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Nutrition: Increasing Calories & Protein

Increasing Calories and Protein in Your Diet Nutrition tips

By Erin McAllister, Dietician

Getting the right nutrition for anyone can be challenging, but ALS patients have even more obstacles because of difficulties in chewing and swallowing. Adequate nutrition is necessary to maintain a healthy weight, and the energy needs of pALS is higher than someone who doesn't have ALS so weight loss and insufficient energy intake may accelerate the progression of the disease. To make up for lost calories and protein, it is important for individuals with ALS experiencing weight loss to increase the calorie and protein content of their meals.

Tips to Increase Calories

  • Use heavy cream or whole milk when a recipe calls for milk.
  • Add gravies and sauces to meats, pasta, rice, and vegetables.
  • Fry or sauté foods in butter, margarine, or vegetable oil.
  • Add dried fruits, such as dates, figs, prunes, and raisins to cereals and bake them in breads, cookies, and muffins.
  • Whenever you can, use extra butter, cream cheese, jelly, margarine, mayonnaise, oil, sugar, syrup, and sour cream.
  • Add ice cream or frozen yogurt to soft drinks for a cool treat.
  • Make smoothies using high fat ice cream and fruit (fresh or frozen). Try adding peanut butter to your smoothies and milk shakes for extra calories and protein.

Tips to Increase Protein

  • Add chopped, hard-boiled eggs to casseroles and salads.
  • Beat eggs into cooked potatoes and sauces. Be sure to cook these dishes a bit longer after you add raw eggs, this will kill any harmful bacteria. Add powdered milk to casseroles, cream-based soups, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, sauces and even in your regular milk.
  • Make a sauce by mixing cream soup and milk together when baking meat, chicken of fish.
  • Mushrooms add nice flavor to cream sauces. Use eggs as a binder when making hamburgers and meatloaf.
  • Add shredded cheese to bread, casseroles, eggs, grits, pasta, potatoes, rice, sandwiches, sauces, salads, soups, or vegetable dishes. Whenever possible, use milk instead of water in beverages and in cooking. Spread peanut butter on crackers, fruit slices, pancakes, toast and waffles; or use as a dip for raw carrots and celery.