Food With Less Protein


Food with less protein is a popular topic among dieters and people who are health-conscious. Articles like this Food with Less Protein are designed to give you the information you need to make good choices in your diet.

Food With Less Protein

Here are some examples of how you can take a typical recipe and modify it to lower the protein content:

Festive Turkey Salad
(Original Recipe)(Modified Recipe)
3 cups chopped cooked turkey breast without skin
1/4 cup diced celery
1 cup raw red delicious apples with skin
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 tbs. low calorie mayonnaise(Cranberry French Dressing)
1/4 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. vinegar
2 tbs. vegetable oilYield: 4 one-cup servings with 2 tbs. dressing on each serving
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey breast without skin
1 cup diced celery
3 cups raw red delicious apples with skin
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 tbs. regular mayonnaise(Cranberry French Dressing)
1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
1/8 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tbs. vinegar
2 tbs. vegetable oilYield: 6 one-cup servings with 2 tbs. dressing on each serving
Combine first five ingredients in large bowl. Stir well. Cover and chill thoroughly. Serve with Cranberry French Dressing. Dressing: Combine first four dressing ingredients in small bowl, stirring with a wire wisk until smooth. Gradually add vinegar to cranberry mixture, alternately with oil, beginning and ending with vinegar. Stir well with each addition.
National Renal Diet Exchanges: (per serving)
Original RecipeModified Recipe
High Calorie1Fats2
Protein43 gramsProtein9 grams

Adapted from a recipe developed by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) Study – University of Iowa Center.

Why is a low protein diet necessary?

Protein is needed for growth, upkeep and repair of all parts of your body. Protein comes from the food you eat. When your body digests it, a waste product called urea is produced. If the kidneys are not working well, urea can build up in the bloodstream and may cause loss of appetite and fatigue. Eating a low-protein diet will reduce the workload on the kidneys so that the remaining healthy part of the kidney does not have to work so hard. There are two main sources of protein:

Plant protein such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils).

  • A diet with more fruits and vegetables and less or no animal protein may lower acid in the body to promote kidney health.
  • You will need to eat a variety of plant protein every day as part of a balanced diet to get the complete protein you need.

Animal protein such as fish, poultry, eggs, meat, and dairy products.

  • A diet high in animal proteins like red meat and low in fruits and vegetables increases acid in the body. Acid buildup in the blood due to kidney disease is called metabolic acidosis.
  • You may need to limit dairy products because they are high in phosphorus and they may cause your blood phosphorus level to be too high.

How can I stretch the protein I eat?

You can “extend” protein in recipes so that a small amount seems more satisfying.


  • Use thinly sliced meats – it looks like more.
  • Fill out sandwiches with lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, chopped celery, apple, parsley or water chestnuts.


  • Use lower protein foods such as milk substitutes for cream soups, or rice or pasta to make soups more filling without using too much protein.

Main Dishes

  • Think of vegetables and grains as the “main dish” and meat as the “side dish” or complement to your meal.
  • Try kebabs, using small pieces of meat and more vegetables.
  • Make fried rice with vegetables and less meat or shrimp.
  • Toss together a chef’s salad using crisp vegetables and small strips of meat and egg.
  • When making casseroles, decrease the amount of meat; increase the starch, pasta or rice and use low sodium soups when the recipe calls for soup.
  • Add low-protein pastas and breads to keep protein within limits.
  • Use stronger-tasting cheeses such as sharp cheddar, parmesan or romano – you’ll need much less to get the same amount of flavor.

Calorie Boosters

When you lower the amount of protein in your diet, you may also find the calories are lower. It is especially important to get enough calories to maintain a healthy weight at this time. In order to make up those extra calories, try some of these suggestions:

  • Increase heart-healthy fats: polyunsaturated vegetable oils (made with corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean or sunflower oils), olive oil, mayonnaise-type salad dressings.
  • Use candy and sweeteners: hard candy, gum drops, jelly beans, marshmallows, honey, jam and jelly, and sugar (if you are diabetic, consult your dietitian).
  • Use canned or frozen fruits in heavy syrup.

Low-Protein Vegetables

By Pam Murphy

Various fruits and vegetables on counter

Fresh fruits and vegetables.

Image Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

With the exception of soybeans, plant sources of protein lack one or more of the essential amino acids found in animal-based foods. Although you can get plenty of the essential amino acids by eating a well-planned vegetarian diet, most varieties of vegetables contribute a small percentage of the protein consumed in an average diet that includes animal products.



Fresh greens.

