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Make Protein A Priority After Weight Loss Surgery

Scoop of protein powder on a blue background

Eating enough protein is crucial after weight loss surgery.

You should strive to eat between 60 and 80 grams of protein each day. This might not sound like a lot, but with an egg-sized stomach, it can be a challenge.

The Importance of Protein

Protein affects the human body in many different ways. It helps build and maintain muscle mass and acts as a source of energy. Eating enough protein will also help keep your hair, skin and nails strong.

If your diet doesn't include enough protein, you might notice thinning hair about 6 months to a year after weight loss surgery. That’s because the human body can’t make protein without food – and also has no way to store protein – making it important to consume enough daily.

When a you lose weight, it isn’t just fat, but muscle, as well. The goal of eating 60 to 80 grams of protein every day is to help minimize muscle loss. Holding onto more muscle can also help minimize sagging skin that is common after surgery.

Protein First

When sitting down to a meal or snack, start with protein. While fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrates are still part of a healthy diet, the priority is always protein.

For the first few weeks after surgery, you'll get most of your protein from shakes. However, as you reintroduce more solid foods int your diets, you'll need to make sure you're eating protein with every meal and snack.

High protein foods include meat, chicken, fish, tofu, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, beans, nuts, quinoa and soy products. Buying low-fat or non-fat milks, cheeses and yogurts will help reduce the amount of calories and fat in your diet. It is also important to look for added sugars in yogurt – opt for Greek yogurt to maximize protein while minimizing sugar. Choosing leaner cuts of meat – free of fat and skin – is another easy way to save on calories.

Adding protein powder to foods that may not otherwise contain high amounts of protein can be an easy way to change up your day-to-day diet.

Below is a delicious recipe for a butternut squash soup. This recipe is a crowd-pleaser and can be easily transformed into a good source of protein with the addition of unflavored protein powder.

Butternut Squash Soup

Servings: 12

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes


1 medium onion, sliced

2 small pears (5 to 6 ounces each) unpeeled, halved, cored and diced

3 sprigs of thyme

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds) unpeeled and halved with seeds removed

1 cup vegetable broth

2 cups low-fat or skim milk


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the onion, pears, thyme and extra virgin olive oil in a baking pan, and put the unpeeled squash halves on top of the mixture.

Roast for 50 to 60 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the squash’s peel and flesh. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly.

Scoop out the squash and discard its peel.

Place the squash and contents of the pan in batches through a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour the contents of the blender into a stockpot, add the broth and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the milk and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.

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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