Top 5 Weight Loss Tips from the National Kidney Foundation
Maintaining a normal weight is critical to staying healthy and preventing kidney disease as well as diabetes and heart disease. Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure which requires dialysis or a transplant to survive. March is National Kidney Month, March 8 is World Kidney Day and the National Kidney Foundation offers five healthy weight loss tips.
1) Be physically active. This means setting aside at least 30 minutes each day for exercise. A balance of cardio, strength training and flexibility is recommended. Thirty minutes will keep you healthy, but in order to lose weight, often 60 minutes of physical activity per day is necessary. If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood glucose more often since exercise can decrease or increase your blood sugar. It's a good idea to check with your physician before beginning a new weight loss program.
2) Limit high calorie drinks. These include soda, fruit punch, fruit juices, some coffee drinks and alcohol. Alcohol, which contains minimal nutrients and a lot of empty calories, should be avoided. Drinks that are advisable include water, unsweetened tea and fat free or 1% milk.
3) Determine how many calories you need daily and stick with a meal plan that includes just that amount. You can go to choosemyplate.gov to determine a calorie estimation based on your height, weight, age, gender and activity level.
If you have early kidney disease, avoid low carb diets because they are high in protein and too much protein intake could damage the kidneys.
If you have chronic kidney disease and you're under 60, the recommendation is 35 calories per kg. If you're over 60, it's 30-35 calories per kg, so if you weigh 160 lbs and you're 50 years old, your calorie needs are 2,545 per day. (To convert lbs to kg, divide weight in lbs by 2.2)
These caloric needs are for weight maintenance, but since many people with chronic kidney disease lose weight without planning to and malnutrition could be a concern, it's important to speak to a doctor or dietitian to determine a daily calorie count that won't be too restrictive.
4) Limit high calorie, high fat desserts and decrease portion size. Try low calorie options such as substituting ingredients, serving fruit for dessert or decreasing portion size. So if you're eating cookies, try stopping at two instead of eight. When baking, find low-fat substitutions that won't sacrifice taste. Mashed bananas or applesauce can be used instead of oil, two egg whites or 1/4 cup cholesterol-free egg substitute can be used instead of eggs to save cholesterol, calories and fat. You can also decrease the sugar in most baking recipes without anyone noticing. Some sugar substitutes can be used in baking as well.
5) Eat regular meals and Avoid overeating. Eat regular meals and don't snack too much in between. It's important not to skip meals because doing so will make you eat more or choose less healthy foods when the hunger sets in. When eating at restaurants, share your meal or take home half your portion. For example, a typical restaurant pasta dish is way more than anyone needs, a serving size should be one cup and many restaurants give 5 or 6 cups of pasta. Ask for sauces on the sides and limit fried foods and added oil and butter.
Additionally, here are some diet myth-busters from the National Kidney Foundation.
1) Olive oil or canola are lower cal choices. It's true that they are healthier but they are not any lower calorie than vegetable oil. All of those oils are 100% fat.
2) Salads are always a healthy low-fat choice. That's not necessarily true when there are added nuts, croutons, tortillas, high fat dressings or cheese. When eating salads that have those added items, you lose the low cal benefit and end up eating much more fat than you wanted to.
3) Salad dressings just add to the taste but not to the fat content. They can be very high in fat so put dressings on the side when eating out. Look for low fat, low cal dressings or make your own with natural ingredients --fresh lemon, spices, small amounts of oil and vinegar.
For more information on diet and the kidneys, visit the National Kidney Foundation online at kidney.org