Whey Protein Powder and the Dialysis Diet

By DaVita® dietitian Tammy Sanders, RD, LDN, CDE

To some people, the mention of whey protein powder may conjure up images of body builders at the local gym. To others, a child’s lullaby may come to mind (Remember little Miss Muffett who sat on a tuffit, eating her curds and whey?). But for people with kidney disease who are on dialysis, whey happens to be a great source of high-quality protein. A diet rich in protein is vital for fighting infection, healing wounds and achieving a good nutritional status.

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese-making process. It comes in powder form and can be easily mixed into food or beverages. Typically protein powder is available plain or flavored, such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

Whey provides from 10 to 50 grams of protein per serving. Sometimes the manufacturer provides a measuring cup in the packaging to help scoop out the appropriate serving size. The size of the scoop and the amount of protein provided varies greatly from one product to the next, and your dietitian can help you decide which product is right for you and how much you should consume. Though some whey protein contains added phosphorus, it is typically lower in phosphorus compared to soy protein powders.

How to use whey protein powder in the kidney diet

Using the scoop provided, measure out one serving to use throughout the day. Try adding a little vanilla whey protein powder in your morning coffee. At lunch time, mix a bit of whey protein in six ounces of orange soda (diet or regular, depending on your kidney diet prescription) for a creamy orange-flavored treat that packs in some extra protein. For a refreshing evening beverage, add more of the whey protein powder to six ounces of cold root beer for a root beer float. Later in the evening, finish the scoop of whey protein powder by mixing it with a half cup of applesauce. Place the applesauce into the freezer for a few minutes for a cool, satisfying and high-protein evening snack.

For more ideas on how to use protein powder in your dialysis diet, check out these DaVita.com recipes: