Low Protein Diet

Purpose

Protein is a nutrient needed by the body for normal growth, wound healing, and the ability to fight infection. People with severe kidney or liver disease often must limit the amount of protein they eat because their bodies cannot use the protein properly. Dangerous waste products can build up in the blood from eating too much protein.

Nutrition Facts

For the healthy person, between 40-60 grams of protein are needed each day to achieve and maintain good health. This, of course, will depend on the weight and health of an individual. A person recovering from an illness or injury often needs more. It is satisfactory to eat less than this amount for a short period of time, depending on health and diet objectives. If you are instructed to begin a low protein diet, discuss with your physician the maximum amount of protein permitted. Use the following tables to calculate the amount of protein in your diet.  Please review the following menu for more nutritional information.

Special Considerations

Protein is never completely eliminated from the diet. The physician and dietitian can determine how much protein the body is able to handle. However, since the amount of protein is limited, it is important to eat foods that contain high quality protein (meat, milk, fish, poultry, eggs, and peanut butter). These proteins are complete. They contain all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein). Even though the protein in vegetables and starches is incomplete, it is still important to include these foods in a daily meal plan for a well-balanced diet.

Salt and Sodium: Many people with serious kidney or liver disease may also need to limit salt or sodium intake because of high blood pressure or fluid retention. The greatest source of sodium in the diet is table salt. Therefore, the first step in reducing sodium intake is to limit the use of table salt. Certain other foods have high sodium content and will also need to be limited.

Sample Menu

Fats

Contains: virtually no protein, 55 mg sodium

One serving equals:

regular butter or margarine

1 tsp

mayonnaise

1 tsp

vegetable oil

1 tsp

gravy

1 Tbsp

reduced calorie margarine

1 Tbsp

reduced calorie mayonnaise

1 Tbsp

salad dressing (oil type)

2 Tbsp

low calorie salad dressing (oil type)

2 Tbsp

low calorie salad dressing (mayonnaise type)

2 Tbsp

tartar sauce

1 1/2 tsp

 

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake:

  • commercially prepared gravy
  • gravy mixes
  • bacon fat

Remember, fats are a substantial source of calories. Some people may need additional calories and should therefore use fats freely. Those who need to lose weight should use fats sparingly. 

 

 Fruit

One serving contains virtually no protein or sodium

One serving equals:

fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or fruit juice

1/2 cup

dried fruit

1/4 cup

 

 Meat and Meat Substitutes

One serving contains 7 gm protein, 25 mg sodium.

One serving equals: 

lean beef

1 oz

chicken

1 oz

fish

1 oz

lamb

1 oz

fresh pork

1 oz

low-sodium tuna

1/4 cup

turkey

1 oz

veal

1 oz

egg

1

peanut butter*

2 Tbsp

kidney beans

1/4 cup dry

soybeans

1/2 cup

garbanzo beans*

1/2 cup

lentils

1/2 cup

low-sodium cheese*

1 oz

Avoid the following if you are also reducing sodium intake:

  • bacon
  • cold cuts (bologna, salami, loaf-type luncheon meats, or processed meats)
  • corned beef
  • ham
  • sausage
  • low-salt ham or cold cuts
  • hot dogs, chicken dogs
  • turkey ham, turkey bologna
  • regular canned tuna
  • regular TV dinners (special low-sodium dinners may be acceptable -- check protein content)
  • cottage cheese
  • processed cheeses such as American, Velveeta, cheese spreads
  • canned kidney beans

*higher in sodium

 

Breads, Starches, Cereals, and Desserts

One serving contains 2 gm protein, 80 mg sodium 42

One serving equals: 

Breads 

white, wheat

1 slice

rye or pumpernickel

1 slice

Italian or French bread

1 slice

dinner roll

1

croissant

1

pita pocket

1

hamburger roll

1/2

hot dog roll

1/2

bagel

1/2

English muffin

1/2

biscuit

1

doughnut

1

muffin

1

unsalted breadsticks

2

Melba toast

4 slices

unsalted crackers

4

unsalted pretzels

4

unsalted potato chips

15 chips

rice cakes

2

Starches, cooked

noodles, macaroni, pasta

1/2 cup

rice

1/2 cup

unsalted popcorn

1 1/2 cups

homemade bread filling

1/2 cup

potatoes

1/2 cup or 1 medium

pancake (homemade)

1 medium

Cereals

unsalted cooked cereal (cream of wheat, cream of rice, oatmeal, Farina)

1/2 cup

ready-to-eat cereal*

3/4 cup

shredded wheat

1 biscuit

*may be high in sodium

Cakes, Pastries, and Desserts

cake

1 piece (2 1/2" square)

coffee cake

1 piece

Danish

1 piece

fruit pie

1 slice (1/6 of 9" pie)

cookies

1 medium

granola bars

1

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake:

  • instant hot cereals
  • cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Total, Wheaties
  • salted snack crackers, pretzels, potato chips
  • packaged noodles, pasta, rice, or potato mixes
  • stuffing mixes
  • pancake mixes
  • baking mixes
  • croissants, rolls, biscuits made from commercially packaged refrigerator dough
  • waffles

Special low-protein pasta, bread, crackers, cookies, and baking mixes are available. A dietitian can discuss these with you. 

