Vegetarians who are suffering from morbid obesity and undergo Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) for the treatment of obesity are challenged to follow the weight loss surgery high protein diet when they do not partake of red meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. The first rule of a bariatric diet is to eat protein first in an effort to consume as much as 105 grams of protein a day. The balance of dietary intake should be at least 60 percent protein with the other 40 percent food intake being low glycemic carbohydrates and healthy fats. These are the standard guidelines for patients of all gastric weight loss surgeries including gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding (lap-band), and gastric sleeve.
To the diet savvy, eating a high protein diet is no magical secret. We know that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet prompts weight loss. The body is made of protein. Muscles, bones, skin, hair and virtually every other body part are essentially protein, which consists of basic building blocks called amino acids. Amino acids help the body heal from surgery and fuel metabolic life processes around the clock. With the elimination of animal proteins from the diet vegetarians must turn to plant and dairy food for their protein needs. Legumes, low-fat dairy foods, soybeans and soy products, and nuts and seeds are all viable sources of protein for WLS vegetarians.
Legumes : Dried or canned beans such as kidney, cannellini, black beans and navy beans are nutritional powerhouse foods that may be enjoyed daily. One 7-ounce serving of beans provides 15 grams of protein. In addition beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and they are mineral rich providing B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and phytochemicals. Beans are versatile and can be added to soups, salads, casseroles and stir fries.
Low-fat dairy foods : Dairy foods are another excellent source of protein, but patients of weight loss surgery must eat dairy with caution. Some surgical procedures affect a state of lactose intolerance in patients: it is wise to consult with a bariatric nutritionist if symptoms of lactose intolerance occur. When dairy is tolerated WLS vegetarians can enjoy a 1 cup serving of skim milk, a 6-ounce serving of low-fat yogurt or a 1-ounce serving of low-fat cheddar cheese each providing nearly 10 grams of protein along with calcium and vitamins A, B, and D.
Soybeans and soy products : Soybeans are protein dense: a 7-ounce serving provides 24 grams of protein as well as iron, zinc, vitamin B, and phytochemicals. But Americans have been slow to make soybeans a dietary staple, perhaps because of a few too many tofu-experiments gone bad. New soy-based products take tofu from the strange health food cart to mainstream meals in the form of veggie burgers and veggie tacos. Calcium fortified soy-dairy products such as milk and cheese are commonly available in most supermarkets and make suitable replacements for animal dairy products without lactose impact.
Nuts and seeds : A small 1-ounce serving of nuts provides about 5 grams of protein and a rich source of antioxidants including vitamin E and selenium. Nuts are high in fat so the portion must be carefully measured. Under these conditions nuts can provide a healthy snack, or a crunchy topping for salads or desserts.
Weight loss surgery vegetarians must mindfully monitor their dietary intake to ensure adequate protein needs are met. When protein intake is not met weight loss will stall or weight gain may occur. WLS vegetarians should eat a wide variety of protein foods each day to supply their amino acid needs. This can be accomplished by keeping a pantry stocked with legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and soy products, and a refrigerator filled with low-fat dairy.