How to Increase Calories/Protein

High Calorie / High Protein Diet

Cancer patients, especially those undergoing chemotherapy need higher amounts of protein and calories. Protein helps ensure growth to help repair body tissue, and to maintain a healthy immune system. When the body lacks enough protein, it takes longer to recover from illness and there is a tendency to have a lower resistance to infection. Following surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, additional protein is needed to heal tissues and to help prevent infection. Studies show that patients who are nutritionally fit and maintain their weight tend to have fewer complications from chemotherapy, surgery or radiation. Sources of protein are generally found in lean meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, nuts, dried beans, peas, lentils and soy foods.

 Tips for adding more calories and protein to your diet:

  • Keep quick and easy snacks handy (cheese, crackers, muffins, ice cream, peanut butter, fruit and pudding).
  • Try to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day, such as juice and milk based drinks (Ensure, Boost).
  • For extra protein, consider adding nonfat, instant dry milk to scrambled eggs, soup, cereal, sauces, and gravies.
  • Try to eat more hard-boiled eggs, luncheon meats, peanut butter, cheese, ice cream, granola bars, nutritional supplements, pudding, chips and crackers.

 Other ways to add protein and calories:

  • Cheese: melt on sandwiches, breads, muffins, omelets, tortillas, chicken, or fish
  • Cottage cheese/ricotta/cream cheese: add to casseroles or pasta, bread, fruits, or crackers
  • Sour cream: use as a dip for fruits/vegetables, scoop on fresh fruits, use a topping on cakes and desserts
  • Eggs: add chopped, hard boiled eggs to salads, vegetables, and casseroles. Add them to custards, puddings and pancakes
  • Milk:  use milk instead of water for liquid when cooking, use in preparing cereal, soups, hot chocolate, use to make cream sauces for vegetables
  • Nonfat instant dry milk: add milk and milk drinks, use in cream soups, mashed potatoes and cream
  • Soy: add tofu to shakes and dips, eat edamame or add soy to vegetable dishes and salads
  • Peanut butter:  spread on sandwiches, crackers, muffins, fruit and celery, use as a dip for vegetables
  • Ice cream, yogurt and frozen yogurt: add to carbonated beverages to make floats, eat with cookies
  • Meat/fish: add chopped cooked meats or fish to salads and casseroles
  • Beans/legumes: add to soups, pastas, and main dishes
  • Nuts, seeds, wheat germ: sprinkle on fruit, cereal, salads or desserts
  • Butter/margarine: stir into cream soups, add to dishes such as shrimp, scallops, crab, and pasta

Other foods high in calories and protein:

  • Biscuits, beans (canned), bread, butter, cream of wheat, fish, salmon, tuna, honey, potatoes
  • Tomato sauce,  tortillas, oatmeal, whipped topping, pizza crust, vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned)
  • Grits, applesauce, pasta, pretzels
  • Isosource Vanilla liquid (milk based supplements that you can purchase at any of our offices)
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