Slow releasing foods to hit back at hunger, for longer

Published: 14 Mar 2018

We often mention in our blogs the link between what you eat and how well your body is fuelled for fighting cancer.  Previously we’ve recommended smoothies and soups packed with minerals and nutrients.  Here are a few suggestions to keep yourself fuller, for longer, using slow releasing energy foods.

The ‘glycemic index’ rating is the best way to measure the energy release rate; the lower the GI, the slower energy is released.

Slow releasing energy foods help keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day, as opposed to candies and sugary drinks, which  are short acting and produce the well-known sugar crash.


First on the list is one of the best sources of slow-releasing energy foods.  Oats are low on the GI and are complex carbohydrates.  They contain protein, fibre, manganese, and are also a great source of B-vitamins, which are needed to convert food into energy.



A protein-packed grain which delivers slow-release energy and (according to a Harvard study) longer life.  Rich in minerals such as manganese, phosphorous, iron, zinc and magnesium, quinoa is both nutritious as well as a great choice for all-day energy.


Sweet Potato

Unlike their starchy white cousins, sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates – meaning slow release.  They are high in fibre, beta-carotene, magnesium, amino acids, vitamins A, B6, and vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed for transporting fats into the cells of the body, a key part of energy production.


Legumes (Beans)

Beans are high in complex carbohydrates and are a significant source of fibre and protein.  They also contain many needed dietary minerals and vitamins. There are numerous varieties to choose from, from kidney beans to chickpeas, and are very versatile to use and are a great source of nutrition and energy.



Nuts are packed with energy due to their high content of fibre, protein, and healthy fats.  They are also high in many vitamins and minerals.  You can soak nuts in water overnight, which initiates the germination or sprouting process, further increasing the nutrient value and making them easier to digest if you are finding dry foods are difficult to swallow.


Pumpkin Seeds

These are another great source of fibre, protein, healthy fats, and essential minerals involved in energy production - including manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, and zinc.  Zinc is needed for the production of hormones in the body that affect energy and mood.  It is also important for muscle recovery.



Most fruits are low to moderate on the GI.  Those lowest on the GI include berries, melons, cherries, apples, plums, and pears.  Tropical fruits, such as papaya and pineapple, are best avoided if you want to stay low on the GI.  Fruits provide a decent quick pick-me-up without the sugar crash you find with sweets and sugary soft drinks.  Fruits are also high in fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants which all help maintain a healthy balance.  It is best to eat whole fruit as opposed to pre-packaged fruit, fruit juices and canned fruit, which are all higher on the GI.



A boring but often overlooked necessity.  Dehydration is one of the fastest ways to make your energy levels drop.  Even mild dehydration of 1-2% can affect your mood, energy levels, and ability to concentrate.  It is advised to drink around 3-4 litres per day.


This is just a general overview of a few low GI foods you could incorporate into your diet.  You may find some of these options do not suit your personal tastes, or your chemo side effects. 

Please take care – they may not be suitable for everyone subject to allergies and intolerances.  We advise checking with your health care professional for a list of foods you should avoid whilst undergoing chemo treatment (as some may conflict or even counteract your chemotherapy drugs).

If you want to get involved with conversations about chemo treatments and everything else that comes with life during treatment, why not join our Chemotherapy Support Group?