Kidney disease stage 5 (on dialysis)

The foods you eat will change when you start dialysis.

Your protein needs increase and your fluid needs decrease. You also need to eat foods that are low-potassium and low-phosphorus.

Following these new eating recommendations can be overwhelming. More protein but less potassium and phosphorus? How can that be done?

Start by checking out the list below, and the many helpful, printable food lists for potassium and phosphorus. Your renal dietitian is also a great resource. Your monthly nutrition labs from your dialysis center provide information that will guide you to the right food choices. Talk to your dietitian when you have questions about the foods you eat.

The following list is general advice for eating healthy on dialysis. But what your body needs can be different from someone else. Even from month to month your requirements may change. For example, one month your protein may be low and the next month your potassium or phosphorus may be high.

General eating recommendations when you are on dialysis:

  • Have a protein source at every meal (choose lean protein):
    • You will need up to 1.2 – 1.3 gm of protein per kg of body weight
      • Average male*: 12 – 13 ounces (84 -93 gm) of lean protein
      • Average female*: 10 – 11 ounces (72-78 gm) of lean protein
  • Make 50% of your protein an animal protein or plant protein
  • Eat foods that are low-potassium – use our potassium food guide
  • Eat foods that are low-phosphorus – use our phosphorus food guide
  • Take your phosphorus binders before or at the beginning of your meals
  • Check out our “Double Whammy” food guide for foods that are high in BOTH potassium AND phosphorus
  • Limit your daily fluid intake to 32oz – use our fluid guide to help
  • Choose no-salt-added foods
  • Avoid foods with added phosphorus by reading the nutrition label – use our added phosphorus guide to help
  • Choose water instead of sports drinks or sodas because they can have a lot of added sodium, potassium and calories
  • Cook at home
  • Cook with very little oil and salt
  • Add herb and spices to your dishes for BIG flavor
  • Use a small plate, 9 or 10 inches, to make your portion size look larger by taking up more space on the plate

Other ways to stay healthy:

  • Add an extra daily activity – for example take a brisk walk after dinner
  • Attend regular checkups with your doctor
  • Manage your blood sugar and blood pressure as prescribed by your doctor
  • Maintain a healthy weight
    • If you are overweight, a weight loss of even 5 – 10% of body weight has been proven to have many health benefits including improved blood sugars, blood pressure, heart health, and kidney function

*Average male: 5’10” a healthy weight range is between 129 -174 pounds. A weight of 155 pounds (BMI 22.2) was used for all protein recommendations.

*Average female: 5’4” a healthy weight range is between 108 – 145 pounds. A weight of 130 pounds (BMI 22.3) was used for all protein recommendations.