For bariatric patients, protein is key. Eating protein controls hunger, maintains blood sugar levels, and can help prevent muscle loss during rapid weight loss.
Once patients graduate to a maintenance plan, protein remains important. Meat, fish, eggs, beans and dairy products are good sources of protein. Eating protein throughout the day helps keep metabolism up and appetite down.
There is no one-size-fits-all protein requirement. The dietitians at WeightWise do not encourage counting grams of protein. Trying to reach a certain amount of protein each day leads to grazing when not hungry. This can stall weight loss. This happens not because of the protein itself, but rather from eating to reach a protein gram goal. We recommend following your physiological hunger cues.
Most individuals do not need protein supplements post surgery. However, your dietitian might instruct you to use a protein supplement to meet pre-op weight requirements or for an occasional meal replacement post-op.
There is a dizzying array of products. Some are strictly supplements. Others are meal-replacement mixes. Your dietitian can help you choose a protein supplement. Whey, casein, egg whites and soy are the most common proteins in mixes.
Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of protein powders.
Whey to Go
Whey is a complete protein made from cow’s milk. It contains a complete set of essential amino acids. Whey is often associated with bodybuilders. Some believe it speeds muscle growth better than other types of protein. There are three types of whey: isolates, hydrolysates and concentrate. Isolates and hydrolysates have a higher concentration of protein than concentrate.
Many consider whey protein to be the gold-standard of protein supplements. The WeightWise store contains a number of whey products formulated with the bariatric patient in mind. Although whey is derived from milk, much of the lactose is removed during processing. Some people who are sensitive to lactose are able to use whey.
Casein, like whey, is also made from milk. Many protein shake mixes contain both whey and casein. Casein is nearly as efficient at building muscle as whey. Casein is a good source of protein. It’s slow to digest and can help people feel fuller longer. Casein and whey are often combined in smoothies for a high-protein blend.
Egg whites are high in protein and low in fat. When egg whites are dehydrated and turned into a powder, they can be added to shakes or other foods. People who don’t want to eat dairy products sometimes turn to egg whites to boost protein.
Soy Good for You
Soy is the rare plant protein that contains all essential amino acids. Soy protein is often found in meal-replacement mixes. It’s popular with vegans who sometimes struggle to get enough protein. For those who want a plant-based supplement, soy will provide the benefits of protein without having to eat animal products. Some people worry about the long-term health effects of consuming too much of the estrogen-like compounds contained in soybeans. Dietitians can help patients sort out those concerns.
It can be confusing making sense of the choices in the supplement aisle. If you’re trying to evaluate the benefits of protein supplements for weight loss, give us a call. Our team is ready to help with any of your questions or concerns regarding weight loss.