Chances are if you’re reading this article, you want to know if you’re getting enough protein.
It’s a common question, so let’s get to the bottom of it once and for all! This article will share unexpected signs that may indicate a protein deficiency, along with the general recommendations for your daily protein intake.
Protein is integral to supplying your body with energy, helping you recover after exercise, and keeping you feeling full and satisfied after a meal. It also plays an important role in the repair, growth and maintenance of your muscles – an important element in helping you further develop your yoga practice or fitness regimen.
It is one of the most vital components of your diet, and adequate protein intake is essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.
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Luckily, it can be found in a variety of foods that you eat every day, from meat and fish to legumes, dairy, quinoa and seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables and protein supplements.
The amount of protein you need each day is determined by your age, weight and activity level. A good rule of thumb for the average person is to consume .36 grams per 1 pound of body weight of protein each day.
According to the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), .36 grams is the basic standard. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, this recommendation states that your daily protein intake should be 72 grams.
However, this general recommendation does not take certain things into account such as age, weight, and activity level. In other words, .36 grams per one pound of body weight is the minimum, and living an active lifestyle will increase this daily requirement. If you’re concerned whether you get enough protein in your diet, this is important to be aware of.
You might think your diet is protein-rich, but are you sure that you are supplying your body with enough of this important macronutrient? Are you really getting enough protein?
Here Are 10 Unexpected Signs You Might Have a Protein Deficiency:
If you suspect that you may need more protein in your diet, read on for ten telltale signs.
1. You Feel Weak
Muscle weakness and loss of existing muscle are signs that you may not be eating enough. When you don’t eat enough protein, your body will break down muscle to use as fuel and energy. Loss of muscle mass can slow down your metabolism, too.
2. Your Hair Is Thinning
Protein is not just essential for muscle growth and development. It is also the building block of our cells, including our hair, skin and nails.
To save energy and retain stored protein, your body will enter a resting phase in which it will not grow hair, resulting in hair loss or thinning.
3. You Often Get Sick
Protein is an essential part of a healthy immune system. When you do not eat enough protein, your body utilizes the T cells (germ fighters) in your body as fuel that would typically combat cold and flus.
This may result in you getting sick more frequently. You may also take longer to recover from cuts, scrapes and infections.
4. You Can’t Lose Weight
If you cut calories and protein in an effort to lose weight, you might actually be causing the opposite effect due to a slowed metabolism caused by reduced muscle mass.
If you are trying to lose weight, you should eat more protein, since increased consumption is linked to eating less calories throughout your day as you will feel fuller longer. Also, the weight you lose will be from fat, not muscle.
5. Your Skin Is Peeling
Other very visible signs of a deficiency include peeling skin and nails. Common signs to look out for include flaky, irritated skin on the back of your thighs and booty, which is caused by a weakened skin barrier that makes your skin more susceptible to allergens.
6. You Are Experiencing Swelling or Inflammation
When you don’t eat enough protein, you may experience unexpected swelling in your lower extremities – your legs, ankles and feet. This swelling is caused by fluids that would normally be stored in your blood vessels that seep into the surrounding tissue.
You can tell if you are retaining water and swelling by pressing a finger to the area and seeing if a mark is left behind (mark = swelling).
7. You Always Feel Hungry
There are a variety of reasons why you might be hungry, including dehydration, but you might also be lacking adequate protein in your diet.
If you find you are always hungry, or you need a snack or two between meals, this might be your body’s way of telling you to eat more protein at each meal. Protein evens out blood sugar and keeps you feeling satisfied until your next meal.
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8. You Crave Desserts
If you are not just hungry, but you also specifically crave sweets, you might need more protein. Because protein regulates blood sugar and glucose levels, lack of protein might lead you to reach for a sweet treat.
If you eat it at each meal, you are less likely to have highs and lows with your blood sugar and those associated cravings.
9. You Are Always Tired
If you don’t get enough sleep or if you overexert yourself at work, home or the gym, you probably feel tired quite often. However, if you are tired in the middle of the day, your blood sugar and protein levels might be to blame.
Instead of taking a nap, which is not an option for most people, reach for a protein-rich snack and watch your energy levels improve.
10. You Feel Unable to Focus
When you don’t maintain your protein levels, you may experience brain fog. Protein balances blood sugar, which keeps you mentally focused and on-point. Don’t rely on carbs or sweets to keep you going. Instead, add some protein to each meal to keep your body and brain working clear and in-sync!
The Takeaway on Protein and Whether You’re Getting Enough
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have a protein deficiency. Increase your intake by incorporating protein-dense foods into your diet, or supplementing with a quick shake.
As mentioned in the introduction, the general recommended protein intake is based on the average sedentary adult. So if you are active and exercise regularly, that means you may need more protein day to day.
According to studies, higher protein intake will help maintain and build muscle. So if you are regularly active, you need more protein than the average sedentary adult.
While there are some conflicting study results over the best amount of protein intake for muscle gain, the most common estimate is .7 – 1 gram of protein per one pound of body weight.
Even though it is found in so many sources, protein deficiency is still very common among the elderly, athletes, frequent dieters and people with digestive issues, and those who are under stress or recovering from illness or injury.
Whatever you do, make sure that you get enough protein for your lifestyle to keep your body running to its optimal potential.
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare provider for medical questions and before beginning or changing any dietary, supplementation, and exercise regimen.
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