Most newly diagnosed patients have questions about how much protein they should eat. There are no quick answers, because while some patients must limit protein, other patients should eat large amounts of low-cholesterol protein, and still others don't have to worry about this issue at all. Raise this question with your nephrologist, because he can tell you which category you fit in.
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Patients in the early stages of kidney disease often have high urine protein. While the kidneys of healthy people prevent proteins from spilling into the urine, scarred kidneys cannot effectively perform this function. The process of filtering proteins from the blood into the urine accelerates the progression of kidney disease. Doctors may advise such patients to limit their protein intake to 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight. This advice is not given to children, people on dialysis or those approaching transplant.
The 0.8 g protein per kilogram of body weight guideline means that a 120-lb. person should eat no more than 1.6 oz. protein. A 130-lb. person should eat no more than 1.7 oz. protein. A 150-lb. person should eat no more than 1.9 oz. protein.
Patients on Hemodialysis
Patients on hemodialysis are no longer trying to preserve kidney function, so protein restriction is not an issue. Since hemodialysis removes some amino acids from the blood, these patients are encouraged to eat low-cholesterol, high-protein foods, such as chicken or fish. Legumes and other high-protein foods are usually off-limits because they have too much potassium and phosphorus. The specific amount of protein you should eat while on dialysis varies from person to person, so check with your nephrologist.
Never change your diet or take supplements without discussing it with your nephrologist. Your laboratory results, blood pressure and physical exam determine which nutrients are safe for you.