Kidney Diet Tips

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Performance Nutrition for Athletes on Dialysis -Part 2

Athlete on Dialysis

If the thought of being an athlete on dialysis is interesting to you, or if just increasing your activity to a more competitive level in your goal, read-on!

I’ve worked with a lot of athletes. A majority of them are high-energy and just want to play their game and let everyone else manage the details. Unless you are a professional athlete, you probably need to change your mindset. If you combine attitude with preparation and effort you are bound to experience success!

Food Plans for Practice, Competition and Rest Days

To compete well, it is important for the athlete to plan accordingly the food he/she needs to eat on practice days, competition days as well as rest days. This is especially true if you are an athlete on dialysis. Please work with your dietitian to ensure the foods you include in your diet are appropriate based on your labs. Your friends and family may be able to help you, but it is YOUR responsibility to be prepared!

In the last blog on Athletes and Nutrition, we discussed importance of small, frequent meals. Based on the type of sport, you may need snacks between events (e.g., swim) or matches (e.g., soccer) or medium meals if you have several hours to digest food.

Ideas for Snacks:

  • Nuts & seeds
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Nut butters (peanut, cashew, almond)
  • Trail mix
  • Dry cereal, oatmeal
  • Fruit (fresh or dried)
  • Cheese sticks, low fat
  • Lean meat sticks
  • Greek yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Hard or soft sugar-based candies

Ideas for Medium Meals:

  • Sandwich: whole grain bread, low fat meat/cheese, vegetables, peanut butter/small amount jelly, egg/chicken/tuna salad
  • Energy bars, breakfast bars
  • Flour tortilla with peanut butter & banana
  • Bagels with cream cheese (schmear)
  • Boiled egg

Within 30-45 minutes after practice or competition it is important to provide your body with both carbohydrates and protein. The carbs will refuel your energy stores and the protein will start repairing the damaged muscles. The sooner you eat, the more quickly you will recover.

Fueling Strategy Suggestions for Game Day

  1. The food you eat the day before competition is as important as the food you eat the day of competition.
  2. Eat a medium meal 3-4 hours before competition.
  3. Eat a small energy enhancing snack 30-45 minutes before the game or first event.
  4. Work with your dietitian to determine the amount of water you should drink the day before and the day of competition.
  5. Do not drink anything that is high in potassium, sodium, caffiene or a mineral supplement.
  6. If you have a few hours between games or events, eat a medium-sized meal and a small snack 30 minutes before the event.
  7. Within 30-60 minutes after the last event, refuel with small protein and carbohydrate foods. If your phosphorus and calcium are within normal limits, chocolate milk is a good choice.
  8. After you are home or back to the hotel, eat a meal of whole grains, lean protein and healthy fat. Drink water as advised by your renal dietitian.

I cannot stress enough the importance of working with your physician and dietitian to ensure you are getting enough dialysis, protein and not eating foods that are going to cause increased medical problems.

Let the team in your clinic know if you are interested in increasing your activity level. They can help you!

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley has been a registered dietitian for many years with over 15 years in renal (Acute, CKD 3-5, Dialysis, Transplant). She is an adjunct professor at Park University and teaches Human Nutrition and Nutrition for Health Sciences for undergraduates. She loves helping people connect what they eat with how they feel. Shelley has a husband and two daughters that keep her running.