Low Protein - Digestive Disease Center
Digestive Disease Center (845) 452-9800
 
 
 

Low Protein

Purpose

Protein is a nutrient needed by the body for normal growth, wound healing, and the ability to fight infection. People with severe kidney or liver disease often must limit the amount of protein they eat because their bodies cannot use the protein properly. Dangerous waste products can build up in the blood from eating too much protein.

The major food sources of protein are:

Highest Amount of protein

  • Meat, fish, poultry, eggs
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter

Small Amount of Protein

  • Vegetables
  • Starches such as breads, cereals, and pasta (the protein in these foods is of poorer but still good quality)

Trace Amount of Protein

  • Fruits
  • Fats
  • Sugars

Nutrition Facts

For the healthy person, between 40-60 grams of protein are needed each day to achieve and maintain good health. This, of course, will depend on the weight and health of an individual. A person recovering from an illness or injury often needs more. It is satisfactory to eat less than this amount for a short period of time, depending on health and diet objectives. If you are instructed to begin a low protein diet, discuss with your physician the maximum amount of protein permitted. Use the following tables to calculate the amount of protein in your diet.

Special Considerations

  1. Protein is never completely eliminated from the diet. The physician and dietitian can determine how much protein the body is able to handle. However, since the amount of protein is limited, it is important to eat foods that contain high quality protein (meat, milk, fish, poultry, eggs, and peanut butter). These proteins are complete. They contain all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein). Even though the protein in vegetables and starches is incomplete, it is still important to include these foods in a daily meal plan for a well-balanced diet.
  2. Salt and Sodium: Many people with serious kidney or liver disease may also need to limit salt or sodium intake because of high blood pressure or fluid retention. The greatest source of sodium in the diet is table salt. Therefore, the first step in reducing sodium intake is to limit the use of table salt. Certain other foods have a high sodium content and will also need to be limited.

Fats

One Serving Contains: virtually no protein, 55 mg sodium
One Serving Equals:

  • regular butter or margarine- 1 tsp
  • mayonnaise- 1 tsp
  • vegetable oil- 1 tsp
  • gravy- 1 tbs
  • reduced calorie margarine-1 tbs
  • reduced calorie mayonnaise-1 tbs
  • salad dressing (oil type)-2 tbs
  • low calorie salad dressing (oil type)-2 tbs
  • low calorie salad dressing (mayonnaise type)-2 tbs
  • tartar sauce-1 1/2 tbs

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake: commercially prepared gravy, gravy mixes, bacon fat Remember, fats are a substantial source of calories. Some people may need additional calories and should therefore use fats freely. Those who need to lose weight should use fats sparingly.

Fruits

One serving contains virtually no protein or sodium
One Serving Equals:

fresh, frozen, or canned fruit or fruit juice- 1/2 cup

dried fruit- 1/4 cup

Meat & Meat Substitutes

One serving contains 7 gm protein, 25 mg sodium.
One Serving Equals

  • lean beef- 1oz
  • chicken- 1oz
  • fish- 1oz
  • lamb- 1oz
  • fresh pork- 1oz
  • low-sodium tuna- 1.4 cup
  • turkey- 1oz
  • veal- 1oz
  • egg- 1
  • peanut butter*- 2 tbs
  • kidney beans- 1/4 cup dry
  • soybeans- 1/2 cup
  • garbanzo beans*- 1/2 cup
  • lentils- 1/2 cup
  • low-sodium cheese*- 1oz

Avoid the following if you are also reducing sodium intake:

  • bacon
  • cold cuts (bologna, salami, loaf-type luncheon meats, or processed meats)
  • corned beef
  • ham
  • sausage
  • low-salt ham or cold cuts
  • hot dogs, chicken dogs
  • turkey ham, turkey bologna
  • regular canned tuna
  • regular TV dinners (special low-sodium dinners may be acceptable — check protein content)
  • cottage cheese
  • processed cheeses such as American, Velveeta, cheese spreads
  • canned kidney beans

* higher in sodium

Breads, Starches, Cereals, and Desserts

One serving contains 2 gm protein, 80 mg sodium 42

Breads– One Serving Equals

  • white, wheat- 1 slice
  • rye or pumpernickel- 1 slice
  • Italian or French bread- 1 slice
  • dinner roll- 1
  • croissant- 1
  • pita pocket- 1
  • hamburger roll- 1/2
  • hot dog roll- 1/2
  • bagel- 1/2
  • English muffin- 1/2
  • biscuit- 1
  • doughnut- 1
  • muffin- 1
  • unsalted breadsticks- 2
  • Melba toast- 4 slices
  • unsalted crackers- 4
  • unsalted pretzels- 4
  • unsalted potato chips- 15 chips
  • rice cakes- 2

 

 

Starches, cooked– One Serving Equals

  • noodles, macaroni, pasta- 1/2 cup
  • rice- 1/2 cup
  • unsalted popcorn- 1 1/2 cup
  • homemade bread filling- 1/2 cup
  • potatoes- 1/2 cup or 1 medium
  • pancake (homemade)- 1 medium
Cereals– One Serving Equals

  • unsalted cooked cereal (cream of wheat, cream of rice, oatmeal, Farina)- 1/2 cup
  • ready-to-eat cereal*- 3/4 cup
  • shredded wheat- 1 biscuit
  • *may be high in sodium
Cakes, Pastries, Dessert– One Serving Equals

