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Protein requirements increase when you have surgery!

eat well Jul 24, 2023

Having a surgery of any kind is a stressful, traumatic event on the body, and when the body is under stress, it requires more nutrients to function optimally and heal. The one nutrient I make sure that all of my clients know about when they are preparing for a surgery is PROTEIN! 

Your protein requirements for optimal function increase pre and post surgery (especially post surgery when the body is recovering). You don't need to go overboard, but you do need to put a focus and effort into increasing the amount you consume. 

In general, protein requirements are about .8 to 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight for normal, non surgical/non-stressed life function. Post surgery, that requirement jumps to 1.2 to 2 grams per kilogram for a few weeks.

I bring this up, because in a couple weeks I will be having another surgery, another c-section, and I know that in preparation, I have to really up my protein game. While pregnancy already has higher requirements for protein, pregnancy plus surgery is going to really make me up my protein consumption! I'm hoping that this time around (my 3rd c-section), I'll be better prepared, and have an easier recovery if I truly focus on my protein consumption. (side note: protein consumption can really support mental health, and I really don't want to suffer postpartum depression again!) 

So, what have I been doing to make sure I "up my protein game?" Well, first, I've been really trying to add protein to each meal. If you eat meat, animal sources of protein would be more optimal, as they are complete proteins. If you don't eat meat, you'll have to get creative with different food pairings to ensure you get all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), that you need in the same meal. I've been eating eggs almost daily for breakfast. I've also been doubling the meat in many recipes I make, consuming more greek yogurt and cottage cheese, not always going for the dairy free milk options (unless you have a dairy intolerance, milk and cheese are great sources of protein), and every day or two, I try to add a protein shake into my routine for that extra 15-20 grams of protein.

I often get asked what type of protein shake I use, so let me share that with you here. For the past 12 or so years, I have used Standard Process's SP Complete proteins. They have a chocolate and vanilla option, which I love since I can just mix it with water. My kids also love it when I blend the chocolate protein with some sort of milk, a banana, and peanut butter. It is a whey based protein, and that's why I love it, as it's a complete source of protein, and that is most optimal for our body's use. For those who cannot have dairy, the Veg-E-Pro complete is my next option, and also comes in chocolate or vanilla, but is pea, pumpkin seed, and sesame seed protein instead of whey. 

If you'd like to try any of these protein powders, send me a message at [email protected] , and I'll get you set up with an account to order Standard Process products online.

So, remember, if you're under stress, or are preparing for a surgery, PROTEIN is an important nutrient to focus on! 



Hirsch KR, Wolfe RR, Ferrando AA. Pre- and Post-Surgical Nutrition for Preservation of Muscle Mass, Strength, and Functionality Following Orthopedic Surgery. Nutrients. 2021 May 15;13(5):1675. doi: 10.3390/nu13051675. PMID: 34063333; PMCID: PMC8156786.


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