6 Weight Loss Tips For Sufferers Of Kidney Disease

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on June 26, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

Weight loss is hard enough, but it has proven to be even harder when you are battling a serious health issue, such as chronic kidney disease is, for example. There are multiple reasons why losing those extra body pounds is important once you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, and all of them have very little to do when it comes to your body image. Losing weight has proven to improve the quality of life and enhance health among patients with chronic kidney disease. That is why in the following article we will share six quite effective weight loss tips that every chronic kidney disease patient should follow.

a man holding his stomach

Why is losing weight important for chronic kidney disease patients?

The term “chronic kidney disease” is used to refer to a lasting condition in which the kidneys suffer progressive damage that worsens over time. If the damage is too big, the kidneys can stop working, putting your life in danger (1). If your kidneys do fail, you will be in need of dialysis or a kidney transplant to continue living.

There are a lot of known causes for kidney disease, starting from diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease being the most common ones. Diabetes and hypertension are suggested to be the most common ones. Diabetes, especially diabetes type 2, commonly occurs along with hypertension, causing serious damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys. Although it might take a couple of years for the damage to finally destroy the blood vessels in the kidneys and cause chronic kidney disease to occur, the final results are inevitable, if not treated in time.

If you look into these cases, you will find that in most cases, they occur as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle with not enough physical activity, an unhealthy diet filled with too much fast food, sugars, fats, and too little vitamins and minerals, smoking, taking drugs, and excessive drinking are all factors that add up to the development of chronic kidney disease that can potentially end your life. If the individual that has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease does not eliminate all of these factors as soon as possible, he is only adding up to the risk of kidney failure and death.

A study published in the Clinical Journal of American Society of Nephrology has explored and offered a clear proof for obesity increases the risk of both chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease among other health risks (2). In addition, another study published back in 2012 showed that losing any extra body weight has helped individuals with chronic kidney disease reduce their proteinuria (3). That is why it is of essential importance for these people to lose extra body weight and eliminate their unhealthy habits as a way to fight, but also prevent, chronic kidney disease and increase their chances of survival.

What makes losing weight so hard for chronic kidney disease patients?

We made the conclusion that losing weight is of essential importance for chronic kidney disease patients. However, most of these patients often face difficulties while trying to lose their extra weight. For most of them, it is hard to make the transition from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthier one that will improve their chances of survival. It is not uncommon for the elimination of unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and exercising too little, to go without any troubles. Then, there are a lot of chronic kidney disease medications that ultimately lead to weight gain.

If your medication has been causing you to gain unwanted weight, you can talk to your doctor about the possibility to switch to another one. But that is not all that adds to the weight gain in these patients.

In individuals with healthy kidneys, their kidneys remove the excess fluid from their bodies by producing a healthy amount of fluid. However, when the kidneys have been affected by chronic kidney disease, they are unable to produce enough urine to remove the excess fluid which leads to fluid retention and the so-called fluid weight. Fluid weight is the weight that is gained between dialysis treatments due to the inability of the diseased kidneys to remove the fluid themselves.

The fluid retention is a lasting weight gain problem for chronic kidney disease patients which in most cases leads to disappointment. Despite the fact that you are doing everything right, you still might not lose the wanted weight, and that is all because your kidneys are not able to remove the excess fluid from your body. That fluid weight will surely show on the scale, making you feel as if your weight loss methods are not working.

Try these six weight loss tips if you struggle with chronic kidney disease!

Try a low-protein diet

For a person with healthy kidneys, very little proteins are to be found eliminated through urine. However, a person struggling with chronic kidney disease, struggles with proteinuria as well, which means that excess proteins are getting eliminated through urine. Eating too many proteins, even the normal recommended amount for a healthy individual can put extra stress on your kidneys. This can actually cause your condition to worsen faster than anticipated. But that does not mean that you should avoid proteins altogether. If you eliminate proteins from your diet completely, you are risking to cause malnutrition to occur.

