Proteins are known as the building blocks of life. Protein is needed for all the body functions and helping to maintain and grow body tissues. It is important that we meet our daily protein needs to achieve good health. You may have high protein needs if you are on dialysis, or you may need to limit your daily protein intake if you have CKD and are not yet on dialysis.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products are high quality protein. At least two-thirds of your total protein intake should be from these sources if you are on dialysis. Dairy like milk, yogurt and cheese needs to be limited as it is higher in potassium and phosphorus. Vegetable and grain products like beans or legumes, nuts, lentils and soy are lower quality proteins and may make up the rest of your total protein intake. If you have CKD, eating more plant-based proteins may be easier for your kidneys to handle.

However, some plant proteins are higher in potassium and may need to be limited.

Each of these is equal to one serving or ounce, or 7 grams of protein:

  • 1 oz. beef, lamb, pork, poultry or fish
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter 
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cooked dried beans, peas or lentils 
  • ¼ cup egg substitute
  • 4 oz. tofu
  • 1 oz. or 5 medium shrimp
  • 1 oz natural cheese (Swiss, Cheddar, etc.)
  • ¼ cup meat, fish, lobster or clams
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese 

If you are unable to meet protein needs by eating foods, a variety of protein supplements are available. Check with your dietitian to see which supplements may be best for you.