Weight Loss Surgery, Vegetarians and High Protein Diet – Putting it All Together

Vegetarians who are suffering from morbid obesity and undergo Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) for the treatment of obesity are challenged to follow the weight loss surgery high protein diet when they do not partake of red meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. The first rule of a bariatric diet is to eat protein first in an effort to consume as much as 105 grams of protein a day. The balance of dietary intake should be at least 60 percent protein with the other 40 percent food intake being low glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats. These are the standard guidelines for patients of all gastric weight loss surgeries including gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding (lap-band), and gastric sleeve.

To the diet savvy, eating a high protein diet is no magical secret. We know that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet prompts weight loss. The body is made of protein. Muscles, bones, skin, hair and virtually every other body part are essentially protein, which consists of basic building blocks called amino acids. Amino acids help the body heal from surgery and fuel metabolic life processes around the clock. With the elimination of animal proteins from the diet vegetarians must turn to plant and dairy food for their protein needs. Legumes, low-fat dairy foods, soybeans and soy products, and nuts and seeds are all viable sources of protein for WLS vegetarians.

Legumes: Dried or canned beans such as kidney, cannellini, black beans and navy beans are nutritional powerhouse foods that may be enjoyed daily. One 7-ounce serving of beans provides 15 grams of protein. In addition beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and they are mineral rich providing B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and phytochemicals. Beans are versatile and can be added to soups, salads, casseroles and stir fries.

Low-fat dairy foods: Dairy foods are another excellent source of protein, but patients of weight loss surgery must eat dairy with caution. Some surgical procedures affect a state of lactose intolerance in patients: it is wise to consult with a bariatric nutritionist if symptoms of lactose intolerance occur. When dairy is tolerated WLS vegetarians can enjoy a 1 cup serving of skim milk, a 6-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt or a 1-ounce serving of low-fat cheddar cheese each providing nearly 10 grams of protein along with calcium and vitamins A, B, and D.

Soybeans and soy products: Soybeans are protein dense: a 7-ounce serving provides 24 grams of protein as well as iron, zinc, vitamin B, and phytochemicals. But Americans have been slow to make soybeans a dietary staple, perhaps because of a few too many tofu-experiments gone bad. New soy-based products take tofu from the strange health food cart to mainstream meals in the form of veggie burgers and veggie tacos. Calcium fortified soy-dairy products such as milk and cheese are commonly available in most supermarkets and make suitable replacements for animal dairy products without lactose impact.

Nuts and seeds:A small 1-ounce serving of nuts provides about 5 grams of protein and a rich source of antioxidants including vitamin E and selenium. Nuts are high in fat so the portion must be carefully measured. Under these conditions nuts can provide a healthy snack, or a crunchy topping for salads or desserts.

Weight loss surgery vegetarians must mindfully monitor their dietary intake to ensure adequate protein needs are met. When protein intake is not met weight loss will stall or weight gain may occur. WLS vegetarians should eat a wide variety of protein foods each day to supply their amino acid needs. This can be accomplished by keeping a pantry stocked with legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and soy products, and a refrigerator filled with low-fat dairy.

Headaches With the Weight Loss Surgery High Protein Diet

Why do we suffer from headaches when we transition from a high-processed carbohydrate diet to a high protein diet? Many weight loss surgery patients are asking this.

There are, actually, several reasons for headaches when abiding a high protein, low carb diet. More importantly, there are several little things we can do to relieve the headaches:

First, when we transition from a processed carbohydrate diet to one rich in protein as advised by most weight loss surgery (bariatric) doctors and dieticians we increase our intake of tryptophan. A short list of foods high in tryptophan includes cheese, meat, nuts, and soy. Ingestion of tryptophan releases serotonin in the brain, which is considered a vasoconstrictor: it tightens our blood vessels. In modest amounts this helps us feel good; but in greater amounts to which we are not accustomed it causes headaches.

