Goals, Calorie and Protein intake
The major role of the kidneys is to remove waste products and purify
blood. Besides this, the kidney plays an important role in removing
extra water, minerals and chemicals; it also regulates water and minerals
like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and bicarbonate in the
In patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD), regulation of
fluids and electrolytes may be deranged. Because of this reason even
normal intake of water, common salt or potassium can cause serious
disturbances in fluid and electrolyte balance.
To reduce the burden on the kidney with impaired function and to avoid
disturbances in fluid and electrolyte balance, patients with chronic kidney
disease should modify their diet as per the guidance of the doctor and
the dietitian. There is no fixed diet for CKD patients. Each patient is
given a different dietary advice depending on clinical status, the stage of
kidney failure and other medical problems. Dietary advice needs to be
altered for the same patient at different times.
The goals of dietary therapy in CKD patients are to:
General principles of dietary therapy in CKD patients are:
- 1. Slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease and to postpone
the need for dialysis.
- 2. Reduce the toxic effects of excess urea in the blood.
- 3. Maintain optimal nutritional status and prevent the loss of lean body
- 4. Reduce the risk of fluid and electrolyte disturbances.
- 5. Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Restrict protein intake to <0.8 gm/kg of body weight/day for patients not on dialysis. Patients already on dialysis require an increased
amount of protein (1.0 -1.2 gm/kg body weight/day) to replace
protein that may be lost during the procedure.
- Supply adequate carbohydrates to provide energy.
- Supply a moderate amount of fats. Cut down the intake of butter,
ghee and oil.
- Limit the intake of fluid and water in case of swelling (edema).
- Restrict the amount of sodium, potassium and phosphorus in the
- Supply vitamins and trace elements in adequate amounts. A high
fiber diet is recommended.
Details of selection and modification in diet of patients with
CKD are as follows:
1. High Calorie Intake
The body needs calories for daily activities and to maintain temperature,
growth and adequate body weight. Calories are supplied chiefly by
carbohydrates and fats. The usual caloric requirement of CKD patients
is 35 - 40 kcal/kg body weight per day. If caloric intake is inadequate,
the body utilizes protein to provide calories. This breakdown of protein
can lead to harmful effects such as malnutrition and a greater production
of waste products. It is thus essential to provide an adequate amount
of calories to CKD patients. It is important to calculate the caloric
requirement according to a patient’s ideal body weight, and not current
Carbohydrates are the primary source of calories for the body.
Carbohydrates are found in wheat, cereals, rice, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, sugar, honey, cookies, cakes, sweets and drinks. Diabetics
and obese patients need to limit the amount of carbohydrates. It is best
to use complex carbohydrates from cereals like whole wheat and
unpolished rice which would also provide fiber. These should form a
large portion of the carbohydrates in the diet. All other simple sugar
containing substances should form not more than 20% of the total
carbohydrate intake, especially in diabetic patients. Non-diabetic
patients may replace calories from protein with carbohydrates in the
form of fruits, pies, cakes, cookies, jelly or honey as long as desserts
with chocolate, nuts, or bananas are limited.
CHP. 25. Diet in Chronic Kidney Disease 197.
Fats are an important source of calories for the body and provide two
times more calories than carbohydrates or proteins. Unsaturated or
“good” fats like olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower
oil, fish and nuts are better than saturated or “bad” fats such as red
meat, poultry, whole milk, butter, ghee, cheese, coconut and lard.
Patients with CKD should reduce their intake of saturated fats and
cholesterol, as these can cause heart disease.
Among the unsaturated fats it is important to pay attention to the
proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Excessive
amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very
high omega-6/omega-3 ratio is harmful while low omega-6/omega-3
ratio exerts beneficial effects. Mixtures of vegetable oil rather than single
oil usage will achieve this purpose. Trans fat containing substances like
potato chips, doughnuts, commercially prepared cookies and cakes
are potentially harmful and should be avoided.
