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Nutrition and Cancer: High-Calorie Snacks

Calorie and protein guidelines during cancer treatment

Each individual’s calorie and protein requirements will vary depending on a number of factors, such as 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 individual calorie and protein requirements with your doctor 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 doctor 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

    • 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.

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

175 per slice

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

2 slices 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 Cap'N Crunch

12 almonds

2 tablespoons peanuts

1/3 c. raisins

1/2 c. chocolate chips or M&M's


Tuna salad on crackers

1/2 cup tuna salad

5 crackers


Granola bar and yogurt

8 oz. fruit-flavored yogurt

2 granola bars



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