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Controlling Your Protein Intake

Date issued: October 2022

Review date: October 2024

 Ref: C-318/Dietetics/CK/Controlling your Protein Intake (A Guide for Renal Patients)  v5

PDF: Controlling your protein intake final October 2022 v5.pdf [pdf] 172KB


Protein is needed for growth, building muscles, and repairing body tissue.

When your body digests protein, a waste product called urea is produced.  In Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), urea can build up in the bloodstream which can cause loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue.  High urea levels can also speed up kidney damage in people with CKD.

Reducing how much protein you eat can help reduce this build-up of urea.  There are two main sources of protein.


Animal protein

Plant protein

  • meat and poultry

  • fish

  • eggs

  • cheese

  • milk and milk products

  • nuts, seeds

  • beans, peas, and lentils

  • wholegrains

  • soya, tofu, mycoprotein (Quorn®)


To optimise kidney health, choose plant proteins over animal proteins where you can

Suggestions to help you reduce your protein intake:

  1. Have cereal, toast, or pastries for breakfast rather than a cooked breakfast. Try making porridge with water and cream rather than milk.

  2. Have smaller portions of protein foods at mealtimes.  If you have a large portion of protein at one meal, try to eat less protein at the next meal.

  3. Serve a bread-based stuffing rather than sausage meat with roast dinners.

  4. Use thin slices of meat in sandwiches and bulk out with vegetables, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot.

  5. You will need to ensure you still get enough calories from your diet:

    • use heart healthy fats in cooking or drizzle on to meals, sunflower oil, olive oil, salad dressings, plant-based spreads.

    • increase your portion of starchy foods - bread, pasta, potatoes, crackers, rice.

    • have more sugary foods if you are struggling with weight loss e.g., jam, syrup, honey, sweets.

  6. Limit milk-based desserts such as custard, yoghurt, and ice cream.

  7. If you drink a lot of milky hot drinks, try having more fruit or herbal teas, or cold drinks instead.

  8. Avoid supplements which contain protein e.g., protein powders and shakes, spirulina powder.

  9. Avoid foods that are marketed as being “high protein” e.g., protein cereal bars, high protein milkshakes, Skyr® yoghurt.

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