A low protein diet is a dietary programme that has been designed by physicians and dieticians to restrict the intake of proteins for certain individuals who are diagnosed with liver or kidney troubles and those who are suffering from inherited metabolic disorders. The intake of proteins is restricted depending upon several factors such as age, gender, and health conditions etc.
This diet basically limits the consumption of animal by-products like meat, eggs, fish, poultry, yoghurt, milk, cheese, pulses and insists on the consumption of low- protein foods like vegetables, fruits, bread, corn and potatoes. Under this diet, the dieter’s daily calories are obtained from complex carbohydrates rather than from proteins.
Need for a Low Protein Diet:
- Protein is an essential macronutrient needed by the body for normal cell development, tissue repair and protection against infectious diseases. Protein has 16% nitrogen which is eliminated from the body as urea in the form of urine. However, if a person has a diseased liver or kidney, the normal metabolic process is hindered. This results in the accumulation of urea or ammonia in the bloodstream which produces toxic effects in the body leading to loss of appetite and fatigue. Therefore, low protein diet is recommended for patients with liver disease, kidney (renal) failure and disorders involving the urea cycle.
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- Diets containing 30% or more protein can result in serious metabolic changes, thereby leading to bone loss and kidney stones.
Sources of Low Protein:
The goal of this diet is to restrict the intake of proteins. Fruits and vegetables are the mainstay of this diet. However, they cannot provide the amount of calories required for the full day. Thus, in order to compensate for the loss of calories, healthy fats like monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats should be incorporated in the diet. Vegetable oils like olive oil, safflower oil, soybean or sunflower oils are low in proteins and are great sources of these healthy fats. Nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews are also low in proteins but rich in calories. Candies, sweeteners and canned fruits can also be included in this diet. Foods having a high protien low carb diet content of proteins such as meat, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, yoghurt, milk and cheese should be consumed in lesser quantities.
High Protein low carb Diet Chart: Sample Menu
Here is a chart of low carb high protein diet.
|1 orange||1 egg or egg substitute|
|1/2 cup rice or creamed cereal||1 slice whole wheat bread (toasted)|
|1/2 tablespoon margarine or butter||1/2 cup whole milk|
|Hot, non-caloric beverage||1 tablespoon sugar (optional)|
|1 ounce sliced turkey breast||1/2 cup steamed broccoli|
|1 slice whole wheat bread||1/2 tablespoon margarine or butter|
|1 apple||1/2 cup gelatin dessert|
|1 cup grape juice||Hot, non-caloric beverage|
|6 squares salt-free soda crackers||1/2 tablespoon margarine or butter|
|1 to 2 tablespoons jelly||1/2 cup apple juice|
|1/2 cup tomato juice||1 ounce beef liver|
|1 baked potato||1 teaspoon margarine or butter (optional)|
|1/2 cup steamed spinach||1 slice whole wheat bread|
|1/3 cup sherbet||4 apricot halves|
|Hot, non-caloric beverage|
[ Read: GM Diet Chart ]
Benefits of Low Protein Diet:
A healthy person needs around 40-60 grams of proteins each day to maintain proper health. These proteins are metabolized by the liver and are released from the body as urea. However, if the liver or kidney is impaired, ammonia or toxic metabolites get accumulated in the blood leading to kidney diseases and behavioural changes such as fatigue, delusions, psychosis and hallucinations. By decreasing the stress on kidney and liver, this diet prevents the worsening of kidney and liver conditions. According to research, a vegetarian diet relatively low in proteins and calories lowers the blood levels of several hormones and other substances that are associated with certain cancers. Besides, a low protein diet provides protection against gout, which is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood.
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A low protein diet is required in curing Tyrosinemia – a rare inherited disease that occurs due to error of metabolism in which the body cannot effectively break down the amino acid tyrosine.
Risks associated with Low Protein diet:
The protein restricted diet is helpful for individuals suffering from liver and chronic kidney diseases. However, following a low protein diet on a continuous basis affects the vital functions of cells such as wound healing and immune response to infections. Being deficient in proteins, a low protein diet can be responsible for muscle wasting as it is low in several amino acids provided by muscle protein. Moreover, this diet is low in iron, calcium, thiamine (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), vitamins niacin (Vitamin B-3) and nutritional supplements are required to prevent the deficiency.
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A diet with restricted proteins intake may lead to malnutrition in persons suffering from advanced kidney diseases resulting in loss of weight and muscle, lack of energy and difficulty in fighting infections. In order to prevent this problem, periodic monitoring of body weight and protein status is absolutely essential. Heart healthy fats like candies and other sweet foods such as canned and frozen fruits in syrup should be used to compensate for the loss of calories.
[ Read: Protein Rich Foods List ]
Precautions to be taken in a Low Protein Diet:
Low protein diet should be followed under strict medical guidance from a dietician who is familiar with liver and kidney diseases. The diet should be such that it meets the nutritional needs of the dieter so that it is effective in cutting down the work load on the kidneys and liver. It should not aim at complete elimination of protein rich foods like eggs, meat and cheese from the diet. Rather it should ensure that adequate protein is provided from a vegetarian diet for growth and development, building muscles and repairing wounds.
Extra calories can be added by incorporating heart healthy fats in the diet. Those suffering from kidney disease as well as diabetes should consume moderate carbohydrates along with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.