The Best Breakfast for Dialysis Patients. Picture of oatmeal with almonds and blueberries. Dialysis Dietitian

The Best Breakfast for Dialysis Patients

Looking for the best breakfast options for dialysis patients? You’ve come to the right place! Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day.

It holds even greater significance for dialysis patients as it sets the tone for your nutritional intake and energy levels throughout the day.

Eating a wholesome breakfast can provide you with important nutrients, promote satiety, and contribute to better management of blood sugar and blood pressures. This is especially important on dialysis days.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at what makes a dialysis-friendly breakfast and explore delicious and nourishing choices for a healthier and satisfying start to the day.

What Makes a Dialysis-Friendly Breakfast?

A dialysis-friendly breakfast provides you with a good amount of fiber and protein while at the same time meets your potassium, phosphorus, and sodium goals. That may sound like a stretch, but it is definitely possible with some awareness and label reading.

Let’s take a look at some key factors that make a breakfast option suitable for a dialysis patient.

Low Sodium

You often need to restrict your sodium intake to help manage fluid balance and blood pressure. A dialysis-friendly breakfast focuses on low-sodium options, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while minimizing processed meats and packaged foods that are typically high in sodium.

Controlled Phosphorus and Potassium

Impaired kidney function can lead to a buildup of phosphorus and potassium in your blood. This often makes it necessary to limit your intake of foods high in these minerals in order to keep your blood levels in a safe range.

Phosphates on a food label

Breakfast choices that are lower in phosphorus and potassium, such as egg whites, oatmeal, and certain lower potassium fruits (strawberries, apples, grapes, pineapple), are preferred in addition to avoiding packaged foods with phosphorus additives.

For a longer list of low potassium fruits and vegetables you can refer to your grocery list.

Adequate Protein

Protein is essential for dialysis patients to maintain muscle mass and support overall health. A dialysis-friendly breakfast includes protein-rich options like egg whites, plant-based protein sources such as tofu, legumes, whole grains, or lean low sodium meats.

Fluid Control

Fluid restriction is often necessary to help you avoid fluid overload and uncomfortable dialysis treatments. Breakfast options that are not excessively liquid, such as cooked cereals, scrambled eggs, or multi-grain low sodium breads, help minimize fluid intake while providing necessary nutrients.

Balanced Carbohydrates

Opting for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables over refined carbohydrates helps provide a steady release of energy and supports healthy blood sugar levels. Dialysis-friendly breakfasts focus on complex carbohydrates while limiting added sugars.

Individualized Considerations

It’s important to remember that each dialysis patient’s dietary needs may vary based on their specific health conditions and type and frequency of dialysis.

Consult with your clinic registered dietitian who can help tailor breakfast options according to your individual needs.

The Best Breakfast for Dialysis Patients

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Here are 9 fun dialysis-friendly ideas to start your morning off strong:

1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a great high fiber whole grain that comes with 4-5 g protein per serving. Add 1/2 cup of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or chopped apple.

Top it off with a handful of walnuts or a couple teaspoons of ground flaxseed. You can add cinnamon, nutmeg and stevia or monkfruit sweetener to add some flavor. Use water or add a splash of plant-based milk such as almond milk.

Quick Option

If you don’t have 5 minutes to make oatmeal from rolled oats here are two easy dialysis approved instant options:

Good & Gather plain instant oatmeal. The best breakfast for dialysis patients. Dialysis Dietitian
  • Good & Gather Plain Instant Oatmeal (Target)

Usually instant oatmeal is full of added sugar, sodium and often phosphate additives. Not this one! 0 g added sugar, 0 mg sodium. You can add the above toppings to add more fiber and antioxidants.

Trader Joe's Unsweetened Instant Oatmeal. The best breakfast for dialysis patients. Dialysis Dietitian.

I like this one as it’s made from whole grain oat flakes, flaxseeds, chia seeds, quinoa, and amaranth flakes. No added sugar or salt and comes with 4g fiber and 5g protein.

2. Toast with Peanut Butter & Applesauce

This is a quick and easy to make option that is also satisfying. Start with a whole wheat low sodium bread (My favorite is Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9). Add 2 Tbsp unsalted natural peanut butter (hint: there should only be one ingredient=peanuts!).

I like Safeway’s O Organics Organic Peanut Butter Old Fashioned Creamy Unsalted. Then top with either unsweetened applesauce or sliced strawberries.

3. Egg White or Tofu Scramble with Veggies

Making a good scramble will take more time but can be a great protein packed option. Onions and bell peppers or mushrooms make good additions. You can add a slice of whole wheat toast or put your scramble in a whole grain wrap.

