by Deborah M. Wong, RD (registered dietitian and post weight loss nutrition expert) and J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS, FICS, FASMBS
So now you’ve had a body lift. Wow!!! Congratulations on continuing with your journey. Now you are on the road to recovering from a major surgery. Along with that sense of accomplishment, you are probably experiencing other issues right now – fatigue, anorexia (loss of appetite), nausea, constipation/diarrhea, pain, anxiety, and maybe even a loss of taste. For the first few days, maybe even weeks, after surgery, you probably don’t even want to think about food or drinks. However, this is the time when it is most important for you to follow a healthy diet. I know what you’re thinking; “I’ve gone through all of this to lose weight and finally have the body I want, and I still have to follow a diet?” A diet is a way of life; it’s not a temporary fad, especially if you’ve had bariatric surgery.
After any kind of surgery, your energy (calorie) and protein needs increase. You will need to increase your intake of healthy foods in order to heal. This article will provide tips on how to increase your protein and energy intake. For advice on addressing problems with nausea, constipation and diarrhea, please refer to my earlier article on post-operative nutrition recommendations for nausea and stomach upset.
What are your daily nutrient recommendations? Generally, energy recommendations are around 25kcal/kg body weight. A kilocalorie (kcal) is what is commonly known as a calorie. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to a kilocalorie as a calorie. Of course, your energy requirements will change based on your current situation. This may include your activity level, age, stress (including surgery), and certain medical conditions. Let’s assume your minimum energy requirement is 25 calories per kg body weight after surgery. If you are 150 lbs(68kg), then your minimum energy requirement would be about 1700 calories per day.
Protein requirements after a body lift would likely be around 1.5 g/kg body weight. For the same 150 lb person, that would translate to 102 grams of protein per day. After surgery, protein requirements increase as it is needed for wound healing (i.e. your surgical incisions).
How does this look as a daily menu? In the age of the internet, it’s pretty easy to look up the protein and calorie content of food. It’s also pretty easy to get nutrient analysis software that calculates your daily intake. Below is a sample daily menu to give you an idea of how to incorporate these recommendations in your daily diet. Protein and calorie contents are estimates.
Breakfast ?????Protein (g)?? Energy (calories)
2 large eggs????? 12???140
1 Tbsp butter? 100
2 slices toast, whole wheat ???4???140
1 cup skim milk?????8???90
11 fl oz Premier Protein drink?? 30???150
5 oz can tuna in oil, drained??? 14???160
1 slice whole wheat bread??? 2???70
1 Tbsp mayonnaise 50
¾ cup baby carrots??????? 40
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter???? 8???190
4 multi-grain crackers (Milton)?? 2???140
1 banana????????? 100
2 oz cooked chicken???? 19???90
½ cup boiled potato, diced?????? 70
½ cup cooked green peas??? 4???70
1 Tbsp butter???????? 100
1 string cheese????? 6???50
½ cup fresh apple slices?????? 25
TOTAL ??????109 g protein? 1775 calories
As your appetite may not be as good as it normally is, frequent small meals may be better tolerated. The above sample menu contains meals that are simple to make; some can even be made ahead of time and frozen. For example, chicken can be cooked in batches before your surgery, frozen in individual portions and thawed when ready to eat. Eggs are a great staple for the post-operative diet as they are easy to cook, versatile, high in protein, and inexpensive. You can boil a large batch of eggs at one time, keep in the fridge, and consume for a quick meal or snack. Canned fish, cheese, nuts, and nut butters are quick and easy protein choices. Try to combine foods high in protein with a healthy carbohydrate such as whole grain crackers/bread or fresh fruit and vegetables.
Nutritional supplements are recommended post-operatively as they are high sources of quality protein and easy to consume. The Premier Protein drink listed above is available at your local grocery stores, pharmacies, and Costco.