Getting enough protein is an important part of your diet plan after bariatric surgery, according to MedlinePlus. You need an adequate intake of protein not only to promote healing but also to preserve muscle mass. Knowing how to add protein during each stage of your bariatric diet can help you get the protein you need.
Difficult on Clear Liquids
Ideally, you should be aiming for 65 to 75 grams of protein a day after your surgery, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, but you may have a difficult time meeting your needs during the first few months, especially on the liquid diets.
During the clear-liquid phase of the post-surgery bariatric diet, your intake is limited to diluted clear juices, broth, low-calorie sports drinks and sugar-free gelatin and ice pops. Unless your doctor has offered a clear-liquid protein supplement to take during this phase of the diet, there aren't any liquid-type foods that can help you meet your high-protein needs.
Protein Boosters for Full Liquids
During the full-liquid phase of the post-surgery diet, your diet includes liquids from the clear-liquid diet plus skim milk or nonfat soy milk, strained cream soups and nonfat yogurt. Up the protein content of your liquids and yogurt by adding nonfat dried milk powder, which has 25 calories and 2.5 grams of protein per tablespoon, or a protein powder, which has about 90 calories and 21 grams of protein per scoop.
Talk to your doctor about protein needs and supplements to figure out the best option for you. Be sure to also discuss the difference between a protein supplement, which has only protein, and a meal-replacement supplement, which may also contain carbs and fat.
In addition, you can make double-strength skim milk by adding 1/3 cup of nonfat dried milk powder to 1 cup of skim milk, which increases total protein in the cup to 22 grams.
High-Protein Pureed Recipes
When you've advanced to a pureed diet, there are more foods to choose from to help increase protein intake. At this point, you can eat any food, with the exception of gassy vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, as long as it's in baby-food puree form.
Puree 1 ounce of any meat such as chicken or fish and add 1 tablespoon of nonfat dried milk powder to increase protein content to 10 grams. Also, mix nonfat Greek yogurt with your pureed fruits. A 6-ounce container has 17 grams of protein.
Nonfat dried milk powder, or an unflavored protein powder, mixes well with mashed white or sweet potatoes for a little protein boost. Also puree tofu, which has 4 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, with your vegetables for added protein.
Protein for Soft Diet
Once on the post-surgical soft diet, you can eat whole foods that are cooked to a soft, tender consistency. Enjoy scrambled eggs made with double skim milk or try tofu scramble for a high-protein vegetarian meal for breakfast. Add pureed meats or beans to your soup at lunch to up protein content. Make protein the center of attention at dinner, with tender cooked chicken or flaky fish served with soft-cooked veggies.
High-Protein Regular Diet
Once on the regular diet after your bariatric surgery, you should eat a diet that includes foods from all the food groups. To make sure you're meeting your protein needs, always eat your protein food first, says the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
For breakfast, try cottage cheese with fruit or Greek yogurt and whole-wheat toast. A high-protein lunch might include tuna with mixed greens. For dinner, enjoy meatloaf with sautéed chickpeas, green peas and cubed sweet potatoes.