Send to

Choose Destination
J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 May;116(5):802-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.007. Epub 2015 Jul 21.

Prehabilitation with Whey Protein Supplementation on Perioperative Functional Exercise Capacity in Patients Undergoing Colorectal Resection for Cancer: A Pilot Double-Blinded Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.



A previous comprehensive prehabilitation program, providing nutrition counseling with whey protein supplementation, exercise, and psychological care, initiated 4 weeks before colorectal surgery for cancer, improved functional capacity before surgery and accelerated functional recovery. Those receiving standard of care deteriorated. The specific role of nutritional prehabilitation alone on functional recovery is unknown.


This study was undertaken to estimate the impact of nutrition counseling with whey protein on preoperative functional walking capacity and recovery in patients undergoing colorectal resection for cancer.


We conducted a double-blinded randomized controlled trial at a single university-affiliated tertiary center located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Colon cancer patients (n=48) awaiting elective surgery for nonmetastatic disease were randomized to receive either individualized nutrition counseling with whey protein supplementation to meet protein needs or individualized nutrition counseling with a nonnutritive placebo. Counseling and supplementation began 4 weeks before surgery and continued for 4 weeks after surgery.


The primary outcome was change in functional walking capacity as measured with the 6-minute walk test. The distance was recorded at baseline, the day of surgery, and 4 weeks after surgery. A change of 20 m was considered clinically meaningful.


The whey group experienced a mean improvement in functional walking capacity before surgery of +20.8 m, with a standard deviation of 42.6 m, and the placebo group improved by +1.2 (65.5) m (P=0.27). Four weeks after surgery, recovery rates were similar between groups (P=0.81).


Clinically meaningful improvements in functional walking capacity were achieved before surgery with whey protein supplementation. These pilot results are encouraging and justify larger-scale trials to define the specific role of nutrition prehabilitation on functional recovery after surgery.


Colorectal surgery; Functional capacity; Prehabilitation; Recovery; Whey protein

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center