Is Too Much Protein Bad for My Kidneys?

sport, fitness, healthy lifestyle, diet and people concept - close up of man with food rich in protein showing thumbs up

Mrs A         : I am underweight. I heard that plant protein powder is good to increase my body weight. My doctor told me I have kidney disease stage 2. Which protein powder is good for me?

Pharmacist: Protein powder is not suitable for you to increase weight if you have kidney problems.

Mrs A         : Oh I totally didn’t realize this!
 

Limit protein intake might be the first thing you heard about when a person has kidney disease. Your body needs protein to build muscles, repair tissue and fight infection. Adequate amounts of protein should be taken to avoid illness, malnutrition and to stay strong. You get protein not only from meats, fish and poultry, but also eggs, milk and milk products, cheese, soy and soy products and legumes.

Q: Do I need to restrict my protein intake if I have kidney disease?
For those who have kidney disease stage 1-4, you need to limit protein intake. Unfortunately, there is no cure for kidney disease. However, reducing protein help slow progression of kidney disease.

On the other hand, if you are on haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, you need to increase your protein intake even higher than a protein intake of a normal adult. You need to replace the protein losses during dialysis with higher protein intake. To know the exact amount of protein you can consume each day, kindly ask your healthcare professionals for further information.
 

Q: Then, how much protein should I take in a day?
Decision are based on stages of kidney disease, body weight, nutritional status and other factors. Normal adults usually take 0.8-1.0g/kg body weight in a day. People with kidney disease stage 1-2 should take 0.8g/kg body weight of protein while those with CKD stage 3-4 should take 0.6g/kg body weight of protein. For those on haemodialysis, they need 1.2g/kg body weight of protein. Here is an example of a 60kg man with different stages of kidney disease:

table

Not all people with kidney disease have the same dietary needs. If you are not sure about how much protein you need in a day, ask your healthcare professionals for more information.

 

What is one serving of protein?

1 serving = 14g protein

egg
2 medium eggs

drumstick
1 chicken drumstick

meat
1 palm size meat

cheese
2 slices cheese

milk
2 glass of milk

salmon
1/2 piece fish cutlet

fish
1 piece small fish (eg. ikan kembong)

tofu
1 1/2 pieces tofu

 

Q: What will happen if I eat too much protein?
When your kidneys are not working well, they need to work very hard to remove protein waste from your body. This may cause more damage to your kidneys. Your healthcare professionals may advise you to restrict protein intake if you have kidney disease stage 1-4.

Q: What will happen if I eat too little protein?
Having too little protein can cause malnutrition accompanied by body weakness. You can get sick more easily due to weak immune system. Your skin, hair and nails also tends to be weak. This is important, especially for those on haemodialysis, to consume enough protein.

 

Note: Kindly ask your healthcare professionals for further information. Visit us if you want to know more about your renal diet.

 

 

References:

  1. Malaysia National Kidney Foundation
    https://www.nkf.org.my/
  2. S. National Kidney Foundation
    https://www.kidney.org/
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
    https://www.niddk.nih.gov/
  4. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    https://www.eatright.org/