Why Protein is Essential to Your Bariatric Weight Loss Success

By Dr. Ayotunde Adeyeri

Protein is an essential nutritional element for anyone who had bariatric surgery—it supports building and maintaining essential muscle mass and acts as a source of energy to keep you energized throughout the day.

On the outside, protein also helps to keep your hair, skin and nails strong.

Why is muscle mass important? As your weight rapidly declines, your muscles can help minimize sagging skin, common after bariatric surgery or any rapid weight decline.

Admittedly, eating 60 to 80 grams/daily is not easy after your surgery, but it is more than worth the effort. Overlooking this effort can quickly result in hair loss, starting 6-12 months after weight loss surgery, and an overall decrease in health and normal body function.

This happens because the human body can’t make protein without food. The body also cannot store protein for future need. Therefore, you are charged with the responsibility of giving your body the protein it needs to successfully energize you and keep your hair and nails strong.

Protein first


When sitting down to eat any meal, start with protein. While fruits, vegetables and other carbohydrates are still part of a healthy diet, priority number one is always protein.

For the first few weeks after surgery, you’ll get most of your protein from shakes. However, as more solid foods are reintroduced into your diet, make sure you’re eating protein with every meal and snack.

You do not have to eat heavy meats or fish to fulfill your daily protein requirements. Don’t forget, protein-rich foods extend far beyond a chicken breast. Lighter foods like tofu, yogurt and eggs can also make a high quality contribution. They also include:

  • Low-fat dairy such as cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese
  • Tofu
  • Beans (legumes) of all colors and shapes
  • Protein drinks
  • Eggs – scrambled are light and easy to digest
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish

Click to meet some of Dr. Adeyeri’s weight loss surgery patients

More bariatric VIPs: Vitamins & minerals

No matter which bariatric procedure you undergo, you can expect to consume less food, making it challenging to meet your essential nutrient goals each day. As a result, vitamin and mineral needs increase significantly.

Shortly after surgery, patients generally consume a chewable/liquid version of the prescribed vitamins and minerals and later progress to pill form. Bariatric-specific multivitamins contain a specifically formulated combination of vitamins and minerals that make it easier to replenish nutritional gaps.

Even if you eat a perfectly-balanced post-op diet, supplements still play a critical role in helping to offset any potential deficiencies. Minimally, your doctor and nutrition team will prescribe:

  • A bariatric-specific multivitamin
  • Calcium and vitamin D
  • Iron and/or vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C

You will permanently take these supplements, so establish a consistent daily routine to take them during the course of your day.

If you should discontinue taking your personally prescribed supplements, you will soon feel the negative effects of doing so, so stay steady and consistent.

Your weight loss surgery is a life change that will require a long-term relationship with protein-rich foods, vitamins and minerals. Take great care to prioritize feeling them to your body every day.

We ask so much of our bodies every day. Give your body the fuel it needs to keep you running optimally, all day, every day.

READ: Seven Tips to Stay Hydrated after Weight Loss Surgery

If you’re ready to start your bariatric journey, call our friendly team at 732-217-3897 and make an appointment for an in-person or telehealth consultation with me directly. We’ll talk about your past weight challenges and what your goals are for the future. If you are ready to lose a significant amount of weight quickly and safely, let’s get started today.