Donating plasma involves giving blood that is then separated into plasma and blood cells. Plasma is the yellowish liquid portion of blood that contains proteins and other nutrients. When you donate plasma, the red blood cells and other blood components are returned to you while the plasma is kept and used for medical purposes.
Donating plasma can be an excellent way to help others, but it’s important to take care of yourself after donating. Your body loses fluids and some key nutrients during the donation process, so eating the right foods after donating plasma can help replenish your body and speed up your recovery.
Certain foods are much more effective when it comes to replenishing the nutrients your body has lost after plasma donation. Here are all the best foods to eat after donating:
1. Foods that are high in protein
Your body needs protein to replace the plasma proteins lost during donation. Focusing on high protein foods in the hours and days after donating can help speed your recovery.
- Eggs – Hard boil or scramble up some eggs for a quick, nutritious snack or meal. A single egg contains 6 grams of protein.
- Greek yogurt – Grab a tub of nonfat or lowfat Greek yogurt with some fruit. A single cup provides around 20 grams of protein.
- Nut butters – Spread peanut butter, almond butter or other nut butters on toast or apple slices. 2 tablespoons offers around 8 grams of protein.
- Chicken or turkey – Roast or grill some boneless, skinless chicken breasts or ground turkey. Around 3 to 4 ounces provides at least 25 grams of protein.
- Cottage cheese – Top cottage cheese with some fruit for a portable high protein snack. Around half a cup has around 15 grams of protein.
- Protein shakes – Blend up a protein smoothie with milk, yogurt and protein powder for an easy drinkable source of protein. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein per shake.
- Beans and lentils – Refried beans, three bean salad or lentil soup provide slow-digesting plant-based protein. Aim for at least 1/2 to 1 cup of cooked beans or lentils per serving.
- Lean meats – Roast or grill some lean beef or pork tenderloin for dinner. Around 3 to 4 ounces contains around 25 grams of protein.
Focus on consuming at least 30 grams of protein within a few hours of donation and then space out smaller, 15 to 20 gram protein snacks throughout the rest of day. High protein foods will help replace the plasma proteins your body lost during donation and speed up your recovery.
2. Foods that are high in iron
Your red blood cell count is typically not affected by plasma donation. However, focusing on iron-rich foods in the days after donating plasma can help replenish any losses and support your body’s production of new red blood cells.
- Lentils – Lentils are an excellent plant-based source of iron, containing around 6 mg per cooked cup. They also offer protein and fiber to aid your recovery.
- Quinoa – This ancient grain is loaded with iron, containing around 8 mg per cooked cup. Quinoa also provides fiber, protein and magnesium.
- Red meat – Lean cuts of beef and pork are a great source of highly-absorbable heme iron, containing around 3 to 4 mg per 3 ounce serving.
- Dark leafy greens – Spinach, kale and Swiss chard are packed with iron, containing around 3 to 4 mg per 1 cup of cooked greens. They also offer folate to help produce new red blood cells.
- Beans and legumes – Kidney beans, chickpeas, and black beans offer around 2 to 4 mg of iron per cooked cup. They also provide slow-release carbohydrates and plant-based protein.
- Dried fruit – Dried apricots, prunes and raisins are high in iron, containing around 2 to 3 mg per 1/2 cup. They also make an easy, portable post-donation snack.
- Breakfast cereals – Look for iron-fortified cereals containing at least 10% of the Daily Value for iron (at least 18% DV for women), serving as an easy breakfast option.
Focus on including at least one or two iron-rich foods at each meal in the days after plasma donation to help replenish any losses and support your body’s production of new red blood cells. Pairing iron-containing plant foods with a source of vitamin C at the same meal can boost your body’s absorption of non-heme iron.
3. Foods that are high in electrolytes
Your body loses electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium during plasma donation. Consuming electrolyte-rich foods in the days after donating can help replenish your stores to promote hydration and speed your recovery.
- Bananas – Bananas are a great source of potassium, containing around 450 mg in just one medium-sized banana. Potassium helps regulate fluid balance.
- Coconut water – Coconut water is naturally packed with electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium. It’s an ideal post-donation beverage.
- Broths and soups – Homemade or ready-made chicken broth, vegetable broth and soups like tomato or minestrone are high in sodium to help replace what was lost during donation.
- Leafy greens – Kale, spinach and collard green offer significant amounts of potassium as well as calcium and magnesium. They help hydrate your cells and support muscle function.
- Oranges – Oranges are a potassium-rich fruit, containing around 300 mg per medium orange. They also provide fluids and vitamin C to aid your recovery.
- Yogurt – Nonfat plain yogurt provides around 130 mg of calcium and 370 mg of potassium per cup to help replenish electrolytes. Strawberry or banana yogurt makes a nourishing snack.
- Bell peppers – Red, yellow and orange bell peppers are a great source of both potassium and vitamin C, offering around 350 mg of potassium per pepper.
