Helping you live a better life on dialysis

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Calories

Most of us have been hearing about calories all our lives - but what are they exactly?

Calories are a measure of the energy in a food. Our bodies are like motors that need energy to run. We use food as fuel to give us energy, and we burn energy when we do our daily activities, exercise—even sleep! If we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight. If we eat fewer calories than we burn, we lose weight.

How many calories do you eat and drink in a day? For patients with kidney disease receiving dialysis treatments, the best way to find out is to keep track. Keep a diary of every bite of food you eat for a few days, and then talk to your dietitian about your total calories each day.

How many calories do you need in a day? It depends on how active you are. Studies have shown that most people need between 30 and 35 calories per day for each kilogram of body weight (2.2 lbs). If you do not move around much, are very overweight, or are over the age of 60, you may need fewer calories to keep the same body weight.

If you are under age 60, use this formula to find out how many calories you may need in a day:

  • Divide your weight (in pounds) by 2.2, and then multiply by 35

If you are 60 years old or over, use this formula to find out how many calories you may need in a day:

  • Divide your weight (in pounds) by 2.2, and then multiply by 30

You can download this equation and talk with your dietitian to see if he/she suggests this amount or a different amount (depending on your lifestyle).

Content from Kidney School, a program of the Medical Education Institute, Inc.

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