Vegetarian low-protein diets supplemented with keto analogues: a niche for the few or an option for many?

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Low-protein diets are often mentioned but seldom used to slow chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression. The aim of the study was to investigate the potential for implementation of a simplified low-protein diet supplemented with alpha-keto analogues (LPD-KA) as part of the routine work-up in CKD patients.


In an implementation study (December 2007–November 2011), all patients with CKD Stages IV–V not on dialysis, rapidly progressive Stage III and/or refractory proteinuria, were offered either a simplified LPD-KA, or commercially available low-protein food. LPD-KA consisted of proteins 0.6 g/kg/day, supplementation with Ketosteril 1 pill/10 Kg, 1–3 free-choice meals/week and a simplified schema based on ‘allowed’ and ‘forbidden’ foods. ‘Success’ was defined as at least 6 months on LPD-KA. Progression was defined as reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR)[(Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology Collaboration) formula CKD-EPI] in patients with at least 6 months of follow-up.


Of about 2500 patients referred (8% CKD Stages IV–V), 139 started LPD-KA; median age (70 years) and prevalence of comorbidity (79%) were in line with the dialysis population. Start of dialysis was the main reason for discontinuation (40 cases, unplanned in 7); clinical reasons were recorded in 7, personal preference in 14 and improvement and death in 8 each. The low gross mortality (4% per year) and the progression rate (from −8 to 0 mL/min/year at 6 months) are reassuring concerning safety. None of the baseline conditions, including age, educational level, comorbidity or kidney function, discriminated the patients who followed the diet for at least 6 months.


Our data suggest a wider offer of LPD-KA to patients with severe and progressive CKD. The promising results in terms of mortality and progression need confirmation with different study designs.

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