Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney patients: beware of fast foods!

No doubt you don’t need me to tell you that fast foods are bad for your health. Remember the 2004 movie—Super Size Me ? Proof that too much fat and sodium from fast food kills!  People with kidney disease have another reason to avoid the corner drive-thru though. Fast foods contain extra hidden phosphorus from all the phosphate additives used to process the food.

Research on phosphorus levels in dialysis patients shows there’s a danger with even slight increases above normal. A single milligram increase in phosphorus increases risk of being hospitalized or even dying by 20% or more. Even in CKD-nondialysis patients high-normal phosphorus causes more heart calcification than people with a low normal level.

My advice to you is eat fewer fast foods to stay healthier. When you do eat fast foods, know which ones are least likely to contain added phosphorus. (Your dietitian can tell you about the best selections for when you do eat on the run). Don’t forget your phosphorus binders either.

You can make your own version of fast foods at home and cut down on phosphate additives. All it takes is a trip to the market, some label reading and a few kidney-friendly recipes. You won’t find phosphorus on the nutrition label of most foods—the FDA doesn’t require it. Take a look at the ingredient list and avoid foods with phosphate additives.

Here are my picks for fast homemade foods from recipes. You can make extra portions and refrigerate or freeze for really fast food—homemade with love instead of phosphorus!

Also from

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.