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The initial first few months after weight loss surgery it is almost a full-time job getting your protein in each day. At that point your stomach capacity is so limited and you struggle to drink enough fluids to get in what you need. Over time this does get easier and you start to figure out ways, that for you, will make all the difference in hitting your protein goals each day.
I find routine extremely helpful in making sure I hit my goals. Even more than three years out from having my gastric bypass I still have a protein shake for breakfast every day. My dietician would not recommend that for everyone because she would prefer that I was actually eating something rather than having a shake but for me and my lifestyle it’s what works well and helps me towards my daily protein goal.
For quite a while I stuck to the Optifast shakes that I was recommended to have pre and post-op but now I make my own. I’ve posted quite a few protein shake recipes over the last couple of years but my current fave is made with Yoplait 2x Protein Greek Yogurt, Nothing Naughty Egg White Protein and Calci-trim milk and it has just over 30 grams of protein in it. With breakfast alone I get myself halfway to my minimum protein goal of 60 grams per day.
The rule I have for lunch and dinner is that my meals are always protein focused. I always think about and prepare my meals based around the protein I am going to have. If I didn’t focus on the protein component first, it’s far too easy to get distracted by all the things I would rather eat and it might make it harder for myself to get my protein in. Protein is always on my mind for meals and by making that my starting point I can’t go wrong.
I always have a backup. Much as I am generally well prepared and tend to have everything I need on hand sometimes things just do not go to plan. I make sure I have protein bars stashed in my handbag, desk drawer at work and in the car. As well as that I make sure I have tins of tuna and some frozen, portioned leftovers in the house so that I always have a good option. If you make sure there’s always a good option available, it is easier to make the right decision.
I prepare my lunches in advance for 2-3 days at a time. On Sunday I have a big routine to get myself ready for the next week. I tend to make two or three lunches on Sunday so that midweek I only have to do a couple more to get me through until the weekend. This means they are protein focused, ready to go and I know ahead of time the approximate protein content I’m getting at lunchtime. This means I can combine the breakfast and lunch totals and figure out just how much protein I need at dinnertime.
I have got to the point where pretty much any dinner I make for my family is appropriate for me, even if I just eat a part of it. I usually give the carbs a complete miss, or sometimes I just have a smaller serving then they have. I know that red meat has higher protein content than white meats like chicken so on days when I need to really make an effort at dinner to get my protein levels up I will focus my dinner efforts around red meat. On days that I don’t need to get quite as much I will have chicken instead.
After surgery, as you go up through the dietary stages you quickly start to learn the protein content of the foods you eat regularly. I am a bit of a nerd and can tell you the approximate protein content per 100 grams of far too many food items. Once you get to this point it makes the approximation easier and you won’t struggle as much to get in everything you need to.
Getting your protein in each day is made easier if you have routines, whether that’s eating the same or similar things all the time, or a routine for preparing things in advance. Making sure you always keep protein as your primary focus when you’re thinking about and planning meals. If you put protein first every time you’re making sure you stay firmly on track food wise. Be prepared, stay aware and reassess every now and then to check in and make sure you’re still kicking those goals!
Have you figured out a way to make sure you’re getting all of your protein in each day? Have you found it gets easier with time or is it still something you’re hyper aware of and needing to add up each day? Comment below and let me know, I’d love you to share any tips or tricks with me and your fellow readers!