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Cancer-Related Fatigue

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Get Good Nutrition

Cancer-related fatigue can get worse if you are not eating enough or if you are not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy. Here are some ways to improve your nutrition:

  • Get enough calories. If you have cancer, you need about 15 calories per pound of weight if your weight has been stable. Add 500 calories per day if you have lost weight. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds needs about 2,250 calories per day to maintain his or her weight.
  • Get plenty of protein. Protein rebuilds and repairs damaged cells. Adult women need about 46 grams per day, and adult men need 56 grams per day. Good sources of protein include dairy foods, meat, eggs, and beans.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids will prevent fatigue that comes from dehydration, plus help you get calories. Drink water, juice, milk, broth, milkshakes, and other beverages. Try to avoid drinks with caffeine. You'll need more fluids if you have vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Get enough vitamins. Take a vitamin supplement if you're not sure you are getting enough nutrients. A multivitamin provides many of the nutrients your body needs. But vitamin supplements don't have calories, so make sure you eat nutritious foods to get your calories.
  • See a dietitian. A registered dietitian can help you with any eating problems that may be interfering with proper nutrition (such as problems swallowing, changes in tastes, or feeling full quickly). A dietitian can also suggest ways to get more calories and protein in smaller amounts of food.

Get Exercise

Your cancer or the treatments may make you feel drained, leaving you lying in bed or sitting in chairs for hours. Such inactivity can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, and further fatigue.

Regular, moderate exercise can ease those feelings, help you stay active, and give you more energy. Even during cancer treatment, you may be able to keep exercising. Here are some tips:

  • Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • A good exercise program starts slowly, allowing your body time to adjust.
  • Keep a regular exercise schedule. Try to be active at least 150 minutes a week. If you're just starting, build up to this over time.
  • The right kind of exercise never makes you feel sore, stiff, or exhausted. If you have soreness, stiffness, or exhaustion, or feel out of breath, you are overdoing it.

Most exercises are safe as long as you are careful and don't overdo it. Swimming, brisk walking, stationary cycling, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified instructor) are good choices. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about exercises that are safe for you.

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