- Avocados – One medium avocado contains around 700 mg of potassium to aid in fluid balance. Avocados also provide healthy fats and fiber.
Focus on including 2 to 3 servings of high electrolyte foods in the first day after donating plasma. Then continue to incorporate 1 to 2 servings per day for the rest of the week to promote full replenishment of lost electrolytes. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids as well.
4. Foods that are easy to digest
In the first few hours after plasma donation, focusing on light, simple meals and snacks that are easy for your body to digest can help prevent nausea, bloating and discomfort.
- Crackers – Saltines, cinnamon graham crackers and rice cakes provide carbohydrates in an easy-to-eat form. They also help replace lost sodium.
- Rice – Plain white or brown rice is simple to prepare and digest. Consider congee, a rice porridge often recommended for an unsettled stomach.
- Applesauce – This canned or homemade softened fruit is gentle on the digestive system. It provides carbohydrates and vitamins.
- Bananas – Bananas are easy to digest, high in potassium and naturally calming for the stomach. Mash one up for a quick snack.
- Toast – Whole wheat toast with nut butters, jam or honey offers simple carbohydrates to replenish blood sugar levels.
- Broths – Homemade or store-bought chicken or vegetable broths are gentle, hydrating liquids that replenish electrolytes. Sip broth throughout the day.
- Yogurt – Plain or flavored Greek yogurt is high in protein but also simple to digest. Top with some fruit for flavor.
- Protein shakes – Protein smoothies made with milk, yogurt and fruit are an easy-to-tolerate source of nourishment after donating plasma.
- Scrambled eggs – Eggs are high in protein but also easy on the stomach, especially when scrambled and well cooked.
Avoid heavy, greasy or spicy foods for at least a few hours after donating plasma to give your digestive system time to settle. Then gradually work up to more complex, fiber-rich meals as you start to feel back to normal. Listen to your body and slow down if you experience any nausea, stomach pain or bloating.
5. Foods that are refreshing and hydrating
In addition to drinking plenty of water after plasma donation, focusing your diet on hydrating foods in the first day or two can help replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
- Watermelon – Watermelon is 92% water and a good source of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. The fruit is 90% liquid when ripe.
- Cucumbers – Cucumbers are mostly water and offer electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. Enjoy sliced up in a salad or on the side.
- Tomatoes – Tomatoes are 95% water and high in electrolytes like potassium. They also provide vitamins and phytonutrients.
- Soups and stews – Homemade or ready-made options like chicken noodle soup, vegetable soup and lentil stew are high in liquid content to aid rehydration.
- Melons – Cantaloupe and honeydew melon are mainly water and provide vitamins and minerals to promote hydration. Enjoy slices as a snack.
- Leafy greens – Greens like spinach, arugula and lettuce are high in water content. Add to salads to increase hydration.
- Zucchini – Zucchini is mostly water and low in calories. Enjoy baked, sautéed or spiralized into “noodles.”
- Smoothies – Blend up smoothies with fruit, greens and liquid ingredients like milk, almond milk or coconut water.
Focus your diet on these hydrating foods in the first 24 to 48 hours after plasma donation to promote fluid balance and speed your recovery. But don’t forget to supplement your meals with extra water and electrolyte drinks for optimal rehydration.
Tips for eating after donating plasma
Here are some tips for eating after donating plasma:
Eat a small meal or snack within two hours of donating plasma: Choose a light, nutrient-dense meal or snack high in protein to help replace lost plasma proteins. Good options include:
- A hard boiled egg and fruit
- A turkey sandwich
- A yogurt parfait with berries and granola
- A protein shake made with milk or yogurt
Drink plenty of fluids, especially water:
- Aim for 8 ounces of water for every pound of weight lost during donation.
- Drink slowly over the next 24 to 48 hours to fully replace lost fluids.
- In addition to water, electrolyte beverages can help replace electrolytes lost during donation.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine for at least 24 hours after donating plasma:
- Alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate you further and delay your body’s recovery.
- Wait until you’re feeling replenished to resume your regular caffeine and alcohol intake.
Get plenty of rest:
- Fatigue is common after plasma donation, so prioritize getting extra sleep.
- Listen to your body and take it easy for the rest of the day.
- Focus on nourishing and hydrating your body to speed your recovery.
Some important notes to keep in mind after donating plasma:
- Listen to your body – Pay attention to any symptoms like fatigue, dizziness or nausea. Slow down and rest if needed.
- Get extra sleep – Fatigue is common after plasma donation, so prioritize getting enough rest.
- You can donate again in 2-3 days – But focus on replenishing fluids, proteins and electrolytes until you feel fully recovered.
- Call your donor center with any concerns – Especially if symptoms like dizziness, nausea or swelling do not improve within a day or two.
With proper hydration, nutrition and rest, most donors feel back to their regular routine within 1-2 days after plasma donation. But listen to your body and recover at a pace that feels comfortable. Your health is the top priority!