December 15th, 2021
In the initial phases of bariatric surgery post-operative care, protein shakes are commonly used to help patients reach their protein goals. As time goes on and patients can eat more solid foods, the use of protein shakes tends to decrease for most. While this is okay, it’s also okay to continue using protein shakes daily to hit your protein goals. How can you best use protein supplements on a long-term basis after you have completed your bariatric weight-loss surgery?
Protein is important long-term to help ensure fullness and satiety, and aids in maintaining fat-free mass (muscle mass) while losing fat mass or maintaining your fat mass loss. One study by Lopes Gomes, et al. found whey protein supplementation helped post-RNYGB patients lose more fat-mass, with no change in fat-free mass, compared to the intervention group that did not supplement with whey protein.1
According to the 2019 American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Nutrition Guidelines, "Protein intake should be individualized, assessed, and guided by an RD regarding sex, age, and weight; A minimal protein intake of 60 g/d and up to 1.5 g/kg ideal body weight per day should be adequate: higher amounts of protein intake (up to 2.1 g/kg ideal body weight per day) must be assessed on an individualized basis..."2
Simply, a minimum of 60 g of protein per day is recommended for post-WLS patients, but individual needs will be best determined by your RD. The question is whether you can consume at least 60g of protein daily with just food. If yes, great! If not, protein supplements can help you get there!
It's normal to get "burnt out" on protein shakes immediately after WLS. It makes sense, as they're the only source of nutrition post-op. However, if you haven't had a protein shake in a while, you should give it another try, as you may enjoy the taste again. If not, there are plenty of ways to optimize protein powders in other forms. Here are some ideas that aren't your standard protein shake: