Protein is essential for the healing and recovery process after surgery. Not only is it necessary for the repair and rebuilding of tissues, but it also plays an important role in immune function and the production of enzymes and hormones. Therefore, it's important to ensure that you are consuming enough protein in the days and weeks following a surgical procedure. Proper nutrition is crucial for a successful recovery after surgery.
In addition to getting enough protein, it's also important to pay attention to other aspects of your diet, such as the balance of carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients. By following a healthy, well-rounded diet, you can support your body's natural healing processes and improve your overall recovery.
How much protein do you need after surgery?
The recommended daily intake of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but after surgery the body will need much more for healing purposes. Depending on current age, body weight and height, it may include over 100 grams of protein daily. However, this amount may also vary depending on the type of surgery you have had and activity level. For example, people who have had major surgery or who are elderly may have higher protein needs.
What is a good source of protein after surgery?There are many good sources of protein that can help you meet your protein needs after surgery. These include:
- Meat, poultry, and fish: These are all excellent sources of high-quality protein, as well as important nutrients like iron and zinc.
- Eggs: One large egg contains about 6 grams of protein, making them a convenient and versatile source of protein.
- Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all good sources of protein, as well as calcium and other essential nutrients.
- Beans and legumes: These plant-based protein sources are also high in fiber, which can help with digestion after surgery.
- Nuts and seeds: These are high in protein and healthy fats, and can be easily added to meals or snacks.
- Protein supplements can be a convenient way to increase your protein intake. Considerations such as high quality protein sources, ease of administration, low sugar content and avoidance of artificial sweeteners is important.
Why does surgery increase metabolism?
After surgery there is a surgical stress response causing a breakdown of muscle, increased immune response and increase in metabolic activity to support vital organ function. The body is in a catabolic state as it needs to create new tissue and blood vessels, step up the production of cells that repair wounds, fight infection and synthesize collagen necessary for scar formation. How well a person will heal after surgery is often measured by their protein status. If the protein status is inadequate, the body will heal more slowly.
Should you increase protein before as well as after surgery?
Yes, focusing on healthy nutrition 7-10 days before surgery can improve surgical outcomes. Protein intake of 1.2-2.0 g/kg/day is recommended prior to surgery. This can be obtained from a variety of plant and animal sources and include protein supplementation for a goal of 20-40 grams taken periodically throughout the day.
After surgery depends on the type of surgery and length of recovery. After surgery, your appetite may be less therefore consuming protein supplements between meals would be helpful in reaching the necessary protein intake amounts. If post operative recovery requires physical rehabilitation or exercise, it would be beneficial to time the protein intake accordingly. This can support improvement in muscle mass, strength, joint repair and faster return to daily activities.
It may also be helpful to spread out your protein intake throughout the day and to choose protein sources that are easy to digest.
Does more protein mean faster recovery?While getting enough protein is important for recovery after surgery, it is also important to get the right balance of nutrients. Consuming too much protein can put strain on the kidneys and may lead to other health problems. It is generally recommended to aim for a moderate intake of protein rather than a high intake. Additionally, getting enough rest and following your doctor's recommendations for physical activity and other self-care measures will also be important for a successful recovery.
Protein is an important nutrient for recovery after surgery, and it is important to get enough protein in your diet to support healing and repair. However, we recommend always speaking with your doctor or a registered dietitian for specific recommendations on protein intake after surgery, and to aim for a moderate intake rather than a high intake.