December 2019
Jacqui Lewis - BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

What’s All the Fuss About Protein?

Protein-rich food like brocolli

There’s a huge range of protein supplementation available in Australia; however, it is essential to recognize that some supplements are of higher quality than others.

For weight-loss surgery (WLS) patients, it can be very confusing if you are not sure what you’re looking for when it comes to protein supplementation

Why is protein so important?

When protein intake is not on target, the body will break down your muscle mass to compensate.

Loss of lean body mass is inevitable for WLS patients following a very low-calorie diet. To minimize that loss, you need to meet your protein requirements with good quality proteins every day.

Carrying more muscle on your body is like putting a bigger motor in your car – it burns more fuel – and keeps your metabolism healthy.

Is there a risk of developing protein deficiency?

WLS patients, who have undergone the bypass surgery, are often at a higher risk of developing protein malnutrition.

However, all WLS patients, despite the procedure, who do not comply with the recommended dietary guidelines are at risk.

  • Trouble Losing Weight
  • Low Energy Level
  • Mood Problem
  • Wounds that are slow to heal

So which protein supps are the best?

During rapid weight-loss, when protein supplements are the main source of dietary protein intake, it is essential to choose products that contain all the essential amino acids (so that the body can use them and make healthy tissues)

It’s also important your protein has a high digestibility score – that is - your body can use it!!

Scores of as close to 100 as possible are desired to indicate that it contains the appropriate amount of amino acids that the body needs.

Protein supplements that are made from whey, casein, soy and egg whites have a digestibility score of 100. It is important to recognize that many of these protein sources are sold as either concentrates or isolates.


Isolates tend to have a higher concentration of protein than concentrate forms.

These products may be beneficial to those patients who have lactose intolerance, and have a smoother feel to them.

Whey protein concentrates have a lower concentration of protein and higher concentration of lactose

Vegan Protein Source

  • Spinach 3g/100g
  • Almonds 21g/100g
  • Tahini 22g/100g
  • Hazelnut 15g/100g
  • Cashews 19g/100g
  • Peas 5g/100g
  • Tofu 15g/100g

What protein supplements should be used with consideration?

As convenient as they might be to use - Collagen-based protein supplements are NOT a good source of high-quality protein and should not be used as the sole source of protein intake in WLS patients.

Collagen-based protein supplements do not contain all of the amino acids that the body needs.

Collagen offers a range of benefits as far as convenience, gut health, wound healing and supporting healthy skin goes; so don’t throw it out completely, just make sure you are using it as a side line, not a major part of your protein quota

After liquid and puree phase, use your collagen as a boost, but don’t rely on it as a major source of your daily protein.

Try to get your protein from foodit comes with many other nutrients as well.

Use protein supplements / meal replacements when you’ve not been able to meet your needs with food.

Protein Supplement vs Meal Replacement

A protein supplement such as our protein waters, collagen based powders and whey protein powders are a supplement only and are good to support you between meals – but

Meal Replacement shakes should be used if that is all you are having for a meal.
A protein supplement won’t keep you healthy if you’re not eating enough of a range of foods as well. A meal replacement has extra nutrients added that will meet your needs in the place of a meal.

Jacqui Lewis
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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