Bariatric Protein Shakes: Explore Alternatives Sources, and Advantages

Bariatric Protein Shakes

Protein is essential for your body to function correctly. Getting enough protein affects your organs, and your muscles, and protein is an integral part of the body’s immune system to help promote healing. For bariatric patients, protein shakes are important so they don’t feel hungry and have enough energy to work to maintain weight loss.

What are Bariatric Protein Shakes?

Every cell, organ, and tissue in our body contains proteins that are constantly being utilized and replenished. They are responsible and do most of the work to regulate and monitor our tissues and organs. The protein in our body has many functions including:

  1. Facilitating wound healing such as after surgery.

  2. Promoting the healthy growth of skin cells, hair, bones, and nails.

  3. Aiding in the creation of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies used by the immune system to help the body function properly:

  4. Promoting the burning of fat and not lean muscle mass during weight loss:

  5. Contributing support to the metabolic function helps you lose weight more efficiently:

  6. Helping individuals feel full longer and curbing hunger pangs.

Amino acids link to one another to form protein molecules that resemble a long chain. Several different amino acids can join together to make a protein.

Our bodies manufacture 13 different amino acids, but there are nine other essential amino acids our bodies need that must come from food sources because our bodies can not manufacture them.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Bariatric Protein Shakes Alternatives?

Bariatric surgery reduces the size of the stomach as well as alters the function of the digestive system. This makes the task of consuming an adequate amount of protein even more challenging than it was before surgery.

We must consume high-quality protein in sufficient amounts because our body does not store protein. If we do not get enough protein in our diet, our bodies will steal it from our muscles. After undergoing weight-loss surgery, the subsequent very low-calorie diet always causes some loss of lean muscle mass.

Protein deficiencies adversely affect the immune system, can cause hair loss, and lead to skin and nail problems. A lack of protein can also lead to fatty liver disease, and edema, and increase your risk of a bone fracture. Although none of these issues would be something anyone would want to endure, there are two more issues that protein deficiencies cause that directly affect someone who is trying to lose weight.

Lack of protein will cause the loss of muscle mass which helps us burn fat and also creates a greater appetite and most often results in overeating. To prevent protein deficiency complications including loss of muscle we need to supplement our body’s protein intake.

What Protein is Best After Gastric Sleeve?

This is a good question and the subject of protein is a bit misunderstood. There are two different types of proteins:

Complete Proteins

  • It contains all the amino acids your body needs and is primarily found in animal-based foods such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, and eggs. Soy and Quinoa are the two plant-based complete proteins.

Incomplete Proteins

  • They are missing or contain very low amounts of one or more of the essential amino acids in foods such as beans, grains, nuts, and veggies. Most plant-based proteins are considered incomplete proteins.

Now that you understand more about what protein is, the importance of protein, and the sources of protein, you can appreciate the challenge presented to a bariatric weight loss patient. The good news is that there are many bariatric protein shakes available to help weight loss surgery patients fulfill some of their daily protein requirements, even when they are in their “liquid diet” phase.

What Protein Shakes Are Good for Bariatric Surgery?

This is a great question and if you have ever tried to find a protein powder you already have observed how daunting it can be to know how to choose the right one! To break it down simply, protein shakes come in two basic forms but are available in many textures, flavors, preparation methods, and price points.

The most important thing to concentrate on when choosing one for use after weight-loss surgery is the level and composition of amino acids in the product.9 amino acids are critical to your body’s needs, these are IAA amino acids. Then, there are 11 more that are non-essential called DAA amino acids.

The IAA amino acids must come from our diet so these are the ones to look for on the label.
 Humans can easily digest amino acid proteins of high quality as determined by the scoring system used by the US FDA and the Food and Agriculture Organization (UN/WHO).

This scoring system is called “the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score” (PDCAAS). Avoid protein shakes that contain collagen or hydrolyzed gelatin. These are not recommended for weight-loss surgery patients because they do not provide all the necessary amino acids.

How Do I Choose a Good Bariatric Protein Shake: Isolates or Concentrates?

The next thing to consider is the two basic forms that protein supplements are available: isolates and concentrates.

Protein Isolates

Whey protein isolates usually have a higher concentration of protein and have been filtered removing much of the lactose, minerals, and fat. Patients can get more protein in smaller portions which makes these the preferred bariatric protein shakes. Patients also report that isolates tend to mix better, taste better, and are lactose-free so they do not mind drinking them.

Protein Concentrates

Whey protein concentrates contain lower amounts of protein and are higher in lactose concentration. They can also contain different levels of carbohydrates and fat. While the protein quality may be good. The amount of protein contained may be insufficient and other ingredients may be counterproductive. It is important to read the nutritional information on the label to ensure the product is what you need.

Bottom line: Look for high amounts of IAA amino acids. With scores of 100 or close to 100 on the PDCAAS scale choose an Isolate. They are a bit more expensive but let’s face it, the digestive challenges faced after bariatric surgery are already enough. Protein is non-negotiable and you need between 60-80 grams a day. Your doctor will provide you with your unique dosage.

Liven Up Your Bariatric Protein Shakes

You can add other approved ingredients to your protein shakes to help keep things interesting. This will assist you in getting your 64 oz of liquid a day. As well as help to meet your daily protein requirements.

  • Try adding pure extracts like almond, vanilla, coconut, or peppermint.

  • Use chocolate protein powder and decaffeinated coffee for a mocha twist.

  • Add unsweetened cocoa powder to chocolate protein powder to make the chocolate flavor richer.

  • Add a splash of yogurt to make your shake creamier and increase protein content.

  • Put protein shakes in ice cube trays and freeze. Blend the cubes for a frozen treat, or add them to other protein shakes.

Use your imagination, and think outside of the box. If your diet is high in protein and low in carbs and sugars, you have room to be creative.

What Can I Drink Instead of Bariatric Protein Shake?

Consult with your bariatric surgeon or nutritionist if you cannot tolerate protein shakes at all. There are some alternatives to protein shakes after bariatric surgery. Soy milk and protein shakes/water offer protein without added sweeteners. They come in a variety of flavors, such as berry, orang,e and lemon.

You can add unflavored protein powders to your choice of zerocalorie drink, and some specialty bariatric vitamin companies offer low-carb, high-protein soups that you can mix with hot water for a nice change.

Bariatric surgery is just the beginning of your weight loss journey and dietary restrictions will be part of it. Protein shakes and supplements can help you obtain the recommended daily dosage, and avoid muscle loss and complications from deficiencies.

At IBI Healthcare Institute, we are here to help you make the informed decision that best suits your weight loss journey. We can provide you with the answers and information you need about bariatric surgery and dietary restrictions. For that reason, if you have any inquiries or would like to find out more, please set up a consultation with us today. Additionally, we are also ready to assist you with whatever questions you may have.

Picture of Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr A. Christopher Ibikunle (MD, FACS) is a distinguished surgeon with a rich academic and clinical background. After completing his residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he served as an Active Staff and Assistant Professor of Surgery. Currently, he is a Professor of Surgery at Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and a Lead Preceptor for several institutions, including Morehouse University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Chris is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, committed to advancing surgery and patient care.
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