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Eating a Plant-Based Diet After Bariatric Surgery

A woman eating a health plant-based meal.

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When it comes to your health, it’s empowering to know you have the option to take control. Change can be a good thing if it means taking a step toward your healthiest, happiest life. And if you’ve taken a step in that direction with bariatric surgery, you’re on the right track.

There are some non-negotiables for life after weight loss surgery to stay healthy and keep the weight off. One of the most vital long-term commitments is to eat a nutritious diet with smaller portions. And including enough protein in your diet is going to be important from here on out.

More and more research shows the health and weight loss benefits of a plant-based diet. So how do you incorporate the non-negotiable protein into a healthy plant-based diet after bariatric surgery?

We’re here to let you know both why a high protein intake is so crucial in a post-bariatric surgery diet and how to incorporate enough protein into your daily life if you follow a plant-based diet.

Benefits of Plant-Based Protein

Studies show that replacing animal-based protein with plant-based protein sources can help decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Plant-based foods contain important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that benefit our whole health.

Additionally, the fiber in plant proteins lead to feeling full faster and improved gut health. Plant-based proteins also have a lower environmental impact.

Good Plant-Based Protein Sources

Protein is important for healing after surgery, maintaining muscle, preventing hair loss and preventing hunger between meals. Aim for three ounces per meal, or about the size of a deck of cards. The good thing about plant-based protein options is that they’re high in protein and low in fat.

Here are some healthy plant-based protein sources:

  • Almonds: 6g per 1/4 cup
  • Beans: 15g per 1 cooked cup
  • Brown rice: 6g per 1/2 cup
  • Chia: 3.5g per 2 Tbsp
  • Chickpeas: 14g per 1 cooked cup
  • Edamame: 8.5g per 1/2 cup
  • Lentils: 9g per 1/2 cup
  • Tempeh: 15g per 1/2 cup
  • Hemp seeds: 6.5g per 2 Tbsp
  • Tofu: 15 g per 4oz
  • Nutritional yeast: 8g per 2 Tbsp
  • Oats: 5g per 1/2 cup
  • Peas: 8g per cup
  • Pumpkin seeds: 9g per 3 Tbsp
  • Walnuts: 4g per 1/4 cup

Pro(tein) Tips

Each meal should include three ounces of protein.

  • Meals should be at least 75% high protein foods
  • Eat high plant-based protein foods first in order to ensure you have enough room in your pouch
  • Protein drinks or bars may be needed between meals to achieve your protein goal

Here’s how to sneak more plant-based protein into your dishes:

  • Use plant-based milk in place of water when cooking or add it to soups
  • Add protein powder to plant-based milk, veggie meatloaf, casseroles, sauces, soups and plain plant-based yogurt
  • Top soups, vegetables and whole-grain breads with a dairy-free cheese alternative
  • Mix plant-based cheese into casseroles
  • Use plant-based yogurt with fruits or gelatin dishes; use yogurt to moisten casseroles
  • Add flax-eggs to salads, dressings, vegetables and casseroles
  • Add tofu to casseroles, soups and vegetable dishes or blend into a fruit smoothie

Tips for Eating Plant-Based Protein

It’s easier than you might think to get all your nutritional needs, including protein, from a plant-based diet. Here are some tips:

  • Eat a wide variety of plant-based foods
  • Choose plant-based milks with added calcium and vitamin D
  • Sample different kinds of whole-grains, beans, and lentils
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on your meals
  • Mix in nuts and seeds
  • Choose soy-based foods as soy is a complete protein

World-Class Bariatric Care in Central Florida

If you’re considering weight loss surgery or have already had it, we can answer your questions and help you find the nutritional support and expertise you need so you can live your best life.

Learn more about our bariatrics program and world-class multidisciplinary team here.

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