Most healthy adults need an average of 50 grams of protein per day, an amount that can easily be consumed by eating a balanced diet that includes meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs and soy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After gastric bypass, however, patients must consume 60 to 80 g of protein per day for the rest of their lives, says Linda Aills, R.D., co-author of an article published in the September 2008 issue of "Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases." Follow your surgeon's guidelines carefully when choosing a protein supplement after gastric bypass surgery.
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Gastric bypass, the most commonly performed type of weight loss surgery procedure, assists morbidly obese patients in losing significant amounts of weight by reducing the stomach to the size of an egg and rerouting the digestive system to bypass part of the small intestine. Weight loss occurs due to a combination of food intake restriction and malabsorption of some calories. Because of the changes to the digestive system, patients are at risk for developing nutritional deficiencies and must take supplements for the rest of their lives.
Every cell, organ and tissue of your body contains protein. Although the body manufactures some amino acids, the building blocks of protein, it also must get nine essential amino acids from food every day. Complete protein sources such as meat, fish, soy, milk and eggs contain all the essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins from rice, beans and other plant sources lack sufficient amounts of at least one essential amino acid, but certain combinations of incomplete proteins can provide all the essential amino acids.
Protein After Gastric Bypass
After gastric bypass surgery, you will eat a high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diet for the rest of your life. While your body heals from the surgery, you will begin with a clear liquid diet and progress slowly to full liquids, pureed foods and then soft foods before beginning to eat regular food. Since the size of your stomach pouch severely limits the amount you can consume in one sitting, consuming enough protein -- 60 to 80 g per day -- will be challenging, especially at first when you are limited to a liquid diet.
Powdered and ready-to-drink protein supplements come from food sources, such as egg whites, whey, casein and soy, as well as from collagen and manufactured sources. Aills recommends that gastric bypass patients choose high-quality, complete protein sources such as whey or soy to meet their post-operative protein needs since hydrolyzed collagen and amino acid dose supplements lack some essential amino acids. Appropriate supplements should contain at least 20 g of protein and less than 5 g each of fat and sugar per 8-oz. serving, according to Highland Hospital.
Whey protein supplements come from milk so they provide all essential amino acids needed by your body. However, lactose intolerant individuals may have difficulty digesting whey concentrate products and should look for products contain lactose-free whey isolates, suggests Aills. Other considerations include the taste, price, convenience and ease of mixing. Highland Hospital's bariatric surgery department recommends several brands, including Unjury, Syntrax Nectar, Isopure, Designer Whey, Optimum Nutrition 100 percent whey, Met-RX Protein Plus or Vitamin World 100 percent whey. Follow your surgeon's recommendations when choosing a protein supplement.
Soy protein supplements provide all essential amino acids and, since they do not contain milk, may be tolerated by lactose intolerant individuals. However, some patients may have problems with digesting soy products or may dislike the taste. Highland Hospital recommends Genisoy and Vitamin World soy protein powders for post-operative patients. Look for high-protein, low-sugar, low-fat products and check with your nutritionist before making a selection.