I have about 50% kidney function – damaged by years of anti-inflammatory medications. I am trying to lose weight (35 pounds would be great) and build muscle. My body fat is about 31% and I am now a 63-year-old female. I have heard conflicting information about how much protein I should have to protect my kidneys but yet allow me to build muscle. And if a supplement would help – which kind? –Kathy
With renal issues, I must defer to your physician’s input as to the protein load you can handle. He or she can monitor your lab values, such as GFR (glomerular filtration rate) and urine albumin, that show current kidney functioning.
My best advice would be to focus on increasing physical activity to burn more fat. This should also keep blood pressure in check which is imperative for preserving kidney function. As far as diet goes, first you have to reduce your sodium intake if you’ve not already done so. This is because unhealthy kidneys let sodium and fluid build up in the body.
For weight loss, avoid fried foods and added sugars, limit alcohol, refined flour and animal fats, and strive for a higher fiber intake. Eating a more plant-based diet usually achieves these. You don’t need to become a vegetarian, just incorporate more whole grains, beans, fish, and produce while you cut back on processed food that is usually laden with starch and fat.
As for supplements geared toward weight loss, you should be wary of taking anything herbal, as some preparations are contaminated with heavy metals and a handful are suspected to contribute to renal dysfunction. Even your multivitamin/mineral should be mild, at no more than 100% RDAs. Unless otherwise directed by your physician, you should not take a protein supplement; you should get your protein from solid food.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
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