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Will Keto Hurt My Kidneys

The Relationship Between High Protein Diets And Chronic Kidney Disease

How Does Keto Affect Your Kidneys?

The previous studies show that high-protein diets do not have a negative impact in people who have normal kidney function.

Reduced protein consumption may only be beneficial in patients with advanced chronic kidney disease.

Following a low carbohydrate, adequate protein, high fat diet, can help prevent cardiovascular disease in people with chronic kidney disease.

Since ketosis and protein are not to blame for kidney problems, heres what actually harms your kidneys:

Keto Diet After Kidney Transplant

Similar to other stages of kidney disease, mentioned above, there are no studies about the keto diet after kidney transplant.

The main points of a diet following a kidney transplant include continuing with a low sodium, high fiber diet.

To note, a keto diet after kidney transplant may make it more difficult to obtain the right amount of fiber. However, it may not be impossible. Working with a kidney transplant dietitian can be a great way to follow the individualized diet guidelines set after transplant.

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How Kidneys Are Damaged

Many different diseases, drugs, toxins, and inherited disorders can lead to kidney damage.

However, by far the two most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which can damage the kidneys delicate blood vessels and tissues.1

When the root causes of these two diseases are not addressed, chronic kidney disease and ultimately kidney failure can be the result. In the US, diabetes causes 44%, and high blood pressure causes 29% of all cases of end-stage kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.2

Why does this happen?

In the case of diabetes, high blood sugars over long periods of time can cause glucose to bind to vital proteins in the bloodstream. This process, known as glycation, results in the formation of advanced glycation end-products . AGEs can cause abnormal changes to proteins and to receptors that ultimately injure the filtering segments of the kidney. This glycation creates a vicious cycle of additional injuries to tissues that results in progressive kidney damage, called diabetic nephropathy.3

With high blood pressure, the problem is simply too much pressure. Exposing the delicate filtering portion of kidneys to blood that is moving too hard and fast causes scarring, which damages the kidneys. This results in a loss of kidney function, leading to chronic kidney disease or eventually kidney failure.4


How Does The Keto Diet Work

Does a Keto Diet Affect Your Kidneys?

Here are the basics of;keto: The diet aims to force your body into using a different type of fuel. Instead of relying on sugar that comes from carbohydrates , the keto diet relies on ketone bodies, a type of fuel that the liver produces from stored fat.

Burning fat seems like an ideal way to lose pounds. But getting the liver to make ketone bodies is tricky:

  • It requires that you deprive yourself of carbohydrates, fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day .
  • It typically takes a few days to reach a state of ketosis.
  • Eating too much protein can interfere with ketosis.

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May Cause Digestive Issues And Changes In Gut Bacteria

Since the keto diet restricts carbs, it can be difficult to meet your daily fiber needs.

Some of the richest sources of fiber, such as high carb fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains, and beans, are eliminated on the diet because they provide too many carbs.

As a result, the keto diet can lead to digestive discomfort and constipation.

A 10-year study in children with epilepsy on the ketogenic diet found that 65% reported constipation as a common side effect .

Whats more, fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Having a healthy gut may help boost immunity, improve mental health, and decrease inflammation .

A low carb diet thats lacking in fiber, such as keto, may negatively affect your gut bacteria although current research on this topic is mixed .

Some keto-friendly foods that are high in fiber include flax seeds, chia seeds, coconut, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens.


Due to its carb restrictions, the keto diet is often low in fiber. This may trigger constipation and negative effects on gut health.

How Does A Keto Diet Impair The Kidneys

A;keto diet is a high-fat, high protein, low-carb diet designed to;put the body into ketosis, where it burns fat for fuel. The ideal keto diet should consist of about 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and only 5 percent of carbs. Instead of burning carb, the body must switch over to burn fat, which occurs in about 3 to 4 days of beginning to follow the keto plan.

Studies have linked the keto diet to adverse effects on the body, especially if followed strictly and for;an extensive period of time since it can;put a lot of stress on your kidneys and may lead to kidney stones.;The amount of protein a person eats can lead to overwhelming the kidneys and anyone already suffering from chronic kidney disease or related ailment can suffer side effects. Consuming a diet high in animal protein,;especially red meat, may lead to a higher risk of forming kidney stones, the research has shown.

“It may also worsen the kidney functioning of those who already have kidney diseases. The theory is that higher intake of animal food products can make your urine more acidic i.e. increase level of excretion of calcium from your urine,” said Dr. Salil Jain, Director of Nephrology and Renal Transplant, Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram.Keto Diet Should Not be;Followed for More Than 45 Days

“It surely has the potential risk of other health problems as the user is on high proteins and fats intake,” she;explained

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Does Keto Hurt Your Kidneys

Via Anh Nguyen / Unsplash

Yes, it does. Some people feel pain in kidneys. Keto puts stress on them, and it gives you kidney stones that cause pain. It is a potential side-effect of the keto diet. This is a low-sugar and high-fat weight loss strategy that puts your body into its natural starvation mode.

