Have you been advised to follow a Low Protein Diet to help you manage your kidney disease?
Low Protein Diet – Why is it used for CKD?
A protein restricted diet is prescribed for patients with kidney disease in order to prevent further loss of kidney function, as we attempt to lighten the kidney’s workload. When proteins are digested and absorbed by the body, they are converted into waste products which can create a toxic build up if they aren’t properly removed (by the kidneys). This creates a lot of stress on the kidneys, therefore, we like to limit protein intake and limit the stress for the already damaged kidney cells.
Animal or Plant Protein?
Another important recommendation for those on a kidney-friendly diet is to begin replacing animal proteins with plant-based proteins. Plant-based proteins have a lower amount of protein, saturated fat, and are higher in fiber – the American Journal of Kidney Disease even found that there is a lower rate of mortality for chronic kidney disease patients who had a higher intake of plant-based proteins. Why is this?
A plant-based diet provides an increased amount of antioxidants (which help protect cells from damage), phytates (which bind phosphorus, see Navigating Nutrients for CKD for more information), and reduces the amount of acid that the body produces during digestion. Plant-based diets have also shown to help lower blood pressure levels, cholesterol, and weight to prevent kidney disease from progressing into heart disease.
How to eat more plant based protein:
Plant-based protein recipes:
I have included here some options for fun plant-based protein recipes:
Hummus (click here for baked hummus)
Cauliflower (click here for cauliflower mac & cheese, here for buffalo cauliflower)
Tofu (click here for tofu scramble)
Almonds (click here for almond granola bars)
Arugula (click here for arugula, beet, cauliflower mash)
Black beans (black bean brownies, tacos, burgers, black bean soup, fiesta beans)
Chickpeas (chickpea tomato salad)
Edamame (easy edamame salad)
Quinoa (kale and quinoa power salad)
If your diet includes a strict potassium restriction, this can be a bit harder to focus on a plant based diet, but not impossible.
Great plant-based protein options that are low in potassium include:
Low-sodium veggie burgers
Quinoa (small amounts)
Whole grain bread
Zucchini and yellow squash
On the other hand, if your potassium dietary restrictions are so limited that relying a plant based diet for protein isn’t possible, some of the best animal based proteins include eggs, eggs whites, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and fresh fish such as salmon, tuna, and other cold water, fatty fish high in Omega-3’s.
The primary concern for patients on a low protein diet is ensuring that they are still consuming enough calories to meet their body’s needs, as it battles to continue the functions of everyday life. Many patients find it difficult to eat enough, as there is protein in far more sources than they expected! It is essential to ensure that calorie consumption is meeting the needs of the patient, otherwise they may experience protein-energy wasting or malnutrition.
Other nutrient concerns for patients following low protein diets include potassium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, and antioxidants. There are a lot of nutrients to juggle, and if you find yourself feeling a bit overwhelmed, now is the best time to reach out to a specialist.
We can help you with your CKD diet
Dietitians are trained to help answer all the complicated questions that come along with food and disease states – dietitian Kaitlin Eckstein has years of experience specialized in finding the right plan to meet your kidney needs without taking all the fun out of food. Reach out to Rebecca Bitzer & Associates today to make an appointment and reduce your kidney stress today.
An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.
I’ve read a lot on the subject of CKD and what to eat and the information is very conflicting. One source says to avoid dairy and another says almond or rice milk. Once source says to avoid nuts and you have nuts used. Once source says no beans and you use beans. It goes on and on. What do I believe? This is very difficult for me. Is there a “real” and “true” source out there? Help.
We know that diet information on the internet pertaining to the renal diet seems very conflicting! The truth is, as with many nutrition topics, it really depends. Everyone’s dietary needs with CKD are different, and it really depends on what your blood work looks like (for example, potassium and phosphorus levels in the blood work play a big role in which foods need to be limited). We would need to get a full health history in order to make specific nutrition recommendations!