Tasty Weight-Gain Supplements
April 12, 2006 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a relative undergoing Chemotherapy, who is losing weight excessively and needs to gain some back. Question inside:

The Docs have already recommended Ensure and another similar supplemental drink for trying to keep on weight, but she can't stand the taste. Her appetite is bad enough as it is, so she needs something that appeals to her palate.
My question is, are there any specific brands of nutritional/weight gain supplement drinks with an appealing taste and easy preparation? I understand weightlifters like using whey protein for bulking up - are there any products using that as a base, which genuinely taste good?
posted by BigLankyBastard to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't like the taste of the pre-made shakes either and I have found the ultra-slim fast meal replacement powder (you mix it with milk if I"m remembering correctly) to be quite tastey. If she used it to supplement meals for extra calories it may help her to put some weight back on. My sympathies out to you and your relative, I hope they're feeling better soon.
posted by LunaticFringe at 11:57 AM on April 12, 2006

I don't know if this directly answers your question, but The Abs Diet Eat Right Every Time Guide has lots of recipes for whey protein smoothies that look pretty good. I believe the original Abs Diet books also has some recipes for smoothies. (And it's not really a "diet" book in the low calorie sense.)

Preparation is very easy as long as you have a blender... the generic formula goes something like whey protein, fruit you like, maybe frozen fruit... blend, enjoy.

By the way, whey protein already comes in different flavors -- vanilla, chocolate, strawberry... or plain... maybe you can experiment with some of these as the base...
posted by jerryg99 at 12:00 PM on April 12, 2006

I think Spirutine tastes pretty good, and I am not a fan of supplement drinks. I know you can find it at Whole Foods. I think it is soy based. You mix it with milk or soy milk.

This is totally anecdotal, and this is from 15 years ago, but when my mom was going through chemo and she was losing all kinds of weight, her oncologist told her to eat whatever she wanted, even if it was not nutritional because it was important to just get calories. So if she was craving potato chips, she should eat potato chips and as many as she felt good eating.
posted by Airhen at 12:06 PM on April 12, 2006

posted by Neiltupper at 12:07 PM on April 12, 2006

they can try mixing it with ice-cream. That should make the weight gainer powder more palatable and add a nice dose of extra calories to boot.

A doctor recommended for my underweight cousin that he eat a bowl of ice-cream with every meal. It definitely helped him.
posted by Julnyes at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2006

I like the taste of Boost Chocolate Malt. They have a few other flavors that friends of mine like better. They also have the Boost Plus line with more calories and protein to maintain or gain weight, but it only has the 3 basic flavors - Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla.

When my grandmother was dying, Boost vanilla was the only thing she could keep down.
posted by Yorrick at 12:14 PM on April 12, 2006

I don't have any input on the subject of apetite-stimulating drugs, but for easy calories, you can do a lot better than Ensure/Boost.

You're correct about the weightlifting stuff. The right brands taste significantly better. However, the "weight gainer" supplements are generally geared toward people trying to add muscle mass and minimize fat gain. You probably just want sheer calories.

I recommend milkshakes. They're a lot fattier (denser in calories) than the health-supplement drinks, and they taste a lot better. Add some lactaid pills if the patient isn't good at digesting quarts of milk every day.

The late Jay Dee ate donuts to gain weight.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2006

So yeah, what Julnyes said.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2006

Yeah, how about a milkshake and a multivitamin?
posted by OmieWise at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2006

Some of the powdered shakes are great when added with a coupe other things. WHen I look at the ingrediaents of I Ensure I cant believe doctors recommend it!

I would think whole Milk, some powdered protein mix, and fruit would be a much better alternative than Ensure.

There are GREAT recipes out there for variety.

And if fresh fruit is a prob I have found alot of great variety of frozen fruit (and fresh cut mango freezes well too!).

If the prep is too hard (peeling, etc) she can go to a well stocked store and get terrific extracts --

coconut extract added to choc milk/choc ice cream and mix and a mounds bar...

Add Almond extract get an Almond Joy, etc....

Orange and vanilla extract-- creamsicle, etc....
posted by beccaj at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2006

Beer and actual milk shakes with weightlifter supplements added. No, I'm not kidding. I had my jaw wired shut as a kid and dropped weight precipitously. Did the Ensure and mixes, but nothing really appealed except beer (n-a beer so's not to interfere with meds) and thick milk shakes with the powdered supplements mixed in.

