Getting enough protein is a significant priority for bariatric patients. Weight loss surgery dramatically reduces the amount of food a person can eat at once, which can make it challenging to obtain enough protein from meals. Starting every meal by eating the protein first can help, but many bariatric patients rely on protein beverages to meet their nutritional goals.
Protein drinks are an excellent option as many bariatric patients can consume more liquids by volume than they can solids. Protein drinks and smoothies feature strongly in the early phases of recovery after bariatric surgery as well. However, the market features a variety of protein powders, and it can be confusing to decide which one is best for you.
Whey is a byproduct of cheese, and the resulting protein powder is the most popular among fitness enthusiasts for several reasons. It’s affordable, it comes in a wide range of delicious flavors, and it’s a complete protein (meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids). It is also high in leucine, which the body uses to jumpstart protein synthesis.
Casein protein powders are a close second in popularity to whey protein. They’re derived from milk and are a complete protein as well. The primary difference is that casein protein is a slow-release powder supplement. It provides a gradual, steady supply of protein and amino acids, which makes it ideal to take after difficult workouts shortly before bed.
Egg protein powder digests slowly, even more so than casein. It has a high net protein utilization at 94%, meaning your body uses it very efficiently. Because it’s derived from eggs, it has a very low carbohydrate and fat profile.
Protein Powders for Vegetarians and Lactose Intolerance
Vegetarian powders aren’t complete proteins as they are lacking certain amino acids. However, they can provide many of the same benefits as non-vegetarian powders. Vegetarians just need to be mindful to obtain the missing amino acids from other food sources. These powders are also a great option if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Soy protein powder. Soy protein can help improve muscle mass, but it’s not without controversy. While the science is still under research, a high intake of soy has been linked with lower sperm count in men. However, moderate intake doesn’t appear to cause any harm.
- Pea protein powder. Pea protein powder has a high amount of the amino acid leucine, which makes it a great option for meeting your protein needs while supporting muscle growth.
- Rice protein powder. Gram for gram, rice has the same (if not higher) biological value as beef. High biological value allows your body to utilize more of the protein and amino acids before excreting the rest.
When searching for a protein powder, you should be mindful of the calorie, fat, carb, sugar, and protein content. Aim to find a powder that has at least 15g of protein for every 100 calories. With so many flavors and options, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Many individuals start with vanilla whey protein powder, as it complements well with almost any fruit to make delicious smoothies. If you don’t care for the flavor of any of the protein powders, some brands make flavorless options.
Whichever powder you choose, protein drinks are an excellent way to help you reach your protein goals after bariatric surgery. Contact us to discuss your weight loss goals and see if weight loss surgery is right for you.