Why Is Protein Important?
Nothing is more important in our bodies than protein. It is the actual building blocks of the muscles, it boosts body metabolism and aids in fat burning. Moreover, protein helps to build healthy tissues and cells. Protein keeps our bodies running and healthy. Despite the wide variety of protein sources available nowadays, it’s common to find many people experiencing protein deficiency due to lack of proper protein intake. Some of the major reasons that contribute to protein deficiency that you may not even be aware of include; severely restrictive diets, medications and symptoms related to other underlying illnesses. Many people do not even realize that they are not getting enough of this important nutrient but your body has ways to let you know that you need to add more protein to your diet. Are you wondering if you are coming up short? The following are some of the telltale signs that you are protein deficient:
1. Wastage And Shrinking Of Muscle Tissues
Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissues. If your diet is deficient of protein for long periods, your body will turn to the muscles for the protein it needs. This causes the muscles to shrink and weaken.
2. A Feeling Of Weakness And Tiredness
Protein deficiency causes the body to break down your muscles so as to supply the body with sufficient protein, leading to loss of energy and strength.
3. High Cholesterol Levels In Your Body
High cholesterol and triglycerides are caused by eating fatty foods. Besides, they are caused by increased hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and high-processed & high sugar diets. If you are eating more of refined carbs, sugary snacks, and processed foods instead of protein foods, your cholesterol level in the body will tend to rise since your body cells and the liver process fats less efficiently.
4. Hair Loss
Protein deficiency causes loss of hair or thinning. As earlier mentioned, protein is the building block of all of your body cells including hair follicles. When your body does not get an adequate amount of protein needed, your hair will begin to thin and even start to fall out.
5. Organ Failure
This is one of the most severe signs of protein deficiency. Lack of protein in your diet will deprive the body the much needed fuel to maintain and repair organ cells. This results to limited organ function and in the worst cases complete organ failure.
6. Poor Sleep Habits
Poor sleep and insomnia are more likely to be caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels, a decrease in serotonin production and an increase in cortisol. Carbohydrates require much more insulin as compared to fat or protein. Eating protein-rich foods before going to bed can boost the production of tryptophan and serotonin, and they have a minimal effect on blood glucose levels; in fact, protein slows down the absorption of sugar during a meal.
7. Craving For Protein
If you are not eating enough protein, your body will automatically respond with a dire feeling to eat some protein food.
8. Anxiety And Moodiness
Amino acids that are contained in proteins are the building blocks for neurotransmitters which are responsible for controlling mood. Proteins help the brain to synthesize hormones such as serotonin and dopamine that help to bring on positive feelings like calm, excitement and positivity. Protein deficiency only inhibits the production of these hormones hence causing anxiety and moodiness.
9. Irregular Menstrual Cycles
The major cause of irregular periods in women is a condition known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with obesity and diabetes are at a higher risk of suffering from this syndrome. A majority of women with PCOS have a condition known as insulin resistance caused by low protein and high carb diets. Protein deficiency causes fatigue, inflammation, and weight gain that disrupts the delicate balance of female hormones that are needed to sustain a regular cycle.
This is the accumulation of fluid under the skin especially in the leg and ankle regions. Protein helps to maintain water balance in your body and when you lack sufficient intake of the same element, your skin may store water improperly.
11. You Experience “Brain Fog”
Protein boosts the brain’s neurological functioning. Low levels of neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine that are needed to focus brings about brain fog, poor motivation, lack of concentration, and trouble learning new information. A diet rich in protein increases the level of neurotransmitters that are synthesized in the brain using amino acids to boost work performance, learning and motor skills.
12. Weak Nails And Flaky Skin
Protein is essential for the growth of nail and skin cells. If you are on low protein, your nails will get weaker and your skin may get flaky. Protein deficiency may also cause rashes and other dermatological problems.
13. Craving For Sweets
This is the first response of the body when you are low on protein. Protein regulates blood sugar hence if you are lacking it, your glucose level will fluctuate significantly, pushing you to crave for sweets.
14. Mental Health Problems
Protein deficiency is associated with various mental health problems such as crankiness, anxiety and depression.
15. You Fall Sick Easily And Often
Protein is essential in building the components of our immune system. If you are not eating enough protein, your immune system will severely weaken to a point it can’t fight infections.
So what should you do if you suspect you are protein deficient? Of course the easiest way to remedy the problem is to get more protein into your diet. You can start with some high protein rich foods which include: Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, whey protein, red meat, chicken, yellow fin tuna, dried lentils and nuts and seeds. How much protein you will need will depend on our age, height, weight, sex and activity but as a general rule, for most people a daily amount of around 0.8-1g of protein per 1 kg of body weight is the recommended amount.