Thursday, March 13, 2014

Eat Your Protein After Weight Loss Surgery

After losing over 120 lbs so far following gastric bypass surgery and with a little (or a lot of) trial and error, I'm learning the tricks of the trade of what foods work for me to not only lose weight, but also maintain that weight loss. I've also learned what certainly doesn't work as well.  Keep in mind though, everyone's different. What works for me may not work for everyone and vice versa. 

Anyhoo...let's begin with protein.

Protein is the key to a successful, healthy diet. The more protein the better for losing weight and maintaining. I do my best 60-80 grams of protein in my diet every single day. This means including protein into every single meal and all snacks. Throughout the day, I eat breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, and dinner. After surgery, you eat much less, so I look at it as five mini-meals throughout the day. I eat something every 2-3 hours. And as I said, I include protein every single time I eat. Protein helps keep you full longer. If you include protein when you eat and eat every few hours, you won't feel hungry like with normal diets. Pack ahead healthy snacks that include protein. You don't have to have surgery for this to benefit you.

Sample protein rich breakfast items I eat:

Ham and egg on whole wheat toast (many times I don't eat the entire piece of toast) or whole grain English muffin- This is, of course, three months or more after surgery. Watch the amount of bread you eat as sometimes even wheat or whole grain doesn't sit well with me after surgery. It actually depends on the day for me and my body. Once again, trial and error. If you find that your having a hard time getting the bread down, I suggest cutting it out, especially at the beginning of the day when those who've had this surgery have the most difficult time.

Boiled Egg and Greek Yogurt (fresh fruit like blueberries mixed in) 

Veggie and Egg Scramble (with vegetables like onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, etc.) with a piece of ham or bacon as a side 

Proteins that are denser like different types of meats including steak and chicken can be a problem for some people after surgery. Sometimes it just feels as though you can get it down no matter how much you chew. Fortunately, protein doesn't include just these basics. I eat ground turkey (healthier substitute for beef) and pork as well. Also, I eat quite a bit of beans including garbanzo, black and kidney beans. I put black beans in just about everything. I even have included recipes on here in other posts with protein rich recipes with black beans particularly.

                              (Pictured above Creamy Chicken Chili) 

            (Picture above Cuban Black Beans and Brown Rice)

Going back to eggs, here's one of my go tos...pickled eggs. Now not everyone is a fan of pickled eggs, vegetables, etc.  I have my own recipe I make and stay stocked up so they are always ready to go, to take with me for lunch at work, random snack or even sliced up to add to a salad or meal for an extra pop of protein. Every little bit I can get. Pickled eggs are an acquired taste item. Most either love them or hate them. Suggestion though: don't just assume you don't like them...give them a try. 

Grains that include protein and other beneficial nutrients I eat include quinoa and wild rice. 

I love rice. I can't help it. I could eat rice constantly. I don't, of course, but when I do, I eat brown rice, wild rice and quinoa. 

Let's begin with wild rice. Wild rice has the most protein and lowest calories of all the rices. It's gluten-free which is fantastic. It does not have sodium which benefits both the heart and blood pressure. It's rich in antioxidants (30 times more than white rice), high in fiber, helps lower cholesterol, and contains phosphorous, zinc and folate which give you energy and nurture your bones, Vitamin A, C and E which are essential for overall wellness and immunity. 

Wild rice takes longer to cook and, because of that, retains a rich nutty flavor. I include wild rice in many of my recipes. And sometimes I even mix wild and brown rice as well. 

Here's a super simple chicken and wild rice recipe I make a lot that my hubby loves:

I use the Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice (fast recipe) and prepare it on the stovetop according to the directions, which takes about 5 minutes once it begins boiling. Once it's done, I add a big can of drained chicken (shredded) and mix it in with the rice and heat through, then I add about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (Mexican or even mild cheddar). Serve and enjoy! 

Now onto quinoa. 

Did you know that quinoa (pronounce KEEN-WAH) dates four thousand years with the Incans who first used it to help increase the stamina of their warriors. Nowadays quinoa is known as the "Supergrain of the Future" and is now considered a superfood. Why is it called a superfood? Well first of all, it is one of the most protein rich foods we can eat, period. It's a complete protein with 9 essential amino acids. It also contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. It also contains iron (keeps red blood cells healthy, basis for hemoglobin formation, increases brain function, etc.) lysine (for tissue growth and repair), magnesium (which helps alleviate migraines and promotes healthy blood sugar), Riboflavin (B2) (which improves energy metabolism with the brain and muscle cells and ALS known to help create proper energy production on cells), and manganese (which is an antioxidant and helps prevent damage of the mitochrondria during energy production and protects red blood cells and other cells as well).

Quinoa is easy to cook and takes on the flavor of what you put into it. Like rice, it's bland alone but with spices and flavors can enhance a meal. 

                         (Pictured above Quinoa Vegetable Fried "Rice")

Don't expect it to taste just like rice. The texture is quite a bit different and takes some getting used to. Once you do, there are so many recipes you can make subbing quinoa for the rice you'd normally use. 

As far as snacking, here are some items I keep on hand at work:

- Greek yogurt
- nuts and seeds including unsalted almonds, pistachios and sunflower seeds
-  with vegetables like carrot and celery sticks
- string cheese
- fruits such as apples, cuties and grapes
-turkey or ostrich jerky
-pickled eggs 

Remember, eat when you're hungry. That's a pretty simple concept, isn't it? If you're eating the right kinds of foods which are full of protein and cutting out the items you're not supposed to have, you should be hungry every few hours.

And the cool thing is...healthy can still taste good. 

Here's to your health...and mine. 

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