As a bariatric surgery patient, and as part of a healthy eating plan, you may wonder if counting macronutrients is required.
Counting macronutrients is a popular and healthy way to lose weight. Unfortunately, when you are obese, losing weight even by popular methods doesn’t always work.
Having weight loss surgery gives you the motivation and physical impetus you need to begin your weight loss journey full speed ahead.
Once you’ve had weight loss surgery, counting macros can help you stay on track with healthier eating, allowing you to achieve your weight loss goals.
Keep reading to learn more about this proven tactic for helping you get the most out of your post-bariatric eating plan.
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients or macros for short are essential nutrients you require in abundance throughout the day. You know them as your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
The inverse of macronutrients are micronutrients, which you only need tiny amounts of daily. You might pop a multivitamin each morning containing minuscule levels of Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Zinc, and Iron.
Macros are the three nutrients you eat the most. They also provide you with most of your energy.
Counting macros helps you ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need to remain healthy and keep your weight loss on track.
Why Count Macros vs Counting Calories?
At the end of the day, gaining and losing weight is about calories consumed versus calories burned.
Burn off more calories than you eat, and you will lose weight. Take in more calories than you burn, and weight gain is the inevitable result.
Calorie counting doesn’t necessarily equate to healthy eating, however. Someone who consumes their daily calories in gummy bears won’t be as healthy as someone who consumes the same number of calories but divides their macronutrients evenly.
Calories will always matter, but counting macronutrients gives you a better snapshot of how you are fueling your body. Your body will function better when you are getting the protein, carbs, and fats necessary for healthy bodily functions.
How Do You Count Macronutrients?
The easiest way to count the macronutrients you eat daily is to use a web calculator or dedicated app. Many fitness watches come with programs that can help you calculate your macros, even while on the go.
With these handy programs, typing in the food you’re about to eat gives you a macros tally. Many of these program databases offer the macros of popular name brands of foods, and even meals you may order at restaurants. This makes it easy to stay on track with your healthy eating, even when dining out!
It helps to understand the difference between the three macronutrients, even if you will use a program or app to do your calculations for you.
You don’t have to be told what foods are rich in carbohydrates. All the delicious ones, right? It’s true. Carb-heavy foods tend to contain the most sugar and starches, which taste great!
Carbs are foods like fruits and vegetables, cereal and rice, pasta and rolls, milk and crackers, and pretzels and chips.
Eating one gram of carbs gives your body four calories of energy. However, not all carbohydrates are the same.
Good carbs are those that contain fiber like whole-grain products and lentils.
Bad carbohydrates consist of foods like donuts, sweetened fruit juice, and white bread.
As far as how many carbs to eat each day, your bariatric surgeon will advise you based on your weight loss goals. Your carb load will be the lowest right after surgery with more calories from carbs added the more time goes on.
Proteins are amino acids that help your body build and maintain muscle tissue. We get most of our daily protein from animal products, but protein can be found in a wide variety of foods, including dairy, legumes, seeds, nuts, beans, grains, veggies, and fruits.
Like carbohydrates, each gram of protein provides your body with four calories. You should aim to consume 30% to 35% of your caloric intake from protein-rich foods.
That means protein will fill up much of your plate post-surgery. This is a good thing as eating more protein boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories (and excess fat).
You might think a post-bariatric diet would include zero fats. The truth is that dietary fats are a major source of energy. Your body heavily relies on fats to function. Fats in foods are vital to producing hormones, regulating body temperature, and absorbing essential nutrients.
While carbohydrates and proteins provide four calories each per gram, fats give you nine calories. Now you see why eating fatty foods contribute the most to a larger waistline. That’s because fats contain higher calories than other types of foods.
Bad fats are foods like trans fats. Good fats are those that come from healthy sources like nut butter and olive oil.
Alcohol is not a macronutrient, but while we’re discussing calories, we may as well mention beer, wine, and liquor. Each gram of alcohol gives you seven calories. That’s three more than carbs and proteins. Keep that in mind the next time you reach for a drink at the bar or consider a wind-me-down cocktail at home. You don’t have to cut alcohol out completely as a bariatric surgery patient, but quitting drinking is recommended. You will get better and longer-term results by becoming a teetotaler for life.
