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Nutritional Needs After Bariatric Surgery

January 13, 2021 | Bariatric Diet

One’s diet changes after bariatric surgery. Getting enough nutrients to retain muscle and meet the needs of overall health is challenging for many patients.

Post-surgical nutrition counseling steers individuals in the right direction. Wynnie Hoodis, registered dietician, breaks down the importance of protein and vitamins after surgery.

Protein for Optimal Function

Protein is important for muscle and tissue repair, hormone production, body chemicals and immune function. It helps bariatric patients maintain lean muscle mass as they lose weight. Without enough protein, healing takes longer and hair loss can occur. The trick is to not overdo protein consumption.

After surgery, protein shakes throughout the day fulfill the patient’s protein needs. “In our nutrition appointments, we talk about what constitutes a good protein shake,” notes Hoodis. “For example, how many grams of protein they need per day or what type of protein powder to use if they want to make their own shakes.” With a handful of options, it’s easier for a patient to meet those protein needs.

When the patient is ready for solid foods, soft proteins are at the top of the list. White fish, salmon, ground meats and shredded chicken are options. Patients are also encouraged to consume soft legumes, tofu, yogurt and eggs.

The type of bariatric surgery performed influences patient protein recommendations. Hoodis clarifies that individuals who’ve had a gastric sleeve or bypass procedure usually need between 50 and 70 grams per day, while those who have undergone the duodenal switch need 70 to 90 grams. These are daily recommendations, not single meal requirements.

Vitamins Specific to Bariatric Patients

An altered gastrointestinal system, smaller stomach size or prescription medications can interfere with proper vitamin absorption from food. Since vitamins aid in fighting infections, healing from injuries, converting food to energy, and maintaining a functioning brain and nervous system, a supplement is necessary to meet those needs.

Bariatric vitamins have a different breakdown process and greater concentration of vitamins and minerals than typical over-the-counter supplements. These specialty vitamins are complete multivitamins that should cover all of one’s needs.

“Patients typically don’t have to take anything separate from the bariatric vitamins, unless we notice oddities in their blood work,” informs Hoodis. In such cases, very specific vitamins would be recommended.

Bariatric vitamins typically cost more than OTC vitamins. In most cases, they are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. That said, they are important for health success following bariatric surgery. The cost is worth it.

Since some vitamins can’t be taken at the same time, Hoodis suggests setting alarms as reminders. The Baritastic mobile app can be synced with Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness Center, allowing staff to monitor individual patients’ vitamin and protein intake.

Wynnie Hoodis

**To listen to an interview with Wynnie Hoodis, registered dietician, follow this link:

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