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How to Lower Your Protein Intake

By Christy Bowles

Doctors advise some people to lower their dietary protein intake due to kidney disease, poor liver function or high cholesterol levels. The liver breaks down protein; when it doesn't function correctly, protein builds up to toxic levels that affect brain function. The kidneys filter impurities from the blood and regulate sodium and potassium levels. Some doctors recommend that patients with kidney damage reduce their protein intake to place less stress on the kidneys. Many high-protein foods, such as meats, eggs and dairy products, are high in cholesterol.

  1. Calculate your maximum daily protein allowance. Protein should make up between 10 and 35 percent of your daily calories on a normal diet. If you are on a limited protein diet, your intake might need to be as low as 1 g per each kilogram of your body weight.

  2. Assess the protein content of your food selections. Carefully track the total grams of protein in each meal by weighing meat selections and checking food labels for the total protein content of milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Split your protein selections between two meals a day. Choose proteins that are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol -- legumes, nuts and lean meats such as turkey and chicken.

  3. Plan meals in advance. Organizing meals and buying ingredients ahead of time allow you to limit your daily protein intake. Prevent excesses that might occur if you prepare last-minute meals or eat out without planning to. If you do eat in a restaurant or choose prepared foods, opt for meatless entrees such as salads or pastas that are generally lower in protein.

  4. Choose recipes rich in produce and complex carbohydrates. Replace high-protein foods with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, brown rice and whole grain cereals. Prepare meals with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables such as leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, citrus fruits, apples and berries, all of which are low in protein and rich in dietary fiber and essential nutrients.

  5. Prepare small servings of lean meats. A low-protein diet does not require that you stop consuming meat. Prepare entrees with lean meats such as chicken, turkey and fish. According to the Ohio State University Medical Center, a 3-oz. portion of meat contains approximately 21 g of protein. Choosing small portions of these lean meats helps ensure that you stay within your daily protein intake range.

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