People considering bariatric surgery often have tons of questions related to their eligibility, the cost, recovery, and their new diet. However, many focus so much on the before and immediate aftermath that they overlook other pressing questions that crop up months and years after the procedure. Here are some of the frequently asked questions bariatric patients ask after the initial recovery phase:
- How much protein do I need now? In the first few months after bariatric surgery, you will start with a liquid diet and slowly increase the food density. Most patients can eat foods of any consistency four to six months after surgery, and it becomes much easier to meet protein goals. During recovery and diet stabilization, most bariatric patients aim to consume 40g of protein. Many rely on protein drinks and shakes as their new anatomy may not be ready for meat yet. However, once your diet stabilizes, you should aim to consume 60-80g of protein. Your other macronutrients are important as well. A typical diet usually ranges from 45-55% carbs, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fats. Bariatric patients have unique dietary needs, and the ratio is usually closer to 50% protein, 20% carbs, and 30% fats.
- What are some bariatric-friendly brands of protein bars and powders? Companies market their protein bars and supplements powders as healthy, high-protein, and a good source of fuel. However, many of them are carb-heavy, sugar-heavy, and weak in protein comparatively. Pure Protein and Quest Nutrition bars are both good options as they contain at least 20g of protein and are low in sugar. Quest bars are also high in fiber, which can help you feel full for longer. Opt for bars that contain fewer than 20g of carbs and provide at least 10g of protein for every 100 calories (e.g., 20g of protein in a 200-calorie bar). Similar rules apply to protein shakes. Avoid sugar-laden protein powders and ensure your protein shake has at least 15g of protein. It’s easier to keep the carb count low in protein shakes as well since you’re in control of the ingredients.
- Why have I stopped losing weight? Your weight loss may slow or stall for several reasons. Rapid and dramatic weight loss are common during the first few weeks of post-op. You’re eating significantly less as your body adjusts to eating regular foods. However, rapid weight loss triggers the body’s natural defenses. Your brain categorizes the sudden change as a threat to your health, and it may double down on preserving fat and energy stores. Once the body adjusts to your new anatomy and diet, weight loss often resumes. Your metabolism also undergoes significant changes as you lose weight. It takes time to regulate as it adapts to your new weight and exercise habits.
- Did I stretch out my pouch/ruin my surgery? Many people worry that a weight loss plateau is a sign that they’re eating too much or stretched out their pouch (depending on the type of surgery). The stomach is a resilient organ and doesn’t inflate easily like a balloon. Bariatric patients that regain weight may think they’ve ruined their procedure, but their habits are more likely to be the problem. Even if you’re staying within your recommended calorie intake, what you’re eating is just as important. Consuming 900-1000 calories of high-fat, high-sugar, and low-protein foods doesn’t meet your nutritional needs. Your body processes certain macronutrients faster than others, which is why you often feel hungry again shortly after eating sugary, simple carbohydrates. Keep a food journal, take an honest look at your food choices, and reevaluate your exercise habits. You may find that making some lifestyle changes can get your weight loss back on track.
Bariatric surgery is a life-altering decision that can improve your health, wellbeing, and self-confidence. It’s easy to focus on the pre-op and early recovery phases of bariatric surgery, but you’ll likely have questions as your weight loss journey progresses. Contact us to discuss any questions you may have about life after bariatric surgery from pre-op to stabilization.