To meet their energy demands, cancer patients must consume more calories than would normally be recommended. Snacks furnish some of this extra energy between meals. Individual protein and calorie requirements differ, so patients should discuss their personal requirements with the registered dietitians and doctors at Beaumont. 

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 calories?

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

  • Add butter or margarine (45 calories per teaspoon) to puddings, casseroles, sandwiches, vegetables, cooked cereal, breads, and pasta.
  • Add wheat germ (25 calories per tablespoon and 2 grams protein per tablespoon): 
    • to hot cereals
    • to meat dishes, cookie batter, and casseroles
  • Add mayonnaise or salad dressing (45 calories per teaspoon) liberally to sandwiches, salads, and as a dip for raw vegetables or sauce on cooked vegetables.
  • Add evaporated milk (25 calories and 1 gram protein per tablespoon) in place of whole milk in desserts, baked goods, meat dishes, and cooked cereal
  • Add sour cream (26 calories per tablespoon) to:
    • potatoes, casseroles, and dips
    • sauces and baked goods
  • Add sweetened condensed milk (60 calories and 1 gram protein per tablespoon) to:
    • pies, puddings, and milkshakes
    • 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and spread on toast
  • Add gravies (40 calories per tablespoon) liberally on mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, and meats.