Once diagnosed with HIV, the fear of wasting away becomes very real. Wasting means losing a lot of muscle which makes you weaker and sicker. If you know how to avoid it, you can stop it. This article will let you know what to do. By avoiding losing muscle and weight, you will give yourself the best chance to respond to all the new treatments fighting the HIV virus.

There are two steps you can do today to avoid muscle wasting: Eating and exercising. Eating enough food will maintain your muscles and weight, while exercise builds more muscle. It is that simple.

Eat Enough Food

Small Frequent Meals: Eat throughout the day. Small frequent meals are the way to go. Most people find eating 3 meals and 2 snacks each day fits well into their schedules. Eat by the clock; don't wait to get hungry to eat.

High Calorie and High protein Foods: Eat mostly high calorie, high protein foods which will fuel your muscles and help you stay strong. The HIV virus makes you burn a lot of energy, so you can pig out without feeling guilty as long as you pig out with healthy foods. Here's how. Eat from all the food groups below to make sure you are getting all the energy, protein, vitamins and minerals you need.


Bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, grains. Eat 4 or more servings daily. Each serving is 2 slices of bread or 1 cup of pasta, rice, cereal, potatoes, etc. These foods give you energy.


Meat, fish, chicken, tofu, eggs and beans. Eat 2 or more servings per day. If you are a vegetarian, eat 4 servings of protein each day. Each serving is a 1/2 cup or 3 ounces of meat (half the size of your palm). protein give your muscles fuel. You can use protein powders as a supplement to your diet but don't rely on them as your only source of protein since they are not absorbed into your system as well.

Dairy products/ Dairy substitutes

Milk, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, cottage cheese, Enriched rice or soy milk, TUMS or calcium supplements. Eat 2 or more servings daily. Each serving is 1 cup, 1 ounce cheese (size of your thumb) or 2 TUMS or other calcium supplements per day. Dairy products or enriched dairy substitutes give you calcium which your muscles, brain and nerves need to work.


Apples, oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, greens, etc. Eat at least 3 times a day. Each serving is 1 piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of vegetables. Fruits and vegetables give you vitamins to help fight off infections.

Fats and sweets

Oil, butter, gravies, mayo, sugar, candy, cakes, chocolate. You can eat as much as you like as long as you eat enough from the other food groups and you are not over weight ( Do not eat a lot of fats and sweets if you are more than 40 pounds over weight). Fats and sweets give you concentrated energy.


Water, juice, pop, nectars, herb teas. Drink at least 8 cups a day. Coffee and tea are fine as long as you don't drink more than 4 cups a day. Coffee and tea do not count as a beverage since they dehydrate you. Don't drink any alcohol if you are on medications since it can severely damage your liver. When your liver doesn't work neither do medications.

You may feel that this is more food than you can handle each day but if you space it out through the day with 3 meals and 2 snacks per day it can be done easily. The trick is to eat several times a day and never get too full at one time. See sample menu below.


2 eggs/1 slice of toast with butter/herb tea or juice


cheese and crackers/1 cup juice


2 cup juice/pop/peanut butter and jelly sandwich/4 Fig Bars


Candy bar/2 cups juice


Turkey Sandwich/1 cup Cream of Mushroom soup/pudding/2 cups juice

Bottom line

Whether you are living with HIV or AIDS, you have an unlimited amount of options of what you can eat. From a nutritionist's standpoint you can eat whatever you want as long as you eat enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals. What you specifically eat is not that important. The next step to avoid wasting is to exercise.

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