Most weight loss surgery patients know they need to reach their protein goals on a daily basis. Using a “ready to drink“ (RTD) protein drink or making your own protein drink with a protein powder can aid in reaching your goal.
But not all RTD protein drinks and protein powders are appropriate for bariatric surgery patients — some of the protein supplements may be formulated for other purposes such as body building or for people who need to gain weight.
Learn about Bariatric Surgery solutions >>>
What to Look for in a Post-Op Protein Drink
When choosing a protein supplement, it’s important to look for some general nutritional guidelines. In addition, if you like to make your own protein drink (smoothie or shake), be careful what you add to it. Some people go overboard with adding fruit, fruit juice, peanut butter and other ingredients, which can raise the calorie level of your protein drink well beyond what you need.
There are many RTD protein drinks on the market which can make selecting an appropriate one more difficult. Typically, you’ll want to look for a protein drink that has at least 20 grams of good quality protein (preferably whey protein isolate), no more than 300 calories and less than 15 grams of sugars.
Some of the RTD protein drinks we recommend are:
- Premier Protein – can be purchased at any of the warehouse stores
- GNC Total Lean – also comes in a powder
- Lean Body by LaBrada – sold at GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe
- Muscle Milk Light – sold in pharmacies, grocery stores and some warehouse stores
- Met Rx Meal Replacement – sold at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe
Some protein powders we recommend are:
- Bariatric Advantage Meal Replacement (powder) – can be ordered directly at bariatricadvantage.com
- Isopure Low Carb (powder) – sold at GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe
- Unjury Powdered Whey Protein Isolate – can be ordered directly at unjury.com
If you are vegan, vegetarian, do not or cannot use artificial sweeteners, there are specialty protein drinks for you. Ask your bariatric dietitian or bariatric surgeon for suggested products.
Register for a free Bariatric Surgery Seminar or Webinar here >>>
Tips for Making Your Own Protein Drinks
If you like to make your own protein drink, first start off with one of the protein powders or RTD products suggested above. If using a protein powder, you can add the recommended amount of water, skim (fat free milk), fortified almond milk or light soy milk. Check the product for directions as each brand of protein powder may be different.
If you want a bit more flavor, fiber and nutrition, you can add 2 tablespoons of PB2® (a low calorie peanut powder), a small amount of fresh fruit (1/2 cup at most), ice and/or leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.) if desired.
Things to avoid
I usually ask patients to avoid adding too much fruit, fruit juices, whole milk and/or peanut butter as these ingredients can add significant amounts of calories to a protein shake.
Even though fruit, fruit juices and peanut butter are healthy, they can pack a high calorie punch. Just two tablespoons of peanut butter alone has 190 calories, which is more calories than some of the RTD protein drinks! Adding fruit juice adds a lot of calories and increases the sugar count. Higher sugar counts may cause dumping in those that have had gastric bypass.
Calorie-free SPICE additions to protein drinks
To add more pizzazz to your protein drink without the calories, try adding some of the following spices:
- pumpkin pie spice
Add a dash to your protein drink for a little bit more flavor. A dash of cinnamon in a vanilla protein drink tastes delicious!
Get more diet, nutrition and exercise tips here >>>
Calorie-free EXTRACT additions to protein drinks
You might also try adding some of the following extracts:
- pure vanilla extract
- almond extract
- peppermint extract
- mint extract
- cinnamon extract
- pure orange or berry extracts
- coconut extract (imitation)
Use just a drop or 2 in a protein drink to add a burst of flavor! A drop of almond extract in a chocolate protein drink makes a tasty treat. Or a drop of mint extract in a chocolate protein drink turns an ordinary chocolate drink into a chocolate mint delight!
Sugar-free SYRUP additions to protein drinks
Lastly, you can try using sugar-Free syrups to flavor your homemade protein drink:
All three of these are wonderful sugar free syrups you can add to your protein drink for even more flavor options. Visit the company websites for lists of available flavors and where you can purchase these syrups.
On a hot day, make your protein drink into ice pops. Use any ice pop mold and turn your protein drink into something cool and refreshing!
With so many protein drinks and flavoring options you won’t get bored any time soon! If you are still not sure what to buy or use, call the office and ask the dietitian before you waste money on a product that will not help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Be sure to also check out more of my diet, nutrition and exercise tips on my dedicated page, Dietitian’s Corner!
Dietitian’s Corner is a monthly column for post-op and pre-op patients of bariatric surgery in NJ written by Prime Surgicare’s Lori Skurbe. Lori has been a dietitian for over 20 years with an extensive background in weight management, bariatric nutrition and diabetes education.