Seven Ways to Remove Excess Protein From Your Urine
A small amount of protein in your urine is normal and will usually improve over time1. Too much protein or proteinuria that lasts a long time can be a sign of kidney problems, though. Figuring out the best method for decreasing the protein in your urine can be overwhelming. However, there are a few simple lifestyle and diet changes that can help.
1. Reduce Protein Intake
High protein, low carb diets are popular, but too much protein in your diet can cause blood protein to leak into your urine. This becomes even more of a problem if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease2.
There is no clear definition of what constitutes a high-protein diet. However, research suggests that eating 1.68 grams of protein per kilogram of weight daily leads to an increase of protein in the urine2. A recent analysis showed that eating less protein or adopting a low-protein diet can significantly decrease protein in your urine3.
The recommended daily protein intake is 0.8 g/kg, roughly 56 grams for adult males and 46 grams for adult females4. If you eat more than the recommended amount, lowering it may help your proteinuria.
However, eating less than the recommended amount may lead to malnutrition. It’s vital to work with your doctor to find your optimal protein intake.
2. Limit Salt Intake
High salt intake is a major cause of high blood pressure and kidney damage, which can lead to increased protein in the urine5. A study comparing a low-salt diet to a high-salt diet found that those who consumed more salt had lowered kidney filtration and higher protein output6. A higher salt intake also raises blood pressure, which negatively affects urine protein5.
Other data indicate that lowering salt intake from 10 grams to 5 grams daily reduces proteinuria. In fact, the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines recommend an even lower salt intake, suggesting you get less than 2.3 grams daily4.
3. Check Your Blood Sugar
Diabetes and long-term high blood sugar are the leading causes of chronic kidney problems7. The high blood sugars damage the blood vessels that help filter proteins in your kidneys, leading to protein in the urine8.
Managing your blood sugar is essential for kidney health, as tight glucose control significantly reduces protein in the urine, including tiny amounts called microalbuminuria.
There are a few simple tips for how to reduce urine microalbumin, including:
- Monitor your blood sugar and urine protein regularly
- Take your insulin or diabetes medication as prescribed
- Follow your diet and exercise plan
4. Eat More Fiber
Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, and many other foods. Fiber stays in your gut longer than other carbohydrates, which regulates blood sugar and helps lower protein in your urine10.
Studies show that a vegetarian diet high in vegetables and fiber and low in animal protein lowered urine protein in patients with diabetes11. Try adding more fiber-rich foods to your diet, including:
- Whole grains
You may notice proteinuria after intense exercise, such as running a marathon. This type of temporary proteinuria is normal and returns to normal within a few hours. It is usually caused by muscle damage or dehydration, or because your body focused on salt and water reabsorption instead of filtering proteins12.
However, lower-intensity exercise can also help lower protein in your urine. A 2010 review looked at 13 studies on patients with obesity and kidney disease and compared the effect of weight loss strategies on proteinuria. Exercise was found to decrease protein output in the urine by 49%13. Another study found that swimming for 30 mins twice a week for three months significantly reduced urine protein in patients with chronic kidney disease14.
6. Stop Smoking
Smoking is a high-risk factor for proteinuria and chronic kidney disease, especially if you also have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other kidney diseases.
In a six-year study, researchers compared the risk of kidney disease and urine protein in smokers and those who quit. The group that quit smoking had a 50% decrease in risk of proteinuria compared to those who continued15.
7. Avoid Certain Medications
Certain medications can affect your kidney health and cause proteinuria. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen, and prescription NSAIDs can cause sudden kidney damage or injury and high protein output16.
NSAIDs may be a problem if you have high blood pressure, are an older adult, or already have poor kidney function or kidney disease16. Avoiding these medications can help you lower your urine protein.
Protein In Urine While Pregnant
Protein in your urine during pregnancy can be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that occurs during pregnancy and involves physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and proteinuria. If you have a history of preeclampsia or suspect you have protein in your urine, you should speak to your doctor immediately. They will tell you the best way to manage your health during your pregnancy. Proteinuria related to pregnancy usually goes away after the baby is born2.
Test Strips For Protein In Your Urine
Protein in the urine doesn’t always cause symptoms, so testing is the only way to conclusively diagnose proteinuria. At-home urine protein test strips can detect changes in protein levels and also detect nephrotic range proteinuria, which is indicated by greater than or equal to 3 g/L of protein in the urine. On a urine protein dipstick, it is semi-quantitatively indicated by three or more plus signs (e.g., +++). The reagent pad on test strips for protein in urine produces a light green color for trace or level 1 protein and a dark green color when excess protein is detected. A 24-hour urine collection is recommended to ascertain the diagnosis of nephrotic syndrome. The urine protein to creatinine ratio should also be considered a diagnostic marker for nephrotic syndrome. You can use the results from home testing to talk to your doctor and develop a long-term plan to safeguard your health.