Macronutrient Goals as a Bariatric Surgery Patient
Counting macronutrients is only half the battle. You need to know your goal numbers so that you can determine if you are undereating, overeating, or eating exactly right.
The first step is to establish your macro goals. Your bariatric surgeon will give you specific guidelines as part of your weight loss surgery treatment plan. For our purposes, we’ve provided example guidelines below that can give you an idea of what to expect.
Calories: Aim for 1000 to 1,200 calories per day.
Carbohydrates: Try to eat fewer than seventy-five grams per day. This amounts to 25% of your daily calorie allotment.
Protein: Make protein 35% of your meals, which comes to 75 to 105 grams.
Fats: For optimal health, try to make fats 40% of your meals. That amounts to 45 to 55 grams each day.
Fiber: Pay attention to the fiber content of the foods you eat. For optimal health and maximum weight loss, try to eat at least twenty grams of fiber daily.
Follow Your Bariatric Surgeon’s Advice to Maximize Weight Loss
Your surgeon will go over the guidelines for healthier eating before you undergo surgery. The idea is to prepare you for how your lifestyle will change once the surgical effects have taken place. You’ll be advised to eat smaller, more balanced meals. Each bite will need to be tinier than you might be accustomed to, and foods will need to be chosen that are low in calories and dietary fats.
You’ll be highly encouraged to cut out sweets as well, and any drinks that add unnecessary calories, such as alcohol.
To keep themselves accountable, many patients choose to keep a food journal. Each bite of food can be easily tracked in a notebook or note-taking app. Be sure and count your macros while you’re at it.
When eating meals, you’ll want to chew your food slowly. Each morsel should be thoroughly masticated for easier digestion.
When drinking fluids, put your lips on the glass. Using straws can cause you to drink too quickly, which can lead to digestive problems. Carbonated beverages, fruit juices, and chewing ice can also cause digestive discomfort and should be limited or eliminated entirely from your diet.
Immediately following surgery and for a week or two afterward, you will be placed on a liquid diet. The purpose of forcing you to consume all-liquids is to give your body a chance to get used to all the changes made to your digestive system.
Regular food will then be added gradually to your diet until you are eating normal foods once more.
Should Bariatric Surgery Patients Supplement Their Diets?
Some bariatric surgeries like gastric bypass come with a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies. Your surgeon may advise you to take supplements in pills or other forms to add micronutrients to your daily allotment of macros.
A Good Multivitamin
A high-potency multivitamin and mineral supplement is easy to swallow and usually gives you a majority of what you need. Aim for tablets that contain a minimum of 400 mcg (micrograms) of folic acid, copper, zinc, and selenium, and 18 mg (milligrams) of iron. Most post-surgery treatment protocols have you taking two tablets daily for three months, then one tab daily for life.
This vital nutrient should be divided into two or three doses throughout the day. Calcium citrate is the preferred form with quantities of 1,200 to 2,000 mg. Taking the recommended dosage can prevent calcium deficiencies and bone disease.
You may take this supplement as a tablet or a sublingual drop. Aim for a B12 product with at least 500 mcg of vitamin B.
Vitamin D is often taken with calcium to help with delivery. Take 800 to 1,000 IUs (International Units) daily. For best results, divide the doses into 400 to 500 IUs twice per day. Some products come with calcium and Vitamin D combined, alleviating the need to take multiple pills.
Start Counting Your Macros and Envisioning Your Bariatric Results
Whether you are just now considering bariatric surgery or you’ve undergone a procedure and are wondering if counting macros will help you lose the most weight, the answer is Yes! Counting macros is a technique used by nutritionists, bodybuilders, athletes, and your average Joe or Josephine. Counting macros has worked for millions of people to help them lose weight, and it’s sure to help you too (especially after weight loss surgery, which gives you the positive push you need to achieve your weight loss goals).