With many magazines constantly talking about high-protein, low-carb diets and celebs dishing about their favorite protein smoothies, you’d think most of us have plenty of protein in our systems at all times and never have issues with a deficiency in this area.
However, many people do actually lack when it comes to this vital macronutrient, for reasons such as calorie counting, fasting, or simply not understanding how to consume adequate quantities.
If you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, it’s time to up your intake by way of the meals you eat or by buying quality protein powders that give you all the supplementation you need. It’s also vital to understand some of the many ways a lack of protein can show up. Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate you need to increase your protein intake ASAP.
Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Here are some signs to look out for that could indicate you need to increase your protein intake.
Sugar and Carb Cravings
We all get the occasional food cravings, but if you find you’re regularly craving sugary foods or lots of carbohydrates, the issue may be a lack of protein. When you enjoy meals with enough protein in them, you’re much more likely to feel satisfied afterward and won’t be reaching for as many other foods to help stop your cravings.
Consider adding more options such as turkey or chicken breast, wild-caught fish, grass-fed steak, beans, pulses, and nuts to your diet. Other sources of protein include leafy green vegetables, eggs, and dairy products.
Similarly, when you’re not getting enough protein, you’re more likely to feel hungry all the time, even just an hour after eating. Protein takes more time to digest than carbohydrates, so if you don’t have balanced meals with protein (as well as some good fats), you’ll feel hungry sooner.
A spike in blood sugar from too many carbs and not enough protein will also have you looking to fuel yourself again rapidly as you try to lift yourself from the crash that comes after the spike. Aim to set up your meals to contain around 40 percent protein, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent carbohydrates to stay fuller for longer.
Hair, nails, and skin require numerous essential amino acids to thrive. A protein deficit may show up in the condition of your hair, nails, and skin.
Thinning Hair, Weak Nails, and Dry Flaky Skin
A deficit of protein may also show up in the condition of your hair, nails, and skin. If you’ve started noticing your hair is thinning, your nails have ridges in them, are brittle and peeling, etc., or that your skin is dry, dull, and flaky, the cause may be not enough protein.
Hair, nails, and skin require numerous essential amino acids to thrive. Complete protein sources contain all the nine essential acids we need, which our bodies don’t produce on their own. Protein basically makes up the building blocks of these parts of the human body. As such, if you fail to get adequate protein levels, you’ll be missing out on the necessary elements your body desires to operate at its vibrant best.
Lowered Immunity and Slow Recovery
Have you needed to take more sick days in recent months? Or are you regularly battling a low-level cold or other infection? If so, your body may be signalling that it needs more protein. Frequent illness alerts you to the fact that you have a less-than-ideal immune system. The immune cells are made from proteins, so if you consume too little of this, the deficiency may be making it much harder for your antibodies to fend off sickness.
Also, zinc helps fight infections and is found in most high-protein foods, so missing out on protein further compounds issues. Note, too, that recovery from injuries can slow down if protein levels are low. The reason for this is that new cells, tissues, and skin need sufficient protein to heal and rebuild.
Another symptom of a lack of protein is more fluid retention than usual. Bloating can occur in various parts of the body, including the belly, legs, and ankles, due to edema (fluid accumulation). Since protein is essential in maintaining the right balance of fluid in and outside of the body’s cells and stopping it from accumulating in tissues unnecessarily, low protein levels can lead to everything getting out of whack. Increase your protein consumption and see if you have less fluid retention thereafter.
Protein influences many parts of our physiology, so making sure you get enough of it is vital. See your doctor if you notice any of the low-protein warning signs.
Always see your doctor if you notice any of the signs mentioned above. You must be sure that protein is the cause behind them, rather than assuming and missing other potential health issues. However, protein influences many parts of our physiology, so making sure you get enough of it is wise no matter what.
Are you getting enough protein in your diet?
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