2. Restrict Protein Intake
Protein is essential for the repair and maintenance of body tissues. It
also helps in healing of wounds and fighting against infection. Protein
restriction (< 0.8 gm/kg body weight/day) is recommended for CKD patients not on dialysis to reduce the rate of decline in kidney function
and delay the need for dialysis and kidney transplantation. Severe protein
restriction should be avoided however because of the risk of malnutrition.
Poor appetite is common in CKD patients. Poor appetite and strict
protein restriction together can lead to poor nutrition, weight loss, lack
of energy and reduction in body resistance, which increase the risk of
death. Proteins with high biologic value such as animal protein (meat,
poultry and fish), eggs and tofu are preferred. High-protein diets (e.g.
Atkins diet) should be avoided in CKD patients. Likewise, the use of
protein supplements and drugs such as creatine used for muscle
development are best avoided unless approved by a physician or
dietitian. However, once a patient is on dialysis, protein intake should
be increased to 1.0 – 1.2 gm/kg body weight/day to replace the proteins
lost during the procedure.
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3. Fluid Intake
Why must patients with CKD take precautions regarding fluid
The kidneys play a major role in maintaining the proper amount of water
in the body by removing excess fluid as urine. In patients with CKD, as
the kidney function worsens, the volume of urine usually decreases.
Reduced urine output leads to fluid retention in the body causing puffiness
of the face, swelling of the legs and hands and high blood pressure.
Accumulation of fluid in the lungs (a condition called pulmonary
congestion or edema) causes shortness of breath and difficulty in
breathing. If this is not controlled, it can be life threatening.
What are the clues that suggest excess water in the body?
Excess water in the body is called fluid overload. Leg swelling (edema),
ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity), shortness of
breath, and weight gain in a short period are the clues that suggest fluid
What precautions must CKD patients take to control fluid
To avoid fluid overload or deficit, the volume of fluid should be recorded
and followed as per the recommendation of the doctor. The volume o
fluid permitted may vary for each CKD patient and is calculated on the
basis of urine output and fluid status of each patient.
How much fluid is a chronic kidney disease patient advised
Why must CKD patients maintain a record of their daily
- In patients without edema and with adequate urine output
unrestricted water and fluid intake is permitted. It is a common
misconception that patients with kidney disease should take large
amounts of fluid to protect the kidney. The amount of fluid allowed
is dependent on the clinical status and kidney function of the patient
- Patients with edema and reduced urine output are instructed to restric
fluid intake. To reduce swelling, fluid intake in 24hours should be
less than the volume of urine produced per day.
- In order to avoid fluid overload or deficit in patients without edema
the allowable volume of fluid per day = urine volume of previous
day plus 500 ml. The additional 500 ml of fluid approximately make
up for the fluids lost through perspiration and breathing.
Patients should keep a record of their daily weight to monitor fluid
volume in the body and to detect fluid gain or loss. The body weigh
remains constant when the instructions regarding fluid intake are followed
strictly. Sudden weight gain indicates fluid overload due to increase in
fluid intake. Weight gain warns the patients about the need for more
meticulous fluid restriction. Weight loss usually occurs as a combined
effect of restriction of fluid and a response to diuretics.
200. Save Your Kidneys
Useful Tips to Reduce Fluid Intake :
It is difficult to restrict fluid intake, but these tips will help you:
How does one measure and consume the prescribed amount
of fluid per day?
- 1. Weigh yourself at the same time every day and adjust fluid intake
- 2. The doctor advises you on how much fluid consumption is permitted
in a day. Calculate accordingly and take the measured volume of
fluid everyday. Remember that fluid intake includes not only water
but also tea, coffee, milk, juice, ice cream, cold drinks, soup, and
other foods with a high water content such as watermelon, grapes,
lettuce, tomatoes, celery, gravy, gelatin, and frozen treats like
- 3. Reduce salty, spicy and fried food in your diet as they increase
thirst, leading to a greater consumption of fluids.
