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Bariatric Program

Importance of Protein

Protein is an essential part of your nutrition plan before and after weight-loss surgery. It promotes proper healing, helps your body build and maintain muscle, and helps you lose fat. 

Protein is made up of amino acids. Although the body makes 13 amino acids, nine essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, and must come from food sources. A food source is considered complete if it contains the right amount of essential amino acids. 

Supplement Options

When choosing protein as part of your weight-loss plan, consider lean options that are lower in calories to help you maintain weight loss.

  • Whey Protein:  Whey is a complete source of protein. It is part of many commercial powders or ready to drink protein shakes.
  • Whey Protein Isolate: Whey protein isolate contains no lactose, and does not cause intestinal distress. Look for products such as lactose-free milk and non-dairy beverages as an alternative to milk. Whey protein isolate is the recommended protein supplement after surgery.
  • Soy Products: Soybeans are a quality protein source. The protein in soybeans closely matches the protein quality of meat. Unsweetened soy milk is also an alternative for those who are lactose-intolerant.

Products to Avoid

Hydrolyzed gelatin or collagen products do not contain all essential amino acids and are not recommended for bariatric surgery patients.

Drink Recipes

After surgery, protein shakes will be needed to help you get adequate amounts of protein. Try these tasty recipes:

Vanilla Protein Shake (28 grams protein)


  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

  • 8 ounces fat-free milk

Mix well in shaker cup or blender.

Orange Dreamsicle (28 grams protein)


  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder

  • 1 scoop (individual serving) sugar-free orange drink powder

  • 8 ounces fat-free milk


  • Substitute 4 ounces low-sugar yogurt for 4 ounces milk

  • Add ½ teaspoon orange zest

Hot Cocoa (13 grams protein)


  • 1 tablespoon artificial sweetener for baking

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder

  • 8 ounces non-fat milk

  • Dash salt

Blend artificial sweetener, unsweetened cocoa, dried milk powder and salt in large mug. Blend in milk, stirring until dissolved. Microwave one minute on high or until hot. Or heat in saucepan on stovetop, stirring frequently.

Protein Shake Tips

To spice up your protein shakes, try the following:

  • Use flavorings such as vanilla, almond and coconut extracts to enhance flavor. 

  • Add decaf coffee to chocolate-flavored protein powder for a mocha-flavored shake. 

  • Deepen chocolate flavor without adding fat with unsweetened cocoa powder.

  • Freeze fat free milk in ice cube trays to make milk cubes. Blend cubes in your shake to make it icy cold to add protein without diluting your shake. 

  • Increase creaminess and protein by adding yogurt to your shakes.