Low Protein Diet: Benefits, Side Effects, And More

Medically reviewed by Maria Sarino, MD FACT CHECKED

Your daily intake of protein is restricted by the low-protein diet. If you have issues with your liver or kidneys, you might need to eat in this manner.

Your liver aids with protein digestion. The waste products of protein digestion are removed by the kidneys. These organs would have to work harder to process the protein you consume if they are not functioning properly.

Your blood may become clogged with waste materials if you consume more protein than your body may use. Fatigue and a lack of hunger would result from this.

Eating in this manner could delay your need for dialysis for up to a year if you have chronic renal failure. You might also need to make further adjustments if you have kidney failure.

These may be restricted in terms of hydration, salt, potassium, and phosphorus. Food sources for protein include both plants and animals. We get full proteins from animal products, which are higher in protein.

All of the amino acids that our bodies require for survival and that we must obtain from the food we eat are present in complete proteins.

Plant-based foods provide less protein and give us insufficient protein. You should include both types of protein in your diet. Today, we will be looking at a low-protein diet.

Low Protein Diet

Any diet in which protein consumption is decreased is referred to as a low-protein diet. A low-protein diet may be advised for anyone with renal or liver illness.

In any case, a particularly low-protein diet should only be followed with a doctor’s approval. Although necessary, protein may be problematic for sick individuals.

To maintain a healthy physique, one needs protein. Urea is created as a waste product during the liver’s digestion and protein metabolism. The metabolism of food is hampered by liver disease.

Urea builds up in the bloodstream and causes anorexia and weariness if the kidneys, which are in charge of excreting urea, are not working correctly, or if excessive levels of protein are consistently consumed in the diet. The strain on these organs would be lessened by a diet low in protein.

It is typical for people with severe liver and renal illness to also need to limit their salt and sodium consumption because of their high blood pressure or fluid retention.

Therefore, a further component of the low-protein diet should be limiting table salt, which is the main source of sodium in the diet, as well as other foods with high sodium content.

Benefits Of Low Protein Diet

For people with renal disease, a low-protein diet has various scientifically confirmed advantages.

A low-protein diet has been demonstrated to lower protein in the urine, improve cholesterol and lipid levels, and even improve glucose management for those with diabetes and early-stage CKD.

Urea is a significant problem for many individuals with kidney disease. A low-protein diet lowers the amount of urea created by protein metabolism.

To protect the kidneys, this could then reduce blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. Additionally, it has been demonstrated that a low-protein diet may lower blood pressure when combined with a low-sodium diet.

Here are some of the main benefits of low protein diet:

  1. Increases Longevity

    Animal protein in particular affects protein metabolism and strains your organs.

    Foods low in protein and amino acids have been linked to longer lifespans, better metabolic health, and lower prevalence rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

  1. May Reduce Uric Acid Production

    A low-protein diet is crucial for the management of excruciating gout.  A study on diabetic rats on a low-protein diet revealed a substantial decrease in uric acid production.

  1. Could Combat Kidney Problems

    It’s crucial to follow a low-protein diet to give your kidneys a break and stop the buildup of toxins in your body.

    When you consume more protein than you need each day, your liver converts the extra protein into urea, which strains your kidneys.

    To remove the urea load, your kidneys must operate around the clock. Your kidneys may soon become overworked and unable to digest proteins. As a result, urea builds up in the body, having harmful effects.

Side Effects Of Low Protein Diet

  1. Weight Loss

    A low-protein diet may have adverse effects if it is not carefully managed by medical professionals.

    There is a chance of not getting adequate calories when protein intake is reduced. Consequently, accidental weight loss may result.

  1. Muscle Loss

    Muscle loss could occur when weight reduction occurs too quickly or in a hazardous way. Increased inflammation represents another concern. Not getting enough calories in your diet or muscle breakdown may be the reason for this.

  1. Poor Blood Sugar Management

    A diet abundant in protein is essential for good glucose management. As a result, poor blood sugar regulation may result from a low-protein diet.

  1. Kidney Disease

    A low-protein diet may affect your kidneys, just like a diet very high in protein does. Therefore, there goes a saying, too much of anything is never good for our health.

    Animal products need to be typically avoided or severely limited on low-protein diets. As a result, a diet deficient in protein may result in anemia, one of the early indications and symptoms of kidney disease.

Who Should Follow Low Protein Diet?

For those who have a chronic renal disease that is in its late stages, stages 4 or 5, a low-protein diet is typically advised.

Other dietary strategies, such as a plant-based diet, frequently have excellent outcomes in preserving and optimizing renal function for persons with earlier stages of kidney disease.

It may be difficult to cut back on protein while still obtaining enough calories, especially given that the majority of Americans habitually consume far more protein than they require.

With the correct education, though, it is feasible and sustainable. A licensed dietician who is knowledgeable about this dietary approach could assist you to learn how to follow it successfully.

Conclusion

You consume a lot of calories from protein in your typical diet. On this diet, leaving out a significant amount of protein from your meals raises the possibility that you are not getting enough calories. 

In the case of chronic renal illness, in particular, this is not necessarily beneficial or safe. Protein catabolism, or when the body starts utilizing the protein in your muscles for energy, is a condition brought on by not getting enough calories, and it affects everyone.

To guarantee that enough calories are consumed to maintain a healthy weight and prevent muscle loss or malnutrition, it is crucial to balance the reduction of protein with an increase in other nutrients.

People who desire to follow a low-protein diet should discuss this strategy with their doctor and dietician. This method may be able to significantly postpone the need for dialysis in patients with stage 4 or stage 5 renal disease, as well as those who have high levels of proteinuria.

Many of the drawbacks of this type of diet may be avoided with professional coaching, such as maintaining consistency, avoiding malnutrition and extreme weight loss, and discovering foods you enjoy.

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