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Kidney Disease: Getting the Right Amount of Protein

Hand holding a deck of cards
One portion (3 to 4 ounces) of fish, chicken, or red meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards.

Your body needs protein to build and repair muscles and bones along with other important body functions. But as the body uses protein, a waste product (blood urea nitrogen or BUN) is made. If your kidneys can’t filter wastes from your blood normally, the BUN level increases. If the level gets too high, you can become sick. Because of this, you need to control the amount of protein you eat each day. Use this handout to help you.

Measuring protein content

You know how many grams of protein to eat, but most food portions are measured in ounces. Use the chart below to help determine the protein content of some common foods.

Protein source

Amount in ounces

Amount in grams

Chicken breast

3 to 4 ounces

21 to 28 grams

Chicken thigh

2 to 2.5 ounces

14 to 18 grams

Fish

3 ounces

21 grams

Pork chop

2 to 2.5 ounces

14 to18 grams

Roast beef

3 ounces

21 grams

Steak

3 to 4 ounces

21 to 28 grams

Hamburger

3 to 4 ounces

21 to 28 grams

Eggs

1 egg

7 grams

Cheese

1 ounce

7 grams

Most beans

4 ounces

7 to 10 grams

Tofu

2 ounces

5 grams

Most nuts

2 ounces

5 to 8 grams

If you eat too much protein

Eating too much protein may cause the following:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Tiredness (fatigue)

  • Mental confusion

  • Increased potassium levels

  • Increased phosphorus levels

  • Increased time on hemodialysis

  • Risk of speeding the loss of kidney function

 

If you eat too little protein

Eating too little protein may cause the following:

  • Muscle loss and weakness

  • Tiredness

  • Weight loss

  • Slower wound healing

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/1/2020
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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