What is the best protein powder for cancer patients?


If you are looking for the best protein powder for cancer patients, you have come to the right place. Learn how to safely supplement your dietary protein intake during and after cancer treatment. 

This article was written by Jack Schrupp and Brittany Adelman, RDN.

Is protein powder good for cancer patients?


Studies have reported that the prevalence of malnutrition in cancer patients may be as high as 85%. When cancer-related malnutrition goes untreated, the consequences can be serious.

Malnutrition is associated with treatment toxicity, complications, reduced physical functioning, and decreased survival. Moreover, it is protein deficiency that is the strongest contributor to side effects and increased mortality, which makes sense because you simply cannot heal or fight off infections without protein.

It follows that research shows increasing protein intake has beneficial effects for cancer treatment tolerance and efficacy.

Research also shows that increasing protein intake increases muscle mass and strength in cancer patients, which is associated with increased survival and better outcomes.

This all makes sense because cancer patients have higher than normal protein needs. Healthy adults need, on average, 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Cancer patients, on the other hand, may need almost twice that much. The recommended daily protein intake for cancer patients is 1.2–1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.

Cancer patients should aim to get as much protein as they can from normal food. Getting enough protein this way can be challenging (if not impossible) for some patients, however. This is where protein powder can help.

Adding protein powder to your diet is an easy way to ensure that you are hitting your protein goals. 

Is protein powder safe to use during cancer treatment?

Protein powder is safe to use while undergoing treatment, but not all protein powders are created equal. My best advice is to use formulations made with a short list of simple ingredients, and to consult a healthcare professional when in doubt.

best-protein-powder-for-cancer-patients

What is the best protein powder for cancer patients?


Any type of dietary protein powder can help cancer patients meet their nutritional needs. Many protein powders are made with ingredients that can cause painful side effects and long term health problems for cancer patients, however.

Among these ingredients are food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates. 

Avoid food additives

Digestive issues like diarrhea can result from cancer or its treatment. It follows that avoiding food additives, which are hard to digest, should be a top priority.

Even in small amounts, many food additives can cause digestive issues, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. This happens because additives look nothing like real food, making them hard to break down. In some cases, this can cause your colon to absorb too much water, which can lead to diarrhea

Digestion resistant food additives also feed your gut bacteria, which release gas as they eat. As you might imagine, too much intestinal gas can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and even constipation.

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein supplements:

  • acacia fiber
  • acacia gum
  • acesulfame potassium
  • artificial flavors
  • ascorbic acid
  • aspartame
  • calcium carbonate
  • carrageenan
  • cellulose gum
  • dextrin
  • dicalcium phosphate
  • dipotassium phosphate
  • erythritol
  • gellan gum
  • guar gum
  • gum arabic
  • inulin
  • locust bean gum
  • maltitol
  • maltodextrin
  • mono- and diglycerides
  • ‘natural’ flavors
  • rice bran extract
  • rice dextrin
  • rice hulls
  • rosemary extract
  • silica
  • silicon dioxide
  • sodium alginate
  • soluble corn fiber
  • sorbitol
  • soy lecithin
  • sucralose
  • sunflower lecithin
  • tocopherols
  • tricalcium phosphate
  • xanthan gum
  • xylitol
  • zinc oxide

Regularly eating emulsifiers, thickeners, sugar substitutes, and other additives can not only upset your stomach, but also alter the composition of your gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. This can lead to gut dysbiosis, which is not only associated with chronic diseases like colon cancer, but also linked to resistance to chemo drugs.

Avoid dairy-based proteins

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, although not an issue for everyone, can cause side effects like bloating and diarrhea. This is in part because they contain lactose, a sugar most adults cannot fully digest.

Avoid protein concentrates and isolates

Most protein powders are made from protein concentrates and isolates, which have been mechanically and or chemically stripped of everything but the protein, including the enzymes, fiber, and other natural digestive aids that help you break them down. As a result, they can cause digestive issues and possibly even disruptions to your gut microbiome

Finding a protein powder free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates is hard.

In fact, 99% of protein supplements contain one or more of these problematic ingredients. This is why we created drink wholesome. Keep reading to learn more about why we make the best protein powder for cancer patients.

protein-powder-for-cancer-patients

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for cancer patients


We make the best protein powder for cancer patients because we use a short list of simple ingredients free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates.

Our ingredients

egg whites

egg whites

coconut

coconut

vanilla

vanilla

monk fruit

monk fruit

NOT our ingredients

  • acacia gum

  • acesulfame potassium

  • artificial flavors

  • carrageenan

  • erythritol

  • guar gum

  • inulin

  • maltodextrin

  • 'natural' flavors

  • silica

  • soy lecithin

  • sucralose

  • xanthan gum

  • xylitol

Note that instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use whole food protein sources like collagen, egg whites, and almonds, which are easier to digest and absorb.

