Weight changes are very common during and after the course of cancer treatment due to the effects of medications that are involved in the treatment of cancer. Usually, weight loss is a major consequence but weight gain is not quite uncommon, which can be attributed to a reduction in physical activity and lack of dietary and nutrition precautions during the course of treatment [1].

Weight gain or weight loss after chemotherapy is also a common cause and there's no difference in types of cancer – breast cancer or colon cancer, after the treatment your weight can vary

This article will discuss the best ways in which you can lose weight after cancer treatment.


Dietary changes


It has been rightly said that weight loss begins in the kitchen.

Cut down on your daily energy intake by 500 to 700 kcal for achieving optimal weight loss. While reducing your calorie intake, it is also important that you provide your body with enough nutrition so that you can have a quick recovery after the treatment.

This means that you are required to load up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and avoid the intake of high–calorie foods such as burgers, fries, and other fast food items along with sugar-sweetened beverages which are loaded with empty calories.

After cancer treatment, a part of gained weight is also due to the retention of water in the body due to the aggressive treatment. Since salt/sodium increases the retention of water, it can be helpful to reduce the intake of salt and sodium-rich products. This would require you to reduce the intake of pre-packaged and processed food items like chips and pickles, which are loaded with sodium.

Another specific change in the diet, which is of utmost relevance to cancer survivors is limiting the consumption of red meats, trans – fats, fast foods, and alcohol since these are also the risk factors for the development of cancer other than being foods that cause you to gain weight [2].

It is recommended to avoid these foods and opt for fresh and nutritious home-cooked meals, which will also assist in your recovery. Switching red meats with white meats and choosing healthier methods of cooking such as boiling or grilling over frying is advisable. If it is not possible for you to make an immediate switch, reducing the intake of red meats and alcohol and limiting them to occasions can be effective.

For a specific reduction in the calorie intake and custom meal plans based on your health needs, you must talk with your cancer support group and diet experts.


Increasing physical activity


Exercise forms an integral part of any weight loss program. If there were any reasons during the course of your cancer treatment due to which your physical activity was limited, now is the time to step up and start exercising.

Moderate physical activity like walking, jogging, and biking for a duration of 150 minutes per week is recommended for all cancer patients and survivors. However, this can vary based on your individual needs and capabilities and the type of weight loss to be achieved.

If you are new to exercising, you can begin slowly by walking for half an hour each day at a local park or even outside your home. Slowly, you can increase your duration and pace of exercise. When you feel ready, you can do simple at-home exercises like sit-ups, dumbbell raises, and squats. Or you can also choose an exercise buddy and exercise at a common step. This will really help you in sticking to your plan.

For average weight loss, half-hour daily exercise along with relevant lifestyle changes like walking to pick up groceries or climbing stairs instead of stepping in an elevator is immensely helpful. You can make the use of a fit band or pedometer to track self – progress.

Based on approval from your cancer group, you can also take part in a specific training routine by joining a local gym. Weight training and aerobic exercises are effective in facilitating weight loss. However, do not begin prior to the approval as you could have a higher risk of infections if you had a recent treatment.

Also, you must perform these under the guidance of a trained professional to avoid any risk of complications.

If at any time, you feel fatigued or nauseous while exercising, it is important to stop immediately and inform your doctor. Your doctor may run some tests to look for the reasons which can then be managed. It is common to suffer from nutritional deficiencies while on a weight loss regimen, which is why it is important for you to go for routine check-ups.

Your doctor will provide you with supplements to manage these deficiencies and will provide you with advice on your weight loss schedule.


Other lifestyle changes


It is understood that it is impractical to always eat healthy and have a persistent social life. While going out for meals, opt for healthier versions of your favorite dishes instead of focusing on which foods to eat. Replace refined flour products such as pasta, pizza, and bread with whole wheat versions products of the same food.

For the dressing, instead of going for a cheesy dip, opt for olive oil and herbs. The method of cooking matters the most. So, avoid deep-fried food items and replace french fries with baked potato or vegetables and trade your can of soda for fresh fruit juice or lemonade.

While cooking at home, load up on fresh vegetables, eggs, and fish, and reduce the portion sizes of fats and carbohydrates. You do not need to cut down on any food group completely just reduce it and reduce the portion sizes of fats and carbohydrates. You do not need to cut down on any food group completely just reduce it and reduce the portion sizes of fats and carbohydrates. You do not need to cut down on any food group completely just reduce its portion size.

To achieve this, you can choose low–fat cooking options like broiling or grilling and replace red meats with white meats. While buying cheese, opt for feta cheese or cottage cheese instead of high – calorie cheddar. If you seriously crave unhealthy food items due to the learned mechanism, it is recommended to opt for smaller portion sizes. Having a small brownie won’t hurt after all. But, make sure it is not every day. To satiate your sweet cravings, you can also have a bowl of fresh fruits with greek yogurt or can blend them into a delectable bowl of smoothie.

Other than these measures, it is imperative that you manage your stress levels with the help of relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation[3]. Getting a spa, going on a day tour, and opting for outdoor activities will immensely help in reducing stress and managing your cortisol levels, which are majorly responsible for weight gain.

Outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and playing sports can be notable measures of reducing stress, socializing, reconnecting with family members and are also effective physical activities. You can opt for other activities in your society or can simply play with your kids or pets, which will also help in forming an emotional connection with them, reducing the feeling of isolation and depression, which is common during the course of cancer treatment.

Before making any major lifestyle changes, you are recommended to consult with your cancer groups to rule out your risk of infections and other complications.


[2] http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/staying-active/nutrition/nutrition-during-treatment/after-treatment-ends.html

[3] http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/staying-active/nutrition/nutrition-during-treatment/weight-gain.html

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