75 11
Light Tuna, canned in water  2 oz 66 14
Salmon 2 oz 116 12
Shrimp 2 oz 70 14
Egg, large 1 80 6
Egg whites 2 35 7
Egg Beaters® ¼ cup 30 6

Dairy Group



Skim Milk 8 oz 90 8
Yogurt, light 6 oz 80 6
Greek yogurt, nonfat, plain 6 oz 90 15
Mozzarella cheese, part-skim            1 oz 70 7
Cottage cheese, 1% milkfat 2 oz 40 7

Nuts / Beans Group



Soybeans, aka Edamame ¼ cup 65 6
Tofu, Firm 2 oz 40 5
Soy Milk, Plain 8 oz 100 7
Peanut Butter 2 Tbsp 190 8
Almonds 1 oz 165 6
Chickpeas ¼ cup 70 3
Black Beans ¼ cup 55 4
Lentils ¼ cup 60 4
Boca® Burger, Original 1 oz 30 5

 

*Allied Health Sciences Section Ad Hoc Nutrition committee, Aillis L, Blankenship J, Buffington C, Furtado M, P{arrott J. Bariatric Nutrition: Suggestions for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient. Surg OBes RElat Dis 2008; 4(5Suppl):S73-108.

**The timeline reflects the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery team’s approach to reintroducing protein after weight loss surgery. If you are recovering from weight loss surgery, make sure to consult with your health care team to determine your personal dietary plan.

About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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