Protein is one of those essential macronutrients. It helps build and retain muscle, is a major component of hair and nails, and your body uses it to build and repair tissues. It’s also a component of blood, cartilage, bone, hormones, and enzymes. Pretty important, right? It should also be known that the body doesn’t store protein, unlike carbohydrates and fats – you need to eat protein daily.
Protein is MY major food group after bariatric surgery. My surgeon and nutritionists emphasize the importance of getting enough protein for all of the above reasons. It was especially important right after surgery when my body was healing and adjusting to not eating so many calories – I was able to preserve muscle mass pretty well, and to be honest, healed pretty quickly (within a few weeks). I have pretty set guidelines on what I should be eating after surgery – this is what my food pyramid looks like:
According to my nutritionist, I should be aiming for 60-100g of protein a day for optimal health, particularly in this first year after surgery. Most days I hit around 80g of protein, and if I don’t, I definitely feel the effects. I am sluggish, kinda cranky, and always hungry! Protein fills me up pretty quickly, and that’s why I start with a protein as the base for all of my meals.
My go-tos for protein:
Chicken, fish, shrimp, scallops, ground turkey, Greek yogurt, skyr, Fairlife milk, cheese, ground beef, kefir, jerky, protein supplements (shakes and bars). And, to a lesser extent, beans and lentils.
Not all protein is created equally, however. Bariatric patients need to be mindful of the type of protein they’re putting into their bodies. Plant-based proteins, for whatever reasons, don’t absorb as well as why isolates or isolates. Thus, if I use a supplement (which I do) I need to be looking for whey isolates as my first ingredient to ensure that I am getting the maximum benefit. While protein from whole foods is recommended – and something I try to do daily – sometimes, I need to supplement.
My friends over at Quest Nutrition sent me a few samples to try out. I received some protein powder and protein bars in exchange for a review. They sent me some yummy flavors – Cookies and Cream and Chocolate Milkshake powders, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, and Chocolate Brownie bars. I’m not sure who figured out my love of everything chocolate via the Internet, but great job!
One thing that drew me to Quest was the nutritional profile. The powders average about 20 g of protein and 7g carbs with not that many calories or grams of fat. The bars will cost you more calories, fat, and carbs, but in terms of NET carbs – you’re looking at 4 or 5 g, due to the dietary fiber and erythritol. Side note – erythritol doesn’t bother me in small doses, but I know that it upsets some people’s digestive systems, so just be aware. And if you’re going to incorporate Quest bars when you’ve haven’t been eating a lot of fiber…start slow!
I had never tried the powders, so I was pretty excited about those. I started with the Chocolate Milkshake. The directions say to mix with water, but I actually mixed with 8 oz milk for a creamier texture and more protein. Taste was good – definitely like a chocolate milkshake. I found it slightly sweet for my taste so if I made it again, I’d probably blend with some ice and more milk in a blender.
That’s exactly what I did for Cookies and Cream, and the taste and sweetness was on point for me! I haven’t always been a fan of this particular flavor, save for ice cream, but I really loved this! I’d definitely buy again.
Onto the bars. Hands down, my favorite was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. To me, it actually tastes like you’re eating the raw dough (yes, I do that. Yes, I know it’s not healthy. No, I don’t care!). I zapped it in the microwave for a few seconds as well and to me, it tasted like a warm cookie. The texture of the bars are good; sort of chewy. They are VERY dense though, and for me, half a bar fills me up. Cookies and Cream was yummy too – I kept discovering cookie chunks that reminded me of Oreos in ice cream. Chocolate Brownie was also yummy – again, if you zap it in the microwave for a while, it sort of tastes like a warm brownie.
I know that Quest also makes protein chips. I didn’t receive a sample, but I’ve tried them before and they’re not bad. The texture takes a little getting used to – sort of reminds me of those baked chips. There is sort of an aftertaste which might also put some people off, but it didn’t bother me. Again, good protein to carb ratio here and not too many calories. I can’t eat a whole bag, but that just means more for later! I’d check out the Barbecue and Sour Cream and Onion flavors – those are my faves!
If you haven’t checked out Quest Nutrition, I’d highly recommend that you do. The flavors are yummy, and definitely makes you feel like you’re indulging!
Share with me: what’s your favorite source of protein?
*disclaimer: while I received products for review, all opinions are my own!