In these stages of kidney disease, your doctor and dietitian may begin to recommend that you eat specific amounts of certain nutrients or limit foods or fluids that could further damage your kidneys.
You should eat 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight when you are in the later stages of kidney disease. For the average male* this equals about 6-8 ounces of protein (42-56 grams) daily. For the average female* this equals about 5-6 ounces (35-42 grams) of protein daily. Aim for 2-3 daily lean protein servings and avoid fatty protein sources, like red meat (beef, bison, lamb, pork and venison).
Protein serving examples:
- ½ cup of beans (7 grams)
- 1 large egg (6 grams)
- 3 ounces of chicken (23 grams)
- 3 ounces of turkey or fish (16 grams)
It is important to limit salt, which can make your body retain fluid. When your body holds onto too much extra fluid, your feet and ankles can swell and your heart may be overworked. You may need to monitor the amount of potassium you eat and how much fluid you drink. These requirements vary from person to person because everyone's kidney function in these stages are slightly different. Your doctor and dietitian can tell you the healthy amounts of nutrients and fluids you should be consuming each day.
You should visit your doctor often to stay on top of your health. You can ask your doctor and dietician for recommendations on the amount of potassium, protein and salt you should eat. The may also recommend that you drink fewer fluids.
Check out our printable guides to help you keep track of foods that are low, medium and high in certain nutrients.
Food tips to help slow down the progression of kidney disease and delay starting dialysis or needing a transplant:
- Eat a smaller portion of protein at meals.
- Choose lean proteins: chicken, fish, turkey, quinoa, beans, or soy products (tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy milk).
- Avoid red meat: beef, pork, bison, lamb and venison.
- Eat a lot of fresh or frozen, non-starchy vegetables (you may need to start choosing low-potassium vegetables—discuss this with your doctor or dietitian).
- Choose water instead of sports drinks or sodas because they can have a lot of added sodium, potassium and calories (remember, you may need to start restricting the amount of fluid you drink).
Cook at home so you can control the amount of salt, oil and other nutrients being added to your food.
- Choose no salt added canned and jarred products.
- Add herbs and spices, instead of salt, to your dishes for extra flavor.
- Use a small plate (9-10 inches in diameter) to to make your portion size look larger.
Eat right for your stage of kidney disease.
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 diabetes 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 can help keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, heart, and kidney function healthy.
*Average male: 5'10" and a healthy weight range between 129-174 pounds. A weight of 155 pounds (BMI 22.2) was used for all protein recommendations.
*Average female: 5'4" and a healthy weight range between 108-145 pounds. A weight of 130 pounds (BMI 22.3) was used for all protein recommendations.