Protein is essential for the bariatric patient diet, but many patients struggle with meeting the daily recommended intake of this critical macronutrient. And while they may hear a great deal about what not to eat, less attention is focused on the best foods to help post-op bariatric patients stay on track. This list of seven bariatric food options is a handy guideline to all things high-protein, low-calorie and delicious.
Not only are eggs packed with protein, but a single large egg has just 74 calories. Because
free-range eggs come from hens which consume a more varied diet, they offer the best nutritional value. They’re also tasty and versatile: From soft-boiled and scrambled to omelets and over-easy, there’s no end to the ways to enjoy eggs.
Greek yogurt has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years, and with good reason: It’s exceptionally rich, thick, and creamy. It also doubles the protein content of regular yogurt! In fact, one cup of Greek yogurt can contain up to 20 grams of protein. And because Greek yogurt is low in carbohydrates and contains probiotics, it’s gentle on the stomach and may even aid digestive function. It can also be used as a substitute for milk and sour cream during baking and cooking.
All proteins aren’t created equal. The gold standard of protein sources, whole foods, provide additional nutritional benefits that protein powders and “nutrition bars” fail to provide. On-the-go post-op patients may find themselves struggling with quick, easy snack and meal options. Enter Achieve. For people looking to satisfy their appetite while getting the necessary calories, this “real food” option tastes and nourishes better than alternative bariatric food options while providing a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving and the essential vitamins and minerals.
Containing all nine essential amino acids for human health, plant-based quinoa is a complete source of protein. Says nutritional therapist Sheri Burke: “This grain is a champion over other grains because of its elevated protein and fiber content. You can have a half cup serving for 120 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 4.5 grams of protein. It even has added B Vitamins. This grain is a ‘yes’ for sure in my nutrition guide!”
This affordable high-quality protein is not only low in fat and calories, but is also loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Because of this, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week to improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis and certain types of cancer. Not a fan of tuna? Try canned salmon instead.
A mere half a cup of filling, fat-free cottage cheese provides up to 14 grams of protein for just 80 calories, making it a standout among low calorie bariatric food options. Bariatric post-op patients looking for indulgent flavor and texture without the fat and calories rely on cottage cheese for its many nutritious and delicious qualities. Plus, it’s extremely versatile. As registered dietitian Kara Lydon told Shape, “[Cottage cheese] can be used to improve the taste texture and nutrition profile of a lot of recipes.”
While excessive snacking isn’t recommended for bariatric patients, the urge to graze does occasionally strike. When it does, this salty/crunchy soybean snack food offers a winning combination of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium and plenty of other vitamins and nutrients. In addition to noshing on them as a snack, patients can also add them to rice, pasta, stir fries and salads.
Bariatric surgery is a significant step for patients, and adjusting to a new way of eating can be a stumbling point. The more adherence-friendly options patients have to choose from when it comes to high protein bariatric food options, the likelier they are to reach their weight loss and weight management goals.