Does Losing Weight Affect Your Kidneys? may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Weight loss can affect your kidneys, sometimes in unpredictable ways. If you already have kidney disease, your doctor may suggest that you gain weight or avoid losing weight. But for people with conditions that threaten the kidneys as a secondary complication, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, weight loss may be prescribed. Finally, both extreme weight gain and extreme weight loss can put you at risk for kidney stones. Your physician can recommend sensible plans to help you achieve the weight goal most appropriate to your condition.

Implications for Diabetics

People with diabetes may suffer the complication of kidney disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. The high blood sugar levels common to diabetics bring more sugar to the kidneys, causing them to work extra hard to filter waste. This additional stress potentially leads to excess protein released into the urine, a syndrome known as macroalbuminuria. If left untreated, the process results in kidney disease and even total renal failure. The ADA notes that having high blood pressure speeds the process of kidney failure.


Losing weight is a key component of blood pressure control, which in turn may stem the progression of kidney disease associated with diabetes. If your efforts to lose weight include keeping your consumption of starches and sugars to a sensible count, the resulting stabilized glucose levels will also decrease the chances of setting off the chain reaction associated with macroalbuminuria.

Weight-Loss Disadvantages

For people with chronic kidney disease, weight loss can be a dangerous. An unhealthy reduction in calories and key nutrients occurs because the condition decreases your appetite. In addition, your doctor may tell you to restrict more foods, which further threatens calorie consumption if you don't turn to other food groups. Adequate calorie intake is crucial for kidney patients in order to maintain the energy required to function in daily life, as well as to undergo dialysis or surgery. In many cases, kidney patients need to either gain weight or remain at their healthy weights, according to the National Kidney Foundation.


Some kidney patients lose dangerous amounts of weight if they are put on low-protein diets. They may also be advised to decrease sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus, which further limits their food supply. If you fall into this limited-diet group, your doctor may recommend that you get extra calories from fats or from carbohydrates such as jam and honey.

Kidney Stones

Both obesity and extreme weight-loss strategies put you at risk of developing kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Excessive food intake and weight gain put extra stress on major organs, including kidneys. Conversely, high-protein, low-carb diets can cause kidney stones because excessive protein leads to uric acid buildup, a cause of one type of kidney stone. Weight-loss surgery may also cause kidney stones, notes the National Kidney Foundation. These surgeries change the way your digestive tract functions, potentially leading to a buildup of oxalate, another chemical that can promote kidney stone formation.


Getting to a healthier weight gradually can decrease your chances of developing kidney stones, especially if you cut back on sugar, high fructose corn syrup and salty junk food. If you find that low-carb diets work for you, keep your protein count to 50 grams or fewer. If your doctor believes that weight-loss surgery is key to your overall health, ask what you can do to decrease the chances of developing kidney stones.

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