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Cancer Center

Nutrition and Cancer - High-Protein Foods

Calorie and protein guidelines during cancer treatment:

Each individual’s calorie and protein requirements will vary. For a rough estimate of calorie needs, plan on consuming 25 to 35 calories for each kilogram of weight (1 kilogram equals 2.2 pounds). The current recommended daily allowance for protein is 45 to 60 grams per day. It is important to discuss your individual calorie and protein requirements with your physician or registered dietitian. With some cancers, the metabolic processes can cause a situation known as hypermetabolism that affects how the body uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. With hypermetabolism you may need to increase your calorie and protein intake. Discuss this with your physician or registered dietitian.

What foods are high in protein?

Foods that are high in protein include:

  • meats - beef, chicken, fish, turkey, and lamb
  • milk and cheese - yogurt, cottage cheese, and cream cheese
  • eggs
  • peanut butter (with bread or crackers)
  • dried beans and peas (with bread, cornbread, rice)

Listed below are some suggestions for adding calories and protein to your meals and snacks:

  • Add powdered milk (33 calories and 3 grams protein per tablespoon):
    • To foods and beverages.
    • To puddings, potatoes, soups, ground meats, vegetables, cooked cereal, milkshakes, yogurt, and pancake batter.
  • Add eggs or egg substitute (80 calories and 6 grams protein per egg):
    • To casseroles, meat loaf, mashed potatoes, cooked cereal, macaroni and cheese, and chicken or tuna salads.
    • To French toast and pancake batter. (Add more eggs than you normally would.)
  • Use cheese (100 calories and 7 grams protein per ounce), as tolerated:
    • As snacks or on sandwiches.
    • In casseroles, potatoes, vegetables, and soups.
  • Use whole milk (150 calories and 8 grams protein per cup) in cooking and food preparation, as tolerated.
  • Use peanut butter (95 calories and 4 grams protein per tablespoon) on toast, bagels, crackers, bananas, apples, and celery.
  • Add Carnation Instant Breakfast™ (130 calories and 7 grams protein per packet) to milkshakes or milk.
  • Add nonfat dry milk to whole milk to prepare high-protein milk.

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