#49 Is Fat Taboo after Bariatric Surgery?

bariatric surgery success podcast beyond bariatric surgery podcast

HOST: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell 

You’ve had bariatric surgery and know that protein plays a major role in your recovery. But what about fat. Can you have some or is it taboo? Let’s talk about the macro we love to hate…fat. 

Hi, I’m registered dietitian nutritionist Dr. Susan Mitchell. You’re listening to the Bariatric Surgery Success podcast episode number 49. Most of my career I’ve worked in some type of media, particularly radio where I did morning drive nutrition spots for over 18 years. That’s what lead me to start podcasting and ultimately to you. I created Bariatric Surgery Success to provide you with life-changing information based on science along with simple strategies and tools to help you be successful in your transformation and your entire journey. So happy you’ve connected with me. You’re in the right place and I’m glad you’re listening.

If you haven’t joined me in the private Facebook group, what’s holding you back? It’s called Bariatric Surgery Success with Dr. Susan Mitchell. Lately we’ve talked about pea protein versus whey protein and how many grams of carbs you need after surgery. Lots of questions and feedback so if you need a safe place to ask, join us. 

Fat and carbs are two words that make many of us cringe. But they shouldn’t. Both are needed by the body to be healthy and both add to the enjoyment of food. Let’s focus on fat today and how much you need after surgery. 

So much confusion and so little time. Let’s get right to the big issues. Fat is a macronutrient just like protein and carbohydrate. You might find this hard to believe but fat plays numerous positive roles in your body as it acts as an energy source, protects your organs, regulates body temperature and helps to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K which are known as the fat-soluble vitamins. Fat also increases your feeling of fullness or satiety. And we surely can’t forget that fat improves the taste and mouth feel of so many foods.

The big question is how much fat should you eat after surgery? The broad answer 25-30% of your total calories per day. Let’s dig deeper. Put your math hat on. Let’s say that you’re eating 1200 calories per day. Use 25% fat calories in this example. So 25% of 1200 calories is 300 calories. If you like to log calories fine but more about that in a minute. If you’re more into grams and prefer to keep an eye on them, then do you recall how many calories per gram are in fat? Nine. To convert those 300 fat calories into fat grams divide by 9 and you get about 33.5 grams. To review once more, if you’re consuming 1200 calories a day and want to eat about 25% of those calories from fat then 25% of 1200 is 300 calories. To convert to fat grams, divide by 9 and your have 33+ grams. The math changes as your total calories change and the amount of fat you desire changes. For example, if you’re eating 1400 calories per day and 30% fat, then 30% of 1400 is 420 calories. Divide by 9 calories per gram and you have about 47 grams of fat per day. Notice there is not one and only one answer. Why? Your body varies from your friend’s as perhaps your surgery does too. You also may eat more or less grams of protein per day in the range of 60-120. And then you have carb grams of up to 130. Each macronutrient takes up part of the total calories per day so your individual needs juggle within these ranges.

Beside the calories and fat grams per day, the type of fat you eat is equally important. Your focus: unsaturated fat instead of saturated. If you listen to the podcast, you’ve heard me say that saturated fat can raise your total cholesterol level as well as the lousy LDL cholesterol. Unsaturated fat which includes monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in foods such as nuts, seeds, olives, fish, avocado, and oils from these foods such as olive oil, peanut oil, etc. Unsaturated fats tend to be more health protective especially when it comes to your cholesterol level and heart health. Plus some of these foods such as fish, avocado and nuts have anti-inflammatory effects too. Another bonus.

A few minutes ago I mentioned you can track fat grams or calories if you want. You can easily become frustrated if you try to track everything and will want to give up. Eating and food are meant to be enjoyed not be a pain in your patootie every day. What to do? Let’s go back to the main focus macro. Protein. If you track or count your protein intake for the day and then just make smart fat choices with your focus on unsaturated fat and realistic, smaller portions and do the same with high fiber carbs, things fall into place without feeling overwhelmed and saying forget about it.  

And remember, this sanity with your daily calories and macros is part of taking care of yourself. Decide what works best for you. You’re worth it!


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