Low-Protein Diets

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

A low-protein diet is any diet in which the protein intake is reduced. Anyone diagnosed with kidney or liver disease may be prescribed a low-protein diet. In any case, a diet which is especially low in protein should only be undertaken under medical direction.

Why is a low protein diet necessary?

Protein is needed, but can cause problems for diseased organs


Protein is necessary for a healthy body. When protein is metabolized by the liver and digested, urea is produced as a waste product. If the liver is diseased, then food metabolism is compromised. If the kidneys, which are responsible for excretion of urea, are not functioning properly (renal failure), or if high levels of protein are continually present in the diet, urea builds up in the bloodstream causing loss of appetite and fatigue. A low-protein diet will reduce the workload on these organs.

It is usually the case that serious liver and kidney disease are accompanied by the need to limit salt or sodium intake due to high blood pressure or fluid retention. Table salt (the primary source of sodium in the diet) should therefore be limited, along with other foods with a high sodium content, as an additional feature of the low-protein diet.

Too much protein can worsen your health

It is generally accepted that a healthy person needs 40-60 grams of protein each day to remain in good health. However, it has been reported that the amount of protein typically consumed by people in affluent societies (American diet typically comprises 12-15% protein) may overtax the kidneys – to the extent that up to 30% of kidney function may be lost by the time someone is in their eighties. High-protein diets for weight loss often recommend 30% or more protein in the daily diet, and in prolonged use can cause serious metabolic changes leading to bone loss and kidney stones!

Reduced protein intake can improve your health

Low protein diets (4-8% protein) are used routinely to treat patients with liver disease, kidney (renal) failure, and disorders involving the urea cycle, the metabolism, and amino acids.

How is a low-protein diet achieved?

Reduce the amount of protein

Some of each type of protein should still be consumed each day from the two main sources:

  • Animal products (fish, poultry, eggs, meat, dairy products) – considered high quality or complete protein.
  • Vegetable products (breads, cereals, rice, pasta, dried beans) – considered low quality or incomplete protein.

Click Here for over 100 very low protein recipes.

To reduce the amount of protein consumed, protein foods in recipes can be ‘stretched’ (to consume less) or reduced as against more of the low- or non-protein foods (less in proportion), making a smaller amount seem just as satisfying.

  • Use thinly sliced meats.
  • Fill with salad items like lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, chopped celery, apple, parsley or water chestnuts.
  • Use lower protein foods (milk substitutes for cream soups, or rice or pasta) to make soups as filling but with less protein.
Main Dishes
  • Make the main dish of vegetables and grains, and treat meat as the side dish to your meal.
  • Use small pieces of meat and more vegetables in kebabs.
  • Make fried rice with vegetables and use less meat or shrimp.
  • For salads use crisp, fresh vegetables and only a few small strips of meat and egg.
  • For casseroles, reduce the amount of meat and increase the starch, pasta or rice. In recipes using soup, use a low sodium mix.
  • Use low-protein pastas and breads in the diet.
  • For cheeses, use smaller amounts of stronger-tasting cheeses (sharp cheddar, parmesan or romano) for plenty of flavor.

Boost calories to compensate

Decreasing protein in the diet may also mean a reduction in calories. To compensate so as to maintain a healthy weight, increase calories by substituting or adding certain ingredients with minimal protein content, such as:

  • Increase heart-healthy fats like polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, soybean or sunflower oils), olive oil, mayonnaise-type salad dressings.
  • Use candy and sweeteners (hard candy, gum drops, jelly beans, marshmallows, honey, jam and jelly – even sugar (diabetics need medical advice).
  • Use canned fruits in heavy syrup.

