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High calorie drinks

You can boost your diet by having high calorie and protein drinks.

Making your own

You can make your own energy filled drinks by liquidising combinations of milk, fresh fruit, yoghurt, honey or sugar and ice cream as a smoothie or milkshake.

Smoothies

Use fresh apple, strawberries, banana or other soft fruit. Blend it with fortified milk, fruit juice or yoghurt in a liquidiser or blender. 

Smoothies made with fruit juice will have much less protein. So they are less nutritious than those based on milk or yoghurt. Supermarkets sell mixed fruit and frozen smoothie mixes. These work well if you are making your own. 

Try adding a handful of pumpkin or sesame seeds to add a few extra calories. The best thing about making your smoothies is that they usually taste great. You can also control the flavour.

Milkshakes

Make a nutritious milkshake by mixing fortified milk with either puréed fruit or a fruit yoghurt. Top with a scoop of ice cream for extra energy.

Make a chocolate and banana milkshake. Use chocolate flavour milk and whizz in a blender with a banana. This is delicious and nutritious and easy to eat if you can't face a meal.

Ready made drinks (liquid supplements)

High calorie meals in a drink or energy drinks are also called liquid food supplements or sip feeds.

They can be useful short term if your appetite is poor and you can't manage to take in enough nourishment. You can use them to replace a meal or to boost your calorie intake between meals.

Many come in different flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and banana. There are also savoury ones in the form of soups. Your dietitian can suggest recipes or other ways to make supplements more palatable.

There are several ready-made commercial brands available on the market. You can buy these from your chemist, but they are quite expensive. Your doctor can give you a prescription for them. Prescriptions are free if you live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, if you have cancer, you can apply to get them for free.

Some ready-made drinks have enough nutrients and calories in them to replace your meals. But it is always best to carry on eating if you can.

Some drinks should be used alongside meals, to give you more energy. There are 2 types.

Two types of liquid supplements

You can buy these supplements over the counter and in some supermarkets. They come as a powder that you make up into milkshakes, soups, hot drinks or cold drinks.

They include products such as Meritene and Complan.

These products contain the nutrients to replace a meal. Your doctor, GP or dietitian can prescribe them. A district nurse or specialist nurse can help arrange a prescription for you.

It's possible to buy them yourself but they are expensive. If you use them you should be monitored by your doctor or dietitian. These supplements come as a liquid in a carton or bottle, and are either milkshake style or fruit juice style.

Some examples of milk based supplements
  • Ensure Plus
  • Fresubin Energy
  • Fortisip
  • Resource shake
  • Ensure Plus Yoghurt Style
  • Fortifresh Yoghurt Style
  • Clinutren
Some examples of fruit based supplements
  • Ensure Plus Juce
  • Fortijuce
  • Clinutren Fruit
  • Resource Fruit
  • Provide Xtra

Talking to your doctor

In most cases, you have these between meals and carry on with your normal diet as well. You will boost your nutritional intake if you drink between 2 and 3 cartons a day.

Do not take more than your doctor or dietitian recommends. The drinks contain vitamins that could be harmful in large amounts. Tell your doctor, dietitian or pharmacist if you are taking any vitamin supplements.

You may need to avoid taking certain medicines soon after or before having the drinks. The drink may change how much you absorb of the medicine. Ask your pharmacist or dietitian about when to take your medicines and when to have the drinks.

Protein and energy supplements

These products are powders or liquids. They contain either energy or protein with a small amount of energy. You can add them to many different foods and drinks. They are not nutritionally balanced and not suitable as a meal replacement. But they are helpful to boost either energy or protein levels.  

When taking these products, you should still eat and drink normally if possible. The products can be expensive, so it's best for your doctor to prescribe them if you need them.

Protein-only supplements should only be used if your doctor prescribes them for you.

  • Maxipro
  • Protifar
  • ProSource
  • ProCal shot
  • Polycal
  • Maxijul
  • Calogen
  • Liquigen
Last reviewed: 
06 Oct 2017
  • Nutrition and Cancer
    Edited by Clare Shaw
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2011

  • Symptom management in advanced cancer (4th edition)
    R Twycross and others
    Radcliffe Medical Press Ltd, 2009

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

Information and help

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