Protein is an essential macronutrient. Many people, not just bariatric patients, find it hard to get enough protein on a daily basis. For bariatric patients in particular, protein absorption and the sense of fullness that protein can create are issues which need to be addressed.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams of protein per pound.
In real terms, this means:
- 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man
- 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman
Like many aspects of the DRI, this amount is considered enough to prevent outright deficiency, however, research indicates that it’s far from the intake levels needed to ensure optimal health and body composition.
Protein intake recommendations are actually not one size fits all. The proper amount of protein for you as a bariatric patient depends on several factors, including your age, activity level, muscle mass, weight management goals and current state of health. Not to mention that you need to be concerned with absorption and the limitations you may face in terms of how much protein you can consume comfortably at one time.
Considering that there is significant evidence of benefit, it is better for you to err on the side of more protein rather than less.
As a bariatric patient you should target the following:
- 56–91 grams per day for the average male
- 46–75 grams per day for the average female
If this seems like a lot, then it is critical that when it comes to meal planning you focus on high quality sources of protein and eat them first in case you feel full and can’t finish your meal. In addition to your meal planning, supplementing with protein drinks and high protein snacks becomes the difference-maker most of us need to achieve our optimal intake levels.
Making protein a focus and a habit will benefit you in so many ways!