The Power of Protein: How to Meet Dialysis Patients' Protein Needs with Food


Dialysis removes waste from the bloodstream, which includes protein waste. Thus, an individual on dialysis requires more protein to make up for what is removed from the blood. The amount of protein each person requires depends on how much they weigh, so it’s best to speak with your physician or dietitian.

As with any healthy diet, it’s beneficial for dialysis patients to get their daily protein intake from a variety of sources. Both animal- and plant-based proteins offer different nutrients and amino acids (the building blocks of protein). A varied diet ensures your body gets all the nutrients it needs, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fats.

Animal-based Proteins

Animal protein sources, such as chicken breast, lean beef, eggs, dairy, pork, and fish, are generally high in protein and easy for the body to absorb. However, be aware of saturated fat, sodium, and phosphorus content in these protein sources. For example, many processed meats (such as sausages, bacon, and deli meat) and dairy products are high in phosphorus.

Plant-based Proteins

Protein is in many plant-based foods, from whole grains to beans. Generally, beans, legumes, and soy are rich in protein and can be part of your dialysis diet. However, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and some vegetables also contain protein (a smaller percentage, but it all adds up!). Plant-based protein sources are also generally high in fiber and low in sodium and saturated fats, contributing to a healthy diet.

If your diet is more heavily dependent on animal-based protein sources, try incorporating a few plant-based proteins into your meals throughout the week. Plant-based proteins are generally less inflammatory than animal-based proteins, which helps to improve disease symptoms and overall health. offers a variety of both vegetarian and omnivore dialysis-friendly meals, taking the effort out of meal prep and providing a quality source of protein in each meal.

Patients with chronic kidney disease need to limit their protein. However, that is no longer necessary once you are on dialysis, as the treatment will remove the protein waste from the bloodstream. Thus, it’s essential to eat enough protein to maintain strength and energy levels. If you aren’t sure how much protein you need, speak with your physician about a meal plan.