Protein - a significant nutrient for your body's development, especially for muscle and tissue building.
Drinking a lot of protein shakes and supplements, along with strenuous exercise, help increase muscle mass and repair damaged ones. This is what bodybuilders usually do.
However, in your kidneys' case, this poses a huge problem.
Normally, glands in your stomach secrete enzymes to break down protein into amino acids that your body then absorbs. During this process, nitrogen is released, and your kidneys are charged with the task of metabolizing and excreting this element.
Too much protein in the body could disrupt this process, force your kidneys to increase glomerular pressure and induce hyperfiltration, adding strain to your kidneys and causing damage.
Extra protein in the body doesn't also add benefits; it apparently doesn't make extra muscle grow, or cause more hair growth, or even protect you against diseases, contrary to what other people may say. Too little protein, on the other hand, will cause the loss and/or gradual breakdown of body protein and muscle tissues.
And so, an optimal and balanced intake of protein is needed to avoid worsening your condition. Not too much, not too little; just right.
You may also check out these other nutrients you need to limit and watch out for your kidneys sake.
Protein Limits for CKD Patients
If you're struggling with chronic kidney disease (CKD) especially in Stages 3 and 4, you'll need a diet of less protein than the average individual to reduce stress on your kidneys.
37-41 grams per day - at least that's the advised protein intake limit on a renal diet. Of course, you are still subject to limits set by your own nephrologist and dietitian, so it will still be best to check with them for specifics.
Here are some good protein sources you can opt for:
Protein Limits for Dialysis Patients
Being on dialysis is a different story. You'll need MORE protein, instead of less.
Dialysis machines do a great job of filtering your blood's excess waste in lieu of your dysfunctional kidneys. However, they do this job a little too well in terms of filtering protein. Patients lose more than the necessary amount of protein during dialysis, hence the shift in diet and protein intake.
As stated above, advice from your nephrologist and dietitian is paramount to knowing your exact limits. But the recommended protein intake for dialysis patients, according to The Nephron Information Center website, is 0.55 grams of dietary protein per pound of body weight.
This means that for an average person, if you only took in 37-41 grams of protein daily on a renal diet before, you must now consume about 82 grams of protein per day.
Here's a table of sample intakes you can refer to:
Body Weight (in lbs)
Protein (in grams)
To help you with deciding what to eat on a renal diet, here is a food list of common foods and their protein and fat per serving:
Screenshot source: Protein and the Body - http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2473/T-3163web.pdf
Did you know that fat can also cause problems for your kidneys? Find out why in this article, along with 3 other nutrients you should be vigilant about.
With the right limits and the proper guidance, you can manage your protein intake to your body's benefit. It's all a matter of determining which limit is best for your current condition.
Eating Right for Chronic Kidney Disease - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:
Protein and the Body - Dr. Janice Hermann, Nutrition Specialist - Oklahoma State University:
Protein needs while on dialysis - The Nephron Information Center: