The Role of Protein During Your Weight Loss Journey

Taking the brave and life-changing step to control your weight and your health through weight-loss surgery is just that — a step in the right direction. 

While bariatric surgery offers you an enormous leg-up in your weight-loss journey, you need to do your part to achieve your goals. That includes taking in the right amount of vitamins and minerals, including all-important protein.

To help guide you, our team of bariatric experts at the Weight Loss Institute of Arizona, has pulled together the following primer on the importance of protein in your weight-loss journey and how to best meet your protein goals.

Everything you eat matters … a lot

Whether you’ve undergone a gastric bypass or chosen one of our minimally invasive bariatric options, such as the Lap-Band® or Obalon® balloon system, most of our bariatric options shrink the volume of your stomach. This change in size means you have far less volume to work with, which is why choosing what you eat is so important.

If you look at dietary recommendations, they can be awfully confusing, especially if you’re using the traditional food pyramid. In the pyramid, you would find that you are supposed to have many servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

But with limited stomach volume, you may be hard-pressed to eat everything outlined in the pyramid. Instead, we urge you to use more appropriate guidelines for your circumstances, such as Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate and the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, which replaced the pyramid in 2011. 

The plates show proportions rather than servings. For example, protein should make up a quarter of your daily diet in the Harvard plate, whole grains another quarter, and fruits and vegetables the other half of the plate (with the emphasis on vegetables).

By following these guidelines, you can pay more attention to percentages than to servings in order to achieve a properly balanced diet after weight-loss surgery.

The power of protein

Protein comes from the Greek word, “proteios,” which means “of prime importance.” The reason protein is, arguably, the most important nutrient for your body is that it:

The problem with protein is that your body doesn’t store it. Instead, it relies on what you eat throughout the day. If you’re protein-deficient, your body then takes the energy it needs from your muscle mass, bypassing your fat, which is a no-no when it comes to post-bariatric surgery. 

Losing muscle mass can slow your metabolism and affect your overall wellness, leaving you fatigued and your body without the resources it needs for optimal function.

To be sure, losing some muscle mass is inevitable after bariatric surgery, but our goal is to minimize this loss by concentrating on protein. 

There are many ways you can add protein to your diet, but with a limited capacity in your stomach, we highly recommend protein-rich shakes. These shakes contain the protein you need, but won’t hijack the limited volume in your stomach.

To give you an idea of some of the shakes we’re referring to, we’ve pulled together a list of recipes on our website. As you’ll see, these shakes are long on protein and flavor and short on empty calories.

If you want to learn more about the role of protein in your weight-loss journey, please contact one of our locations in Tempe, Glendale, Mesa, Tucson, or Phoenix, Arizona, to set up a consultation.

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