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Nutrition supplement drinks

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What are nutrition supplement drinks?

Nutrition supplement drinks can help you get enough nutrition if you have problems eating. You can use them to replace a meal or snack. There are lots of nutrition supplement drinks to choose from, and many of them will give you the nutrition you need.

Examples of nutrition supplement drinks are Ensure, Boost, Resource Diabetic, Glucerna, and generic/store brands like Equate Meal Replacement, President’s Choice Nutri-Total, and Kirkland Signature Nutrition Shake.

Samples of nutrition supplement drinks are available for patients at the Nutrition Resource Centre, T-wing ground floor, TG-261 (across from the café).

Why would I drink a nutrition supplement?

During your cancer treatment, a health care provider may tell you to eat more calories and/or protein to help your body stay strong, heal, and recover. At the same time, you may find it hard to eat and drink because of symptoms and side effects from your cancer and treatment.

It is important to try and get as much nutrition as you can from a variety of foods. If you cannot do this, nutrition supplement drinks are a great choice.

Nutrition supplement drinks can help you:

  • Stop losing weight
  • Add extra protein and calories to your diet
  • Get enough nutrition if you can only drink fluids or if you are too tired to cook
  • Safely meet all of your nutrition needs through a feeding tube if you cannot eat or drink

What kind of nutrition supplement drink should I try?

With so many nutrition supplement choices, you might wonder which one is best for you. Some have more calories or protein, different flavours, or added fibre. Even how a nutrition supplement drink is packaged may affect your choice!

Here are our top three tips for choosing a nutrition supplement:

  • Find a taste you like. This is the most important factor when you choose a nutrition supplement drink. If you enjoy the taste you are more likely to drink it, which means you will get more nutrition. Try different varieties and flavours to see which one you like best.
  • High-calorie and high-protein varieties pack more nutrition in a smaller amount of liquid. These make it easier to meet your nutrition needs when you do not feel hungry (they are often labeled 'plus,' 'high-protein,' or 'compact').
  • If you have a medical condition such as diabetes or kidney disease, there are special nutrition supplement drinks to help meet your needs. Ask a dietitian if you are not sure of your choices.

How many nutrition supplements should I drink each day?

A dietitian can help you determine your nutrition needs and make a recommendation for you.

What if I do not like the taste of nutrition supplement drinks?

  • Add a pinch of salt or mix-in some milk if you find them too sweet.
  • Change the temperature – refrigerate, serve over ice, or slightly warm your nutrition supplement drink. Try freezing it into popsicles or ice cubes.
  • Use a nutrition supplement drink in smoothies and other dishes – see the end of this handout for recipe ideas.
  • Mix-up the flavour so you do not get tired of drinking the same


Café latté


  • 1 bottle (about 240 ml) vanilla nutrition supplement drink
  • 1 – 2 tsp. (5 – 10 ml) instant coffee
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) hot water


  1. Dissolve instant coffee in hot water and add to nutrition supplement.
  2. Enjoy hot or cold.
Use a chocolate nutrition supplement for a mocha twist!
Rice pudding


  • 1 bottle (about 240 ml) vanilla nutrition supplement drink
  • 1 cup (250 ml) cooked rice
  • Toppings: cinnamon, raisins (optional)


  1. Add cooked rice and nutrition supplement to a small pot.
  2. Heat on low, stirring often, until most of the nutrition supplement is absorbed into rice.
Mix in raisins and cinnamon and enjoy hot or cold.
Berry smoothie


  • 1 bottle (about 240 ml) cold nutrition supplement drink
  • ¾ cup (175 ml) frozen mixed berries


  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
If the smoothie is too sweet, add plain Greek yogurt. Start with a ¼ cup (60 ml) and add more as needed.
Cream of wheat


  • 1 bottle (about 240 ml) nutrition supplement drink
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) Cream of Wheat cereal
  • Toppings: milk, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, raisins, granola, coconut (optional)

Stovetop directions:

  1. Add nutrition supplement and Cream of Wheat to a small pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat and stir until cereal thickens (about 1 minute).

Microwave directions:

  1. Add nutrition supplement and Cream of Wheat to a 1 L (1000 ml) microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Stir for 1
If the Cream of Wheat is too sweet, make with ½ bottle (about 120 ml) of nutrition supplement drink and ½ cup (125 ml) of whole 3.25% milk. Top with raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.

Note: This is not a full list of brands or products. The Odette Cancer Centre does not recommend one brand over another and is not responsible for any products listed. A dietitian can help you determine which nutrition supplement drink will best meet your nutrition needs.