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Chemotherapy can be a valuable tool in the treatment of your cancer, however it also comes with known side effects that we can help treat at our clinic. Of note, chemotherapy can lead to a decrease in your muscle mass, which research now connects with poorer outcomes, survival, and tolerance to treatment. Fortunately, there are strategies to help prevent muscle loss, with two of the most effective being resistance/weight/strength training and adequate protein intake in your diet. 

For more information on incorporating resistance training into your daily routine, please refer to Four Tips for Starting Weights

Eating enough high-quality protein has been shown to help maintain muscle mass in patients with cancer that are undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The daily recommended intake during chemotherapy treatment is between 1-1.5g per kg of your body weight. Here are examples of healthy, protein-rich sources that are considered less inflammatory than red and processed meats: 


  • Free-range organic chicken, turkey, and eggs 
  • Wild-caught, cold-water fish from Alaska or the Pacific 


  • Nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds, hemp hearts  
  • Legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, edamame, lentils, soy-based products (tofu, tempeh, etc) 

On a daily basis, it is not always easy to integrate enough high protein foods into your diet, and so sometimes, you may find it helpful to add a protein supplement. Examples include: 

  • Non-vegan sources: whey, beef protein, cricket, egg 
  • Vegan sources: brown rice, hemp, soy, pumpkin, pea, or combination products 

Not sure where to begin? The following is an example of a 24-hour diet that can be used for inspiration when planning out your future high-protein meals. 

Sample Diet (for a 70kg/155lb individual = 70-105g of protein per day): 

  • Breakfast ~30g of protein 
    • Berry smoothie: 1 scoop vanilla whey, 1 handful of spinach, 1/2 cup frozen zucchini, 1 cup berries, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1/2 avocado and almond milk/ water as needed for desired consistency  
  • Snack ~10g of protein 
    • 2 boiled eggs and 1-2 cups fresh chopped veggies 
  • Lunch ~20g of protein  
    • Walnut Cauliflower Glow Bowl  
  • Snack ~5g of protein 
    • Apple with 2 tbsp of almond butter 
  • Dinner (~35g of protein) 
    • Almond-crusted Chicken Tenders, 1 cup Roasted broccoli and 1 cup roasted and cubed sweet potatoes  

 Author: Samantha Maloney, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre intern