For many reasons, cancer and extreme weight loss often go hand-in-hand. In fact, about 40 percent of people with cancer report unexplained weight loss at the time of diagnosis and 80 percent of advanced cancer patients deal with weight loss and muscle loss – called cachexia. This loss of both total weight and muscle not only makes it make difficult to handle the demands of daily life, it can also make it more difficult for cancer patients to deal with the often harsh treatments used in these cases.
To make the situation even more challenging, cancer treatments themselves often cause weight loss. Weight gain and maintenance, then, is often a major concern in the treatment of many cancers. Since this is their expressed purpose, some wonder if weight gainer protein powders could be used to assist cancer patients in their efforts to gain weight and counteract or prevent cachexia.
Let’s take a look at what goes into a quality weight gainer protein powder to get a better understanding of the entire situation.
Not Just Protein
It’s important to note, right at the outset, that weight gainer protein powders often differ significantly from standard protein powders. Or at least they should. While protein powders in general can give you a useful boost in total calories and help to preserve muscle mass, not only proteins are absorbed and used the same why by your body. And, put simply, standard protein powders do not have the same amount of total calories per serving as weight gainers.
Products that are specifically designed to promote weight gain, however, should use a mix of protein powders. Ideally, this would include both whey and casein. Both of these milk-derived products are complete proteins, meaning that they contain all of the amino acids that your body needs in high concentrations. But whey is also rich in several highly beneficial peptides that can reduce inflammation and improve immune function. Grass-fed whey protein is also packed with healthy omega-3 and conjugated linoleic fatty acids which can contribute to overall health and help you achieve a balanced metabolism.
The key here, however, has to do with metabolism. Whey – along with all of the benefits just discussed – is rapidly absorbed by your body and goes to work quickly. Casein, though, clots up and forms a type of protein-ball in the human digestive tract. As unpleasant as this sounds, it’s exactly what makes casein so useful. This tendency allows casein to keep you fed for several hours, preventing your body from turning on muscle fiber for fuel.
Finally, a high-quality weight gainer will also contain complex, slow digesting carbohydrates. This will increase levels of insulin in your system – a hormone that causes your body to transport and store nutrients. It’s important, however, that these carbohydrates are slow, since a carb that is quickly digested with create a dramatic spike of insulin which will then make your blood sugar crash.