What are the best meal replacement shakes for kidney disease?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

drink wholesome makes the best meal replacement shakes for kidney disease. They are additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of meal replacements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. This makes them perfect for people with kidney disease, as well as for people looking for a protein boost without extra processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our meal replacement powder is right for you. 


easy to digest

“I have a sensitive stomach, so most meal replacement powders leave me with gas, bloating, constipation, and stomach pain, but not this one.” – Shon

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What is kidney disease? 

Are meal replacement shakes good for kidney disease?

What are the best meal replacement shakes for kidney disease?

Why drink wholesome?

What is kidney disease? 

Kidney disease, or renal disease, refers to any condition in which kidney function is impaired. The kidneys are responsible for removing waste and extra fluid from the blood, keeping electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium balanced in the body, and making hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.

There are several types of kidney disease, each with different causes, symptoms, and treatments. The most common types are:

1. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): This long-term condition is characterized by a progressive decline in kidney function, which leads to fluid imbalances and a buildup of waste products and in the blood. It is usually caused by conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

2. Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): AKI is characterized by a rapid decline in kidney function. It can result in a sudden accumulation of waste products in the blood and electrolyte imbalances. AKI is often caused by dehydration, severe infection, medication, or decreased blood flow to the kidneys.

3. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): PKD is an inherited progressive condition that causes fluid-filled cysts to develop in the kidneys. It can lead to high blood pressure and the formation of kidney stones.

4. Glomerulonephritis: Glomerulonephritis refers to inflammation of the glomeruli, tiny filtering units in the kidneys. Glomerulonephritis can be caused by infections, immune system disorders, and other diseases.

The symptoms of kidney disease can vary depending on the underlying cause and the stage of the disease. They include fatigue, decreased urine output, fluid retention, swelling in the legs or face, blood in the urine, high blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances.

Treatments for kidney disease aim to slow down the progression of the disease, manage symptoms, and prevent complications. Common treatments include medication, lifestyle changes, dialysis (a process that helps filter blood when the kidneys are unable to do so), and, in severe cases, kidney transplantation.

Are meal replacements good for kidney disease?

Approximately one-third of dialysis patients are anorexic due to decreased appetite. Loss of appetite in kidney patients occurs due to accumulation of anorexigenic and inflammatory compounds in the blood and amino acid imbalances. It tends to worsen with progression of kidney disease, and can lead to severe weight loss and malnutrition.

For kidney patients experiencing a loss of appetite, meal replacement shakes can be a lifesaver. Adding a meal replacement shake to your diet is an easy way to boost your calorie and nutrient intake, and curb weight loss and/or malnutrition. Not all meal replacement shakes are created equal, however.

making a protein shake with protein powder

What is the best meal replacement for kidney patients?

First of all, it is important to pick a meal replacement with enough, but not too much protein. How much protein you need will depend on a number of factors, but as a rule of thumb, you should eat at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Use our protein intake calculator to calculate how much protein you need. 

When protein is digested, it is broken down into amino acids, which are used by the body to build and repair muscle tissues. For someone who is experiencing weight loss and malnutrition, maintaining muscle mass is essential. That said, excess amino acids (those that are not used by the body) are excreted by the kidneys, and when you eat too much protein, your kidneys have to work extra hard to filter out the excess amino acids, which can lead to kidney damage.

Given that renal patients need to limit phosphorus and potassium intake, one of the best types of dietary protein for kidney disease is egg white protein. Egg whites are not only low in phosphorus and potassium, but can also lower phosphorus levels in the blood. Egg whites do tend to be naturally high in sodium, but we have found a way to remove some of that sodium content during the drying process. The other dietary protein source in our meal replacements is almonds, which are low in both sodium and phosphorus, and contain only a moderate amount of potassium. 

What makes drink wholesome the best meal replacement for kidney patients has more to do with is not in it, however. Unlike most meal replacements, drink wholesome does not contain added emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, and flavors.

Here is a list of the most common food additives in meal replacement powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

Regularly eating food additives like these can disrupt the gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food – which may accelerate the development of kidney disease

woman drinking a protein shake

Why drink wholesome?

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best meal replacement shakes for kidney disease is that we do not use food additives. As you just learned, regularly eating additives, even in small amounts, can disrupt the balance of microorganisms living in your gut.


the alternative:


Emerging research has associated these disruptions with the pathogenesis of chronic kidney disease. It is thought that gut dysbiosis (an unhealthy gut microbiome) can cause toxins to build-up in the blood, overwhelming the kidneys. 

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best kidney friendly meal replacement shakes is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, tend to be high in phosphorus, potassium and calcium, all of which should be limited on a kidney diet.

vanilla meal replacement powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate meal replacement powder lifestyle image 2
drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best meal replacement for kidney patients is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. You may not have known that the vast majority of meal replacements are made with one or both of these protein sources, which are basically foods stripped of everything but the protein. Concentrates and isolates appear as “peas protein” and “whey protein” on the ingredient list.

Making protein concentrates and isolates requires serious mechanical and chemical processing. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to extract the protein from its natural source. This means that your meal replacement shake ends up looking nothing like real food. 

The problem with ingredients that look nothing like real food is that they are hard to digest. Your digestive system is designed to break down minimally-processed or unprocessed real foods, not synthetic or heavily-processed substitutes, and eating anything other than real food can disrupt your gut microbiome. This, as you now know, is bad news for your kidneys. I therefore strongly discourage the consumption of meal replacements made with protein concentrates and isolates. 

chocolate meal replacement powder serving suggestion 1
vanilla meal replacement powder serving suggestion 2

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best meal replacement shakes for kidney disease with real foods like egg whites and almonds. The egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried, and the almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and ground. The minimally-processed protein sources are a gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates, and unlike protein isolates and concentrates, contain enzymes and natural digestive aids that help with digestion.

Egg whites are also low in fiber, low FODMAP, and alkaline, making them particularly easy to digest. Almonds, on the other hand, have prebiotic effects, promoting the diversity of the gut microbiome. 

In conclusion, by prioritizing real foods and avoiding dairy-based proteins and food additives, we make meal replacements that are good for your gut, and therefore your kidneys. 


no stomach issues

“My dietitian put me on to this. It’s a safe option for kidney disease and tastes great. I just blend it up with milk and ice first thing in the morning. Keep me full until lunch.” – Omari

Read more reviews or take the quiz.

drink wholesome makes the best kidney friendly meal replacement shakes.


chocolate meal replacement powder

(39) $59.99 - or subscribe and save up to 15%


2 meal replacement powder samples


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.