Think High Protein COPD Diet

Think High Protein COPD Diet

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is progressive and symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue can worsen over time. Unplanned weight loss is common with COPD because of increased calorie needs, common lung infections, a loss of appetite and fatigue.

With COPD it is essential that you eat enough high calorie and high protein foods to maintain your weight. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also important but take caution in filling up on these high fiber foods, as they are lower in calories.

The goal is to maintain a healthy weight; this may require you to adjust the amount of calories you eat in order to reach the recommended weight goal.

Snacking on low sodium nuts, whole milk, full fat yogurt, protein shakes and cheese will provide you with high calorie snacks that are nutrient dense.

Eating multiple small high calorie meals per day can help ensure you get enough calories throughout the day, because with COPD a person can burn up to 10 times the calories it can be difficult to simply eat enough.

Protein is important to promote muscle strength, so ensuring you get enough is essential.

Make sure you include uncured meats at all meals. Meat such as chicken, turkey, tuna and salmon will also serve as a source of magnesium and iron. Iron is essential to production of the red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body.

Osteoporosis is common with people who have COPD because of reduced time in the sun, cortico steroid use and chronic inflammation. (1) For this reason it is important to make sure you get enough vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.

Make salmon, cooked kale or spinach and full fat yogurt common foods in your home. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon have also shown to have the benefit of reducing the risk of upper respiratory infections. (2)

Watch your sodium.

Although sodium makes the taste buds tingle, too much causes our bodies to retain fluid, focus on low-sodium options if you choose prepared meals and get rid of the salt shaker. One teaspoon of salt has 2,300mg of sodium and that is all our bodies’ need in a day.

Navigating your health needs with COPD can be challenging.

Keep things in perspective and use these strategies to help: When eating sit up straight to reduce pressure on your diaphragm, avoid taking expectorant medications that cause coughing before meals, if you find you are too fatigued to grocery shop or prepare food, please ask for help.


  1. An Lehouck, Steven Boonen, Marc Decramer, Wim Janssens, COPD, Bone Metabolism, and Osteoporosis, Chest, Volume 139, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 648-657, ISSN 0012-3692,
  2. Amanda Croasdell, Shannon H. Lacy, Thomas H. Thatcher, Patricia J. Sime, Richard P. Phipps.
  3. Resolvin D1 Dampens Pulmonary Inflammation and Promotes Clearance of Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae .The Journal of Immunology March 15, 2016, 196 (6) 2742-2752; DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.1502331
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This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.

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