We focus so much on lean protein intake for surgical weight loss patients due to the quick weight loss following surgery. The goal is to sustain muscle mass and protein is one component that assists in that. We even know that high protein intake doesn’t harm the kidneys or body’s organs. So the sky is the limit with protein consumption, right?
Wrong. Even though protein does not harm any organs or the body, it still does not mean that we need to significantly increase our consumption. A study done at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston actually discovered that only the first 30 grams of protein (~3-4oz) lead to production of muscle. The excess protein we consume gets broken down into glucose and likely stored as fat if our body doesn’t need it at that time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to decrease the overall protein we consume, but we do need to be aware of how we are intaking it throughout the day.
This is why many times if patients are using protein supplements we try to encourage products that contain ~25-30g protein. This again means that overall protein goals cannot be consumed at one meal and must be taken in over the course of the whole day.
A great way to do this is as follows:
Breakfast: Egg and slice of cheese-14g protein
Snack: 1oz nuts-7g protein
Lunch: Turkey and cheese roll up-20g protein
Snack: Greek yogurt-12g protein
Dinner: 3oz grilled chicken-21g protein
*obviously additional fruits and vegetables could and should be added into these meals
That is a total of 74 grams of protein, which meets protein requirements for the day. All of this protein intake is around or less than ~30g per meal/snack, which means that we will get the best use of those nutrients.
Make sure you take a look at your meals and snacks. Look for ways to spread out your protein intake to ensure that you are getting the best absorption and use of nutrients.
*Side note-1oz of protein is ~7g of protein. 3oz is about the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards. This should help for your calculations if you don’t have a nutrition facts label.
Symons, T., Sheffield-Moore, M., Wolfe, R., Paddon-Jones, D. (2009). Moderating the portion size of a protein-rich meal improves anabolic efficiency in young and elderly. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 109 (9): 1582-1586.
Katherine Horner, MS, RD, LD, NASM-CPT, CES
Surgical Weight Loss Dietitian & Exercise Specialist
Photo from WebMD