Life after gastric sleeve surgery can be vastly different than it was before. This new lifestyle, after all, is what helps patients lose weight and keep it off. We get lots of questions about every aspect of life after gastric sleeve, but questions about protein consumption seem to be some of the most popular. So let’s tackle some of the myths about protein and gastric sleeve.
Myth #1: “Sleevers” can’t be vegetarian or vegan.
Fact: Protein doesn’t come only from meat.
Honestly, it’s probably trickier to eat a high-protein, low-carb diet if you don’t eat meat or animal products, but it absolutely can be done. Protein is available from nuts, greens like kale, and even mushrooms. We’ll be happy to guide you in structuring a beneficial diet around any allergies you have or lifestyles you choose. In the meantime, know that veggies, quinoa, and chia seeds are great tools for anyone eating a high-protein diet.
Myth #2: Getting all your daily protein in one meal is fine.
Fact: Spreading out protein intake is better.
Sometimes it can feel like a daily race to get in your protein, and it’s tempting to want to “check it off” as quickly as possible. But the body can only process so much protein at a time, so you’ll reap more benefits of you spread it out over your meals. Sufficient protein intake is especially important for people who are losing weight because you want to lose fat—not muscle. And to keep that calorie-torching muscle, you need to eat protein throughout the day.
I’ll assume that, when you’re cleared to do so, you’re exercising (right?). So I recommend that patients consume protein throughout the day, with a portion of it before a workout and then another portion right after a workout. Spreading out your protein intake promotes the best muscle development, it helps you feel full all day, and it helps your body use that protein in an optimal way.
Myth #3: Eat as much protein as possible.
Fact: Overloading on protein isn’t healthier.
After all the talk about how important protein is, it’s common for people to believe that there’s no such thing as too much protein. But that’s simply not true. My gold standard for patients: Consume 1 gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of ideal body weight. That roughly breaks down to 70 to 90 grams per day, depending on your goals. More than that isn’t recommended and, frankly, doesn’t do you any good. Also, remember that the body can’t absorb more than 30 grams at any one time.
While you’re factoring in your daily protein needs, take a look at your carbs, too. I believe in a low-carb diet because the most destructive foods tend to be high in carbohydrates. Think about it: How many of your favorite junk foods are high in carbohydrates? Hint: Probably all of them. So gradually lower your carb intake until you’re under 30 grams. This, combined with high-quality protein sources, will make you a fat-burning machine!
Myth #4: High-protein/low-carb is the only diet that works after gastric sleeve.
Fact: It’s (usually) the diet that works best.
This one is tricky. The truth is that most gastric sleeve patients have tried diet after diet—to no avail. That’s why they choose gastric sleeve as a permanent solution to what’s often a lifelong struggle with weight. If I recommended that post-sleeve patients simply eat well and cut out junk food, that’s no different from they’ve heard for years. What I’ve found is that a low-carb, high-protein diet has two major benefits: It’s easy for people to follow, and it works well for sustained weight loss.
This doesn’t mean that I want patients to live on protein supplements and powders. We provide extensive guidelines for every stage post-surgery, including real-food suggestions of lean proteins, leafy greens, and fruits. The fact is that eating low-carb cleans up the vast majority of junk in your diet. And Endobariatric’s ongoing support for each patient means you’ll always have the tools to maintain a healthy lifestyle.