The Importance of Diet in the Management of COPD

People with or without COPD can burn 10 times as many calories breathing as a healthy person does. Consuming enough calories and nutrients helps prevent muscle mass wasting, weight loss, and fatigue.

A diet of healthy foods:

  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Provides your body with the energy to breathe
  • Supplies enough calories to keep muscles strong
  • Helps maintain the immune system to fight infections

A nutrient-rich diet is key to fueling your body.

It is imperative to consume at least two full servings of protein per day to stimulate protein synthesis, prevent muscle atrophy, and maintain lung strength. Good protein can come in the form of:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Dairy
  • Nuts/legumes (e.g. dried lentils, peas)

For your specific nutrient needs, talk with your doctor or visit

Preferred protein sources (in order)

  1. Greek yogurt
  2. Whey protein
  3. Whole milk (cow’s)
  4. Beef
  5. Cheese
  6. Fish
  7. Chicken egg (whole)
  8. Soy milk
  9. Quinoa
  10. Rice
  11. Bean sprouts
  12. Tofu
  13. Whole wheat
  14. Oats
  15. Beans (whole)

Did you know?

  • 20-40% of people with COPD are malnourished.
  • Being underweight (BMI < 18.5-20) is associated with increased disease severity and poorer prognosis.
  • Good nutrition can help prevent hospitalization from chest infections.