- 4. Drink only when you are thirsty. Do not drink as a habit or because
everyone is drinking.
- 5. When you are thirsty, take only a small amount of water or try ice.
Take a small ice cube and suck it. Ice stays longer in the mouth
than liquid, so it is more satisfying than the same amount of water.
Do not forget to account for ice as consumed fluid. For easy
calculation, freeze the allotted amount of water into an ice tray.
- 6. To take care of dryness of the mouth, one can gargle with water
without drinking it. Dryness of mouth can be reduced by chewing
gums, sucking hard candy, lemon wedge or mints and the use of
mouthwash to moisten the mouth.
- 7. Always use a small sized cup and glass for your beverages to limit
- 8. Take medicines after meals when you are taking water to avoid
extra water consumption for medicine.
- 9. A patient must keep himself busy with work. A patient who has
little to occupy himself feels the desire to drink water more often.
- 10. High blood sugar in diabetic patients can increase thirst. A stringent
control of blood sugar is essential to reduce thirst.
- 11. Since hot weather increases one’s thirst, any measure taken to live
in cooler comfort is desirable and recommended.
- Fill a container with water, equal to the exact amount of fluid
prescribed by the doctor for daily intake.
- The patient must bear in mind that no more than that amount of fluid
intake is permitted for the day.
- Each time the patient consumes a certain amount of fluid, the same
amount of water should be removed from the water container and
- When the container has no more water, the patient will have consumed
his quota of fluid for the day and should not drink anymore.
- It is advisable to distribute total fluid intake evenly throughout the
day to avoid the need for additional fluid.
- Repeated daily, this method, if followed, effectively delivers the
prescribed amount of fluid per day and prevents excessive fluid
CHP. 25. Diet in Chronic Kidney Disease 201.
4. Salt (Sodium) Restriction in Diet
Why is a low sodium diet advised for patients with CKD?
Sodium in our diet is important for the body to maintain blood volume
and to control blood pressure. Our kidneys play an important role in
the regulation of sodium. In patients with CKD, the kidneys cannot
remove excess sodium and fluid from the body so sodium and water
build up in the body. An increased amount of sodium in the body leads
to increased thirst, swelling, shortness of breath and increase in blood pressure. To prevent or reduce these problems, patients with CKD must restrict sodium intake in their diet.
202. Save Your Kidneys
What is the difference between sodium and salt?
The words sodium and salt are commonly used as synonyms. Common
salt (table salt) is sodium chloride and contains 40% sodium. Salt is the
principle source of sodium in our diet. But salt is not the only source of
sodium. There are quite a few other sodium compounds in our food,
How much salt should one take?
- Sodium alginate: Used in ice-cream and chocolate milk
- Sodium bicarbonate: Used as baking powder and soda
- Sodium benzoate: Used as a preservative in sauce
- Sodium citrate: Used to enhance flavor of gelatin, desserts and
- Sodium nitrate: Used in preserving and coloring processed meat
- Sodium saccharide: Used as artificial sweetener
- Sodium sulfite: Used to prevent discoloration of dried fruits
The above mentioned compounds contain sodium but are not salty in
taste. Sodium is hidden in these compounds.
A typical daily intake of salt is about 10 to 15 grams (4-6 grams of
sodium) per day. Patients with CKD should take salt according to the
recommendation of the doctor. CKD patients with edema (swelling)
and high blood pressure are usually advised to take less than 2 grams
of sodium per day.
Which foods contain high amounts of sodium?
