What to Eat for a Bodybuilder With Kidney Disease?

Lentil with carrot and pumpkin ragout in a wooden bowl.
A healthy lentil salad. (Image: Anna Pustynnikova/iStock/Getty Images)

As a bodybuilder, you know the importance of vitamins and minerals to help build muscle and provide energy. You might not know that your risk for kidney disease increases if you're a bodybuilder. If you've been recently diagnosed with kidney disease, you're probably wondering if your bodybuilding days are over. Once you know about the link between bodybuilding, kidney disease and diet, you can create a diet that allows you to remain physically active.

Kidney Disease and Bodybuilding

Steroid use and high-protein diets are two reasons why bodybuilders can be at an increased risk for kidney disease. According to the "Journal of the American Society of Nephrology," steroid abuse can negatively affect the endocrine system. Bodybuilders often have an excess of creatinine in their blood, which can lead to kidney problems. While high-protein diets are considered safe for short periods of time, too much protein might worsen already existing kidney problems. Because most bodybuilders consume large amounts of protein to build muscle, it may be why they're at a greater risk for kidney disease. Ask your doctor if your kidney disease diet will prevent you from bodybuilding, and what you can do to remain physically active.

Protein

Since a link exists between high protein intake and kidney disease, you might be wondering if you should avoid protein. If you have kidney disease, your body still requires protein. While your doctor might recommend that you limit your intake of protein, sometimes to one gram per kilogram of body weight per day, your body still needs the essential amino acids you get from foods that contain protein. As a bodybuilder, you might be used to consuming upwards of 100 to 150 grams of protein per day, but you will need to cut back if you have kidney disease. Lean meat, beans, lentils and nuts are all nutritious sources of protein.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates can be a healthy source of energy in your diet. Carbohydrates are particularly important if your doctor has recommended a low-protein diet because of your kidney disease. They replace calories and energy you used to get from protein. Opt for healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Fats

Fat intake is another dietary component of bodybuilding. With kidney disease, you should restrict your intake of all fats, but the fats that you do eat should be healthy, unsaturated ones. Opt for canola oil and olive oil when cooking.

Vitamins and Minerals

If you have kidney disease, you will need to monitor your intake of certain vitamins and minerals that are essential to a bodybuilding diet. Kidney disease might cause excess levels of phosphorus, which means that you should limit your intake of foods with calcium. Calcium-rich foods are important for bodybuilders because they help maintain strong bones and muscles. Your doctor might recommend a calcium supplement to help maintain your levels without getting too much phosphorus. Potassium is another essential nutrient for bodybuilders because it helps maintain proper muscle function. You will need to monitor your intake because excess potassium can cause a disruption in a normal heart beat. Limit your intake of sodium, and discuss your iron levels with your doctor to determine if you need a supplement.

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