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Weight Gain & Fatigue

Cancer treatment can promote unwanted and unhealthy weight gain in some people, that's not a good thing.  Now more than ever our bodies need us to maintain our health. 

By maintaining and managing your weight, you may have fewer side-effects and experience less fatigue through the cycles of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  In addition you can spring board your post treatment recovery and may help reduce your risk for a recurrence.

Appetites can shift during treatment. Often an appetite is diminished as the day progresses, most often from overall fatigue. The simple truth is that chemotherapy can change how our bodies react to calories. Eating a protein rich breakfast followed by frequent snacks, light meals and whole grains can help you alleviate weight gain and fatigue; providing essential nourishment for maintaining a healthy activity level during treatment. 

Unfortunately some people lose muscle mass during treatment. Our muscles are the source of energy for our bodies.  Even when the body is resting muscles burn calories and use energy.  Protein provides essential amino acids to maintain muscle mass, making sure our bodies maintain the ability to grow and repair tissue damaged from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.  Protein is essential to rebounding between treatments.  If we lose muscle mass our basal metabolic rate drops, promoting weight gain; the body is expending less energy and burning fewer calories, even if you maintain the same caloric intake.

When trying to minimize weight gain and maintain a healthy weight, consider these recommendations:

"¢ Eat often and when you are hungry, regardless of the time of day.  Food is fuel. Proper nourishment helps minimize fatigue, in turn promoting energy for activities. 

"¢ Appetite can fade as the day goes on.  Eating a protein rich, balanced and nourishing breakfast followed by frequent, protein rich snacks and meals can help you maintain energy and minimize fatigue, promoting a more balanced appetite.

"¢ Whole grains help offset peaks and valleys of energy. Whole grain foods release energy over time, ensuring that you have energy between meals and snacks.  A simple strategy to help is eat as many whole foods as possible; for example eat an orange or an apple instead of drinking a processed form of juice from concentrate.

"¢ Maintain calories by eating lean protein. Focus on preparing lean meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, dairy, cheese, soy products and mushrooms.  Combine these with fresh vegetables, whole grains and glycemic index friendly carbs like sweet potatoes and you are well on your way of supporting your metabolism and maintaining your body weight.

"¢ Snacks contribute almost one third of our daily calories.  A healthy strategy is to eat protein rich snacks on a frequent basis as they help your body maintain its lean muscle mass, which in turn allows you to support your metabolism.  Fat free Greek yogurt, nuts (in moderation), edamame, turkey breast, hard cooked eggs and miso soup are all great snacks that contain excellent amounts of protein.



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