Can I Drink Coffee if I Have Kidney Disease?

This is often one of the first questions my clients ask me when we start to discuss beverages or breakfast. It’s understandable- our coffee ritual is ingrained in us from a younger age. Personally, my morning feels funky if not started with the touch of a button on my coffee maker.

While a cup of coffee provides no carbohydrates, fats, or protein, it does provide other nutrients.

An 8-oz cup of black coffee will give you;

  • 8 ounces of water (yes- it still counts as fluids)

  • 95 milligrams of caffeine

  • 116 milligrams of potassium

  • a great source of antioxidants, like the polyphenol chlorogenic acid

There are also studies that show regular coffee-drinkers have lower risks for developing type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis and cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Coffee, however, can have a negative effect on your blood pressure if consumed too much. According to a review of 34 studies, drinking 200-300 milligrams of caffeine can increase systolic blood pressure by 8 mm/Hg and last for several hours. So if you choose to drink a couple cups of strong coffee, that may be enough.

What about kidney stones?

A study in 2014 found that including caffeinated beverages results in a lower risk of kidney stones. As coffee is one of the top caffeinated drinks, it is clearly something that can be included.

If you have kidney stones, it is recommended to work with a registered dietitian. This will set the stage to discuss how you can incorporate coffee into your routine safely, without risking additional kidney stones or other urinary and kidney issues.

Be mindful of your cup

  • Fluids can still add up. A ‘tall’ is 12 ounces (1.5 cups); ‘grande’ is 16 ounces (2 cups); ‘venti’ is 24 ounces (3 cups)

  • Caffeine consumption: the safe limit for healthy adults is 400 milligrams daily. Caffeine can cause a brief increase in blood pressure so be mindful if you are working to control that.

  • Coffee can turn into a high-potassium beverage if consumed in larger amounts. For example, that venti cup holds about 348 milligrams on it’s own!

Other things to be mindful of are the extras you may put in your coffee, like milk/cream and sugar. Adding too much of either of these things can increase blood sugar spikes, potassium, and phosphorus content. If these are other things you are balancing for your kidneys, try drinking coffee-based drinks more often and milk-based drinks (like lattes) on occasion to keep these concerns in check.

If you find that you do not like the taste of coffee without requiring a ton of sugar and cream, it may be better for you to research other options. Or think of why you are drinking a beverage that needs to be hidden with other ingredients.

  • Looking for a morning energy boost? Try going for a short and casual walk around the block.

  • Need something to warm you up? How about some hot water with lemon, or a tea?

  • Hoping for a peaceful way to start your morning? Start practicing some mindful meditation or gentle yoga to center yourself.

Coffee can be a healthy part of the kidney diet.

For most people, having a cup each morning to start their day can fit well into their renal diet.

Speak with your dietitian and doctor about the amount of coffee that is best for you. Each person’s kidney disease will have different diet (and coffee) recommendations. Cheers to a pleasant morning ritual!