If you decide to make a tofu scramble here are a few tips:

First, press the tofu (use Firm or Extra Firm). Tofu has a high water content so you want to wrap the tofu block in paper towels or a cloth towel and sit something heavy on top (I use a cast iron skillet). Let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will get a lot of the water out.

Then crumple the tofu into smaller pieces with your hands over a bowl. In a separate bowl mix your seasoning sauce. I like to use garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, nutritional yeast and paprika to name a few. I then add about 1/2 cup of plant-based milk and whisk together.

Start sautéing your veggies, then add the tofu. Once it starts to brown a little then fold in your sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, plate it and add some fresh cracked pepper.

4. Low Fat Plain Greek Yogurt with Fruit

Another quick and easy option for when you’re not too hungry but know you need a little fuel. Greek yogurt is a great grab-and-go high protein source.

Of course, dairy provides a little more potassium and phosphorus as all protein sources do. Usual serving size is 5.3 oz. Add a serving of fruit for more fiber and antioxidants.

Opt for plain instead of flavored yogurt to avoid a lot of added sugars. Top your plain yogurt with a sweeter fruit such as 1/2 cup pineapple chunks to help add natural sweetness.

If plain yogurt isn’t your thing you can try a brand called Two Good. It uses Stevia, a natural non-calorie sweetener, instead of added sugars. It is also lower in potassium than other greek yogurts (90 mg per 5.3 oz instead of 230-250 mg listed on other greek yogurts).

Two Good yogurt. Dialysis friendly breakfast.

5. Pancakes with Apple Butter

Who doesn’t like pancakes?! Unfortunately, a lot of pancakes out there are made from refined white flour. They tend to be lower in fiber and can spike your blood sugar, especially if you add syrup.

When you order pancakes from a restaurant or buy from a mix they also tend to use baking powder which is high in phosphorus. The healthiest pancakes are going to be home-made.

For recipes calling for baking powder you can sub 1/2 tsp cream of tartar + 1/4 tsp baking soda in place of 1 tsp baking powder. I love using buckwheat flour for my pancakes.

Buckwheat is high in fiber and protein so it makes your pancakes more hearty and filling. Check out this buckwheat pancake recipe which is egg-free and low in sugar. It calls for 2 tsp baking powder, so just use 1 tsp cream of tartar + 1/2 tsp baking soda instead. I like adding a little frozen blueberries to the mix for more fun.

Quick Option

If you’re looking for a quick dialysis-friendly pancake mix here is an option for you:

Swerve pancake mix. Dialysis-friendly breakfast. Dialysis Dietitian.

This pancake mix is made from almond and coconut flour. It’s high in protein and fiber and low in added sugar. It does call for an added egg and milk (you can use almond milk).

This isn’t a low sodium option, but it contains no phosphate additives or baking powder. Potassium is listed at 232mg per 1/3 cup mix.

Pancake Topping

Most maple syrup substitutes contain corn syrup and phosphate additives. 100% maple syrup is more expensive but it is less processed with no additives. It is also very sweet so you don’t need much.

But, if you’re looking for a lower sugar alternative I would try topping your pancakes with some no added sugar apple butter instead. Also, Birch Benders* makes a “keto maple” syrup which uses monkfruit as a sweetener and contains no phosphate additives.

You could also add a Tbsp of unsalted creamy peanut butter which would add some extra protein and give you more satiety.

6. Whole Grain Cereals

Most store bought cereal is very processed with a lot of added sugar, oil, and sodium. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat cereal! Just pay attention to the nutrition facts label and the ingredients.

Here are some healthier dialysis-friendly cereals:

  • Kashi Go Original
Kashi Go Original. Best breakfast for dialysis patients.

Need more fiber? Kashi Go Original is packed with 13g fiber and 11g protein (1 1/4 cup serving)! Sodium is acceptable at 170mg. Because it is higher in protein it does contain a little more potassium (240mg) and phosphorus (187.5mg, 15% DV). But, if you stick to the serving size I think this is a good pick.

Nature's Path Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon Cereal.
  • Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon

This one doesn’t contain as much fiber (4g) and protein (3g), but still has pretty good ingredients like brown rice flour, whole grain corn meal, quinoa, flaxseeds, buckwheat flour and amaranth. Sodium is acceptable at 150 mg per 1 cup serving and it’s much lower in potassium (90mg). Note: It does have 6g of added sugar.

  • Shredded Wheat

What I love about shredded wheat is that it only has one main ingredient – whole grain wheat! There’s no added salt or sugar (a rarity for boxed cereal) and it’s high in fiber (8g) and protein (7g). A 1 1/3 cup serving contains 250mg potassium and 250mg phosphorus.

