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Perioperative Nutrition

Preoperative and Postoperative Nutrition

Preoperative and Postoperative Nutrition Can Help to Improve Patient Outcomes


If you’re about to undergo surgery, you may want to consider some nutrition-focused strategies that evidence shows will improve your chances of healing more quickly. Nutrition is an important key to better recovery. Here are some tips:

  • Focus on incorporating high quality protein foods at every meal and snack. The stress of surgery increases our body’s need for protein. Protein provides the building blocks for our body to heal surgical incisions and to keep our muscles strong. Aim to eat at least 20-30g of protein per meal up to and following your surgery date.
  • Consider immunonutrition. Surgical stress can weaken your immune system, making you more prone to infection. Certain nutrients including omega-3s and the amino acid arginine contain immune enhancing ingredients. Arginine is found naturally in poultry, fish, and dairy. Omega-3s are found in fish and fish oil. These nutrients are also found in Ensure Surgery Immunonutrition Shake which is recommended for consumption the week before and after surgery. Drink ½ carton four times daily.
  • Carbohydrate load the day of surgery. Research shows you lose glycogen, the form of carbohydrate stored in your liver, after an overnight fast as well as during surgery. A carbohydrate loading drink before surgery helps reduce thirst before surgery as well as nausea and pain after surgery. The makers of Ensure now offer Ensure Pre Surgery Clear Carbohydrate Drink specifically for consumption 2-3 hours before surgery.

High Protein Diet


Protein is an extremely important food for wound healing! Extra protein is needed to help provide the body with the amino acids needed to create new skin and tissue as well as maintain strength. Below is a list of high protein foods. Try to eat something off this list at every meal and snack for the next several weeks.

Aim for at least 20g of protein per meal and 10g of protein per snack.

  • 1 oz of chicken/beef/pork = 7 g protein
  • 1 large egg = 6 g protein
  • 1 cup milk = 8 g protein
  • 1 can tuna fish = 40 g protein
  • ½ cup cottage cheese = 15 g protein
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt = 12-20 g protein
  • 1 oz cheese = 6-8 g protein
  • ½ cup soybeans = 14 g protein
  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter = 8 g protein
  • 3oz firm tofu = 10-13 g protein
  • High Protein Supplement Drinks = 10-30 g protein
  • Beef or Turkey Jerky = 7g protein in 1 large piece
  • Protein Bars = 7-30g per bar
Download PDF

For use under medical supervision. Consult Dr. Williams about what regimen is recommended for you.

Tips and Tricks to Add Protein to Your Diet


  • Add extra egg whites to your breakfast omelet
  • Make a high protein smoothie for breakfast with fruit, Greek yogurt, and protein powder
  • Snack on protein bars, beef jerky, cheese sticks, nuts, Greek yogurt, or hard boiled eggs
  • Drink skim or 1% milk instead of water or juice or soda
  • Add whey protein powder to smoothies or milkshakes
  • Have a high protein oral nutrition supplement like Ensure High Protein with a meal, as a snack, and/or after exercise
  • Add low fat cottage cheese or chicken breast to your entrée salad
  • Make sure you finish the protein on your plate before eating the potato, rice, salad, or vegetables
  • If you are vegetarian, include a meat alternative at meals (tofu, soya, Quorn, quinoa, eggs, beans)
  • Sprinkle nuts and seeds on salads, casseroles, and pasta dishes
  • Enjoy frozen yogurt for dessert
  • Purchase pasta enriched with protein like Barilla Plus
  • Purchase granola enriched with protein

Locations where the Ensure Surgery products can be purchased in Boise:


  • St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center – MedNow Pharmacy – Located on the main floor of Building S3
  • St. Alphonsus Medical Center Nampa – MedNow Pharmacy – Located just inside the medical office building labeled “OS”
  • Medsync Pharmacy – 801 S Vista Ave, Boise, ID
  • Coming Soon – St Luke’s Regional Medical Center Retail Pharmacy – Located on the main floor of the hospital
  • Coming Soon – St Luke’s Meridian Medical Center Retail Pharmacy – Located on the main floor of the hospital
  • Amazon.com

Additional Links:


  • https://ensure.com/ (Visit for coupons, product information, FAQs)
  • "My Surgery Nutrition Plan" (coming)