Diet Help for Early Stages of Kidney Failure

Oatmeal with pears is good for a kidney failure diet.
Oatmeal with pears is good for a kidney failure diet.. Steve Cohen/Getty Images

Early kidney failure means your kidneys aren't working as well as they should. They're having trouble removing waste products from your blood, and since some of the waste comes from the foods and beverages you consume, you'll need to make some dietary changes. You'll also need to visit with a nutritionist or dietitian who specializes in designing diets for people with kidney disease.

You Need Less Protein

You need protein to build and maintain muscles, organs, and other tissues, but now your kidneys are having trouble removing urea from your blood.

Urea is a waste product of protein metabolism. Reducing your protein intake helps take some of the pressure off your kidneys. High-protein foods include poultry, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, nuts, legumes, and seeds.

Your health care provider will tell you how much protein you can still consume every day. You should be able to meet your needs from foods that are a bit lower in protein such as grains and vegetables.

You Need Less Phosphorus

Your kidneys also have some problems removing excess phosphorus from your blood, which can be bad for your bones when your body takes some of the calcium to balance out the phosphorus. Cut back on high-phosphorus foods such as milk and dairy products, legumes such as dry beans, peanuts, peas and lentils, cocoa, beer and cola.

You Need Less Sodium

Your health care provider might tell you to reduce your sodium and salt intake, especially if you have high blood pressure.

Follow a low-sodium diet by avoiding table salt, salty snack foods, most highly-processed foods, canned vegetables, pickled foods, and processed lunch meat, bacon, and sausage.

Your Calorie Need May Change

Your daily calorie need depends on your current weight. If you're overweight or obese, your dietitian or nutritionist can help you with a low-calorie diet that fits your health needs.

If you need to gain weight, you'll be instructed to increase your caloric intake by adding more carbohydrates and fats to your diet.

Here's a Sample Menu

Take a look at this example of a daily menu that will fit your restricted dietary needs. Purchase a small kitchen scale to weigh out your protein sources.


  • oatmeal with blueberries and honey
  • coffee or tea
  • Midmorning Snack
  • peach or pear


  • a sandwich made with one-ounce chicken or turkey, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise or mustard
  • green beans
  • clear soda, iced tea, or water

Afternoon Snack

  • an apple


  • 3 ounces of ground beef or steak
  • white rice
  • lettuce and vegetable salad with vinegar and olive oil
  • water, iced tea, or clear soda

Nighttime Snack

  • oatmeal cookie

What About Dietary Supplements

Changes in how your kidneys are working combined with the restricted diet increase the possibility of vitamin or mineral deficiencies. You might need to add some dietary supplements to your diet, such as B-complex, vitamins C and D, or iron, but don't take any before speaking with your health care provider.


American Kidney Fund. "Living Well with Chronic Disease." Accessed April 11, 2016.

The National Kidney Foundation. "Nutrition and Chronic Kidney Disease." Accessed April 11, 2016.

The National Kidney Foundation. "Vitamins and Minerals in Kidney Disease." Accessed April 11, 2016.

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