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration assigns nutrients and macronutrients a daily value, which represents the suggested intake of a particular nutrient. The daily value for protein is 50g for adults, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A good source of protein provides 5 to 10g. For a vegetable to qualify as a low-protein source, it must contain 4g or less of protein.


Lettuce leaves

Lettuce leaves.

Image Credit: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Although the protein content of vegetables varies by type, most vegetables are considered low in protein. Green vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, bell pepper and asparagus provide only 1 to 2g of protein per serving. Broccoli and spinach are exceptions, providing 4 and 5g per serving, respectively. Orange vegetables, including carrots, sweet potatoes and squash also contain only 1 to 2g.

Starchy vegetables are generally higher in protein than other varieties. Sweet potatoes and corn, for example, provide 3 and 4g of protein. Green peas qualify as a good source of protein, providing more than 8g of protein per 1-cup serving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Different Chinese grains and beans, close-up


Image Credit: Blue Jean Images/Photodisc/Getty Images

A variety of foods, including vegetables, contain at least some protein and contribute to overall protein intake. Aside from legumes, vegetables are generally not recognized for their protein content. Vegetables are good sources of several other nutrients, including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Vary the vegetables in your diet to ensure you get the nutritional benefits different types have to offer.


chicken salad

Chicken is a lean protein.

Image Credit: Liv Friis-Larsen/iStock/Getty Images

Most people get enough protein without counting grams. Getting too much protein is unlikely unless your diet includes a disproportionate amount of high-protein foods, such as meat and poultry. In general, 10 to 35 percent of your calories should come from protein, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals with kidney disease may need to follow a low-protein diet and should seek advise from a health professional to develop an appropriate eating plan.



Fresh peas.

Image Credit: multik7/iStock/Getty Images

Dry beans and peas can count as either vegetables or as protein sources in the meat and beans group, according to the USDA. If you consume meat, fish and poultry, dry beans and peas usually count toward fruit and vegetable intake. Legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas, kidney beans, black-eyed peas and pinto beans, are good sources of protein, providing 11g or more in a 1-cup serving. On the other hand, a few varieties of vegetables are protein-free, including celery, green onion and radishes.

7 Days of Low Protein Food with Alina!

A bit about me:

Hi, I am Alina. I am 22 years old and live in Germany. I have PKU and study German, Maths and English as I want to become a primary school teacher. You maybe know me from my instagram account @alina­_pku where I show you how I handle my low protein diet and show you some low protein recipes.

My love of cooking:

If you have PKU or any other metabolic disorder it is necessary to cook a lot on your own. That is why I love cooking and to experiment with low protein foods to create low protein meals that taste delicious and don’t give me the feeling of ‘missing out’.

A low protein diet is not always easy and involves a lot of weighing and counting. This might be exhausting, but it is totally worth it for living a healthy life.


I have been 10 years out of treatment from 2008 – 2018 and I am trying to get back on track with my low protein diet right now. It is really hard for me to stay within my daily phe tolerance of 450mg, but I am always getting better at it. As it is quite complicated for me to maintain low PHE levels, I am really thankful for the help from my family. Mostly, my mother, who I can always ask about low protein dishes and recipes that I liked a lot when I was a child. Everyone is very understanding when it comes to shared meals. My whole family always tries to make meals that we all can enjoy and that can be easily adapted to a low protein diet.

Likes and dislikes!

Regarding the low protein foods, I am not a huge fan of low protein pasta. They are delicious, but I always have in mind that I HAVE to eat it when my levels are too high.

As I really like Asian food, I love eating glass noodles and add vegetables and soya sauce to it. It helps me a lot that I always try to create enough content for my instagram account that leads me to creating delicious low protein meals. For those recipes, I usually take ‘normal’ recipes and change them using low protein foods. For example, you can easily switch out normal flour with low protein flour and switch egg for low protein egg replacement. I still use the recipes my mother wrote down when I was a child, because those recipes were always my favourites.

My protein supplement:

Since August 2019, I am taking the Cambrooke Therapeutics RTD Lite 15 in the flavor “Coffee” and I have to take it three times a day. I really like those GMP-based formulas because they taste like a cold coffee you can buy at the supermarket. I am not a huge fan of coffee, but these taste amazing! GMP-based formulas are much more delicious because the ingredients that they contain are natural, and not, like other formulas, artificially produced. Since taking the RTD Lite 15, I enjoy taking my formula and I don’t forget it on purpose.

I really like that the RTD Lite 15 are lower in calories. It helps to eat enough calories, but you have enough calories for the day left to have meals that are big enough and satisfying.

If you wonder about what I eat every day in one week and how I integrate my Cambrooke Therapeutics RTD Lite 15, I would love to show that to you right now!

