Healthy kidneys take wastes out of your urine and blood but leave protein for muscle function. Consuming an ideal amount of protein can help you maintain healthy kidney function and fuel your body for its daily needs. While you want to avoid overworking your kidneys, strive to provide enough protein to aid in muscle sustenance and development.
You should consume about 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight if you have healthy kidney function. For example, a 57-kilogram woman should consume about 57 to 68 grams of protein per day. By consuming this amount, you support your muscles and form lean muscle mass, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Eggs, poultry, beef and legumes are rich in protein, which can help you reach your ideal protein levels.
Too Much Protein
Too much protein in your body can strain your kidneys and cause kidney damage. If you consume more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, you can put yourself at risk of kidney damage due to overworking the kidneys. This may even cause your kidneys to leak protein into your blood and urine. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, an excessive amount of protein being leaked into the urine is a sign of kidney disease.
Too Little Protein
Too little protein also can cause health problems. Fewer than 0.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight can lead to muscle deterioration for those with healthy kidney function. With this small amount, the kidneys will not have enough protein to break down from the foods that you consume. In turn, the kidneys will not be able to deliver protein to your muscles. This can cause muscle weakness, fatigue and multi-system failure. Without enough protein in your body, muscle wasting and malnutrition can occur.
Seeking medical advice about nutrition from your health care professional can help you reach your ideal health goals. Your registered dietitian can help you create a plan that will map out your protein and nutrient goals. In addition, your health care provider can guide you in determining the proper level of protein for healthy kidney function.
Catherine Conrad is a registered dietitian specializing in wellness nutrition. She graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and completed her dietetic residency at Iowa State University. Conrad has written several community nutrition programs. She is also a competitive runner and rower.