To balance the increased tryptophan (an amino acid – good thing) intake we should include appropriate complex carbohydrates in our weight loss surgery eating rhythm: 2B/1B (2 Bites Protein/1 Bite Carbohydrate). Here are some smart food choices for your weight loss surgery diet::

Carbs:

apples

artichokes

basil

bean sprouts

beets

carrots

celery

cranberries

cucumbers

green beans

pears

spinach

squash

Fat:

olive oil

Protein:

lamb

lentils

tuna

turkey

Next, we absolutely must be certain to supplement our diet with essential vitamins and minerals, and in this list I personally include herbal supplements that centuries of human use have proved beneficial to our health and well-being. Please review the list of supplements:

Feverfew: 200-300 milligrams daily

Ginger: 1,500 milligrams taken in 3 (500-milligram) doses daily

Magnesium: 1,000 milligrams a day (WLS post-ops are known to be deficient of magnesium)

Calcium with Vitamin D: 1,000 milligrams daily

Vitamin B6: 50-100 milligrams daily

Vitamin B Complex as prescribed by your doctor, oral, sublingual or injected

If you wake in the morning with a headache I encourage you to have a serving of Emergen-C. I strongly believe Emergen-C is healthful to us because in a single dose you get 60mg magnesium, 200mg potassium; 60mg sodium; 50mg calcium carbonate; (your electrolytes); in addition to vitamin B6 and B12; vitamin C, niacin, thiamin, zinc, and few others. Our little gastric bypass and gastric-banded tummies can absorb this supplement rapidly and it is not difficult or painful to take. If you have not tried Emergen-C please do. As a note, continue your regular vitamin regimen when taking Emergen-C. Use this water soluble product to get just a little extra nutrition.

If your headaches are chronic and you suspect more than the weight loss surgery high protein diet please keep a headache diary in an effort to identify the cause of the headaches. Dr. Alex Duarte suggestions tracking these things:

Diet – Diet and food allergy is the most prevalent cause of headache.

Hormones – Fluctuating hormone levels are known to cause frequent headache.

Weather – Changes in barometric pressure and other weather conditions can trigger headaches.

Stress – Frequent cause of headaches.

Change in Routine – Disruption of regular routine (such as change in diet) is known to cause headache.

Dental Problems or Endodontic surgery are known to cause headaches

Sensory Stimuli – sight, smell, and hearing can cause headaches.

Hypoglycemia causes headache.

Herbal remedies for headaches are, in my opinion, more effective and less disruptive than chemical OTC remedies. Try supplementing your diet with Feverfew, Ginger, Ginko Biloba, Chamomile, Capsaicin, and/or Valerian.

Dark Meat Chicken and the High Protein Weight Loss Surgery Diet

Chicken legs and chicken thighs are often left behind by those following the weight loss surgery high protein diet who favor the leaner lighter breast meat. For years dark meat poultry has been rejected by dieters as too high in fat to play a beneficial role in a healthy weight management lifestyle. But this nutrient dense meat has a place in the bariatric diet and in these difficult economic times dark meat poultry is an affordable choice at the market.

A 3-ounce serving of dark meat chicken, skin removed, provides 166 calories, 21 grams protein, 8 grams of fat (2 grams saturated) and 76mg of cholesterol. But meat should not be judged on its nutritional profile alone: dark meat poultry is an excellent source of the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin and a good source of zinc. And bundle packages of chicken drumsticks and thighs are ridiculously affordable too, often priced less than $1 a pound. Many nutritionists say that the benefits of the nutrient dense dark meat make it the preferred choice to white meat poultry provided the skin is removed before eating and a low-fat cooking method is used to prepare the chicken.

Weight loss surgery patients are prone to B vitamin deficiencies. In addition to B vitamin supplementation patients should regularly include foods that are rich in B vitamins in their diet. Niacin, vitamin B3, is important in the body’s production of energy from food. Niacin helps keep the skin, nerves, and digestive system healthy and is required for normal growth and the synthesis of DNA. Riboflavin, vitamin B2, plays an essential role in the production of red blood cells, energy production, and growth. As we age it is believed we do not consume enough riboflavin and may become deficient in this important B vitamin.

At the market look for chicken thighs and drumsticks packaged separately. Thighs are available boneless and bone-in. My favorite piece is the whole chicken leg with the thigh and drumstick intact and the skin on. Ten-pound bags of chicken legs are available at most super-stores for around.75 cents a pound, a fine bargain when feeding a crowd. Chicken legs can be seasoned and roasted in the oven, skillet fried, or grilled outdoors. Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A meat thermometer is the best method for testing chicken for doneness. Without a thermometer to test for doneness pierce the skin and meat with a sharp knife or skewer allowing juices to run. If the juices run clear the meat is cooked.

Serve dark meat poultry with fresh vegetables and citrus fruit. When eaten with poultry, citrus fruits, cabbage, broccoli, red bell peppers, kale, strawberries, kiwifruit will enhance iron absorption from the poultry thus promoting overall health and wellness.