Cooking and Consuming Meat after Weight Loss Surgery

After your successful weight loss surgery, you need to eat foods that are high in protein but are easy for you to digest. Foods containing the highest quality protein are beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, eggs, cheese, pork, seafood, fish, shellfish, veal, and liver. Every ounce of these high-quality protein foods has 6 to 8 grams. A 3-ounce piece of chicken breast, for example, contains 21 grams of protein.

Processed meats, however, such as hot dogs, bologna, salami, liverwurst, deviled ham, and others, are not high-quality protein foods. A 2-ounce hot dog, for instance, contains only 5 to 7 grams of protein. In addition, processed meats contain large amounts of fillers such as sugar and starches that may possibly cause dumping syndrome. They’re also high in fat and sodium. Some of these foods have a rubbery texture that increases the chances of sticking. You can eat deli meat, but only sparingly because of the high sodium content, and choose meats that are highest in protein, such as turkey breast, ham, and top round roast beef.

Other foods high in protein include dairy products, such as cheese and milk. One 8-ounce glass of milk, for instance, may have as much as 13 grams of protein. Eggs are also high in protein, with 6.5 grams. Eggs can be fried, hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or prepared as omelets or egg salad, but you may find that certain preparation methods work better than others for you. Everyone is different, so while a hard-boiled egg may work for you, it may not work for your friend.

Beef

For easier consumption, beef should be cooked medium to rare. Medium is a warm, pink center, and rare is a cool, red center. When overcooked, beef loses its moisture and becomes tough, chewy, and nearly impossible for the gastric bypass patient to swallow.

Ground beef also becomes difficult to digest if overcooked. As a rule, ground beef should be cooked until it turns gray, not brown. Dry heat cooking methods are recommended for all cuts of beef. If moist cooking methods are used, such as stewing or braising, expensive cuts of meat are necessary and should be cooked at low temperatures for prolonged periods of time, up to eight hours, to ensure tenderness.

Poultry

After surgery, you may find that when eating poultry, you prefer dark meat (legs and thighs) to white pieces (breast and wings) because the darker pieces contain more moisture and are easier to chew and swallow. However, this doesn’t mean that white poultry can’t be eaten, only that it has to be prepared and cooked differently to maintain moisture.

When preparing white poultry, thinner cuts are better, preferably only about a quarter of an inch thick. The thickness of the meat can be adjusted by using a meat cleaver to tenderize the piece. You can also ask the butcher to slice the raw breast meat into 1/4-inch slices.

Dry heat cooking methods are recommended for poultry. For thinner cuts (1/4-inch thick), sautéing is best. To sauté poultry, meat should be cooked for a minute and a half on each side in a preheated large skillet over medium-high heat. If the poultry isn’t cooked through in 3 minutes, the pan wasn’t hot enough or the meat was too thick. The number one reason why white-meat poultry is often too dry to eat is because it’s overcooked.

For thicker pieces of poultry, such as a whole bird or large cuts, rotisserie cooking, roasting, grilling, and baking are appropriate dry heat cooking methods. Cook white-meat poultry until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and dark meat to 185 degrees. Cooking to a higher temperature than necessary dries out the poultry, and lower temperatures may leave the poultry partially uncooked.

Leaving the skin on the poultry while cooking helps with flavor and moisture, but you shouldn’t eat it. Skin is fat, and if consumed, you won’t have enough room left in your pouch to eat the proper amount of protein. Marinating poultry in acidic marinades helps tenderize the chicken while adding flavor. And remember that leftover poultry can be used for cold salads.

Pork, lamb, and liver

Pork, lamb, and liver are excellent protein sources and most tender when cooked in dry heat. Pork and lamb are good meats to marinate and can be cut up and used in stir-fries or placed on skewers and grilled over medium-low heat.

Both American lamb and New Zealand lamb can be found in most supermarkets and some restaurants. American sheep are fed grains, whereas New Zealand sheep eat grass. For this reason, New Zealand lamb sometimes tastes gamy and is not as sweet or tender as American lamb.

Beef and chicken liver are very soft and can be made into fresh liver pâté or sautéed and seasoned. However, liver is very high in cholesterol, so consume in moderation. Lamb, liver, and pork can be used in any recipe where beef or poultry is recommended.

Fish and seafood

Fish (from fresh water or the sea) and shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, scallops, oysters, clams, and crab are excellent sources of protein that you will probably find easy to consume after weight loss surgery.

Fish and seafood is best eaten fresh. Fish that has been frozen has less moisture and flavor. However, beware of fresh fish that smells fishy. Good fresh fish and seafood has almost no smell at all. Don’t purchase or consume smelly or slimy fish.

Fish and shellfish may be cooked using moist or dry cooking methods, but moist methods tend to keep the fish and seafood moist while cooking. A popular cooking method for fish is poaching, which is submerging it into a flavored liquid, such as white wine infused with dill, and cooking just below the simmering point (approximately 185 degrees). Poaching is a quick and healthy way to infuse flavor into the fish and shellfish. Other popular cooking methods include grilling, sautéing, and broiling.

Most cooked fish and shellfish can be used the next day for cold salad preparations.