What is the best protein powder for kidney disease?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for kidney disease. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with kidney-friendly real foods, not protein isolates. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you.
“It has ingredients you can actually pronounce and is freaking delicious.”
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for kidney disease.
What is kidney disease?
Kidney disease, also known as renal disease, refers to any condition that impairs kidney function. The kidneys are organs responsible for removing waste and extra water from the blood (as urine), keeping chemicals 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. Some common types include:
1. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): This long-term condition is characterized by a progressive decline in kidney function, leading to a buildup of waste products and fluid imbalances in the body. It is often caused by conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
2. Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): AKI is characterized by a rapid decline in kidney function, resulting in a sudden accumulation of waste products in the blood and an electrolyte imbalance. It is usually caused by dehydration, severe infection, medication, or decreased blood flow to the kidneys.
3. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): PKD is an inherited progressive condition where fluid-filled cysts develop in the kidneys. It can cause complications like high blood pressure and kidney stones.
4. Glomerulonephritis: Glomerulonephritis refers to inflammation of the glomeruli, tiny filtering units within the kidneys. Glomerulonephritis can be caused by infections, immune system disorders, and other diseases.
Symptoms of kidney disease can vary depending on the underlying cause and the stage of the disease. Some common signs and symptoms include fatigue, decreased urine output, fluid retention, swelling in the legs or face, blood in the urine, high blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances.
Treatment for kidney disease aims to slow down the progression of the disease, manage symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatment options may include medications, lifestyle changes, dialysis (a process that helps filter blood when the kidneys are unable to do so), and in severe cases kidney transplantation.
Are protein shakes bad for kidney disease?
Protein is an important nutrient that plays a crucial role in the overall health of the human body. However, it is possible to consume too much protein, and doing so can lead to kidney damage for certain people. When protein is digested, it is broken down into amino acids, which are then used by the body to build and repair muscle tissues. Excess amino acids (those that are not used by the body) are excreted by the kidneys. When you eat a diet high in protein, your kidneys have to work harder to filter out these excess amino acids, which can lead to kidney damage over time.
A high protein diet can also increase the levels of urea, a waste product produced when protein is broken down, in the blood. Research shows that high levels of urea and other nitrogenous waste products can cause kidney damage and increase the risk for chronic kidney disease in individuals with impaired kidney function. This means that individuals with kidney disease need to be mindful of how much protein they are consuming, and use protein supplements in moderation.
When it comes to choosing the best protein for kidney disease, one stands head and shoulders above the rest: egg white protein. Researchers have found that egg white protein is a great choice for individuals undergoing dialysis treatment, as they have high protein needs, but need to limit phosphorus intake. Egg whites are low in phosphorus (only 5mg per egg white), and can lower phosphorus levels in the blood.
What is the best protein shake for kidney disease?
There are two types of protein supplements: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and homemade protein shakes made with protein powder. In order to make a protein shake with protein powder, you have to mix the powder with milk or water, which requires a blender or shaker bottle. Some people, prioritizing convenience, prefer ready-to-drink protein shakes, which means they do not know, or do not care, what they are putting into their body.
Ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage. This is worrisome because research shows that disruptions to the composition and function of the gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food) can play a role in the development of kidney disease. Specifically, gut-derived toxins affect the progression of kidney disease, and have been linked to the loss of kidney function.
I therefore recommend that you make your own protein shakes with protein powder. It is more work, but so worth it. That said, not all protein powders are created equal either, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink protein shakes!
Why drink wholesome?
Egg whites are a kidney-friendly source of protein, but the real reason why drink wholesome is the best protein powder for kidney disease, has more to do with what is not on the ingredient list.
drink wholesome is additive-free.
One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder for kidney disease is that we do not use food additives. Most protein powders, on the other hand, are full of food additives.
Food additives may improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but they can also cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage. Basically, because they look nothing like real food, food additives are hard to digest. They therefore sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, causing bloating and stomach pain.
Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), which can lead to constipation. Over time, food additives can add up (especially if you drink a protein shake every day), and disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine. Eventually, this can lead to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
When buying protein powder, one additive to avoid in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful food additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota. This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome.
Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are poorly absorbed by the gut, meaning they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They can also cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestines. Now you may finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!
Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein 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
When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, additives are ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to avoid when buying protein powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.
*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.
drink wholesome is dairy-free.
Another reason why we make the best protein powder for CKD patients is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many protein powders are made with whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, and known to cause digestive issues. This is especially true for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas and cause side effects.
drink wholesome is made with real foods.
A final reason why we make the best protein powder for kidney disease is that we do not use protein isolates. Most protein powders, on the contrary, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They appear on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” and “whey.”
I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein powder. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food.
If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods like protein isolates are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to your gut microbiome.
Your gut does more than just help you to digest food; it protects against pathogens, educates your immune system, and affects directly or indirectly most of your physiologic functions. It is thus unsurprising that toxic products generated by a dysbiotic gut microbiome have been linked to the progression of kidney disease. Individuals with impaired kidney function should therefore avoid protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates.
Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein powder for CKD patients with whole foods like egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some of the oil, and ground. Whole foods like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.
Whole foods contain a variety of enzymes and other digestive aids that help to break down the food, making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. Protein isolates and concentrates, on the other hand, have been stripped of these digestive aids, making them harder for the body to digest and absorb. Moreover, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds are rich in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.
Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein powder than with any other type of protein powder.
If you cannot eat eggs, try our vegan almond protein powder. We prefer almonds to other plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties that can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.
“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for kidneys.