To finding success after weight loss surgery, you have to follow a few simple and straightforward steps. Seriously...we're am not joking. The steps are simple. Implementing said steps will, at times, feel like impossible feats. Like most things in life, the simplest things are the most difficult to execute.
After bariatric surgery, your surgeon will give you step-but-step and phase by phase instructions, regardless of the type of procedure you have. One requirement will be to consume an ample amount of protein daily- anywhere from 70-100 grams a day. That number might not feel daunting before surgery, but when you have recovered, and the reality of your new "situation" sinks in, you will understand what I mean by impossible feats. A few things will make this goal seem unachievable:
Your ability to consume even "regular" portions is no longer a viable option.
Your desire to interact with and eat food will be dramatically curbed.
Your taste and preferences will change as soon as you wake up from your procedure.
And regardless of what procedure you have had, your body will need some serious time to heal, and consuming food will not be an option.
For many people, the thought of drinking a pre-packaged protein shake makes them want to stab the eyeballs out with a banana. The texture can be off, the artificial sweeteners can be offputting, and sometimes you just want something REAL. For April, drinking them was the very last thing she wanted to do or think about right after surgery. And the thought of eating an actual meal was totally out of the question. But eventually, your body and mind stabilize, and you start to desire and even crave food again. You begin teaching yourself how to a) listen to your body (who knew this was a thing) and how to eat nutritiously. Again, who knew this was a thing!
The trick to meeting your protein macros each day is to get creative. Yes, shakes and fancy powders are a great place to start. They are easy, convenient, and a breeze to track. But there will come a day when you look at that shake in that stupid little cardboard box and imagine strapping it to railroad tracks and watching a train roll over it. To avoid this scenario, you will need to branch out, experiment, and play with your food.
When we say "get creative," we mean just that. Think of a food you are really missing or food you really enjoy, but it has been on the no-fly list because it does not fit your surgeon's guidelines. April's was hot chocolate. She loves the stuff. Not every day, but maybe two to three times a month, she gets a craving for that liquid deliciousness. She couldn't turn to her tried and true Swiss Miss so she had to figure out what she could enjoy without blowing her macro budget. Her criteria were simple- at least it was for her :)
Organic, if possible
High in protein, low in sugar, and other carbs.
April found two options: She could add in unflavored protein powder to a hot chocolate mix for an extra creamy experience, or she could purchase a pre-packaged, high protein hot chocolate mix- BariacticPal has the best one she had tried so far. While she could not find a product that hit all of her criteria, she could get close. She discovered Retreat Drinks, made in her own backyard, and ordered the BaritasticPal hot chocolate. It was so simple for her to whisk in a vegan protein powder to her cup of Retreat Drinks, and it makes her feel good for a few reasons. She found a product that she loves; she can tweak it to fit my macro needs, it is made local to her, and checks off all of her boxes.
Getting Creative Means:
You seek out high protein options for your favorite "go-to" foods. (Compare what is in your fridge or pantry with some other options online. Look for yogurt, cottage cheese, bone broth that has higher amounts of protein, seek out puddings and jellos that are "purpose-built" aka made with extra protein)
You look for ways to incorporate and add protein to things you enjoy but lack protein. (My mom makes fantastic homemade, no-sugar-added applesauce that I add college powder into so it hits my macro goals)
You prep or seek out high-protein snack options, keeping them always stocked at home, at work, in your car, and everywhere temptation might strike.
You experiment with high protein foods that you have never tried. (Tofu- this shout out is for YOU!)
You utilize online resources like blogs, websites, and cooking vlogs and shows to find new recipes, or you invest in well-reviewed bariatric cookbooks for kitchen inspiration.
You prep and freeze protein-heavy snacks and meals ahead, making the healthy choice easy when cravings make an appearance.
Your sips are always protein-packed. (YES- even water can be an opportunity to get in protein- collagen powder to the rescue!)
There are SO many creative ways to get in your protein- don't let the almost limitless options paralyze you. Do your homework, make a plan, and EXECUTE!
Protein Cheat Sheet: We made an awesome "cheat sheet" to help spark your creativity! Click HERE to view and download!
Right-click on these graphics to download and save to your device or phone for quick and easy reference.
This list is not exhaustive, nor is it complete. But it will give you a starting point if you are struggling to find your protein groove. If you have suggestions or ideas on incorporating more protein into your day or have products you would like to recommend to the community, leave us a comment on this post or send us a message from the homepage. The more we share, the better we all become!
Now get out there and get creative with your protein! Thank you for being the best part of this community!