Protein after bariatric surgery: why protein intake is important after weight loss surgery? [EXPLANATION]

Added by Klaudia Grabowska on 15.12.2020

Protein after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery is a great tool for weight loss, but the actual process of losing weight starts after the surgery. Each surgery requires a special post-op diet which enables massive, fast, and safe weight loss. Such a diet is very restricted and low-calorie, so it is particularly important to follow the individually made diet plan.

Protein after bariatric surgery is the most important component of the diet. Generally, proteins are the main building blocks of our bodies that are found in each cell, tissue, and organ. Amino acids are elements which make proteins – there are two types of amino acids: essential (the body cannot produce them, so we need to provide them with food) and non-essential (the body can produce them itself). 

size plus couple cooking

Protein after weight loss surgery is the most important component of the diet

The diet rich in protein after gastric sleeve, bypass, balloon, or gastric band triggers the feeling of fullness, speeds healing time, preserves the muscle mass, and regulates blood sugar level. What is important, our bodies are not able to store proteins, so they must be constantly provided. When they aren’t, our bodies take them from the muscles making them broken down. So, sometimes bariatric patients need to take protein supplements after bariatric surgery to maintain protein intake. In this article, we will explain why proteins must be dominant in your diet after weight loss surgery

Why is protein important after bariatric surgery?

Is it important to eat high protein foods after bariatric surgery or can I skip protein after bariatric surgery? Of course, protein intake is the most important element of the post-op diet, so you cannot skip any portion of this nutrient.

The role of proteins after bariatric surgery includes the following:

  • proteins enable proper and fast healing of wounds after weight loss surgery
  • they support building and repairing skin, muscles, and organs
  • the regular protein intake makes the body burns fat instead of muscles (when there is protein deficiency, the body burns muscles, not fat)
  • enough proteins prevent such phenomenon as “protein sparing”, which is deriving energy not from proteins, but from other sources
  • proteins are a driving force to metabolism
  • proteins build the muscles, and muscles force the body to burn more calories
  • eating proteins gives the feeling of fullness for a long time and prevents snacking between the meals
  • proteins have a beneficial influence on hair and skin condition – bariatric patients are particularly prone to hair loss and skin sagging, so eating enough proteins can help avoid it
  • proteins stimulate the forming of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.

How much protein do I need after bariatric surgery?

Dark chocolate on a kitchen scale

Patients will need to consume about 40-60 grams of proteins a day during liquid stages and about 60-80 grams of protein a day after implementing solid food

Each patient has got an individually created treatment plan which says precisely how much protein is needed in every meal at every diet stage. The protein amount depends on such factors as the type of surgery, age, sex, health condition, exercising routine, and lean muscle mass. Bariatric patients are precisely told how much protein is needed for after bariatric surgery, so there is no need to look for the Internet sources saying how much protein after gastric sleeve or how much protein after gastric bypass is needed. However, to give you an idea of what to expect, patients will need to consume about 40-60 grams of proteins a day during liquid stages and about 60-80 grams of protein a day after implementing solid food to the diet. 

In fact, 60-80 grams of protein is a really tiny amount in a low-calorie post-diet, so patients need to pay constant attention to include it in their daily meals.

The following tips may help:

  • proteins should be eaten first (to make sure they won’t be omitted);
  • composing meals in such a way that proteins take up half of the plate ;
  • implementing protein shakes and smoothies;
  • fortifying food which lacks protein (e.g. adding protein powder, yogurt, or milk powder);
  • adding collagen hydrolysate powder into meals;
  • including proteins not only in main meals but also in snacks.

High protein foods after bariatric surgery

Protein sources after bariatric surgery are very restricted, especially during the first few weeks. Then, the diet is composed of liquids only. So, the best source of proteins are shakes. When the number of allowed foods extends, you have more options of high protein foods after bariatric surgery.

What to eat for the most protein after bariatric surgery?

