What is the best protein powder for chemo patients?

drink wholesome makes the best protein powder for chemo patients with a short list of simple ingredients. Now, you can boost your protein intake without extra processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our chemo protein powder is right for you. 

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

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How to pick a protein powder for chemo patients.

How much protein do chemo patients need?

Studies have found that up to 85% of cancer patients suffer from malnutrition, which can lead to serious consequences if left untreated. Malnutrition in cancer patients is linked to treatment complications, reduced physical abilities, and lower chances of survival.

A protein deficiency is one of the leading causes of chemotherapy side effects and mortality since protein is essential for healing and fighting infections. It follows that increasing protein intake can improve tolerance to chemotherapy and its effectiveness. It also helps to build muscle mass and strength, both of which are associated with better survival rates and outcomes for chemo patients.


Is protein powder good for chemo patients?

Chemo patients have higher protein needs than healthy adults, and should aim to eat 1.2-1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Eating this much protein can be challenging, however especially for chemo patients dealing with nausea and loss of appetite. This is where protein shakes and powders can help.

Adding a scoop or two of protein powder to your diet is an easy way to ensure that you are meeting your protein needs. Protein powder can be added to soft foods like smoothies and oatmeal, or mixed with water to make easy-to-swallow protein shakes. That said, not all protein powders are created equal.


What is the best protein powder for chemo patients?

Any type of protein powder can help you meet your nutritional needs. That is, you need not worry about the source of the protein itself. What you need to be wary of are the added ingredients in your protein powder. 

Many protein powders contain food additives like emulsifiers, thickeners, flavors, and sugar substitutes, all of which can cause painful side effects and long term gut health problems. Specifically, food additives can alter your gut microbiome – the community of microorganisms living in your digestive tract. This matters for chemo patients because the composition and function of your gut microbiome plays an important role in cancer treatment efficacy – an altered gut microbiome is associated with resistance to chemo drugs

An altered gut microbiome has also been linked to the development of a number of malignancies, including colon cancer. Foods that are bad for your gut are thus the last thing you want to eat if you or someone you care for undergoing chemotherapy. The best protein powder for chemo patients is thus one made with a short list of simple ingredients. 

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for chemo patients.

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder for chemo patients is that we do not use food additives. First of all, additives can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, especially if you already have a sensitive stomach – which many chemo patients do.

Additives resist digestion because they do not look like real food. They therefore spend extra time in your gut, feeding your hungry gut bacteria. Gut bacteria release gas as they eat, so more time to eat means more gas. As you can imagine, too much gas can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach pain. It can also slow the movement of food through the colon, leading to constipation.

Sometimes, partially digested food additives cause your colon to absorb extra water, triggering osmotic diarrhea. Now, you may finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom. 

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

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, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, ‘natural’ flavors, rice bran extract, rice dextrin, rice hulls, rosemary extract, silica, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, soluble corn fiber, soy lecithin, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, xylitol, zinc oxide

What is more, regularly eating food additives can disturb regulatory pathways in your intestines, triggering the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Some additives, particularly artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, can also disrupt your gut microbiome. In addition hampering the efficacy of chemo drugs, an altered microbiome is a leading driver of inflammation, which is a big problem for chemo patients, since inflammation is a well-known consequence of cancer treatments

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best protein powder for chemo patients is that we do not use whey and casein. These dairy-based proteins contain lactose, a sugar that most adults cannot fully digest, so they tend to cause nasty digestive issues. 

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder for chemo patients is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. Almost every other protein supplement on the market is made from one or both of these protein sources, which undergo extensive processing. Protein concentrates or isolates are mechanically and/or chemically stripped of their non protein components, so what you eat looks nothing like real food.

Your gut is meant to digest minimally or unprocessed real foods, not protein concentrates or isolates. This is why research shows regularly eating ingredients like these can alter your gut microbiome. As you just learned, an altered gut microbiome is the last thing you want during chemotherapy.

Instead of relying on protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best chemo protein powder with egg whites and almonds. These simple protein sources are a gut-friendly alternative to protein isolates and concentrates.

For starters, both egg whites and almonds contain enzymes that help you break them down. Protein isolates and concentrates, on the other hand, have been stripped of these natural digestive aids.

Almonds are also prebiotic, meaning they improve the composition of your gut microbiome. Egg whites, on the other hand, are low FODMAP, alkaline (maintaining healthy pH levels in your gut), and bioactive (promoting the growth of good gut bacteria). Our customers have reported fewer digestive problems with our egg white protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement.

In conclusion, we make protein powders with gut-friendly ingredients so you can boost your protein intake during and after chemotherapy without compromising your gut and overall health.


easy to digest

“I have throat cancer. I am writing today to just say thank you for this product. I have had over 35 radiation treatments and lost the ability to swallow solids during this time due to sores and extreme pain in my throat. Drink wholesome was the only thing I was able to swallow and not feel terrible after eating it for three meals a day (I surprisingly never got tired of the chocolate flavor, even after three months). I don’t know what I would have done without this product and I wish more people going through cancer treatment knew about this. Anyway I just wanted to say thank you and I will forever recommend this to anyone I can.” – Lucas

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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.[