When you are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, you have to start worrying more about your protein intake. You don’t want to make your kidneys work any more than they already do to remove wastes from the body.
You may have been wondering if meatless meals are beneficial to your renal diet. Maybe you are already vegetarian and are concerned that you need to begin eating meat in order to meet your protein intake requirements.
The reality is, you do not have to eat meat when you have CKD. If fact, it is safe to have meatless meals often or just part-time. The important thing is that you are including other sources of protein into your diet, while making sure you aren’t consuming too much.
Amount Of Protein In A Renal Diet
Depending on the stage of CKD you are in, you will have to limit your protein intake to a certain percentage of your calories each day. Patients in stages 1, 2, and 3 may be advised to limit your protein intake to 15% of your calorie intake. At stage 4, it may be further reduced to only 10% of your calories each day.
Once you reach stage 5 and are on dialysis to filter wastes from the blood, you will not have to limit your protein intake. Instead you may need to raise it substantially to compensate for the amino acids that your body loses during each dialysis treatment.
The Best (Meatless) Sources for Protein
When you want to forego meat in your renal diet, you need to seek out plant-based protein options to include in your meals. These include:
- Meat substitutes (veggie burgers, tofu, etc)
- Soy items
Plant based proteins are beneficial for those with CKD because they help reduce the amount of protein found in urine. They can also result in less damage to the kidneys than consuming animal-based proteins. These plant-based options can also help you control your blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides).
If you do want to consume animal based proteins, without touching meat, you can include eggs and dairy products in your renal diet.
Warnings for Plant-Based Proteins in your Renal Diet
Though they can help lowering your overall protein intake and provide you with quality protein to keep your muscles strong, some plant-based protein options will have to be limited as part of your CKD diet.
For example, some beans are high in potassium, a nutrient that can cause further damage to the kidneys when the level in your body gets too high. This can also cause you to feel some numbness or tingling in your body, and extreme levels of potassium can even cause a heart attack.
Sodium is another element you will want to limit when consuming meatless meals for your renal diet. Opt for unsalted nuts when you are snacking. Also, look over the product labels when purchasing meat substitutes or tofu to ensure they aren’t packed with sodium.
As you can see, meatless meals aren’t harmful to your renal diet – so long as you are still getting the recommended amount of protein on a daily basis. Switching to plant-based protein sources can actually help your condition in a number of ways.
Just be on the lookout for other restrictions when you are planning your meals, so you don’t accidentally consume too much of those while managing your protein!
Also published on Medium.