  • lean meats: beef, lamb, pork
  • poultry: chicken, turkey
  • fish and seafood
  • dairy products: cheese, milk, yogurt
  • eggs
  • tofu
  • legumes and beans
  • nuts.
Raw almonds

The quality of products is a very important aspect

The quality of products is very important. You should choose only these products which don’t include sugars, opt for low-fat products, and choose lean meat. Also, you may be advised to add protein powder to some meals to increase protein intake. Your post-op diet plan will also include the product’s basic weight so that you know exactly what amount of food you can eat. Once your diet ends, and you reach the desired weight, remember that protein intake remains the most important element of your diet, and you must treat high-quality proteins as a prime diet element.

Protein drinks after bariatric surgery

protein water

High protein drinks after bariatric surgery is a must-have element of the dost-op diet

High protein drinks after bariatric surgery is a must-have element of the dost-op diet. Sometimes, even a pre-op diet requires protein shakes. The first 3-4 weeks include liquids only and protein drinks after bariatric surgery are the main source of proteins. It not only provides necessary nutrients but also is very gentle to the stomach and digestive system which must regenerate after the surgery. Generally, even when the diet can entail solid food, it is still so limited and low-calorie that it is just impossible to provide necessary proteins without protein shakes. After bariatric surgery protein drinks may have various flavours (e.g. vanilla, strawberry, or carmel) and are really tasty, so for sure they will be a pleasant diet modification. 

Protein supplements after bariatric surgery

The main characteristics of protein supplements after bariatric surgery is that each serving contains about 100-150 calories, and is a source of proteins without or with tiny amounts of fats and carbohydrates. The protein supplements should be used from the 1st day after bariatric surgery to avoid protein deficiency and health problems. Patients should be especially careful about the best protein powder after gastric bypass because this surgery affects the absorption of proteins. 

Protein drink

Protein drinks may have various flavors like vanilla or caramel and are really tasty, so for sure they will be a pleasant diet modification

The most important thing in choosing a protein supplement is its composition – it should contain all the essential amino acids (called IAA) that cannot be produced by our bodies. The supplements can be made of egg, soy, whey, and casein proteins. They have a form of either isolates or concentrates. Isolates contain a high protein concentration and have little or no lactose at all. Concentrates have lower protein concentration than isolates and a high lactose concentration.

Of course, protein supplementation is not permanent – it is obvious that the proteins should come from food for the most part. Usually, when bariatric patients keep a stable weight and follow a balanced diet, they do not need to supply proteins additionally. However, it is said that the whole weight loss process after the surgery takes even 2 years so, during that time when your diet is restricted, you should drink shakes which will supply your protein intake.


Proteins play a key role in a diet after bariatric surgery. In fact, losing fat is possible only when there is a protein intake, otherwise, the body would burn muscles first. It may seem very complicated to get enough proteins especially at the beginning, but remember that you are not left alone once the surgery ends. You are in the constant care of your bariatric surgeon and a dietician – they will provide you with all the dietary instructions and detailed individual diet plans for the upcoming weeks. You will know exactly what to eat and which protein sources you can benefit from. Remember that if you feel weak, have any digestive problems, or other worrying symptoms you should contact your doctor because it may be caused by protein deficiency

Couple cooking together


“Bariatric Surgery Protein Supplements For Patients.” UPMC,

“Best Protein For Bariatric Patients: Protein Shakes, Protein Bars & Waters.” Renew Bariatrics, 11 May 2020,

“The Best Protein Powder After Bariatric Surgery.” AGNRoots,

Tasty Tuesday: The Importance of Protein (and a Review!) says: “Protein Supplements & Weight-Loss Surgery.” Obesity Action Coalition,

“What Are Proteins and What Is Their Function in the Body?” What Are Proteins and What Is Their Function in the Body?: (EUFIC), 

Klaudia Grabowska

Klaudia started to work for Clinic Hunter many years ago, just after graduating from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland and since that time, this job has become her biggest passion and inspiration.

She has gained necessary expertise and experience by serving patients from all over the world (mainly the UK, Scandinavian countries, and the USA), taking an active part in numerous live and video trainings with clinics in Poland, Hungary and Turkey, participating in international medical tourism conferences and events, and completing internal Clinic Hunter courses. Now, Klaudia is an accomplished patient advisor specialising in such fields as dentistry, plastic and bariatric surgery and hair loss treatment. Her main idea is helping people nad making their lives better, that is why this job brings her so much satisfaction and joy.

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