Foods high in sodium include:
Practical Tips to Reduce Sodium in Food:
1. Table salt (common salt), baking powder
- 2. Processed foods like canned foods, fast foods and “deli” meats
- 3. Readymade sauces
- 4. Seasonings and condiments such as fish sauce and soy sauce
- 5. Baked food items like biscuits, cakes, pizza and breads
- 6. Wafers, chips, popcorn, salted groundnuts, salted dry fruits like
cashew nuts and pistachios
- 7. Commercial salted butter and cheese
- 8. Instant foods like noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and cornflakes
- 9. Vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, radish, beetroot,
and coriander leaves
- 10. Coconut water
- 11. Drugs like sodium bicarbonate tablets, antacids, laxatives
- 12. Non-vegetarian foods like meat, chicken, and animal innards like
kidneys, liver and brain
- 13. Seafoods like crab, lobster, oyster , shrimp, oily fish and dried fish
- 1. Restrict salt intake and avoid extra salt and baking soda in diet.
Cook food without salt and add permitted amounts of salt
separately. This is the best option to reduce salt intake and ensure
consumption of the prescribed amount of salt in everyday diet.
- 2. Avoid foods with high sodium content (as listed above).
- 3. Do not serve salt and salty seasonings at the table or altogether
remove the salt shaker from the dining table.
- 4. Carefully read labels of commercially available packaged and
processed foods. Look not only for salt but also for other sodium
containing compounds. Carefully check the labels and choose
“sodium-free” or “low-sodium” food products. Make sure however
that potassium is not used to substitute sodium in these foods.
- 5. Check sodium content of medications.
- 6. Boil vegetables with high sodium content. Throw away the water.
This can reduce sodium content in vegetables.
- 7. To make a low salt diet tasty, one can add other spices and
condiments such as garlic, onion, lemon juice, bay leaf, tamarind
pulp, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, and cumin.
- 8. Caution! Avoid the use of salt substitutes as they contain high
amounts of potassium. High potassium content of salt substitutes
can raise the potassium levels in blood to dangerous levels in CKD
- 9. Do not drink softened water. In the process of water softening,
calcium is replaced by sodium. Water purified by reverse osmosis
process is low in all minerals including sodium.
- 10. While eating at restaurants, select foods that contain less sodium.
204. Save Your Kidneys
5. Potassium Restriction in Diet
Why are CKD patients advised to restrict potassium in diet?
Potassium is an important mineral in the body that is needed for the
proper functioning of muscles and nerves and to keep the heart beat
regular. Normally, the level of potassium in body is balanced by eating
potassium containing foods and removal of excess potassium in the
urine. Removal of excess potassium in the urine may be inadequate in
a patient with chronic kidney disease and can lead to the accumulation
of a high level of potassium in the blood (a condition known as
hyperkalemia). The risk of hyperkalemia is less in patients undergoing
peritoneal dialysis compared to those on hemodialysis. The risk differs
in both groups because the process of dialysis is continuous in peritoneal
dialysis while it is intermittent in hemodialysis.
CHP. 25. Diet in Chronic Kidney Disease 205.
High potassium levels can cause severe muscleweakness or an irregular
eart rhythmthat can be dangerous. When potassium is very high, the
eart can stop beating unexpectedly and cause sudden death. High
otassium levels can be life threatening without noticeable manifestations
r symptoms (and therefore it is known as a silent killer).
To avoid serious consequences of high potassium, CKD patients are
dvised to restrict potassium in diet.
What is normal potassium level in blood? When is it
The normal serum potassium (level of potassium in blood) is 3.5
mEq/L to 5.0 mEq/L.
When the serum potassium is 5.0 to 6.0 mEq/L, dietary potassium
needs to be limited.
When the serum potassium is greater than 6.0 mEq/L, active medical
intervention is needed to reduce it.
A serum potassium greater than 7.0 mEq/L is life threatening and
needs urgent treatment such as emergency dialysis.
Classification of food according to potassium content
To maintain proper control of potassium in blood, food intake must be
modified as per the doctor’s advice. On the basis of potassium contents,
oods are classified into three different groups (high, medium, and low
otassium containing foods).
