Picking the right protein powder can be a daunting task. The options can seem extremely overwhelming. So, you’re faced with the ultimate question: what is the best protein powder for me after bariatric surgery? An even better question: are protein supplements even necessary?
Protein powders have several advantages and there are strong reasons to include them in your diet:
- Convenient for on the-the-go meals or snacks
- Excellent for hitting daily protein targets
- Can be cost effective on a cost per gram of protein basis
- Come in a wide range of flavors and can be mixed in with various meals
For bariatric patients, the goal is to use the highest quality protein which are low in carbohydrates and fat. Protein powders/supplements are not necessary for losing fat, but there are benefits to including protein powders in your diet, so it’s important to find the best source that works for you. Including protein supplements in your diet will help you get the 60-80 grams that many surgical programs recommend. This study posted by the Endocrine Society recommends a higher amount–60-120 grams of protein per day.
Of all the protein powders we examined, whey protein is the most popular–and by a huge margin. It’s reasonably priced, it tastes good, and has a great amino acid profile.
Whey is a by-product of cheese production, and is a complete protein and packed with leucine–an amino acid and a catalyst in initiating protein synthesis. Due to the high amounts of leucine, whey is a rapidly absorbed protein with a high net protein utilization (NPU) at 92%.
Whey’s high NPU is equally ideal for sports athletes and bariatric patients. Although whey protein is great anytime, it’s a particularly strong choice after exercise.
Another very popular form of protein, casein, is found in milk–just like whey protein. Yet unlike whey, casein protein is a slow digesting protein, providing a sustained slow release of amino acids into the bloodstream. Because of this, a slow-burning protein such as casein is usually best for before bed, as you will receive a prolonged supply of protein and amino acids while you sleep.
Egg Protein Powder
Egg protein powder is rarely used, but it’s not because it’s inferior to whey or casein protein. In fact, it is an excellent source of protein. It’s just not as popular. There are a few primary benefits of egg protein:
- High biological value – biological value is measured by how efficiently your body can utilize forms of protein.
- Egg protein has an NPU of approximately 94%, according to this study.
- More slowly digested than casein.
- Derived from egg whites, egg protein powders have low amounts of fat and carbohydrates.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy protein is derived from soybeans which have been dehulled and defatted. Soybeans are processed into various commercial products.
Soy protein is a viable choice for building and maintaining muscle mass.
There is a bit of controversy when it comes to soy food products, especially for men. This study from Harvard University shows evidence that high level of consumption of soy in men leads to decreased sperm count. Men in the highest intake category of soy foods had on average 41 million sperm/ml less than men who did not eat soy foods.
However, another study showed that consumption of soy protein and isoflavone does not affect sperm quality. At this point, there is no definitive answer on whether soy products reduce sperm counts. So for the time being, it’s a great source of protein and will not be harmful in moderate servings.
Other Protein Powders
Rice protein powder has an equal biological value to beef. It’s a great choice for vegetarians and individuals with lactose intolerance.
Pea protein powder is equally as good as rice protein and has a large amount of leucine.
Remember, what is most important is that you find the protein source that works best for you and your needs. As a bariatric patient, you need a high-quality, fast absorbing protein. Also remember that all protein powders are created equal, and while the most expensive product is not necessarily the best, you will usually get what you pay for.