Sample low protein menu

  • Cheerios cereal or equivalent ¾ cup (3g)
  • non-dairy creamer ½ cup (0g)
  • ½ medium banana (.6)
  • orange juice ½ cup (.8g)
  • 1 cherry fruit roll up (0g)
  • 2 slices white bread (1.6g)
  • turkey breast 1 oz/28 g (4.8g)
  • lettuce (0g)
  • tomato ½ cup (.8g)
  • green beans ½ cup (1.2g)
  • mayonnaise 3 tsp (0g)
  • 1 medium apple (.3g)
  • fruit punch 4 fl oz/118 ml (0g)
  • 1 popsicle (0g)
  • lean hamburger 2 oz/56 g (10.5g)
  • white rice ½ cup (2.2g)
  • broccoli ¼ cup (.9g)
  • cauliflower ¼ cup (.6g)
  • tossed salad (1.5 cups) with 2 Tbsp ranch dressing (3g)
  • pineapple ½ cup (.2g)
  • gum drops 1 oz/28 g (0g)

Sample low protein menu contains

  • Protein: 30.5 grams
  • Calories: 1442
  • Fat: 48 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 237 grams
  • Sodium: 1270 mg
  • Potassium: 2282 mg

See Also

The Kidney Diet - Reveals how Kidney disease can be treated using dietary measures. Includes over a 100 kidney disease fighting recipes.

Look for  low protein meal ideas here.

Low-Protein Diets
Click Here to try
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
  • Zoraida Pagan

    I have multiple myaloma n one of the course is high proteins n high calcium, they r both harmful to my body. Can any one tell me how to bring both down? Help!

  • Jamie

    Hi, for anybody who is having to start coping with a low protein diet and is unfamiliar with how to conduct such a diet, people like myself were born with a genetic disease called Phenylketonuria and have been on this type of diet (except more strict) for our whole life’s. If you need help or advise on what to eat join one of the many Facebook PKU support pages (such as ‘PKU Friendly’) where you will be offered lots of advice and support by a wealth of knowledge on the subject.

  • Jackie

    Could you explain how the sample diet has 84g of protein and the analysis below the sample lists 39 grams.

    • http://www.everydiet.org ted

      What resource did you use to calculate? I looked it over and 39 grams seems pretty accurate to me.

      • http://www.everydiet.org ted

        I just double checked it with calorieking.com and only came up with 30.5 grams of protein.

  • Ahsan Khan, Age-45

    hi my name is ahsan khan and I’m 45 years old. I’m a patient of DM/HTN/ and also i have creatinine 1.62. appreciate if you could suggest me low protein food or diet. thanks and God bless everyone.

  • devansh

    I have high uric acid. having much pain in my heel while wakeup from the rest.Can you please suggest some vegetables and fruits having low proteins and are available

  • Kaushik Panchal

    Hi….I am suffering from uric acid(gout) and my age is around 48 yrs …please ggest some useful diet as low protein foods ..

    I am having die heard pain in my kness and legs
    Pls do suggest some important diet for me

    • Janna

      Here is link to lots of recipes you can use:http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
      Please Note that Non Dairy Milk, Cream or Cheese alternatives are free from lactose but usually have Dairy Protein in them so they are NOT an option. I use Humus, Avocado or Tomato based spreads. You can make ”Milk” from any of your favourite nuts. I use lots of herbs to give me the flavour and taste. And most importantly do not increase 5% of protein intake per day to stay healthy. Get well soon!

  • ghada

    Ineed a diet, low protein because l have stones in my kidneys

  • José

    Very informative article. Eventhough, I don’t have kidney disease due to my high blood pressure, my doctor prescribed a low protein diet. I have an appointment with a dietician. In the mean time I got very valuable information here. Thanks a lot! I’m looking forward to your newsletter.

  • Aamna

    Hi, i need help my mom is having kidney transplant for last 23 years. Everything was going fine but now she has high urea (85) and cretinine level ( 1.69). Her urine is having protien and her albumin and hemoglobin is low. She is not taking any protein diet still reports are not well.
    What should she has to do??


  • pam rogovin

    Hi everyone

    i read all your comments as I am new to this page. Please – anyonencan respond to me. I will answer all. I need friends and support

    • Youlia

      What do you need to know

  • Roxanne Olsen

    I found your information very helpful .. thank you …My protein in my urine is over 2000 and I must go on a low protein diet, I was completely clueless on where to begin and you have helped me … Thank you so much … I would love more helpful hints …

    • sabby

      i need a diet control chart for my husband
      he is suffering with a kidney disease
      plz help me out

  • sagar mishra

    hi..my dad is having high BP and Diabetes..Protein is 2.2 in urine..Creatinine is also high..pls suggest a suitable low protein INDIAN diet..