High potassium = More than 200 mg/ 100 gms of food
Medium potassium = 100 to 200 mg/ 100 gms of food
Low potassium = Less than 100 mg/ 100 gms of food
Foods with high potassium content
Foods with Medium Potassium Content
- Fruits: Fresh apricot, ripe banana, chico, fresh coconut, custard apple, gooseberry, guava, kiwi fruit, ripe mango, oranges, papaya, peach, pomegranate and plum
- Vegetables: Broccoli, cluster beans, coriander, drumstick, mushroom, raw papaya, potato, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomatoes and yam
- Dry fruits:
Almond, cashew nut, dates, dry figs, raisins and walnut
Red and black beans and mung (monggo) beans
- Non-vegetarian food:
Fish like anchovy and mackerel; shell fish like prawns, lobster and crabs; and beef
Coconut water, condensed milk, buffalo milk, cow milk, chocolate drinks, fresh fruit juices, soup, beer, wine and many aerated drinks
Chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, Lona salt (salt substitute), potato chips and tomato sauce
Foods with Low Potassium Content
ripe cherries, grapes, lychees, pear, sweet lime and watermelon
Beet root, raw banana, bitter gourd, cabbage, carrot, celery, cauliflower, French beans, okra (ladies finger), raw mango, onion, radish, green peas, sweet corn and safflower leaves
Barley, general purpose flour, noodles made from wheat flour, rice flakes (pressed rice) and wheat vermicelli
- Legumes: red and black beans and mung (monggo) beans
- Non-vegetarian food:
Apple, blackberries, lemon, pineapple and strawberries
Bottle gourd, broad beans, capsicum, cucumber, garlic,
lettuce, green peas, raw mango and pointed gourd
CHP. 25. Diet in Chronic Kidney Disease 207.
Practical Tips to Reduce Potassium in Food
Rice, rava and wheat semolina
- Non-vegetarian food:
Beef, lamb, pork, chicken and egg
Coca-cola, coffee, lemonade, lime juice in water, and soda
Cloves, dried ginger, honey, mint leaves, mustard, nutmeg, black pepper and vinegar
How does one reduce potassium content in vegetables?
- 1. Take one fruit per day, preferably with low potassium.
- 2. Take one cup of tea or coffee per day.
- 3. Vegetables with potassium should be taken after reducing the amount
of potassium (as mentioned below).
- 4. Avoid coconut water, fruit juices and foods with high potassium
contents (as listed above).
- 5. Almost all food contains some potassium, so the key is to choose
foods with a low potassium content when possible.
- 6. Restriction of potassium is necessary not only for predialysis CKD
patients, but is also necessary even after initiating dialysis.
- Peel and cut vegetables into small pieces.
- Wash vegetables with lukewarm water and put them in a large pot.
- Fill the pot with hot water (the quantity of water must be four to five
times the volume of vegetables) and soak the vegetables for at least
- After soaking the vegetables for 2 - 3 hours, rinse them three times
with warm water.
208. Save Your Kidneys
Special tips for leaching potassium from potatoes
- Subsequently boil the vegetables with extra water. Discard the
- Cook the boiled vegetables as desired.
- Although you can reduce the amount of potassium in vegetables, it is
still preferable to avoid high potassium containing vegetables or take
them in small quantities.
- As vitamins are lost in cooked vegetables, vitamin supplements should
be taken as per the doctor’s advice.
- Dicing, slicing or grating potatoes into smaller pieces is important.
Maximizing the surface of the potatoes exposed to water by this
method helps increase potassium loss from the potatoes.
- The temperature of the water used to either soak or boil the potatoes
makes the difference.
- Using large amounts of water to soak or boil potatoes is helpful.
Common principles for the diet plan
Common principles for the diet plan
Designing the Daily Food
For CKD patients daily food intake and water intake are planned and charted out by the
dietitian in accordance with the advice of the phrenologist.
Common principles for the diet plan are: