A to Z Health Guide

How Much Plant-Based Protein Can You Eat Based on Your Stage of Kidney Disease?

By Gretchen Wiese, RD and Kathleen Hill Gallant, PhD, RD

Why is protein important?  

Protein is an important part of a balanced diet because it is necessary to help build muscles, perform daily activities and heal wounds. Healthy kidneys get rid of the wastes your body makes when it breaks down the protein you eat. That’s why you need different amounts of protein based on how well your kidneys work or your type of treatment (pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis). 
 
For example, people on dialysis have higher protein needs than those who are pre-dialysis. Those on peritoneal dialysis need to eat the highest amount of protein because it gets lost in the dialysate (the fluid that drains out of your belly).
 

How much plant-based protein can I eat for my stage of kidney disease?

Guidelines state that half of your protein should come from “high biological value” (HBV) sources, which are almost entirely animal sources (meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, dairy). You may plan for the other half of your protein to come from plant sources.
 
Use the chart below to calculate your protein intake based on kidney disease stage. Yyour body weight in pounds (lbs.) multiplied by the protein (in grams) will tell you your total protein needs for the day. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds who has stage 4 kidney disease would need a total of 41-54 grams of protein a day (150 lbs. x 0.27 g = 41 g).
 
 
 
Example for a 150 pound person
Stage/Therapy
Protein Needed Per Day Based on Body Weight
Total Protein Per Day
Half of Protein Per Day from Plant Sources

Pre-dialysis (stages 1-3)

0.36 g/lb/day*

54 g/day total protein

27g/day plant protein

Pre-dialysis (stage 4)

0.27-0.36 g/lb/day

41 to 54 g/day total protein

20 to 27 g/day plant protein

Hemodialysis

0.54 g/lb/day

81 g/day total protein

40 g/day plant protein

Peritoneal dialysis

0.54-0.59 g/lb/day

81 to 89 g/day total protein

40 to 45 g/day plant protein

lb = pound body weight ("dry" weight for people on dialysis)
*Based on Daily Recommended Intake value
 
 
Grams of protein can be found on nutrition fact labels of all food products and are an important tool for tracking the protein you eat daily.
 

What are the sources of plant protein?

The following are plant protein sources that can be part of  a balanced diet when managing kidney disease:
  • Soy products (tofu)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils)
  • Meat substitutes (soy-based burgers, hot dogs, deli slices)
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Whole grains
Pay attention to the amount of protein, sodium, and potassium in products by reading nutrition labels. Soy-based products especially may include high amounts of sodium.
 
Listed below are plant sources of protein with the amount of protein shown in grams:
  • ½ cup (cooked) Lima beans ~ 7 grams
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter ~ 7 grams
  • 1 cup (cooked) wild rice ~ 6.5 grams
  • ½ cup chickpeas ~ 6 grams
  • ¼ cup almonds ~ 6 grams
  • ½ cup (cooked) steel cut oatmeal ~ 5 grams
  • 1 soy patty ~ 10-19 grams
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa ~ 6 grams
  • 1 cup tofu ~ 11 grams
Ask your registered dietitian how much protein you need each day and how to achieve a plant-based protein diet.
 
Want an easy way to start eating less meat? Go Meatless Monday every week, and get regular tips and recipes by following #MeatlessMonday and learning more at MeatlessMonday.com.
 

 

 
Date Reviewed: 
August 21, 2018

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.