  • Samujjwal dasgupta

    I have high uric acid and also fatty liver pls suggest me some low protein diet


    Please suggest non protein and low protein diet, as the doctors have suggested my father to take less protein food.

    his uric acid, cholesterol, BP is very high….he is having kidney problem too..

    • reginald laryea

      i m interested in know ing the answers.

  • jannine

    hello just want to clarify, is white bread better than wheat bread? is white bread is low in protein than the wheat bread? im so confuseddddddddd.

    • Jeannette

      I should have said more. Yes, there are higher levels of protein in whole grain foods. That includes wheat bread. That’s why when a person is told to have a low protein diet, they need to start consuming white bread.

    • Jeannette

      White bread is recommended for renal diets.

  • arun kumar lall

    I am suffering from diabetese and protein in urine to the extent of 850 gram .Please suggest me diet chart as per foods. pulses and vegetables available in India.

    • pam rogovin

      Hi arun
      I also have diabetes and now kidney problems. I need a low protein,low card,low fat diet. I don’t know where to turn to. Can you help me

  • karam

    creatinine level 4.9 diabeties suggest low protein diet

  • Avik

    I have high uric acid.Can you please suggest some vegetables and fruits having low proteins and are available in the Indian Market. I searched a lot but BLACKBERRIES are not available in the Indian Market.

  • shakeel

    I have gouts and my uric acid level is high than normal range.pls suggest me how i can reduce it to normal range

  • Angelina

    hi iam angelina , my father have asthama promblem so plz suggest a diet . which type of diet is best for my dad

  • Denise

    Hi just diagnosed with rare form of colitis which means I have an allergy to protein, need to change my diet to eliminate as much protein as possible. Would welcome advice please.

  • aashish bariyar

    this information has been very effective as i recently have been facing some of these probs related to high protein.hope this newly acquired information would help me in my resolution to go strict on myself regarding my dietary practises.

  • Melissa

    I took a blood test which i am assuming is a protein level in my body ,I have been so sick,getting out of bed is a chore..He took what was labeled CRPH and it came out to be13.90 H…I am scared to death..any feedback here?

  • ashok

    I am 48 year old,I am overweight 96 kg.and height is 5.10.
    I want to know what is low protein diet,which is useful in high uric acid.sometime I hv swelling at my foot and hand also.

  • Danielle

    to 2.2

  • Danielle

    very scared…im only 34 and was diagnosed w/ ckd waiting on final results of biopsy..all i know is that i have high levels of protein in urine and that kidney
    function was at 3.1 but has now stable

  • divyanshi

    hiii.my brother is having kidney problem with increased level of urea-51mg/dl, creatinine-3.4md/dl, uric acid-7.9mg/dl, potassium-6.0mmol/L. he has been recommended to take low protein & potassium diet. pls help me in setting his diet.what he can eat n drink???? n what should be avoided???..thanks




  • amanveer

    My name is Amanveer Singh. I am from canada. I am going to join gym in the summer. So I want to know if it is very important to take protein supplements to work out?
    Please give me some information about this. I will be thankful to you.

  • Sunil Rohra

    Hello My Name is Sunil Rohra and Recently i have am going with problems in lipid and kft in whhich my GGTP is 56.00,Bilirubin(direct) 0.20,Total Bilirubin is 1.10,Sodium in Blood 146.00,Total Cholestrol is 223.00,Triglgycrides is 139.00,ldl Cholestrol is (calculated) 143.20,My urine Sg is 1.030,Protien in Urine 1+(30.0mg/dl,R.B.C in Urine is 2-3hpf,Suggest me for a good diet & medicine.

  • fallacy-of-a-calorie-cover Fallacy of a Calorie: Never Count Calories Again
  • the greek diet book Greek Diet
  • slim by design review Slim by Design
  • 5-skinny-habits-cover 5 Skinny Habits
Free Diet Newsletter

Don't miss out on the latest diets!

Join now - it's free.

A to Z