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What About…Plant Based Proteins?



Bariatric surgeons and dietitians emphasize the necessity of daily post-surgery protein consumption to their patients. This is because the fundamental roles of protein are essential for the human body to function properly.


Proteins... What are They Again?


You can think of proteins as your body’s building blocks. They encourage growth and development- beyond the years of your final growth spurt. Protein is the main component of your body’s physical structures including your muscles, bones, organs, and ladies: hair and nails. The key to successful weight loss, protein intake helps your body burn fat instead of muscle. Your body requires appropriate protein intake in order to preserve lean muscle mass, and keep your metabolism high. Protein is the key to satiety, keeping you fuller longer than other foods such as carbohydrates.


There are Two Types As Well?!


In order to understand the differences between animal and plant protein, let’s look at their compositions. Proteins are a combination of different amino acids, which all play different roles in our bodies. There are a total of 20 amino acids that exist, but our bodies produce 11 of them naturally. They are responsible for repairing tissue, helping metabolic processes, and promoting cellular growth. The other 9 amino acids must be obtained from dietary sources. Resources that have the nine essential amino acids are referred to as “complete proteins,” which come from meat and seafood sources.


Plant Based Proteins - Why?


But not all animal proteins are created equal. There are several health concerns related to red meat, processed meat, and animal products containing saturated fat such as heavy cream or butter. Associated with obesity, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure, these products should be consumed sparingly.


These health concerns can be mitigated by incorporating protein into your diet from other sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, soy, certain grains, and dairy products. Plant-based protein sources provide several nutritional benefits:

  • Contain essential vitamins and minerals

  • Filled with dietary fiber that encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria which can help promote weight loss, and provides satiety so you stay fuller longer

  • Have anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent physical stress on the joints and organs that can contribute to diseases including heart disease.

  • Reduce the risk of or even reverse metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

However, these plant-based proteins are considered “incomplete proteins” because each source lacks all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need. This is solved by eating a variety of protein rich foods, giving you the option to explore new options! It’s the perfect time to try that quinoa and kale salad…


Ideas for Incorporating Plant-Based Proteins into Your Diet


  • Aim to replace a meat-based meal with a vegetarian meal at least once a week - try Meatless Mondays.

  • Because meat contains more protein per serving than plant based proteins, make sure you consume enough plant-based protein, but watch the calories!


Not sure where to start? My Bariatric Life has high-protein vegetarian recipes that will keep you full for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


For more information on nutrition after weight loss surgery, or to schedule a consultation, contact the office at: 310-577-5540.


Lily Lam is a registered dietitian for the Marina Weight Loss Center in Marina del Rey. She provides a comprehensive nutritional approach for each patient to make sure they achieve their individual dietary needs.



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