 

Vegetables

One serving contains 1 gm protein, 15 mg sodium

One serving equals:

fresh, frozen, or low-salt canned vegetables

1/2 cup

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake:

  • canned vegetables
  • sauerkraut
  • pickles
  • canned tomato juice or vegetable juice
  • canned or bottled tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce

 

Milk Products

One serving contains 4 gm protein, 80 mg sodium

One serving equals:

whole, low-fat, or skim milk

1/2 cup

homemade pudding

1/2 cup

ice milk, ice cream

1/2 cup

yogurt, plain or fruit flavored

1/2 cup

sherbet

1 cup

sour cream

4 Tbsp

cream cheese

3 Tbsp

light cream or half & half

1/2 cup

The following may be used as a milk substitute:

One serving contains 1.0 gm protein, 40 mg sodium

liquid non-dairy cream, polyunsaturated

1/2 cup

dessert, non-dairy frozen

1/2 cup

dessert topping, non-dairy frozen

1/2 cup

 

Sweets

One serving contains virtually no protein or sodium

One serving equals:

hard candy

4 pieces

gum drops

15 small

Gummi Bears

1 small pouch

jelly beans

10

lollipops

2

marshmallows

5 large

butter mints

14

water ice

1/2 cup

popsicle

3 oz = 1 bar

gelatin

1/2 cup

sugar (brown or white)

2 Tbsp

honey

2 Tbsp

jelly, jam, marmalade

2 Tbsp

Remember, sweets are a source of calories. Some people may need additional calories and should therefore use sweets freely. Those who need to lose weight should use sweets sparingly.

 

Beverages

One serving contains virtually no protein, <50 mg sodium

coffee

fruit juices or fruit drinks

tea

lemonade

soft drinks

mineral water

Avoid milk-based beverages unless counted as part of milk allowance.

Low-Protein Shake Recipe:

marshmallows

4 oz

fruit ice or Italian ice

4 oz

corn syrup

1/4 cup

vegetable oil

1 Tbsp

vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly.

600 calories - 2.5 gm protein - 170 mg sodium

 

Condiments

Recommend:

  • Pepper
  • fresh or dried herbs
  • flavored powders (garlic, onion, etc.)
  • lemon juice
  • vinegar

Avoid:

  • bacon bits
  • barbecue sauce
  • chili sauce
  • cooking wine
  • ketchup
  • meat tenderizers
  • monosodium glutamate
  • prepared mustard
  • regular salad dressings
  • seasoned salt (e.g., celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt)
  • sea salt
  • soy sauce
  • steak sauce
  • tartar sauce

 

Special Low-Protein Products

The following product is low in protein, electrolytes, and fluid, it can be ordered by calling Ross Laboratories at 1-800-986-8502.

  • SUPLENA

The following low-protein products can be ordered by calling Dietary Specialties at (888) 640-2800. or email: [email protected]

  • Low-Protein Bread
  • Low-Protein Crackers & Rusks
  • Low-Protein Cookies
  • Low-Protein Pasta
  • Low-Protein Baking Mix
  • Low-Protein Wheat Starch
  • Low-Protein Gelatin
  • Low-Protein Cracker Toast
  • Low-Protein Cheese Sauce Mix

 

Sample Menu Low Protein

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

  • Cheerios cereal 3/4 cup
  • non-dairy creamer 1/2 cup
  • orange juice 1/2 cup
  • banana 1/2 med
  • white bread 2 slices
  • turkey breast 1 oz
  • lettuce
  • tomato 1/2 cup
  • green beans 1/2 cup
  • mayonnaise 3 tsp
  • apple 1 med
  • fruit punch 4 oz
  • lean hamburger 2 oz
  • white rice 1/2 cup
  • broccoli 1/4 cup
  • cauliflower 1/4 cup
  • tossed salad
  • ranch dressing 2 Tbsp
  • pineapple 1/2 cup

 

Snack

Snack

Snack

  • cherry fruit roll up 1
  • popsicle 1
  • gum drops 1 oz

This Sample Diet Provides the Following

Calories

1476

Fat

48 gm

Protein

39 gm

Sodium

1270 mg

Carbohydrates

237 gm

Potassium

2282 mg

 

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This material does not cover all information and is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Please consult with your physician on any matters regarding your health.

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