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Protein

What is protein?

Protein is one of the three types of nutrients that give us calories (energy). The other two are carbohydrates and fats. We need all three to survive. Protein is essential for building muscles and supporting our general health..

The average American eats more than the daily recommended amount of protein. On average, men consume 100 grams and women consume 70 grams daily.

Protein and stages of CKD

How much protein do we need to eat to stay healthy? This answer depends on your stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD). It is different for each stage.

CKD stages 1-2

The daily recommended amount of lean protein is the same for people without kidney disease.

The daily recommended amounts are:

  • For the average male*: 8 oz. (about 56 grams) of lean protein
  • For the average female*: 6 to 7 oz. (about 46 grams) of lean protein

CKD stages 3, 4, and 5 (non-dialysis)

For later stage kidney disease, the amount of recommended protein decreases. And you should try to get 50-70% of your daily protein from vegetable sources of protein or from fish.

The daily recommended amounts are:

  • For the average male*: 6 – 8 oz. (42-56 grams) of lean protein
  • For the average female*: 5 – 6 oz. (35-42 grams) of lean protein

CKD stage 5 (dialysis)

Once you start dialysis, your protein needs increase. Dialysis, including hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, remove some of your body’s blood proteins. These proteins are important to help keep fluid in your veins and arteries. They transport important nutrients to the rest of your body and help repair the everyday damage naturally occurring in your body. Therefore, you need to eat more protein to make up for the amount you lose during dialysis.

The daily recommended amounts are:

  • For the average male*: 12 – 13 oz. (84 -93 grams) of lean protein
  • For the average female*: 10 – 11 oz. (72-78 grams) of lean protein

Calculate your recommended protein amount

To figure out your specific protein needs:

Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms (kg)
Multiply your weight in kg by the recommended amount of protein in grams (gm) for your CKD stage

Non-CKD and CKD stages 1-2:

  • 0.8 gm of protein per kg. of body weight

CKD stages 3, 4, and 5 (non-dialysis):

  • 0.6 – 0.8 gm of protein per kg. of body weight

CKD stage 5 (dialysis):

  • 1.2 – 1.3 gm of protein per kg. of body weight

Example:

Protein calculation for someone who weighs 150 pounds (lbs) with CKD stage 1:

150 / 2.2 = 68.18
kg 68 x 0.8 = 54.4 gm

Therefore, a person who weighs 150 lbs who has CKD stage 1 should aim to eat 54.5 gm of protein per day to stay healthy.

Types of Proteins

Proteins give your body the fuel it needs to have energy. Choosing proteins that provide good nutrition without adding unwanted fat is the best option. Foods that are high in protein without unwanted fat are considered ‘lean proteins’.

Examples of lean proteins include:

Whole eggs

Quinoa

Egg whites

Low fat dairy

Pork tenderloin

Skinless chicken

white meat is leaner than dark

Skinless turkey

white meat is leaner than dark

Soy products -

tofu, edamame, tempeh, soy milk

Lean beef -

tenderloin or ground beef labeled 90% or 93% lean

Some foods have protein but are not considered ‘complete’ proteins like meats, eggs, and dairy. You may need to eat more than one of these protein sources per day to reach a healthy level of protein if you choose not to eat complete proteins like meat, eggs, and dairy.

Examples of lean proteins include:

Legumes

Such as beans and lentils

Nuts and seeds

Grains

Protein sources can also be high phosphorus sources. If you need to restrict phosphorus, be sure to take your phosphorus binders. That way you can ensure the highest benefit from your protein foods. 

  • *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.

Be aware:

Legumes, nuts and seeds, and grains may be high in potassium, which you may need to limit if you have CKD.

Some foods have protein but are not considered ‘complete’ proteins like meats, eggs, and dairy. You may need to eat more than one of these protein sources per day to reach a healthy level of protein if you choose not to eat complete proteins like meat, eggs, and dairy.

Examples of lean proteins include:

Legumes

Such as beans and lentils

Nuts and seeds

Grains

Be aware:

The foods above may be high in potassium, which you may need to limit if you have CKD.

Protein sources can also be high phosphorus sources. If you need to restrict phosphorus, be sure to take your phosphorus binders. That way you can ensure the highest benefit from your protein foods. 

  • *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.

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