Day 1:

The first day of this week, I have been sick and craved pasta soup and an aloe vera drink for breakfast (don’t ask!). I am a really huge fan of sandwich toasts and I love filling them with vegan mayonnaise, sweet-chili-sauce and tomato ketchup with cucumbers and onions. As well, I like to add vegetables to my bread, like tomatoes, beetroot, chillies and olives. For dinner, I was craving a salad in which I used iceberg lettuce, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and a delicious salad dressing. To eat enough calories I added a low protein pretzel. As I still had some calories left, I decided to snack on some Pom-Bears while watching TV at the evening. Thanks to the RTD Lite 15, I can have enough protein (45g daily), but my PHE intake stays low enough. On this day, I ate 426mg PHE, 1538kcal, 217g carbs, 53g protein and 41g fat.

Day 2:

The second day of the week, I had to go to work in the evening, that is why I had a bigger lunch. For breakfast, I had a sandwich with vegetables, like lunch the day before. On this day, I made low protein potato dumplings with the mixture by Loprofin with fried carrots and onions and homemade low protein vegan sauce hollandaise. As I had a pretty huge lunch, I decided to have a salad for dinner. I made it out of iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with salad dressing and a low protein pretzel. In total, I ate about 445mg PHE, 1573kcal, 209g carbs, 54g protein and 53g fat.

Day 3:

On Wednesday, I had to go to work in the evening as well. As I have not been too hungry in the morning, I just ate a low protein croissant with some cherry jam and margarine and dates and some tomatoes, because I love them. As well, I drank a strawberry milk made with almond milk. As I had to go to work, I had a bigger lunch again. I ate low protein pasta and konjac noodles with yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, spicy tomatoe sauce and vegan cheese. Dinner was a little smaller because of the big lunch. I made a low protein burger with pickles. In total, I ate 421mg PHE, 1424kcal, 212g carbs, 54g protein and 36g fat.

Day 4:

Thursday was a day at home on which I studied for my upcoming exam. When I am at home, I tend to eating more that is why I ate more calories that day. For breakfast I ate low protein bread with vegan cream cheese, many vegetables and cherry jam. For lunch I tried to create a asian noodle soup with glass noodles, a nori sheet and some dried shiitake mushrooms. For dinner I ate, as at least once a day, sandwich toast (I always put the same on the toasts) with some fried small peppers. As I had too many calories left after dinner, I decided to snack on some Pom-Bears and two green tea mochis. In total, I ate 427mg PHE, 1684kcal, 271g carbs, 54g protein and 31g fat.

Day 5:

On Friday, I studied for my exam in the morning and had to go to work in the evening. For breakfast, I had a low protein pretzel stick with vegan cream cheese, many vegetables and cherry jam. As well, I made a strawberry milk with oat milk. Lunch was a little bigger and contained glassnoodles, asian vegetables and a tiny bit of cauliflower. For dinner, I made potatoe fritters from Loprofin with cucumber salad made with mustard dressing. In total, I ate about 444mg PHE, 1558kcal, 257g carbs, 56g protein and 27g fat.

Day 6:

On the sixth day, I had a work-free Saturday and my boyfriend and I wanted to enjoy it with eating out for dinner. To have many opportunities at dinner, I ate as few PHE as I could for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast I ate a low protein pretzel stick with vegan cream cheese and cherry jam and vegan remoulade with iceberg lettuce and cucumber. I added pickles to it and drank a apple cherry drink. For lunch, I ate low protein pasta and konjac noodles with spicy tomatoe sauce. For dinner, we went to a asian buffet restaurant where I focused on vegetables. I had 319mg PHE and 654kcal left for the evening.

Day 7:

On Sunday, I visited my sister where I had breakfast and lunch with her. For breakfast, I ate low protein bread with strawberry jam, mirabelle jam, kiwi and a dark chocolate spread. For lunch, we made pasta with cream sauce, carrots and kohlrabi. For me, I used low protein pasta and vegan cream that has 0g protein. I ate dinner at home and as I had a lot of PHE left, I decided to eat low protein potatoe puree by Mevalia with some black salsify and homemade vegan hollandaise. In total, I ate about 354mg PHE, 1715kcal, 235g carbs, 53g protein and 60g fat.

As you can see, a low protein diet does not always mean restriction, it only means discipline. With enough discipline, it is possible to maintain a low protein and healthy diet and you live a happy life. And thanks to Cambrooke Therapeutics, my low protein diet got much easier as I can take my formula with me all the time and it always tastes delicious!

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