A to Z Health Guide

CKD Diet: How much protein is the right amount?

Terri Edelstein, RD, CSR, Satellite Healthcare
Knowing what to eat when you have kidney disease is very important. Kidneys filter wastes created by the foods you eat to help to keep the right balance of nutrients and minerals in your blood and in your body.
Protein is one nutrient you need to build muscle, heal and stay healthy. But if you have kidney disease, your body may not be able to remove all the waste from the protein in your diet. Excess protein waste can build up in your blood causing nausea, loss of appetite, weakness and taste changes.

CKD Without Dialysis: Limit Protein

The more protein waste that needs to be removed, the harder the kidneys need to work to get rid of it. This can be stressful for your kidneys, causing them to wear out faster. For people who have kidney disease who are not on dialysis, a diet lower in protein is recommended. Studies show that limiting protein in the diet can help delay the time before dialysis is required.

On Dialysis: Increase Protein 

On the other hand, once a person has started dialysis, a higher amount of protein in the diet is necessary to help maintain blood protein levels and improve health. Dialysis removes protein waste from the blood so a low protein diet is no longer needed.

Protein Tips for People on Dialysis

  • 8 to 10 ounces of high value protein per day is about right for most people on dialysis.
  • Eat eggs, meats, poultry and fish. These protein sources are easier on the body and create less waste to filter out.
  • Avoid dairy, nuts and starchy beans and peas. While these foods have protein, they produce more waste for your kidneys or dialysis to remove.

Know the Right Amount of Protein for You

The exact amount of protein you need depends on your body size, your nutrition status and your kidney problem. Since too little protein can lead to malnutrition at any stage of kidney disease, ask your Kidney Doctor about meeting with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in kidney disease to find out how much protein is right for you.
Terri Edelstein (RD, CSR) is a dialysis dietitian for Satellite Healthcare, supporting patients at the Stockton, California location. She has been a Registered Dietitian for 32 years and enjoys helping patients live their healthiest life while on dialysis. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with family, friends and her Labrador retriever, Dalton.
Date Reviewed: 
May 29, 2018