It causes us to rely on fat for getting energy and fuel for the body and activities in routine life. The prime cause of;kidney stones on keto;is a low carb diet because people do not take carbohydrates and sugars for fuel. So, this type of food can put a load on kidneys.

Myth #: Ketones Overwork Your Kidneys Due To Increased Urine Acidity

Ketosis and Kidneys: Setting the Record Straight

Theres a common misconception that nutritional ketosis can change the pH of your urine from neutral to acidic and therefore overwork your kidneys.

However, this only happens during ketoacidosis, not ketosis.

Ketoacidosis is a complication that results from dangerously high levels of ketonesand blood sugar, most commonly in people with type I and II diabetes. This combination makes blood too acidic and negatively affects the liver and kidneys.

Ketoacidosis is most likely to occur in people with type 1 diabetes, who cant produce any insulin.

Nutritional ketosis, on the other hand, is different because the level of ketones is in a normal range. When youre in ketosis, you have more ketones in your blood than usual, but not enough to cause ketoacidosis.

The ketogenic diet is all about being in ketosis, not ketoacidosis.

Now that weve debunked those two myths, lets look at why the ketogenic is actually beneficial for your kidneys.

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Why Keto Is Not Good Long Term

In the long term, the keto diet may increase the risk of a person developing vitamin or mineral deficiencies if they do not get enough nutrients. They may also be at higher risk for conditions such as heart disease if they eat a lot of saturated fat. People with some chronic conditions should not follow the keto diet.

Your Period On Keto Might Undergo Some Changes

Periods may become irregular or completely stop on the keto diet, says Yawitz. This is more due to rapid weight loss than the diet itself and happens because of drops in gonadotropin-releasing;hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone,;estrogen, and;progesterone.

Long-term disruption of;menstruation;can bring on serious side effects, including low bone density. This is because estrogen is very important to bone health, says Yawitz. Studies have also found prolonged menstrual irregularity to increase risk for cardiovascular disease,;depression,;anxiety, and sexual dysfunction. Its important to contact your ob-gyn if your cycles become irregular or if you stop having periods.

But wait, theres one loophole. Have;polycystic ovary syndrome ? Then the keto diet may help regulate your periods. Women with PCOS have high insulin levels, which cause sex hormone imbalances, notes Yawitz. In;a small study published in the journal;Nutrition & Metabolism, subjects with PCOS following a ketogenic diet for six months noted improvements in their menstrual cycles and a small number of women became pregnant, overcoming previous infertility obstacles. This study was very small, so we cant make recommendations for all women with PCOS based on its findings, says Yawitz. And really, any diet that leads to weight loss should help in PCOS.

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Does The Ketogenic Diet Use Ketoanalogues

The keto diet and ketoanalogues have nothing to do with one another. Ketoanalogues are essentially the amino acids without the nitrogen component.

Ketoanalogues are used with a low protein diet. Above all, if ketoanalogues were to be used with a keto diet with kidney disease without guidance from a dietitian, the protein intake is likely to be above the recommended guidelines. This could put a person at risk for further kidney damage.

Can Keto Dieting Damage Your Kidneys

Obtain Keto Kidney Pain Information

While some studies indicate that kidney damage may be possible due to a large amount of protein and fats ingested, most research shows that there is no correlation between the keto diet and kidney damage in people with normally functioning kidneys. It is true that too much protein causes the kidneys to work harder; however, the goal of keto is not mass amounts of protein but instead, keeping carbohydrate intake as low as possible.

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Keto Diet And Stage 3 Kidney Disease

For stage 3 kidney disease and earlier, the keto diet may show some promise.

One study had 92 patients with an average BMI of 33.8 follow a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet. The diet included 450-800 calories per day with a high protein intake of 1.0-1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. The diet protocol lasted for approximately 15 weeks.

Of the 92 participants in this study, 38 were classified as early CKD stage 2. The creatinine in this group was stable.;

Some of the participants reported full recovery of kidney function. The authors, however, also acknowledged that several factors, including the weight loss itself, as a factor of the change in kidney function.

The study also emphasized the importance of the diet as a medically supervised diet. This is due to the intense level of progress monitoring to prevent deficiencies and potentially exacerbate any health issues.

