Your Diet and Kidney Health: Managing Protein

Your Diet and Kidney Health:
Managing Protein

The National Kidney Foundation and Dr Schar, the maker of FLAVIS foods for people with kidney disease, are partnering to promote dietary habits that help support kidney health.
Your Diet and Kidney Health:
Managing Protein

The National Kidney Foundation and Dr Schar, the maker of FLAVIS foods for people with kidney disease, are partnering to promote dietary habits that help support kidney health.

Flavis Crostinis, Gassini, Frollini, penne, bread, and spaghetti

This partnership will focus on the importance of diets that can support the complex nutritional needs of people with chronic kidney disease. This includes breads, pastas, snacks and baking products that are low in protein, phosphorous, sodium, and potassium. These products are sold exclusively through their website and online shop. To learn more about this partnership, click here.

It is important to protect your kidneys from disease and following an appropriate diet can help. For people with dietary restrictions, a new educational resource was developed about limiting protein. This is a useful tool for people with chronic kidney disease (not treated with dialysis), as well as healthcare professionals to assist in their patient consultations. Click here to download this Protein Restriction Nutrition card.

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a white plate of pasta on a wooden table with a bundle of rosemary and a bowl of peas

Why do I need a low protein diet if I have kidney disease?

Your body needs protein for many reasons, such as building muscle, repairing tissue and fighting infection. If you have kidney disease, you may need to watch how much protein you eat. Having too much protein can cause waste to build up in your blood. Your kidneys may not be able to remove all the extra waste. By decreasing the amount of protein you eat, you can help lighten the kidney’s workload.

Everyone has different protein needs, so there is no general rule. Please consult your healthcare professional and a registered dietitian nutritionist for guidance on the amount and type of protein to fit your needs.

How can I adjust my diet to make it low in protein?

If you have just learned that you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), your healthcare professional may tell you to start limiting the protein in your diet. Changing your diet to meet your body's lower protein needs and still using the foods and recipes you are used to can be difficult. Here are a few tips on how you can reduce protein in your diet while still feeling like you’re eating enough:

  • Make sandwiches with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, chopped celery, apple, parsley or water chestnuts.
  • Replace traditional breads with low protein breads for sandwiches, and meals.
  • Prepare dishes with small pieces of meat or chicken and mix in with low protein rice or low protein pasta.
  • Use low protein pasta, vegetables and grains as main components of the dish and include small pieces of meat, poultry or fish as the side dish.

More tips to help you lower protein in your diet:

The National Kidney Foundation is not involved in the manufacture of this product and does not endorse specific brands.

Will my protein needs ever change?

As your kidney disease progresses, your dietary needs will likely change as well, including for protein. Protein (and calorie) intake should be high enough to keep the body working. If you are to undergo dialysis or are on the transplant list (or prior to transplant surgery), you need to be very well nourished and might need to increase protein intake. In addition, if you are not well nourished, are losing a lot of weight or muscle, are older and frail, or have a poor appetite, you should NOT be limiting your protein intake.

Talk to a dietitian or other healthcare professional about how much protein you should eat based on your individual nutrition needs. Learn more about getting the right amount of protein. You can also find more information by visiting the NKF’s nutrition page.

Flavis, a preferred food partner of the National Kidney Foundation