Do I Need Protein Shakes After Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Generally speaking, gastric bypass surgery patients are recommended to use protein shakes postoperatively, at least at first. Every patient is different and while some are advised to use protein shakes to supplement their diet during the first few weeks after surgery, other patients are recommended to use them for life.

The reason many gastric bypass surgery patients are recommended to use protein supplements postoperatively is because, depending on your unique body, you may no longer be able to absorb nutrients from your food as efficiently as you used to. So, while the average adult needs to eat about 50-55 grams of protein per day; gastric bypass surgery patients are often recommended to ingest between 60-80 grams of protein daily.

How long will I have to use protein shakes?

You will work with your primary care doctor, dietician and surgeon to create a plan that works for your unique needs, but gastric bypass patients are generally advised to keep a liquid-only diet for at least several days postoperatively. Some patients stay on a liquid diet for up to a month after their surgery. If you are on a liquid-only diet, it is difficult to maintain healthy protein levels without a protein shake supplement. That is because most liquid foods do not contain ample protein in them. For example, one cup of skim milk contains a mere eight grams of protein and one cup of chicken broth contains just one gram of protein.

Even after you are ready to eat small amounts of pureed foods, you will most likely still need to supplement your diet with a protein supplement. Whether you take your protein supplement in the form of a shake or you add protein powder to your pureed foods to boost the amount of protein that is in your pureed meals, it will most likely be the only way that you can get enough protein in your diet.

Are protein shakes better than real food?

While your body treats the protein from shakes the same way as it treats protein from real foods, you should be aware that because protein shakes are liquid, they will not stay in your pouch very long. You may feel hungry again soon after drinking your protein shake. For this reason if hunger is an issue for you, once you are able to eat pureed foods or solid foods again, consider taking your protein shake with some real food to slow digestion and help you feel full longer.

If you live in the Melrose or Medford areas in Massachusetts and are considering weight loss surgery as an option for controlling your obesity, come to one of our free weight loss surgery seminars. Hallmark Health System Center for Weight Management and Weight Loss Surgery hosts a free one every month.

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