Protein is all most talk about after weight loss surgery. There is a popular misconception that “meat” is the only real source of protein and so it’s impossible to follow a vegetarian diet after sleeve gastrectomy due to the lack of protein. But it’s not true! A vegetarian diet can be packed full of the nutrients you need, as well as satisfying and delicious – you just need to give it a little extra planning.
The recommendations for protein is not as high as you might think. I’ve written about this before, here. The ASMBS recommends 60-110g of protein per day after weight loss surgery, but most people tend to eat about 60-80 grams each day. Vegetarian diets can be divided into a few different categories including: ovo (eggs), lacto (dairy), ovo-lacto (eggs and dairy) and vegan (plants only) diets. Eggs and dairy are great sources of protein, and contain lots of other vitamins and minerals as well. If you are eating eggs and dairy products, eating the recommended amount of protein is not to difficult. Problems arise with a vegan diet, although with careful planning, this can be adequate as well.
It’s not all about the protein… Certain nutrients are more difficult to eat in the correct quantities when you’re eating a vegetarian diet after sleeve gastrectomy. Some of these nutrients are the common culprits for deficiencies after a sleeve, even if you are eating meat, so if you’re going vego they need extra attention and may need additional supplementation.
Making sure you are eating a variety of foods, taking your supplements, should help to minimise the risk of deficiency when eating a vegetarian diet after sleeve gastrectomy.
The following are sources of protein suitable for vegetarian diet after sleeve gastrectomy. I’ve included eggs and dairy there as well for those who wish to eat an ovo- or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and listed the amounts next to them in bariatric-friendly portions so you know how much you’re eating in a typical day. Be sure to check labels though as these are averages and often amounts vary considerably between brands.
As you see, a vegetarian diet can be a part of a sleeved lifestyle although it will take a little attention and planning. Keep in mind that people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle have been shown to carry a lower body weight, have better cholesterol levels, have greater longevity, and have a lower risk of developing cancer. So consider giving tofu a try…you might like it!
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