If you are looking for a healthful, calorie and nutrient dense smoothie recipe to help you maintain or gain weight during or after cancer treatment, try this one by IOE’s anticancer nutritionist, Conner Middelmann-Whitney.
- This is the second in our series of healthful weight gaining smoothie recipes. See another of our IOE weight gain smoothie recipes, here.
Conner Middelmann-Whitney’s Weight Gain Smoothie
“This smoothie delivers a hefty dose of easy-to-absorb protein and fats to help halt and reverse weight loss in people who are having trouble swallowing, digesting and/or absorbing nutrients due to cancer and its treatments.” -Conner
- 19-25 grams protein (plus protein from plant or dairy milk)
- 245-290 calories (If you want even more calories per drink, feel free to add 50% more protein powder and MCT oil for a 365-410 calorie drink.)
Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients:
- Whey protein isolate is the most readily absorbed type of supplemental protein; it not only can help to gain muscle tissue and increase strength and stamina; it also has cancer-fighting properties as it boosts the body’s antioxidant defenses (glutathione production).
- MCT oil is particularly easy to absorb and is therefore frequently used in parenteral feeding formulas; it is an excellent source of healthy fat and calories.
- Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are thought to have a variety of cancer-protective properties, such as reducing inflammation, restricting tumor cell growth, causing cancer cells to self-destruct; it may also help prevent or reverse cancer-induced muscle-wasting (cachexia).
- Since cancer treatments tend to disrupt the body’s gut flora – thereby interfering with nutrient absorption and weakening our immune system – we also add some probiotics (healthy bacteria) and prebiotics (substances that feed probiotics; here, the xylitol in the protein powder) to the drink.
- Digestive enzymes are added to help break down the nutrients in the smoothie and facilitate their absorption in the digestive tract.
- People consuming a liquid diet often have trouble with constipation because their diet is low in fiber. Adding finely ground psyllium husks – a soluble dietary fiber – can help. Do not use more than the indicated amount and always take with plenty of fluid. Taking psyllium powder without adequate fluid may cause it to swell and block your throat or esophagus and may cause choking.
- This drink does not contain added vitamins and minerals, so it does not adequately replace a healthy, balanced meal. You can add these by emptying one or more multivitamin & mineral capsules (follow manufacturer’s dosage recommendations) into the drink, but this may adversely affect its flavor (multis can taste sour/bitter). If you prefer, take a multi separately, either in capsule form or dissolved in a little water or juice. Also, try to eat/drink soups and fresh vegetable juices in addition to this meal replacement drink, as these contain many cancer-fighting plant nutrients not found in supplements.
- The carbohydrate content of this drink is very low.
- This basic recipe can be flavored with berries, unsweetened cocoa powder, or a few tablespoons of decaffeinated espresso; in addition to helping make the drink taste more interesting, these foods all contain valuable antioxidant and cancer-protective compounds.
2 scoops: (25 grams protein, 120 calories, 2 grams fat) grass-fed, organic, whey protein powder (e.g., NAKED WHEY); or vegetarian protein powder (e.g., Sun Warrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein Powder; 1 scoop: 19 grams protein, 100 calories, 2 grams fat)
1 tbsp: (14 grams fat, 125 calories) MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil (an easily absorbed oil derived from organic coconuts) (e.g., Sports Research MCT Oil)
1 tsp (5 grams fat, 45 calories, 1600 mg total omega-3’s) omega-3 fish oil concentrate (e.g., Nordic Naturals Omega-3); or vegetarian microalgae omega-3 concentrate (e.g. Nordic Naturals Algae Omega: 1/2 tsp, 20 calories, 2 grams fat, 1260 mg total omega-3’s)
2 capsules: plant-based, mixed digestive enzymes (Thorne Research Plantizyme)
1 cup: milk (e.g., unsweetened almond milk, or organic, grass-fed cow’s milk, or goat’s milk, etc.) or water
1 scoop: IntestiNew (a powder formulation to support the intestinal lining and containing L-glutamine, Gamma oryzanol, ginger, marshmallow and N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine. Cancer treatments can damage the lining of the gut and thus interfere with nutrient absorption; the compounds in this supplement can soothe and repair an inflamed gut. Recommended for anyone undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, as well as people who have recently completed these treatments.); or vegetarian option (e.g. Pure Encapsulations GI Integrity)
1 tsp: finely ground psyllium husks (fiber) (e.g. NOW Organic Psyllium Husk Powder); do not use in case of intestinal obstruction or if you have difficulties swallowing
High-quality, iron-free multivitamin and mineral supplement, e.g. Pure Encapsulations Nutrient 950 Without Iron (empty 6 capsules into the smoothie before blending; for dosage guidelines, follow manufacturer’s directions on label)
Place all the ingredients in a blender or shaker and process into a smooth drink. Dilute with extra water or milk if necessary. Add ice cubes if desired.
If you plan to make this ahead of time, omit the digestive enzymes and add these just before drinking.
Refrigerate until use in a tightly sealed, germ-free container (e.g. sterilized glass Mason jar); do not store for longer than two days.