Whole food protein sources also have unique digestive benefits: collagen can reduce bloating and improve digestive symptoms, egg whites can help restore your mucosal intestinal barrier, and almonds can improve the composition of your gut microbiome.

It follows that our customers experience fewer digestive issues with our protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement. Order samples to see for yourself.

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Other considerations when choosing protein powder for cancer patients


Here are a few important details to keep in mind when choosing protein powder for cancer patients:

Additional calorie requirements

When undergoing cancer treatment, both protein and total energy needs increase. Choosing a protein powder high in both protein and calories is thus recommended.

Keep in mind that you can always add ingredients to protein shakes to increase the protein and calorie content. Just 2 tablespoons of nut butter, for example, will add 10 grams of protein and 200 calories.

Texture

Texture also plays an important role when choosing protein powder for cancer patients. Many cancer patients have difficulty swallowing, which means avoiding protein powders with gritty or chalky textures should be a priority.

Taste 

Many cancer patients experience nausea and a loss of appetite. It is therefore important to find a protein powder that tastes good. This may require some trial and error, so look for companies that offer samples

Tips for cancer patients from a dietitian


Before adding protein powder to your diet, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare team to ensure that it protein powder is safe and appropriate for you and your treatment plan. Once you get the green light, follow the tips below for the best results: 

Start slow: Start with smaller servings of protein powder to test your tolerance and gradually increase the serving-size over time. 

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, especially if you are experiencing nausea or vomiting as a side effect of treatment. 

Monitor your symptoms: Track your changes in your digestion or bowel habits when introducing protein powder to your diet, and discuss them with your healthcare team if they persist or worsen.

Incorporate protein powder into meals: Incorporate protein powder into recipes such as oatmeal and yogurt because protein shakes can get old. 

Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body responds to protein powder and adjust your intake or food pairings accordingly based on your individual tolerance and preferences.

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Collagen Protein Powder Starter Kit

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Egg White Protein Powder Starter Kit

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Vegan Almond Protein Powder Starter Kit

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Reviews

Patricia

1 week ago

Verified Purchase I'm only filling this out because I haven't found anything else like it. My system is sensitive to everything. I get headaches and stomachaches so easy from anything but regular old sugar for instance, and even that I can't have too much of. I'm using your protein powder (with the maple sugar) every morning, and I'm convinced there isn't a better one out there. I'm a 50 year old trying to lose 50 pounds and feel like your powder is the closest to something natural I can find which is good at my age, lol. I'm very proud of finding you guys and already tell everyone about it.

For Egg White Protein Powder

Kelynn

4 weeks ago

Verified Purchase Hi! Your powder has been life-changing for me! I wear many hats as a military spouse, mom of a toddler, and yoga teacher. However, the hats I wear of being a human, living with endometriosis and IBS, are the ones these simple ingredients have most impacted! Thank you! Thank you for creating a product for stomachs that is sensitive, simple, AND still packs a punch protein wise!

For Egg White Protein Powder

Tom

1 month ago

Verified Purchase Your protein is seriously a game changer for me. I went from 135 to 170 in a few months due to the shakes I made with your protein powder. I've been drinking 1 each day for the last bit of time. Most protein kills my gut. You guys are seriously making a life support for me. Thank you for all that you do and create!

For Egg White Protein Powder

Frequently asked questions

Who is it for?

Drink Wholesome is the best protein powder for sensitive stomachs. If you are sick of protein powders that upset your stomach, you have come to the right place. 

Why is it easy to digest?

No dairy 

Drink Wholesome is made without whey and casein. These dairy-based proteins contain lactose, a sugar most adults can’t fully digest. 

No additives

Drink Wholesome is made without food additives. Even in small amounts, emulsifiers, thickeners, and other additives can cause digestive issues and long-term gut health problems. 

Whole food protein

Drink Wholesome is made with whole food protein sources like almonds, collagen, and egg whites. Unlike protein concentrates and isolates, which have been stripped of enzymes, fiber, and other digestive aids, whole foods are easy to break down.

Protein powder vs meal replacement powder?

We make protein powders and meal replacement powders. The difference between protein powders and meal replacement powders is the nutrition content. Protein powders are high in protein and low in everything else, whereas meal replacement powders contain fats, carbs, and protein because they are intended to replace the nutritional value of a healthy meal.

Collagen vs egg white vs almond protein powder?

We make three types of protein powder: collagen protein powderegg white protein powder, and vegan almond protein powder. As long as you are eating a balanced diet, any type of protein powder can help you boost your protein intake. Just pick the one that best suits your dietary needs and personal preferences.

Which protein powder is right for you?

Which protein powder is best for you?

Which protein powder is best for you?

Answer the questions to find out.

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Protein Rice Krispies Treats

PREP TIME

15 min

COOK TIME

0 min

SERVES

2+

Ingredients
Instructions

In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pot from the heat, and incorporate the protein powder. Add the Rice Krispies, stirring until combined. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 inch greased pan. Let your Protein Rice Krispie Treats sit for 30 minutes before eating.

Disclaimer

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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