What Is The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet was originally proposed in the 1920s.; It was created as a medically-prescribed diet to help those withepilepsy control. The diet began to be studied with different nutritional parameters of the macronutrients. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The ketogenic diet gets its name from the effect of turning the body to ketosis to create energy.

This happens when carbohydrate sources are gone and the body is looking for a new source of energy. This energy source comes from the breakdown of fats.

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What Your Kidneys Do

Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped, fist-sized organs at the back of your abdomen. Each kidney produces urine that drains to the bladder 24 hours a day. Your kidneys filter large volumes of blood on a continuous basis in order to:

  • Remove excess fluid and acids from the body
  • Optimally balance fluids, minerals, and electrolytes
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • Remove waste products, toxins, and drugs

The kidneys also make hormones that help keep your blood and bones healthy, including making calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D.

In short, your kidneys are like the waterworks department of a big city. We cannot survive without functioning kidneys, so we must support them by following a healthy diet and lifestyle.

It’s Advertised As A Weight


In the world of weight-loss diets, low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating plans often grab attention. The Paleo, South Beach, and Atkins diets all fit into that category. They are sometimes referred to as ketogenic or “keto” diets.

But a true ketogenic diet is different. Unlike other low-carb diets, which focus on protein, a keto plan centers on fat, which supplies as much as 90% of daily calories. And it’s not the type of diet to try as an experiment.

“The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While;it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don’t know if it works in the long term, nor whether it’s safe,” warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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What Should I Eat To Avoid Kidney Stones

The high acidic blood and urine mean stones in the kidney. To prevent your body from kidney stone formation, you must not take the food that contains high-purine like shellfish, organ meats, red meats and others. You must follow a healthy diet that is based on fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains.;

To avoid this problem on keto, you must focus on combining oxalate and calcium-rich food because both of them can deduct the harms of each other. So, you are safe to eat these types of food.

Side Effects Of Keto Diet

Several things can happen when on a keto diet that can be unappealing.

An early onset side effect of the keto diet is called the keto flu. This can include low energy, brain fog and headaches.

For many people, constipation can be a common side effect due to the restriction of carbohydrates. While low-carbohydrate vegetables are a part of a ketogenic diet, many tend to lean towards including more fats like butter and bacon.

Other side effects that can occur from a ketogenic diet include;

  • Reflux
  • Dehydration

Nutritional Deficiencies

The diet focuses on high-fat foods and severely restricts the intake of carbohydrate foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and dairy. Therefore, there is a higher risk for nutritional deficiencies.

These deficiencies can include B vitamins , calcium , vitamin D, and electrolytes like potassium.

Fat-soluble vitamins A and E along with magnesium were also found to be decreased in children following the therapeutic ketogenic diet.

Calcium can also be a problem with the keto diet and kidney disease. The fat sources can lead to metabolic acidosis, which can trigger higher calcium losses in urine. Subsequently, this is why kidney stones can be more prevalent in a keto diet.

To prevent micronutrient deficiencies while following a keto diet for kidney disease, its important to discuss with your dietitian to assess for the appropriate supplement plan.

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A Ketogenic Diet Causes Increased Frequency Of Kidney Stone Formation

Kidney stones are hard deposits of minerals and salts that form in the urinary tract and can be incredibly painful.

Ketogenic diets have been associated with the development of kidney stones due to the fact many in the community have diets which are rich in animal proteins.;

The belief is that metabolites and by-products of animal protein digestion and metabolism may increase urinary acidity and contribute to kidney stone formation.;

It has also been argued that a high protein diet forces your body to excrete excess amounts of sodium, calcium and potassium. This can contribute to low blood pressure, another kidney stressor.

However, the research doesnt appear to support these hypotheses.

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A 2016 meta-analysis investigating the impacts of low-carbohydrate diet on renal function ultimately found that a;low carbohydrate diet and the corresponding high-protein diet was not harmful for renal function in overweight and obese individuals without renal dysfunction.;

In fact, they actually suggested a low-carb diet may be beneficial to kidney function thanks to its contributions to weight loss!

So, now that we better understand the arguments against a ketogenic diet and kidney health, lets look into what other possible causes may be contributing to the discomfort.

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May Increase Your Risk Of Chronic Diseases And Early Death

Got Kidney Stones?

The ketogenic diets effect on your risk of chronic illness, such as heart disease or cancer, is hotly debated and not entirely understood.

Some evidence suggests that high fat, low carb diets that focus on animal foods may lead to poor health outcomes, while diets that emphasize vegetable sources of fats and proteins provide benefits (

Yet, more substantial studies are needed.


While research is mixed, some evidence suggests that low carb diets that focus on animal foods may lead to higher death rates from heart disease, cancer, and all causes.

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