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How to Lose Weight After Kidney Transplant

By Jennifer Byrne ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you've had a successful kidney transplant, you may find that you now have much greater dietary freedom. The types of dietary restrictions required in late-stage kidney disease and dialysis are often quite severe, limiting various types of foods and even liquids. According to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Renal Unit, it's quite common to gain weight within the first year after a kidney transplant. This is due in part to the lifting of dietary restrictions, and also to steroid medications you may be taking. By focusing on a healthful, balanced diet and exercising regularly, you can lose your post-transplant weight gain. Be sure to discuss all details of a diet and exercise program with your doctor.

  1. Weigh yourself regularly. The National Kidney Foundation says although some post-transplant weight gain is to be expected, and in some cases is necessary, you should monitor this closely. Talk with your doctor about a healthy weight for your height and body type, and try not to exceed this weight. The National Kidney Foundation warns that if you are unable to manage your weight, you may develop metabolic syndrome, which in turn could put you at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

  2. Consult a registered dietitian. With the boundless food choices now available to you, it might be difficult to rein in your newfound appetite and make good choices. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the guidance of a registered dietitian may help you plan your healthy diet in a way that allows you to enjoy food without excessive weight gain.

  3. Begin a cardiovascular exercise regimen. According to the Cleveland Clinic, regular exercise offers many benefits to kidney transplant patients, above and beyond weight control. A cardio workout can improve circulation, strengthen bones, boost energy levels and improve muscle tone. The Cleveland Clinic advises gradually working up to an exercise plan consisting of 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to four times a week. Always talk to your doctor before undertaking an exercise plan.

  4. Limit your intake of high-sugar treats and foods high in saturated fats. The National Kidney Foundation says that while you don't necessarily need to count calories, you can choose foods rich in nutrients and low in calorie density to facilitate weight loss. Some good foods for a balanced diet include fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean protein such as skinless poultry, fat-free dairy and sugar-free beverages.

  5. Tip

    Plan ahead, if possible. According to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Renal Unit, you should try to lose any extra weight before the transplant, and have a diet plan in place for the weeks following the transplant.


    Avoid foods high in added salt. According to the National Kidney Foundation, this will help you maintain a healthy blood pressure. In addition, this will reduce fluid retention and bloating.

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