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    Nutrition and Cancer: High-Calorie Snacks

    Calorie and protein guidelines during cancer treatment

    Your calorie and protein needs will vary depending on things such as your age, gender, body weight, and activity level. The current recommended daily allowance for protein for most adults is 46 to 56 grams per day. It is important to discuss your own calorie and protein needs with your healthcare provider or registered dietitian. With some cancers, the metabolic processes can cause hypermetabolism. This condition affects how your body uses proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. With hypermetabolism you may need to increase your calorie and protein intake. Discuss this with your healthcare provider 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 (30 calories per teaspoon) to puddings, casseroles, sandwiches, vegetables, cooked cereal, breads, and pasta.

    • Add wheat germ (25 calories and 2 grams protein per tablespoon) to:

      • Hot cereals

      • Meat dishes, cookie batter, and casseroles

    • Add mayonnaise or salad dressing (35 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. This can be added to most foods without drastically changing their flavor. 

    • 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 (20 calories per tablespoon) liberally on mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, and meats.

    • Ask your healthcare provider about adding nutritional supplement drinks between meals. 

    The following snack ideas can be eaten as a meal or in addition to meals.

    Meal or snack idea


    Calories per serving

    Cheese toast

    1 oz. cheese

    1 slice toast


    Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk

    2 slices bread

    2 tablespoons peanut butter

    1 tablespoon jelly

    8 oz. whole milk


    Bagel with cream cheese, jelly, and juice

    1 large bagel

    1 oz. cream cheese

    1 tablespoon jelly

    12 oz. apple juice


    Cheese pizza

    1 slice of cheese pizza


    Egg and cheese on an English muffin

    1 egg

    1 oz. cheese

    1 English muffin


    Yogurt smoothie

    8 oz. yogurt

    1/2 c. Half & Half

    1 c. frozen strawberries


    Peanut butter and banana on toast

    1 slice toast

    2 tablespoons peanut butter

    1 banana


    Chili cheese fries

    1 c. French fries

    3 1/2 oz. chili

    2 1/2 oz. melted cheese


    Nachos with beans and cheese

    1 oz. tortilla chips

    1/2 c. refried beans

    2 1/2 oz. melted cheese

    Salsa to taste


    Trail mix

    1 cup toasted corn cereal

    12 almonds

    2 tablespoons peanuts

    1/3 c. raisins

    1/4 c. chocolate chips


    Tuna salad on crackers

    1/2 cup tuna salad

    5 crackers


    Granola bar and yogurt

    8 oz. fruit-flavored yogurt

    2 granola bars


    Online Medical Reviewer: Brown, Kim, APRN
    Online Medical Reviewer: LoCicero, Richard, MD
    Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
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