Increasing Protein in Your Diet

Your body needs protein each day to build new cells and repair damaged cells. This is especially important during illness or after surgery.  Protein also helps your body fight infections. While most people get plenty of protein in their diet, sometimes taste changes, chewing and swallowing ability and poor appetite lead to decreased intake during cancer treatment.

Good sources:

  • Lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Easy to digest protein foods: eggs, dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese)
  • Beans, nuts and soy – including nut butters
  • Protein powders (such as whey protein, vegetable proteins (such as pea protein) or powdered milk) – these can be mixed into liquids, soups, mashed potatoes, pudding or yogurt

Hints for Adding Protein

Add 2 tablespoons dry milk powder or protein powder to each cup of milk

Eat nuts, cheese or deviled eggs for snacks.

Add yogurt or cottage cheese to gelatin desserts.

Add grated cheese to:

  • Cream sauces
  • Vegetables
  • Casseroles
  • Grits
  • Soups
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mashed or baked potato

Add dices or ground meats and/or chopped eggs to soups and casseroles.

Mix diced meat with sour cream or Greek yogurt and spices to make a dip.

Add dry milk powder or protein powder to:

  • Hot cereals

  • Scrambled eggs

  • Cream soups

  • Gravies

  • Pudding and custard

  • Casseroles

  • Baked products

Use milk instead of water to make:

  • Soups

  • Hot cereals

  • Puddings

  • Instant cocoa mix

Drink milk as your beverage with meals

Try yogurt as a snack or for shakes and floats. You can also use yogurt as a sauce for vegetables or as a dip for fruit. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt.


Protein in Food

Animal Sources (grams protein)

Chicken, 3 ounces (23 grams)

Salmon, 3 ounces (17 grams)

Shrimp, 3 ounces (19 grams)

Pork, 3 ounces (22 grams

Beef, 3 ounces (21 grams)

Egg (7 grams)

Cheese, 1 ounce (7 grams)

Milk, 1 cup (8 grams)

Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup (13 grams)

Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup (13 grams)

Plant Sources (grams protein)

Peanut butter, 2 tsp (7 grams)

Nuts, 1 ounce* (6 grams)

Cooked beans, 1/2 cup (7 grams)

Cooked lentils, 1/2 cup (9 grams)

Cooked soybeans 1/2 cup (15 grams)

Tofu, 3/4 cup (19 grams)

Hummus, 1/4 cup (5 grams)

Cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup (4 grams)

Soy milk, 1 cup (8 grams)

Almond milk, 1 cup (1-5 grams)

*1 ounce of nuts = approximately 14 walnuts, 16 cashews, 23 almonds, 28 peanuts