Why a Renal Diet?


This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.

This article has been written reviewed by Dietetics Student, Amanda Verheydt. 


Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) affects more than 1 in 7 adults in the United States. CKD happens when the kidneys cannot properly filter waste out of the body.

Two of the main causes of this disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. CKD relies on monitoring nutrition to help the body function properly and prevent more complications.

A renal diet is geared to aid people with chronic kidney disease in stages 3 and 4. A renal diet monitors certain nutrients in the diet, specifically sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein.

But why these nutrients?

What foods can they be found in and how can they be monitored?


This is a mineral needed by the body for nerve and muscle function. It is found in many foods and known to increase overall flavor. Limiting sodium on a renal diet is important because consuming too much sodium may cause fluid build up in the body. Some major sources of sodium include: packaged and processed foods, deli meats, bread, and cheese.

Here are some ways to manage sodium intake:

  • Avoid cooking with added salt
  • Choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned
  • Check labels for the amount of sodium in the product (limit to 1500mg of sodium daily)


This is another mineral needed by the body for muscle contraction and regulation of blood pressure. Potassium is regulated by the kidneys and with CKD this function is compromised. It is important to monitor potassium on a renal diet because too much potassium can lead to irregular heart beat, heart attack, and death. Potassium is mostly found in leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, avocado, bananas, beans, nuts, and dairy foods.

Some ways to manage potassium intake include:

  • Limiting milk and dairy
  • Choosing fruits and vegetables low in potassium such as, berries, grapes, watermelon, peaches, onion, cucumber, kale, green beans, and eggplant.


A mineral that is needed for bone health. Phosphorus is needed in the body but requires the kidneys to remove any excess amount. With kidney disease, this mineral is hard to filter out and leads to high phosphorus levels. This can lead to calcium deposits in the lungs and blood vessels. Phosphorus is mostly found in meat, cheese, milk, soda, seeds, and some fish. The best way to monitor phosphorus levels, under 1200 mg/day.

Foods low in phosphorus:

  • 3 oz of skinless turkey or chicken
  • 3 oz of shrimp, crab, or tuna
  • Choosing light wheat breads
  • Couscous, egg noodles, and rice noodles
  • Fruits and vegetables


Protein is one of the main nutrients our bodies need. Protein is found all throughout the body, it is in our skin, bones, muscles, and more. Protein helps to carry oxygen throughout the body. Protein comes in many different forms, such as animal or plant based. Animal proteins include: beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and eggs

Plant-based proteins include:

  • Tofu
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts
  • Tempeh
  • Lentils

Protein is important to monitor on a renal diet because damaged kidneys are unable to remove excess from the body and protein gets into the blood.

How to manage protein intake with a renal diet:

  • Protein requirements change depending on the stage of CKD, get in contact with a renal dietitian for the best support

Performance Kitchen Crafted’s renal health meal plan can help you monitor all of these levels and keep you feeling good through chronic kidney disease.

Check out our renal safe meals or schedule a free consultation with one of our registered dietitians for more information and help selecting a meal plan that is best for your needs.