Sounds like a lot of phosphorus but you have to remember that your body only absorbs roughly 50% of phosphorus coming from plant based sources.

This depends on the bioavailability of phosphorus in your gut, but it’s safe to say that you do not absorb all of the phosphorus listed on the label (unlike phosphorus additives).

Shredded wheat. the best breakfast for dialysis patients. Dialysis Dietitian.

Throw in 1/2 cup of blueberries or strawberries with a little cinnamon and almond milk and you have yourself a heart healthy breakfast.

Keep in mind that all milk and plant-based milk contains added salt. Almond milk usually has around 170mg of sodium per 8oz cup. This adds to the sodium that most cereals contain which makes shredded wheat an excellent low sodium choice.

7. Chia Pudding

What is chia pudding you ask? It’s usually made with just 3 ingredients: 1/2 cup plant-based milk (almond milk), 2 Tbsp chia seeds, and optional sweetener (1 tsp maple syrup, agave or honey).

Mix together in a small mason jar and let sit in the fridge overnight. The chia seeds help thicken it and give it a tapioca-like texture.

What’s great about chia seeds is that they provide a good source of protein (~5g per 2 Tbsp). They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for heart health and fighting inflammation.

Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber which help manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels and are good for gut health.

You can typically find chia seeds in the cereal isle or in the bulk section of your health food store. Add some sliced strawberries for a fun topper.

Picture of chia pudding with berries. The best breakfast for dialysis patients. Dialysis Dietitian

8. Whole-Grain English Muffin with Hummus & Veggies

If you’re feeling more savory you can toast a whole-grain english muffin and add some hummus for a little added plant protein and top with some low potassium veggies like sliced cucumber, red onion and sprouts! Easy and satisfying.

Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 also makes a good sprouted low sodium english muffin. They are a complete protein with good ingredients, no preservatives and 0g sodium per serving!

9. Dialysis-Friendly Smoothie

Sometimes a smoothie is all you’re craving for breakfast. Cool, refreshing yet also packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, a lot of the smoothies you buy are not only loaded with sugar but also potassium and phosphorus.

To make a smoothie dialysis-friendly start with a good base. You can use unsweetened almond milk and add a scoop of your favorite protein powder. I like Garden of Life* Raw Organic Meal Replacement Shake.

Silken tofu also makes a great non-dairy base full of natural protein in addition to adding a creamy texture to your smoothie.

It is often sold in vacuum-sealed packages and kept on shelf-stable aisles (in the vegetarian, organic, or natural foods section) but can also be found in the refrigerated section next to other soy and meat alternatives.

Next, choose a low potassium fruit and veggie. Frozen berries make a great addition but you can also add a small handful of kale or spinach to get in your greens without really tasting it.

Just remember to count your smoothie towards your daily fluid goals. I would use your smoothie to take your morning medications instead of additional water. Try to keep it to an 8 oz cup serving. I love the idea of freezing half to use for a high protein popsicle later.

Berry Smoothie. The best breakfast for dialysis patients. Dialysis dietitian.

The following smoothie recipe comes from the National Kidney Foundation website (www.kidney.org):

Berry Smoothie

¼ cup cranberry juice cocktail

2/3 cup silken tofu, firm

½ cup raspberries, frozen, unsweetened

½ cup blueberries, frozen, unsweetened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour juice into a blender. Add rest of ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Enjoy! 

Nutritional Information (Serving size: 1 cup):

Calories 188, Carbohydrates 28 grams, Protein 8 grams, Dietary Fiber 7 grams, Fat 3 grams, Sodium 6 milligrams, Potassium 163 milligrams, Phosphorus 30 milligrams

The Best Breakfast for Dialysis Patients

Starting the day off right with a dialysis-friendly breakfast sets the stage for improved nutrition, energy, and overall well-being.

As a dialysis patient you have a lot to juggle to ensure you’re meeting your protein, fluid and sodium goals while at the same time controlling your phosphorus and potassium levels.

This can sometimes feel overwhelming. Just remember you do have a lot of healthy options to choose from! You can enjoy a satisfying and nutritious morning meal and keep your lab values in check at the same time.

Consult with your clinic registered dietitian for a more tailored breakfast plan based on your individual needs. For further meal plan guidance you can also check out the 7 day Renal Diet Meal Plan.

3 thoughts on “The Best Breakfast for Dialysis Patients”

  1. Regina K. Sanderson

    I’m glad I found you, Now the challenge is to get my husband to eat these healthy breakfasts prior to dialysis.

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