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How Much Protein is Too Much for Kidney Health?

An important part of the kidney diet (for patients with kidney disease or those who are on dialysis) is protein. While it’s important to get enough protein, it’s also important to make sure you don’t eat too much protein, as that can cause problems in the long run (including problems with protein in the urine and loss of bone density). This article will discuss optimal amounts of protein for people with kidney disease and suggest plant-based sources of protein that are better for kidney health.

The Optimal Amount of Protein

We all know that protein is important for our health. But did you know that too much protein can be bad for your kidneys? That’s right, eating too much protein can actually lead to kidney disease and dialysis. So how much protein is too much?

 The recommended daily amount of protein, around .8 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 1.3 grams per pound), will not hurt most people’s kidneys, even if they have kidney disease or are on dialysis. In fact, it’s quite similar to what those with healthy kidneys should eat in order to maintain muscle mass and strength.

However, some people need a lower-protein diet because their bodies cannot properly process certain proteins—especially animal proteins like beef and pork. If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD) or are on dialysis and also have trouble digesting certain foods, talk to your doctor about creating a customized diet plan that fits your needs while still helping you meet all your nutritional requirements.

The Types of Animal Proteins

There are many different types of animal proteins, including red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Each type of animal protein has different nutrient profiles and can impact your health in different ways.

 There are no hard and fast rules about how much animal protein you should be eating, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Most forms of animal protein contain saturated fat, which can increase your cholesterol levels and your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). High levels of saturated fat may also damage your kidneys over time. In fact, high levels of saturated fat may interfere with standard kidney function tests—such as serum creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (GFR)—and might cause false positives.

The Types of Plant Proteins

There are many different types of plant proteins, and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Soy protein, for example, is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. However, soy also contains phytoestrogens, which can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body and potentially disrupt hormone balance. Other plant proteins include hemp, rice, pea, and quinoa. Hemp and rice proteins are not complete proteins, meaning they don’t contain all the essential amino acids our bodies need. Pea protein is a complete protein but is relatively low in some of the essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a complete protein and is relatively high in some of the essential amino acids.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, or about 54 grams per day for a 155-pound person. The RDA is the amount of a nutrient that is considered sufficient to meet the needs of 97-98% of healthy people. This amount may need to be increased in some circumstances, such as during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or times of illness. However, too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, as it can increase the amount of work the kidneys have to do and lead to further damage. The best way to get the right amount of protein is to eat a variety of protein-rich foods and to talk to a registered dietitian or doctor about how much is right for you.

FDA Daily Value (%DV)

According to the FDA, the Daily Value (DV) for protein is 50 grams per day. This amount is based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The DV for protein is also based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI), which is the amount of protein needed to meet the nutritional needs of 97-98% of healthy people. The RDI is used to calculate the %DV that is listed on food labels. The %DV for protein is calculated by dividing the amount of protein in food by the DV for protein.

Recommendations for Hemodialysis Patients

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) recommends that people with kidney disease should consume no more than 0.36 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For those on hemodialysis, the NKF recommends 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

 That said, while protein restriction has traditionally been a part of kidney disease treatment, recent research has questioned whether these recommendations are based on science. Current evidence doesn’t support a need to restrict protein in people with kidney disease, even those on dialysis. In fact, people with kidney disease who limit their protein intake may miss out on essential nutrients that their kidneys can no longer filter effectively. Instead of limiting your protein intake – or eliminating it completely – focus on getting adequate amounts of lean protein from fish and poultry while limiting fatty red meats and other high-fat proteins.

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