I'm sure fruit smoothies made with yoghurt and the supplements would be pretty nice too. Try mixing the powder, frozen fruit from the store and plain yoghurt with a couple of spoons of honey and/or brown sugar, yum!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2006

If she can eat peanut butter, it has more calories per spoonful than virtually any other food.
posted by Malor at 1:07 PM on April 12, 2006

I was coming here to reccomend what Neiltupper said upthread. It's not the rigth answer for everyone, but smoking or making pot butter with the stuff that you can then cook with like normal is good for stimulating the appetite and also lessening some of the discomfort that chemo is often associated with. If it's not your thing ethically, it's not the only option. I htink someone in a similar thread earlier said something about mixing in a spoonful of whey protein into a cup of chocolate pudding and that being a pretty good filler-upper.
posted by jessamyn at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2006

I used to work in a cafe right next to several hospitals. One of our regulars was a woman who was undergoing chemo and her drink of choice was a hot chocolate made with steamed half and half topped with whipped cream.

She liked our hot chocolate best because we made it with truffle chocolate (which has more fat and calories than regular chocolate, and far more than cocoa powder).

It makes my arteries clog just thinking of that drink, but it made her happy.

Best of luck to your relative. I hope you and she find something from all these suggestions that she can tolerate. Hopefully even like!
posted by luneray at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2006

I recommend Nutritiondata.com Better Choices Diet. For each food item, you can see how good it is for weight gain, and find alternatives that are better for gaining weight.
posted by Sharcho at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2006

I second Neiltupper's comment - my mother started chemo in December, and we decided to stop last week because her organs have begun to fail. During the worst of the chemo side effects, we were making MuscleMilk protein shakes with half-and-half instead of milk, adding butter and half-and-half to mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs - virtually taking every opportunity to add fat in. She became lactose intolerant and we stopped the shakes and started encouraging smoking, which lead to her simply eating more - chips, pancakes, muffins, pastries, pastas, puddings. This seemed to help.

I wish you the best of luck.
posted by annathea at 1:30 PM on April 12, 2006

When my mom and sister were sick, it was sometimes the smell that made a food unpleasant. It was easier to drink ensure over ice, through a straw or from a covered cup.
I'd also recommend stirring some protein powder into a cup of pudding. Kozyshack tapioca was always a favorite in my house.
posted by Sara Anne at 1:37 PM on April 12, 2006

Met-Rx is a much more tasty protein drink than the whey protein products, however the intent for these drinks is to provide ample protein while limiting excess calories and not so much for weight gain as for skipping or supplementing meals. If increased calories is the only goal, then I agree a milkshake would be more effective.
posted by Manjusri at 1:48 PM on April 12, 2006

Chemotherapy often changes the way things taste to a person, so a lot of this is going to be trial and error. As a rule, stronger flavors are better because they mask the chemo taste.
posted by the jam at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2006

Krispy Kreme donuts.

There's no way she won't like 'em.
posted by BobFrapples at 2:20 PM on April 12, 2006

Yet another vote for milkshakes. Make 'em thick, with the expensive, fattening ice cream. You can buy frozen fruit chunks, and ice cream toppings to blend in.

As an aside, have they tried Megace? It put weight on my mom when she had chemo, but she hated the "moon face" side effect and stopped.
posted by dilettante at 2:24 PM on April 12, 2006

My relative thanks you all profusely - this is a huge outpouring of very wise ideas and things we would not have thought of ourselves. Thank you all so much, and we will be keeping our eye on the Green so as to help out anyone with other questions about the Chemo experience.

Mefi is truly a great resource!
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2006

Have you (or your relative) looked at James Haller's What To Eat When You Don't Feel Like Eating? It's specifically for the exhausted patient (or caregiver) and contains simple recipes and tips for creating meals and snacks that are appealing and nutritious and, in many cases, good and fattening. And I found it mercifully straightforward and easy to read. At a time when the simple work of putting together a meal seemed suddenly exponentially complicated, this book was invaluable.
posted by Elsa at 9:26 PM on April 12, 2006

I would recommend avoiding large quantities of commercially produced donuts (such as Krispy Kreme) and other foods that are high in trans-fat. No sense in increasing your risk of heart disease in the quest for gaining weight.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:05 AM on April 13, 2006

Does your relative like fruit? Can she eat it? I start every morning with a fruit shake that includes the following ingredients:

1 banana
1 apple
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup frozen mixed fruits (kiwi, grape, canteloupe, peach)
2 tablespoons of strawberry-flavored whey powder
1/2 cup lowfat milk (might want to give her whole milk for extra calories)
1 cold cup water
1/8 cup sliced oats
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin seed oil
1/8 cup walnuts

Blend it up for a delicious shake. The strawberry-flavored whey powder tastes fine mixed with milk, but mixed with all of the fruits, its flavor practically disappears. Plenty of healthy calories in that shake. Add extra walnuts, milk, pumpkinseed oil or whey powder to boost calories and (with the exception of the oil) protein.
posted by syzygy at 9:54 AM on April 13, 2006

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