A low-protein diet, with the daily intake of around 37-41 gr of protein, can help you maintain healthily, and protect your kidneys at the same time. The trick is to keep eating proteins, however in much smaller amounts than you normally do. Choosing the best protein-sources that will satisfy your protein needs most efficiently can help as well. We would recommend leaning on dairy products, eggs, chicken, and fish, for the best results (4).

Give the low-fat diets a chance

A low-fat diet is thought to be quite effective when it comes to weight loss, but also, keeping our bodies healthy and satisfied. When you are trying to lose weight, you have to watch out your fat intake as too much fat can lead to weight gain, and worsen your condition, but too little can lead to muscle mass loss, which is in no way good for your body either.

In addition, anyone who is struggling with fatty kidneys should be definitely looking into the option to reduce their fat intake, as they are struggling with serious hyperlipidemia, which is linked to many life-threatening risks.

One way to keep your body’s fat requirements satisfied and protect our kidneys at the same time is by following a low-fat diet. A low-diet will help you maintain your lipid levels within the healthy ranges while satisfying your body’s needs at the same time. Eat a variety of low-fat foods to gain the essential nutrients, and limit your lean meats, fish, and poultry to 5-6 ounces per day (5).

Start moving

Regular physical activity has been estimated to have far too many beneficial effects for your body and mind for you to ignore. In fact, it is truly the lack of physical activity, among other factors, that has gotten you to this point, has it not?

Physical activity will help you lose weight, build lean and strong muscles, and strengthen your heart, lungs, and kidneys, among other beneficial effects. You should include at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five times a week, for the ultimate results in your weekly schedule. With the help of regular physical activity, you will be able to influence the greatest risk factors of chronic kidney disease as well as fight the chronic kidney disease itself (6, 7).

Avoid salt as much as possible

Salt normally causes fluid retention to happen. However, the healthy kidneys are able to overcome the fluid retention and still get rid of the excess fluid through urine. So the last thing that a chronic kidney disease patient needs is salt to cause additional fluid retention. In addition, less salt in your diet means a lower risk of high blood pressure, which you should always tend to reach when you are struggling with chronic kidney disease.

Remember to avoid salt as much as possible. Buy fresh, seasonal foods instead of processed, packed foods that come with loads of added salt. Instead of salt, use the variety of fresh spices to improve the taste of your meals. Understand that salt is not your friend in this case, and as long as your kidneys require your help, you have to keep your salt intake as low as possible (8).

Eliminate your unhealthy habits

Excessive drinking, smoking, and taking drugs are bad habits that have no positive effects on your body and mind. There are multiple reasons why you would need to remove these habits from your life right away, with one of them being a way to protect your kidneys.

These bad habits add to the risk of chronic kidney disease and enhance the damage that is being done once chronic kidney disease occurs. By removing these unhealthy habits from your lifestyle, you will act to reduce the damage to your kidneys, your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, lung cancer and much more.

Choose healthy snacks

Dieting does not mean that you have to struggle with the feelings of hunger continuously. And yet, it is not uncommon for people who are trying to lose weight to battle the annoying feeling of hunger trying to keep on track with their diet.

Keep away from any diets that teach you that feeling hungry is okay. A diet is not supposed to make you battle hunger for hours long. It simply means that you should plan your meals better and choose your snacks wisely. A lot of the so-called healthy snacks are actually packed with lots of fats, sugars, and salt – all of which you should keep on minimum to improve your health. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and homemade granola bars are the best snacks to find laying around.


Chronic kidney disease is known to cause quite the serious health issues, most of them being potentially life-threatening, and the same goes with the factors that have led to the development of chronic kidney disease in the first place. Weight loss has proven to be one quite effective method for managing the symptoms and progression of chronic kidney disease. With the hopes of helping you improve the quality of your life, today we have shared six amazing weight loss tips, which in fact are tips that every chronic kidney disease patient should follow, as a way to preserve his/her health and wellbeing.


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