  • cake- 1 piece (2 1/2” square)
  • coffee cake- 1 piece
  • Danish- 1 piece
  • fruit pie- 1 slice ( 1/6 of 9” pie)
  • cookies- 1 medium
  • granola bars- 1

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake:

  • instant hot cereals
  • cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Total, Wheaties
  • salted snack crackers, pretzels, potato chips
  • packaged noodles, pasta, rice, or potato mixes
  • stuffing mixes
  • pancake mixes
  • baking mixes
  • croissants, rolls, biscuits made from commercially packaged refrigerator dough
  • waffles

Special low-protein pasta, bread, crackers, cookies, and baking mixes are available. A dietitian can discuss these with you.

Vegetables

One serving contains 1 gm protein, 15 mg sodium
One Serving Equals

fresh, frozen, or low-salt canned vegetables- 1/2 cup

Avoid the following if you are reducing sodium intake:

  • canned vegetables
  • sauerkraut
  • pickles
  • canned tomato juice or vegetable juice
  • canned or bottled tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce

Milk Products

One serving contains 4 gm protein, 80 mg sodium
One Serving Equals

  • whole, lowfat, or skim milk- 1/2 cup
  • homemade pudding- 12 cup
  • ice milk, ice cream- 1/2 cup
  • yogurt, plain or fruit flavored- 1/2 cup
  • sherbet- 1 cup
  • sour cream- 4 tbs
  • cream cheese- 3 tbs
  • light cream or
  • half & half 1/2 cup
  • The following may be used as a milk substitute:
    One serving contains 1.0 gm protein, 40 mg sodium
  • liquid non-dairy cream, polyunsaturated – 1/2 cup
  • dessert, non-dairy frozen – 1/2 cup
  • dessert topping, non-dairy frozen – 1/2 cup

 

Sweets

One serving contains virtually no protein or sodium

  • hard candy- 4 pieces
  • gum drops- 15 small
  • Gummi Bears- 1 small pouch
  • jelly beans- 10
  • lollipops- 2
  • marshmallows- 5 large
  • butter mints- 14
  • water ice- 1/2 cup
  • popsicle- 3 oz=1 bar
  • gelatin- 1/2 cup
  • sugar (brown or white)- 2 tbs
  • honey- 2 tbs
  • jelly, jam, marmalade- 2 tbs

 

Remember, sweets are a source of calories. Some people may need additional calories and should therefore use sweets freely. Those who need to lose weight should use sweets sparingly.

Beverages

One serving contains virtually no protein, <50 mg sodium

  • coffee
  • tea
  • soft drinks
  • fruit juices or fruit drinks
  • lemonade
  • mineral water

Avoid milk-based beverages unless counted as part of milk allowance.

  • Low-Protein Shake Recipe:
  • marshmallows- 4 oz
  • fruit ice or Italian ice- 4 oz
  • corn syrup- 1/4 cup
  • vegetable oil- 1 tbs
  • vanilla ice cream- 1/2 cup

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix thoroughly.
600 calories – 2.5 gm protein – 170 mg sodium

Condiments

Recommend:

  • pepper
  • fresh or dried herbs
  • flavored powders (garlic, onion, etc.)
  • lemon juice
  • vinegar

Avoid:

  • bacon bits
  • barbecue sauce
  • chili sauce
  • cooking wine
  • ketchup
  • meat tenderizers
  • monosodium glutamate
  • prepared mustard
  • regular salad dressings
  • seasoned salt (e.g., celery salt, garlic salt, onion salt)
  • sea salt
  • soy sauce
  • steak sauce
  • tartar sauce

Special Low-Protein Products

The following product is low in protein, electrolytes, and fluid, it can be ordered by calling
Ross Laboratories at 1-800-986-8502.

  • SUPLENA

The following low-protein products can be ordered by calling Dietary Specialities at (888) 640-2800. or email: info@dietspec.com

  • Low-Protein Bread
  • Low-Protein Crackers & Rusks
  • Low-Protein Cookies
  • Low-Protein Pasta
  • Low-Protein Baking Mix
  • Low-Protein Wheat Starch
  • Low-Protein Gelatin
  • Low-Protein Cracker Toast
  • Low-Protein Cheese Sauce Mix

Sample Menu Low Protein

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Cheerios cereal 3/4 cup
  • non-dairy creamer 1/2 cup
  • orange juice 1/2 cup
  • banana 1/2 med
  • white bread 2 slices
  • turkey breast 1 oz
  • lettuce
  • tomato 1/2 cup
  • green beans 1/2 cup
  • mayonnaise 3 tsp
  • apple 1 med
  • fruit punch 4 oz
  • lean hamburger 2 oz
  • white rice 1/2 cup
  • broccoli 1/4 cup
  • cauliflower 1/4 cup
  • tossed salad
  • ranch dressing 2 Tbsp
  • pineapple 1/2 cup
Snack Snack Snack
  • cherry fruit roll up 1
  • popsicle 1
  • gum drops 1 oz

This Sample Diet Provides the Following

Calories Fat Protein
1476 48 gm 39 gm
Sodium Carbohydrates Potassium
1270 mg 237 gm 0