Protein Intake

Men and women who are about to undergo a weight loss procedure at Tijuana Bariatric Center in Tijuana, Mexico will need to follow a specific diet prior to surgery. The purpose behind this pre-op diet is to help you start losing weight, reduce the amount of glycogen in the liver so it will shrink in size, reduce the risk of complications and promote tissue and muscle repair prior to surgery.

The Importance of Protein Prior to Bariatric Surgery

In simple terms, protein helps to curb hunger. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in protein, triggers the part of your brain that signals fullness. Clinical studies show that high-protein diets increase satiety and decrease hunger. Therefore, when you eat more protein, you are less tempted to snack. Protein is comprised of amino acids. Although your body makes some amino acids, it cannot make all of them, thus you must get them from food. A food source is considered complete if it contains the right amount of essential amino acids.

Protein intake also helps support healthy muscle function. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism to help lose weight. In turn, you burn more fat, even when you are resting.

In fact, lean muscles burn 25 times more calories compared to fat. To further break down this information, consider this:

  • One pound of fat can burn two calories per day, totaling 14 a week.
  • One pound of muscle can burn 30 to 50 calories a day, totaling 350 to 500 every week.

Suggested Intake

Specific pre-op diet recommendations vary depending on you’re your needs and unique circumstances. However, a typical pre-op diet consists of approximately 800 to 1,000 calories per day. We typically recommend about 70 grams of protein intake for women and 120 grams for men.

Ralf lost 153 lbs after his surgery
Real TBC Patient Ralpf

Recommended High Protein Foods

When it comes to obtaining your daily nutrition prior to weight loss surgery, Tijuana Bariatric Center recommends you use read-to-drink or powdered protein shakes found in health food and grocery stores. Make sure they contain at least 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving and less than 3 to 5 grams of sugar.

In addition, you can incorporate these foods into your weight loss surgery diet:

  • Lean meat
  • Skinless chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Low-fat cheese

Sample Menu

When planning their diet prior to bariatric surgery many patients only eat one solid meal per day at dinner, while replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes. In some cases, we may recommend alternating your shakes with fruit or sugar-free beverages throughout the day. When consuming animal protein, make sure you choose lean cuts and prepared via broiling or other low-fat methods.

Benefits of Following a Pre-operative Diet

There are numerous reasons why a pre-operative diet is beneficial for those about to undergo weight loss surgery. Following these guidelines can:

  • Reduce body fat: Any amount of weight loss prior to a bariatric procedure is helpful. When you decrease the amount of fat in the abdomen and around the liver, it is easier for your surgeon to perform the procedure and reduce the risk of complications.
  • Preserve muscle: High-protein foods encourage your body to use fat as an energy source, rather than muscle. Consuming a high-protein diet before surgery will also help minimize post-op muscle loss.
  • Prepare the body for surgery and recovery: A healthy diet and an increase in protein assists in wound healing after surgery while also repairing skin, muscle and major organs.

  • Prepare the patient for a post-surgery diet: Once your bariatric surgery is complete, you will be expected to follow a diet that is low in fat and carbs and high in protein. A pre-operative weight loss can help prepare you for new eating habits for the rest of your life.

Contact Our Practice to Learn More

When preparing for weight loss surgery, your pre-op diet (protein intake) is just as important as your post-op lifestyle. To learn more about incorporating healthy foods into your meals, reach out to one of our team members to learn more. You can contact us online anytime or call us at 800-970-0577 to schedule a virtual consultation.


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