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A low-protein diet benefits individuals with kidney problems like phenylketonuria or kidney disease because it reduces strains.

The body synthesizes a substance known as urea when an individual consumes protein. With malfunctioning kidneys, urea accumulation in the blood suppresses appetite and causes fatigue. The doctors have reported many cases of kidney disorders in recent years. This problem continues to threaten the lives of people for a long period. Everyone who desires good health should have restrictions on the foods consumed. Protein serves essential purposes in the body, but excessive consumption has negative risks. By stipulating vital changes, individuals can prepare a diverse and satisfying low-protein plan that suits them. This article delivers a complete guide to this diet.

Definition of a low-protein diet

This diet allows people to consume foods that reduce protein intake in the body. Averagely, 4-8% of daily calories are needed to meet the requirements of a low-protein diet. This amount can be converted into approximately 20 to 50 g of protein daily based on calories consumed. Average folks are recommended to derive a minimum of 10-15 percent protein from their daily calories. Such an amount might elevate older adults, athletes, and people with specific heart conditions. Your body requires protein, and reducing its consumption can be curative for individuals with certain issues. Particularly, this diet might benefit folks with de-escalated liver or kidney function. Further, it is essential for people with issues affecting protein breakdowns like phenylketonuria and homocystinuria. Nevertheless, following this diet needs sufficient planning to avoid nutritional deficiencies and health complications. In this regard, some downsides and risks should be considered before starting it.

Food to take

Substituting meat with grains and vegetables helps you to lower protein intake. Grains and vegetables form the major body of foods, with an additional protein source. Everybody participating in a low-protein diet receives a large number of their calories from the following foods, which contain low protein.

Low-protein foods

These include:

  • All fruits, excluding dried ones
  • All vegetables, excluding beans, corn, and peas
  • Various healthful fats sources like avocados and olive oil
  • Spices and herbs

Several foods have low protein, which you should take moderately when adding them to your diet. Some of them are jams, butter, jellies, mayonnaise, sugar, coffee and milk without milk, candies not containing gelatin, multiple dressings, and sauces like salad and sauces dressings.

Moderate-protein foods

While following a low-protein diet, you should consume foods containing moderate quantities of protein. Examples include crackers, pasta, bread, oats, rice, corn, and breakfast cereals. Interestingly, some of these products are provided in pharmacies and online.

Who should subscribe to this diet?

The 2015-2020 American Dietary Guidelines recommend that many adults take a minimum of 10 percent of protein from their total daily calories. This diet involves consuming lower proteins than this daily. However, some individuals cannot condone high amounts of this nutrient. In case the body cannot synthesize protein or its garbage, they accumulate and cause symptoms like vomiting and nausea, which might lead to brain impairment. Adopting a low-protein diet lowers the chances of negative health impacts for such individuals. Medical professionals might prescribe that individuals having the health conditions below follow this type of diet:

Diabetic nephropathy

Some reviews of various studies claim that this diet might boost diabetic nephropathy symptoms, which means diabetes-caused kidney destruction. However, the study did not reveal negative diet effects like worsening different diabetic symptoms.

Kidney disease

By lowering protein consumption, individuals with kidney problems and not undergoing dialysis can lower kidney stress and inhibit the accumulation of urea in the blood vessels. The body makes urea during protein digestion. In healthy people, urea is eliminated via the urine without complications. Nonetheless, urea accrues in the blood when the kidney malfunctions and results in symptoms like fatigue, suppressed appetite, and nausea. Another study of 17 studies conducted in 2018 found that reduced protein consumption delays the advanced kidney failure progress. Medical doctors recommend that restricting protein intake elongates the period required for dialysis. In this regard, people already undergoing dialysis diagnosis should avoid following an extremely low-protein diet.


This disorder condition is rare and occurs when the body fails to synthesize enzymes required to break down phenylalanine amino acids. For an individual with PKU, consuming protein-rich diets might cause body accumulation of phenylalanine. In case PKU-infected people are not treated, the condition might cause intellectual disability and various neurologic symptoms like seizures, poor coordination, and hyperactivity. The major PKU diagnosis is an extremely low-protein diet. Folks with this condition should take a minimum quantity of phenylalanine essential for development and healthy growth.


This innate complication affects the body’s potential to process another amino acid called methionine. An accumulation of methionine affects bone health and vision negatively. A remedy to this problem is following this diet.

A low-protein diet health aids

Some researchers claims that this diet offers certain benefits without causing kidney problems. Further, they explain that limiting protein intake lowers the chances of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in people with middle-age. Another published journal showed that protein-low diets rich in carbohydrates might lower cognitive decline and improve brain health, although it was limited. Some studies also indicated that high carbohydrate and low-protein diets might help elevate an individual’s lifespan, like conforming to a calorie-limited diet, possibly due to the benefits of digestion and heart health.

Foods to be shunned

Protein is vital in the body, thus people following a low-protein diet should take a particular quantity to maintain body health. Nevertheless, foods rich in protein contributes to a minute portion of the daily intake of calorie. Everybody following this diet should avoid or restrict meat, eggs, poultry, shellfish, and gelatin intake. Soy foods like tempeh, peas, beans, and dairy.


Since protein is important for health, you should seek advice from a dietitian or a doctor before limiting the intake of this nutrient to less than 10% of daily consumed calories. Individuals should limit protein consumption to this level only when the doctor directs so. Subscribing to a low-protein diet needs good arrangements, or else it can cause nutritional problems and various health disorders like poor immune system and muscle loss. However, this diet does not favor everyone. For instance, older adults should consume more amount. Moreover, conforming to this diet can challenge many people, but a low-protein diet is satisfying and healthful with better arrangements.

Charlotte Cremers