When new to bariatric surgery almost every discussion seems to revolve around protein and vitamins. I have news for you… ten years later we are still talking about protein and vitamins! This is not small surgery and the changes made to the GI tract are serious enough where we need to supplement for what is unable to be eaten or serious problems will arise. Here is a little bit of science. I find that if I know WHY my arm is going to fall off, I get the increased importance.
When you eat a food containing protein, whether meat fish eggs or dairy, the digestive enzymes in your mouth go to work as a first step in the digestion process. In the stomach more enzymes plus acids are added to deconstruct the protein into base units called amino acids.
There are 22 different amino acids that are critical to your health and life; luckily we are able to make 13 of those on our own, but the others we must get from our food. There is no other way.
When the stomach has broken down the food, the amino acids are then recombined by the body to make the proteins it needs at the time to maintain and build muscles, bones and blood.
Heres a visual: Imagine protein as a long gemstone necklace with each stone a different amino acid. The enzymes and acid breaks the strands of the necklace into loose beads so the body can then redesign the jewelry, placing the beads into new color and size combinations needed for various functions.
Therein lies the problem with bariatric surgery and why we suffer terrible deficiencies. With a bariatric procedure, the stomach has been made into a tiny pouch; there is no large handbag sized organ to physically churn the food plus there are little or no enzymes or acid to break it down chemically into the amino acid and nutrient particles. The food moves along from the bariatric pouch in bits much too large to be smuggled into the body through the openings in the intestinal wall. It is much worse in the case of a gastric bypass as the main portion of the intestine where most of the absorption or normally takes place is no longer hooked up, meaning not only is the food no longer deconstructed into amino acids but no longer passes through the smuggling zone of the tunnel.
While this is the means by which massive weight loss takes place, if we do not take in good protein and high nutrient foods in forms that are easily digested and absorbed, it will not be available to make the essential combinations needed by the body.
This is why those who have had weight loss surgery face serious nutrient deficiencies and complications that get worse as the years pass.
It is critical for anyone who has had a bariatric procedure to understand that what we’ve done to our system must be addresses by food and supplement choices. We don’t know how this will play out in thirty or forty years. Some of us won’t make it to find out.
With fast food restaurants on nearly every corner and our time so scarce, eating a well-rounded diet can be challenging. However, protein is one nutrient that your body can’t really go without. Protein is needed to help your body:
- Build and repair tissues.
- Keep your bones, muscles, skin, and cartilage healthy and strong.
- Make chemicals like hormones and enzymes.
In addition to this, protein is a part of almost every cell that makes up your body and your hair and nails are almost entirely made out of this nutrient alone. In order for your body to stay in tip-top shape, it is essential that you are constantly getting enough protein in your diet.
What Are the Benefits?
Not only will a protein-rich diet ensure that your body is performing to its highest capacity, but it also comes with a variety of other benefits. Getting enough protein also ensures that you don’t lose as much muscle during periods of inactivity, and that you are able to gain muscle and get toned much easier.
Protein can also be used as a tool for effective and long-lasting weight loss. Protein creates satiety and when you have enough protein in your diet, you will be more likely to maintain a healthy weight and keep hunger and cravings at bay between mealtimes.
How Can You Get More Protein in Your Diet?
Unfortunately, getting enough protein is difficult unless you eat like a carnivore at every meal. To make getting a sufficient amount of protein in your diet easier, protein drinks and powders provide an easy and delicious way to accomplish your goals. Another great thing about protein supplements is that they can be easily taken on the go, so there is never an excuse to not eat right.
If you feel like you aren’t getting enough protein, or you want to increase your body’s general well-being, check out the various flavors of Inspire, a high quality protein powder here on our website, Bariatric Eating.