Select quality proteins

SURVIVAL TIP: Learn why all protein sources are not the same quality. Some have excessive sodium, phosphorus or fat. In addition, too much protein can stress your kidneys.

PSalmonrotein is important to your body because it helps build and repair cells and fight infection. Protein also contributes to healthy muscles, organs, glands, and skin.

Dialysis causes protein loss
You lose protein through dialysis, so be particularly aware of good protein sources in your daily diet. Dialysis can require an increase in eating protein such as meat or fish.Considering the phosphorus in nuts, potassium and phosphorus in milk, and the multitude of reasons not to eat processed meats, do you wonder what you can eat to maintain adequate protein?

Most of my lab results showed low protein and albumin, and I got a protein supplement at dialysis for a few months. (The choices were weird flavored “ice creams” with low phosphorus and potassium, a liquid supplement resembling cough syrup that came in a few flavors and required a water chaser to swallow it, and a protein bar that our clinic didn’t offer because people took them home to eat later and didn’t eat them or gave them away.)

Portion size matters
A healthy portion of protein is between 5 and 10 oz. per day, depending on the guide you follow. A serving the size of your palm, or 3 oz., is about 1/2 cup. You need several portions of protein each day. If you do not know how much to eat, ask your dialysis nurse, dietician, or doctor.

Healthy ProteinsAfter I had my fill of chicken and realized that many less expensive frozen chicken brands had a great percentage of sodium solution or phosphorus, I sought other resources. I don’t care for fish, which is an exceptionally healthy choice because of high Omega-3 content and low fat. Even packaged low sodium salmon and tuna are acceptable sources of quality protein.

Fortunately, we have nuts, cheese and deli meats.

Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

Nuts should be limited or eliminated
High in fat, phosphorus, and potassium, nuts can be loaded with sodium and sugar as well, depending on preparation.

Small portions of peanut butter are acceptable. My dietician suggested a thumb-sized portion of peanut butter (1 oz. or 6 tablespoons) per week. Portion control is key, so six tablespoons at once is not a good choice.

Limit beans (legumes) to 1 cup per week. Beans and peas are bursting with phosphorus.

Moderation is key.

According to a Harvard Health blog, “Eating too much protein also makes the kidneys work harder… those with kidney disease or diabetes (which is associated with kidney disease) need to watch their daily protein intake so they don’t overload their kidneys.”

I learned the hard way that if you increase protein consumption and don’t eat fruits and vegetables, the scale will tell. Are you one of the people who follows the Dr. Adkins diet without reading the book? Read the book before starting any diet, and always check with your physician.

Did YOU KNOW proteins stave off hunger? “Protein takes more energy for you to digest than refined carbohydrates, and also gives your body a feeling of satiety,” said Dr. Michelle Hauser, a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School and a certified chef and nutrition educator. (See reference below)

As with all changes to your routine, check with your doctor or talk to your dietician before adding to your diet. Although the list of dietary recommendations include grapefruit, two of my medicines strictly forbid grapefruit or grapefruit juice. (Lipitor for cholesterol is one of those.) Vanilla pudding is recommended, but only cooked, not instant. Read the details! Some of the canned fruit is limited to 1-3 halves. So be sure you have someone to share the bounty or refrigerate the remaining fruit for a few days.

ChickenMaintaining any diet, whether to gain or lose weight, protect your heart or lower your cholesterol, takes time and thought. Some of you have more challenges than others, but your staff and your friends here at can offer insights and tips. Your dietician can offer a recommended day-by-day diet and discuss it with you, your spouse or caretaker. Medical professionals value patients who take initiative and follow-up!

Next week, we will look into the nutritional benefits and challenges of milk and dairy products.

When you have someone you know you can ask without feeling like an idiot, gaining information is easier and more enjoyable. Please, ask questions and offer tips here at

If you or someone you care about is facing dialysis, share your experiences and concerns. This is a forum for learning and inspiration where we can ask questions and be honest with others in the same situation. What are your experiences and challenges with dialysis?




About dialysisgal

When I joined the 450,000 Americans on dialysis, I wondered what "normal" would be. Would people stare at my access and ask what was wrong? In this blog, I hope to save other patients and their families from the difficulties I have faced. I want to share my experiences, what I learned, had to ask and was shocked to find. I am not a medical professional, but I hope we can have a conversation to help you better understand what you or someone you love with chronic kidney disease (CKD) might expect while living with dialysis.
This entry was posted in dialysis, kidney disease, protein and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Select quality proteins

  1. Jeffrey Crosby says:

    I prefer venison, low fat, great tasting and very healthy. Free range!

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