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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Power to the Protein

We've been told since before our weight loss surgery that we must follow a high protein diet for life. Recommendations vary from center to center on how much protein is adequate for weight loss and weight maintenance. You will generally hear anything from 70 grams a day to 100 grams a day. High protein intake is particularly important during the early days and weeks following surgery (any surgery) because the amino acids facilitate healing. Many patients turn to protein drinks or protein energy bars to ensure they are consuming adequate amounts of protein.

One ounce of animal or dairy protein generally has 6-7 grams of protein per ounce and soy protein has about 8 grams of protein per ounce. Sometimes getting the recommended protein requirements while regarding of the rules is a bit daunting, particularly considering the small capacity of the gastric pouch. Many post-surgical weight loss patients turn to protein drinks to boost their protein intake while keeping fat and carbohydrate intake at appropriate levels. In the photo above I'm enjoy a Berrilicious Protein Shake.

Following a high protein diet helps us lose weight because protein has the highest thermic effect of any food item: it requires more energy (calories) to metabolize than it contains. Simple carbohydrates require very little energy to process thus a caloric surplus occurs resulting in stalled weight loss or weight gain. In addition to boosting metabolism a high protein diet controls the metabolic hormones: insulin and glucagon. When these hormones are in balance we don't have swings in blood sugar that cause energy levels to surge and then plummet.

Often we as patients tend to relax the "protein first" rule the further out we get from our surgery. Commonly this results in a weight loss plateau or weight gain. We often desire to "get back to normal" but in order to maintain weight loss and work with the surgical tool it is necessary to adhere to the very basic guidelines outlined by our surgical centers. This is not a punishment, however. When we are in metabolic hormone balance we feel so good, mentally shape, physically strong and well and emotionally stable. Talk about a great payoff.


Anonymous said...

you hit the nail right on the head. speaking of head, i have experienced a hair loss and its because i do not have enough protein. ty for bringing me back to where i should be.

Anonymous said...

I agree---I need to be more conscience of my protein intake as well. I am 18 months out of surgery and have hit a plateau and I know it's because I do not get enough protein. Thanks for the making me think about this--I plan to be more aware of my protein intake. I have lost 170 pounds and have 30 to go to get to goal--I have not gained but have not lost in the last month. I plan to change that cycle--and the thinning hair too!!!

Mynxe said...

Hear Hear about the protein.
Re: the hair loss-I think the protein definitely helps but I've been using a zinc supplement in addition to my regular bariatric vitamins and that has made a very noticeable difference. I tried stopping the extra zinc in case it was coincidental that the hair loss stopped when I started taking it-but I found that I started losing hair again. So I'm keeping up the zinc for a bit longer.