Does Bariatric Surgery Cause Protein Deficiency?

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

It's important to screen for protein deficiency after gastric bypass weight-loss surgery.** The process of weight-loss after gastric bypass surgery is exhilarating** The pounds are literally flying off in those first six to twelve months.
It is as if a
truce has been negotiated in the extended and bloody war that had been waged against the bathroom scale.

The spinning dial on the scale that had cruelly measured the pounds during those days of upward surge was no longer a sharp-toothed menace. It was just a spinning dial again, and a rather friendly one at that. And best of all, the upward surge had become the downward spiral. The scale took on a warmer aura about it, like a small bit of Spring or Summer. I exaggerate, but then again, does it get any better than this?** Well, hello reality...Rapid weight loss after gastric bypass surgery is hardly unusual. Unfortunately, this explosion is the result of inadequate calorie intake that is combined with protein and fat malabsorption. One of the common short-term post-operative complications of bariatric surgery is protein malnutrition caused by inadequate protein intake. Maintaining the proper daily intake of protein can be challenging** and a need for nutritional consultations might be necessary to avoid developing protein deficiency..

Protein is Important

Proteins have a number of important actions. They are vehicles for the bodily functions of metabolism, digestion, and replication of DNA. They frame the structure for cells such as hair, skin, and nails. They help the body to combat infection by strengthening the immune system.

Foods that contain protein are red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, and a variety of seafood. Protein also is in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Protein Malnutrition and Protein Deficiency Symptoms

Protein deficiency can cause protein energy malnutrition. An early symptom of protein malnutrition can be hair loss. Longer term manifestations include signals of muscle-mass wasting. Monitoring protein intake along with skin and hair condition after weight-loss surgery are important measures in preventing
protein deficiency.

Kwashiorkor is an acute form of protein malnutrition that effects children. Characteristics are edema, irritability, anorexia, and an enlarged liver. Critical protein deficiency analogous to Kwashiorkor has been noted after Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.

A second critical condition attributed to protein deficiency is marasmus, the deprivation of the energy that is needed to maintain body weight. Characteristics include below normal body temperature, diminished pulse and metabolic rate, and constipation.

Daily Protein Requirements after Gastric Bypass Surgery

After gastric bypass weight-loss surgery, women will need 60 to 80 grams of protein daily. Men will need
70 to 90
grams of protein per day after gastric bypass surgery. It is important that bariatric patients get enough protein intake because of the high risk for protein deficiency and resulting protein malnutrition side-effects. It also is important to drink 73 to 100 ounces of fluids per day because high protein intake levels can cause dehydration.

Protein Supplements for Gastric Bypass Patients

Protein supplements are defined as either complete or incomplete depending on whether or not they contain essential amino acids. Animal proteins are most often complete while plant proteins are most often incomplete.

One type of protein supplement used by virtually every gastric bypass surgery patient is powdered whey protein that can be mixed with either milk or water. Powdered whey protein usually comes in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and banana
flavors. I've developed many delicious recipes for protein shakes using different flavored powders and sugar-free syrups. Pre-made protein shakes and protein bars also are available. My favorite recipe for protein bars is OMG! Almond Joy Protein Bars, which I also developed.

The best quality protein shakes and powders for weight-loss surgery patients will have between 14 and 25 grams of protein, 150 to 250 calories, less than 15 grams of sugar, and less than 5 grams of fat. Personally, I use protein powders that have 0 grams of fat and 0 grams of carbohydrates.

Good luck and be sure to
get your protein in!

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to support future weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!** My Story...**

You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.