The Low Calorie Diet

The low-calorie diet, also called the weight-loss diet, involves limiting the overall number of calories you eat or drink in a day to lose weight.  If you were overweight at the time of your cancer diagnosis or underwent cancer treatment that caused weight gain (such as hormone therapies or steroids), you may want to talk to your provider about going on a low-calorie diet.  The low-calorie diet helps people prevent weight gain during treatment, lose weight after treatment, and reduces risk for prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and other cancers.  Since obesity is also linked to poorer prognoses for several cancers, such as breast, colon, esophageal, and tongue cancers, losing weight may also improve prognoses.  The low-calorie diet prioritizes avoidance of high-calorie foods, ongoing monitoring of portion sizes, and eliminating added sugars.

This is the recommended food and beverage list for a low-calorie diet:

  • Milk & Dairy Products: Use only low-fat milk, plain yogurts, and cottage cheeses.  Milk alternatives, such as soy, almond, coconut, cashew, and hemp milk products are permissible, and should also be low-fat.
  • Grains: Whole grain bread, pasta, crackers, and cereals. This includes brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley.  
  • Vegetables: All fresh and frozen vegetables are included in this meal plan.  Low-sodium canned vegetables are also included but must be drained and rinsed.
  • Fruits: All fresh and frozen fruit are included in the diet.  Fruit juices are also permissible but may not include added sugar.  
  • Proteins: This diet includes skinless and boneless turkey or chicken, beef, pork, lamb, fish, shellfish, eggs or egg whites, tofu, and tempeh.  Nuts, seeds, dry beans and peas, and low sodium canned beans (drained and rinsed) are also encouraged.
  • Fats and oils: These can be used sparingly and include soft margarine or butter, low-fat mayonnaise, avocados, and specific oils (canola, nut, or seed).
  • Liquids: Drinks are limited to water, seltzer/sparkling water, coffee, and tea.  

Recipe: Overnight Oats

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