HEHP Diet (High Energy, High Protein)

What is the HEHP (High Energy High Protein) Diet?

A high energy, high protein diet includes an increased proportion of foods that are high in energy and high in protein. The diet is designed to deliver these nutrients without requiring the person to consume larger volumes. This diet can be helpful for people who are underweight, who have lost their appetite or who have increased needs due to disease or infection. The HEHP diet is often used for those who are in danger of becoming malnourished.

Foods that are high in energy (kilojoules) are often needed to maintain or gain weight. A high energy diet would contain foods like:

  • Full cream dairy products
  • Butter or margarine
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Cakes, muffins and biscuits

High protein foods are needed to strengthen muscles, fight infections and assist with wound healing. Foods that are high in protein include:

  • Meat, including fish, poultry and red meat
  • Eggs
  • Legumes, nuts and seeds 

What Are the Benefits of a HEHP Diet?

A high energy, high protein diet is beneficial for people who are rapidly losing weight or who have low muscle mass. It’s also helpful for people who experience extreme fatigue and have very little interest in eating or can only manage small meals.

Weight Gain

HEHP diets are often recommended for people who have lost a lot of weight unintentionally or who are at risk of malnutrition. This is common in elderly people because they may have a decreased appetite, lower bone density or a chronic illness. The extra nutrients that are provided in a HEHP diet can help to prevent muscle and fat loss.

More Energy

Increased energy and protein intake will naturally improve a person’s energy levels. This can be important for elderly people to fight off fatigue and improve their quality of life. For people who have lost interest in eating or who have a low appetite, eating small amounts of high energy foods will keep hunger at bay for longer.

Greater Muscle Growth and Better Bone Density

The HEHP diet helps to maintain muscle mass and reduce bone fragility. Enough protein is needed to build and repair healthy bones and muscles and high energy foods help to maintain body tissue.

Assisted Wound Healing

Adequate amounts of both energy and protein are needed to fight infections and help wounds heal. These supplements also reduce the danger of malnutrition, which can cause poor wound healing, increased risk of injury and susceptibility to infection.

Who Should Follow a HEHP Diet?

Those who might be recommended to follow a HEHP diet include:

  • Elderly people who are showing signs of malnutrition
  • People who have just suffered major injuries or been very unwell
  • People who have a decreased appetite or who have just lost a lot of weight unintentionally
  • People who are showing evidence of significant muscles and fat store loss
  • People who have higher energy and protein needs (e.g. because of an infection or illness)

High Energy High Protein Diet Food Ideas

The exact amount of energy and protein that you need will vary, depending on your weight. You should eat small meals frequently and try to avoid long periods of fasting (so if you are awake during the night, you should have a high protein snack).


Some options for high energy, high protein breakfast foods include:

  • Cereal with full cream milk
  • Eggs
  • Toast, crumpets or english muffins with butter or margarine
  • Yoghurt
  • Porridge with full cream milk and cream or honey
  • Pancakes or waffles with ice cream and/or maple syrup


Some options for high energy, high protein snacks include:

  • Ricotta or cream cheese on toast, crackers or pancakes
  • A milkshake with full cream milk and ice cream
  • Fruit and yoghurt or custard
  • Biscuits, cakes or muffins – add margarine on top if they’re warm


Some options for high energy, high protein lunches include:

  • Sandwich with beef, chicken, eggs or cheese and a sauce such as mayonnaise
  • Buttered toast with eggs or cheese
  • Cooked vegetables with butter, margarine or gravy
  • Stir fry with meat, tofu, fish or chicken


Some options for high energy, high protein dinners include:

  • Meat, fish or poultry with roast vegetables
  • Pasta with sauce
  • Quiche
  • A casserole with meat, lentils and beans
  • Soup

Tips for Following a High Energy High Protein Diet

Meal preparation can be difficult for elderly people living at home. HEHP meals and snacks can help to make cooking easier, because many of them are easy to prepare and only require small portions. Some tips for HEHP eating include:

  • Try to eat smaller meals more frequently (aim for 6 meals/snacks per day)
  • Eat every 2-3 hours, even if it’s just a small snack
  • Always use full cream milk for tea and coffee
  • Add margarine or butter anytime you eat bread, toast, vegetables or cakes
  • If you get full quickly, eat the part of your meal that is most rich in protein first

The Importance of Nutrition in the Elderly

Although your food consumption may decrease as you get older, getting enough nutrients will only become more important. Good nutrition is essential to maintain strength in the muscles and bones, reduce the risk of infections and prevent chronic health problems like diabetes and osteoporosis. A deficit of nutrients can also lead to malnutrition, which causes extreme fatigue and affects the body’s ability to heal.

It’s often necessary for elderly people to eat nutrient rich foods in smaller portions because their appetite and calorie intake will have decreased. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fibres are all essential nutrients. These can be found in foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meat
  • Beans and lentils

It’s also essential to stay hydrated and drink at least six cups of water each day.

Limiting processed foods is important, because they usually have very low nutritional value. Salt intake should also be reduced.

Speaking to a doctor or nutritionist is often necessary to ensure that you or your loved one has an adequate diet plan that has been designed for optimum health. If there are certain vitamins that need to be increased with a supplement, a nutritionist can make certain that these are being delivered in the best possible way.

A nutritionist may recommend a HEHP diet for someone who is fighting an illness or who has lost a lot of weight without trying. It’s good to seek the advice of a medical professional in this scenario, because it may require a change from the person’s regular diet. For those who are living in a residential care facility, their meal plan will be adjusted to accommodate this advice.

HEHP Diet at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens provides every guest with the nutritious meals they require to meet their specific needs and stay healthy. Meals and snacks are provided throughout the day, as well as full cream milk in coffee and tea and plenty of juice and water. Guests have a choice of high energy hot meals at lunch and dinner and desserts with custard and/or ice cream are provided.

Oct 20, 2022