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As you may already know, during a period after surgery you will be on a liquid diet, and getting enough protein is one of the most important factors in the equation for lasting results.

If you are vegan or vegetarian and just went through surgery or plan to do so, meeting your daily protein needs may be a challenge. At Mexicali Bariatric Center we care about our patient’s particular needs. Here are some expert recommendations on how to meet your protein requirements even if you are vegan or vegetarian.

High-quality protein is vital after surgery; not only does it promote weight-loss, but is also fundamental for proper wound healing, as well as for hormone and antibody formation. It is also essential to boost metabolism, and control cravings.

How and what you eat after surgery will set the stage for ultimate weight-loss results. It’s the opportunity to create an entirely new form of eating; a new life.

Despite the belief that protein can’t be met if you are vegetarian or vegan, there are options. So get confident and start a plan. Our recommendation for a woman that underwent gastric sleeve surgery is to eat 8  to 10 ounces of protein per day. Your doctor will let you know what is the amount you need to consume during each period: before and after surgery.

Consuming the amount prescribed will ensure that the benefits mentioned above, and avoid the negative effects of a low-calorie/ low-protein diet: As you might have read in one of our recent posts, the body switches to a reduced metabolism if it does not meet its calorie requirements, which —among other negative side issues— to survive, it will begin to use whatever existing protein from muscle tissue in the body to use as energy.  

You may ask yourself, how can I reach 90 to 100 grams of protein daily if I don’t eat animal protein? According to bariatric experts, you CAN meet this need by learning what food you can eat is high in protein, and keeping a food diary.

Here is a list of high protein food that may be beneficial to your needs:

One cup of cooked lentils, for instance, contains 18 grams of protein, and almost all beans, as well as chickpeas, contain 15 grams of protein per cup. Green peas contain 9 grams per cooked cup (240 ml) and are a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and vitamin B.

Protein shakes are also great to help you meet your protein needs. If you consume dairy products, whey protein will be very useful. If you are vegan, ask for plant-based protein shakes options. These are especially vital in the liquid diet stage.

Other great sources of protein can be found in plants, such as Seitan (if you also carry a gluten free diet this is not recommendable). Made from gluten, the protein in wheat and with 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces of the plant has become popular among vegans and vegetarians. Ask your doctor if this food is a good source for you after surgery.

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame may also be a good option, these are all products from the soy plant and are also rich in calcium. 3.5 ounces of the plant carry 10 to 19 grams of protein. We recommend you choose organic soy products when possible.  Spelt and Teff are known as ancient grains, they contain gluten, and therefore provide around 10 to 11 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml). Hemp Seeds are also a great source of protein with 10 grams per ounce of seeds. Spirulina is an alga that provides 8 grams of complete protein per two tablespoons  (30 ml) and studies have shown that benefits from consuming spirulina link to a better immune system.

Amaranth and Quinoa are gluten-free grains and provide 8 to 9 grams of complete protein per cooked cup. Soy milk adds 7 grams of protein per cup, oats, and oatmeal 6 grams per half a cup (120 ml), and wild rice contains 1.5 times more protein than other long-grain rice varieties. 1 cup adds 7 grams of protein.

Chia seeds provide 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per 1.25 ounces, it’s a good source of iron and omega-3 fatty acids, you can add it to shakes or smoothies. Nuts, nut-butters, and other seeds range from 5 to 7 grams of protein, depending on the variety.

Lastly, some vegetables have more protein than others, such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts. Fruits that contain an amount of protein that actually can add to your goal are guava, cherimoyas, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines, and bananas, ranging from 2 to 4 grams per cup.

Always remember to ask your doctor before including any new food to your post-surgery diet.