My dietician told me you can only absorb 20 grams of protein at a time. So is adding extra protein to my shakes a good idea?

Lots of dietitians *believe* this is true, when it is actually a falsehood. The fact is our body sucks up the amount of protein that it NEEDS at any given time – it doesn’t turn off or automatically STOP at 20g or 30g or 40g.

Several years ago, Joselyn Postar-Baum RN & Debby Olsson RN, attended the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery course on Nutrition in Philadelphia for Bariatric Eating. In addition to being brilliant nurses with advanced degrees they are also long term and very successful bariatric post ops.

There was a presentation of study dispelling the oft repeated myth that absorption is capped at a maximum of 30 grams protein at one time. In any 24 hour period, you can absorb as much as 300 to 400 grams of protein. This is not recommended because there are complications associated with this high of intake. The high end of protein per day recommendation is 100 to 120 grams. Absorption of protein relies on many factors including – source of protein, length of the Roux limb in gastric bypass, size of sleeve or pouch and your intake of micronutrients like zinc.




What your dietician probably meant was that it’s always better to spread out your protein. It wouldn’t benefit you to drink one giant shake with 80g protein, but four protein drinks each containing 20g protein is a great way to ensure they are getting sucked up and are doing your body good.

The human body is full of variations for different circumstances – sometimes your body needs more protein such as RIGHT after surgery when building materials are needed for repairing tissue damaged during your operation – sometimes less, as in middle of the day when you are sedentary at your desk.

Maintaining even balanced portions is best… thats why FIVE SMALL MEALS or 3 Meals plus two planned protein snacks are fairly universal in bariatric plans. This is a GREAT question!



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