GG's Guide to Protein Powder

Everything you need to know about using protein powder in your diet. Here's how to get the best possible boost.

Protein powder is not only a versatile tool for weight loss, but as a nutrient supplement it will boost your protein intake when you can't get enough from whole foods. We love adding our own brand of whey and vegan protein powder to recipes and using it to make healthy, protein enriched, smoothies to supplement meals and snacks. However, including protein powder in your post-op diet will not help you to reach your weight loss goals unless you are vigilant about maintaining a low fat, low calorie diet plan supported by exercise.

Do I need protein powder in my post-op diet? 

After surgery, it is such a struggle to eat we often need to add protein powder to anything we can! Add protein powder to clear soups and fluids to aid recovery in the early post-op stage. In the soft and puree food stage, add protein powder to blended meals such as shepherds pie or roast dinner. While many people who have undergone a form of surgery can eventually get enough protein each day just from whole foods, protein powder can also provide an additional boost for the long duration of the weight loss journey. If you have undergone a gastric bypass or sleeve,protein powder is likely to become your new best friend...

When should I use protein powder? Is it safe to use everyday?

You can use protein powder everyday as a nutrient supplement. Add it to soups, drinks and anything that will disguise the taste to increase your protein intake to the recommended minimum of 60 grams per day. 

Bariatric patients should be cautious not to drink protein shakes and smoothies too quickly. When it comes to protein drinks it is especially easy to overfill the stomach pouch. To avoid filling up too quickly, stick to the recommended 125ml servings for first 12 weeks after your operation, before increasing your intake up to 250ml serving. (Never drink more than 1 x 250ml serving at a time). Try to avoid always mixing your protein powder with milk and use water instead.

How much protein powder should I consume daily?

The correct way to use protein powder is as a nutrient booster. Your daily minimum of 60 grams of protein should come from whole foods, and protein powder should serve as a top up. The amount of protein you need daily increases according to how active you are throughout the day. For instance, if you’re going to body pump classes at the gym every evening then you will need a daily minimum of 80 to 100 grams of protein. The more active you are the more likely it is you will benefit from protein supplements in your diet. If you are unsure about how much protein you should be eating, check with your dietitian and personal trainer. 

What should I look for when choosing protein powder and protein rich drinks? 

With so many protein powder brands on the shelves, finding a brand you actually want to use everyday can be a costly process of trial and error. Most protein powders usually come in 1 kg packages ranging from £12 - £40. If you are looking for quality, you really do get what you pay for. Some brands can make your food taste unpleasant when added to soups and used in recipes. Cook with unflavoured protein powder so it doesn’t spoil the flavour of your meal. Choose a brand that doesn’t carry a weird flavour or make your pureed food congeal or go claggy. A good quality protein powder will have a fine consistency and dissipate evenly when added to cooking. It will taste just a good when mixed with water as with milk.

Avoid fizzy protein drinks with a high sugar content. Be aware that some protein enriched chocolate milkshakes can cause dumping syndrome if they contain a high sugar content. When making smoothies make sure to follow a balanced ratio of 60:40 for vegetables and fruit. Berries are a very good addition to smoothies and shakes, but high fructose fruits are an issue for bariatric weight loss. To avoid dumping syndrome never make smoothies using only fruit.

If you find you are not digesting meat and dairy products easily after your operation, or you are vegan, try a good vegan alternative which can be easier to digest. Vegan protein powders are made from soy, rice, hemp and pea protein. Instead of protein milkshakes, try protein water which contains around 30 grams of protein per 500ml serving.

Marvel milk powder is a good source of protein for those who like the milky taste and it works well in milk drinks and creamy soups. Arla protein yogurt is good dessert option containing 20 grams of protein per serving.