Patients with metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) are at risk of losing lean body mass during their active weight-loss period. For this reason, MBS patients are strongly urged to prioritize protein after surgery. This helps ensure adequate protein levels, which in turn, helps to minimize lean body mass loss.*
In addition, protein aids in the healing and maintenance of all structural and functional components of the body.* At the beginning of the bariatric journey, however, it is difficult to consume the recommended minimum of 60 grams of protein without adding protein powder supplements.*
With so many protein supplements on the market, it can be a daunting task to know which the best choice is. In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of protein supplements, to help you choose the best type of protein for you.*
Protein Supplements Are Not Created Equal
Not all protein supplements are created equal in terms of their nutritional value, bioavailability, taste, texture, accessibility, and price points. The quality of protein is based on the amount and kinds of amino acids contained in the product. Protein quality also depends on the ability of your body to easily absorb the amino acids.*
There are 20 amino acids, 9 of which are indispensable, meaning, they must be consumed through the diet. As long as we take in all indispensable amino acids, the human body can manufacture the other 11 to ensure proper cell reproduction, structure, and function.
Types of Protein Supplements
There are various protein supplements found on the market. The most commonly seen ones are whey, collagen, soy, and egg. Each protein option offers an array of benefits. The type that is chosen is typically based on personal sensitivities, healthcare provider recommendations, budget, tolerance, taste, and dietary restrictions.
“Protein supplements” is a general term. There are different forms of protein supplements including protein powders, protein bars, amino acid supplements, and more. The difference is in the nutritional composition. The decision of which to use is typically based on the daily nutritional goals you are trying to meet.*
Bariatric Fusion has great-tasting high protein powder meal replacements. They are designed as a quick and effective way to receive the required daily amount of protein as well as fiber, and various vitamins and minerals to meet bariatric needs.*
Still considered the “gold standard” of protein supplements, research shows whey is absorbable and offers many health benefits. (1) Whey protein supplements contain all the indispensable amino acids. Whey is a milk protein. After processing, whey can either be made into whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, or whey protein hydrolysate.*
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate has anywhere between 29% and 89% protein, depending on the product. However, it tends to be thick, gritty, and harder to tolerate. Whey protein concentrate often has a slightly higher lactose content, which is not tolerable after bariatric surgery for many patients.*
- Readily available
- Contains some lactose
- May be less bioavailable and tolerable to patients
Whey Protein Isolate
One of the best forms of whey is whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate contains a higher protein content (90%) and less lactose (less than 0.5%). Whey protein isolate is easily blendable, comes in a variety of flavors, and is well tolerated after surgery.*
- Readily available
- Easily absorbed
- Easy mixing
- Virtually lactose-free
- May be more expensive
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Hydrolyzed whey protein is processed where the protein chains are broken down into smaller segments called “peptides.” These products tend to be more expensive, have low allergenicity, and are often medically graded.*
- Less allergenic
- Mixes well
- May be more expensive
Soy protein is the vegetarian counterpart to whey. It also contains all the indispensable amino acids. Soy protein is processed from soy flour and can be found either as a concentrate or isolate. Soy supplements are also well absorbed and an ideal substitute for those with milk allergies or for those who choose to follow a vegetarian diet plan.*
Egg protein supplements are made from egg white, which makes this product lower in fat. Egg protein is readily absorbed by the human body and makes a great choice for those with allergies to milk or soy.*
Collagen is a protein. It is the main component in various connective tissues, but primarily in fibrous tissues such as tendons and skin. Collagen is not considered a complete protein and does not contain all the indispensable amino acids. However, collagen is characterized by high levels of specific amino acids called glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, and alanine.*
Depending on the type and location of collagen, these proteins can be type I, II, or III. There is research that shows collagen may help support joint and bone health, promote skin elasticity, support wound healing, and lean muscle mass. (2,3)*
In conclusion, there are many protein supplements available for patients before and after metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS). Reading labels and becoming familiar with products will help you decide which form of protein is best for you. Whichever protein product you choose, be sure to self-monitor your intake so you are confident that you are meeting your bariatric nutrition needs.*
Bariatric Fusion carries various flavors of whey protein isolate to meet individual needs. With protein powder meal replacements that are designed with patients with metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS) in mind, you can be certain you are getting products to meet your needs. They can also be enjoyed by individuals who have not had MBS and are a great way to get high-quality protein in your diet.*
- J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018; 15:10 [PMID: 29497353]
- Nutrients. 2019; 11(10):2494 [PMID: 31627309]
- Amino Acids. 2021; 53(10):1493-1506 [PMID: 34491424]
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.
Dr. Lillian Craggs-Dino is a retained consultant for Bariatric Fusion.