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4 types of weight gain drinks recommended for cancer patients

Protein shakes, nutritional smoothies, and fortified milk are good options for people with
oncological diseases, who want to gain weight.

Weight loss is an inevitable consequence of antitumor treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy cause nausea, loss of appetite, and painful swallowing. Therefore, during the procedures the patient loses weight. To gain weight and maintain it at the same level, experts advise people with cancer to add high-calorie drinks rich in protein to their diet.

“Cancer and its treatment process cause loss of appetite, nausea, difficulty digesting food, and changes in taste preferences. In addition, the patient may not feel hungry,” explains Rachel Dudley, clinical nutritionist at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dan L. Duncan (Houston, USA). And lack of proper nutrition during treatment leads to weight loss, muscle mass, as well as lack of energy and dehydration.

The best way to prevent weight loss is to eat a good, balanced diet. If you realize that you cannot eat as before, try changing your diet, making it more nutritious, rich in vitamins, minerals and other beneficial substances. The National Cancer Institute (USA) recommends drinking high-calorie drinks such as smoothies, juices and soups instead of solid foods. According to Dr. Dudley, “...ready-to-drink dietary supplements and shakes are a convenient and well-tolerated option for people undergoing cancer treatment. They allow you to quickly and painlessly increase your calorie and protein intake throughout the day. If you're not sure if or what supplements you need, consult a nutritionist for advice."

Let's list high-calorie drinks that are useful for patients with oncology.

Meal replacement drinks

According to clinical studies, during antitumor therapy it is easier for a patient to take a little specialized drinks throughout the day than to have a full breakfast, lunch and dinner. Therefore, many experts recommend using ready-to-eat high-calorie mixtures with a high content of protein, vitamins and minerals. Typically, these are special protein shakes or fortified milk designed to promote weight gain.

The compositions of meal replacement drinks vary. Cancer patients need products with a good calorie/protein ratio, such as 250/15 or even 500/15. These indicators correspond to the products of such brands as Ensure, Boost. By the way, these mixtures are suitable both for independent use and for enriching other foods and drinks, for example, soups, milkshakes, smoothies, etc.

Fruit cocktails.

According to the Cleveland Clinic (USA), the advantage of homemade smoothies is that they can include key nutrients and various tasty additives. The result is a healthy and pleasant-tasting drink that will help you gain weight during antitumor therapy.

Do-it-yourself smoothies allow you to control the composition and vary the ratio of nutrients. In addition, for sore throat or inflammation in the oral cavity, a cool medicinal drink will soothe the mucous membranes, improve tissue regeneration, and saturate the body with proteins, minerals and vitamins. A combination of fruits, vegetables, whole milk and natural yogurt has a good effect. To enhance the effect, you can add protein powder to your smoothie.

If you are lactose intolerant, the finished smoothie can be mixed with yogurt or ice cream made with soy, rice, almond or coconut milk. To increase the caloric and nutritional content, you can add ingredients such as peanut butter (or other nut butters), ground flax or oat seeds, chopped chia or avocado to the drink.

Christy King, senior nutritionist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, USA, recommends making smoothies rich in protein and antioxidants. To do this, you can add bananas, berries, leafy greens, as well as protein powder, nut butter or fresh grated ginger to the drink. The finished mixture will contain a lot of potassium, vitamins A and C, fiber, iron, as well as antioxidants that will fight free radicals in the body. In addition, this composition is a good treatment for gastrointestinal disorders. As an example, here is the recipe for the most successful banana-berry smoothie, according to a nutritionist:

whole milk or almond milk – 1 glass;
banana – 1 piece (can be replaced with ½ mango);
frozen berries (blueberries, blueberries, etc.) – ½ cup;
lettuce or spinach leaves - 1/ cup;
natural yogurt – ¼ cup.

Combine all ingredients in a blender bowl and blend until smooth. The finished drink is best consumed immediately.

Protein shakes

Ready-made protein shakes resemble standard nutritional supplements. They can be used as stand-alone drinks or added to homemade smoothies.

Most often, protein formulations are made from soy, rice, egg whites or whey. Some manufacturers make plant-based blends, such as Kate Farms and Orgain. And for people with lactose intolerance, the market can offer special products based on almond or coconut milk.

Ready-made protein mixtures are convenient and are prepared using the well-known “just add water” principle. If you want something new and tasty, try searching for recipes online on specialized sites such as Oncology Dietetics, American Cancer Society.

Fortified milk

Fortified milk is a milk composition that has added vitamins, minerals and other beneficial substances. As a rule, vitamins A and D, omega-3, folic acid, iron, and zinc are added to the drink. For people with lactose intolerance, manufacturers produce mixtures based on soy or almond milk. Thanks to their special composition, these drinks are not inferior in health to whole cow's milk. And although they will not help you gain weight, they will saturate your body with vitamins and minerals.


For patients with cancer, a whole group of healthy drinks is produced to replenish the lack of nutrients. An experienced doctor will tell you which ones are needed. Call and sign up for consultation with professional oncologists to Onco Care Clinic 308.

Author of the article:

Aleksanyan Aleksan Zavenovich

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