At the very mention of proteins, we think of lean meat and supplements. This just goes to show how well-informed most of us are of this very essential macronutrient. While there are constant debates on whether fats and carbs are good for us, there is unanimity in accepting proteins as a diet must-have.
This makes it all the more necessary for us to understand when we are not feeding our bodies enough protein. Scan through the following symptoms of protein deficiency and see if you can identify with some or all of them.
1. Your Muscles Feel Sore Even 3-4 Days After A Workout
It is no secret that proteins are the building blocks of muscles. It is but natural to feel sore after intense physical activity, however, it is not natural to continue to feel that way for days on end. As we overwork our muscles, they get damaged. Protein deficiency increases the time required for damaged muscles to repair, causing a prolonged period of soreness.
2. You Fall Sick Way Too Often
We don’t usually associate protein with immunity. The truth, however, is that antibodies and components of the complement system—the soldiers of your body’s defence system—are nothing but proteins. A dearth of proteins in the body is bound to weaken the immune system and make you highly susceptible to allergens, the influenza virus, and other common pathogens.
This is also why your now sensitive skin may be prone to becoming dry and flaky due to infections, especially on the back of your thighs and glutes.
3. You Don’t Feel As Strong As Before
To add to your misery of feeling weak, you may actually become physically weak. As your protein-deprived body seeks fuel, it breaks down existing lean muscle to run. In addition, since proteins help in the absorption of minerals in the intestines, protein deficiency will hinder the absorption of calcium by the body. Lesser calcium in the body means weaker bones.
As you lose muscle mass and bone strength, you will find it strenuous to lift even moderately heavy objects. This will also mean that even after spending all your free time at the gym, you will not get visible results as your body cannot build new muscle or repair damaged ones.
4. Your Sweet Tooth Cravings Have Amplified
You may logically think that protein deficiency increases your cravings for protein-rich foods, but that’s not how it works. Proteins regulate insulin levels and stabilize blood sugar. A deficiency in proteins, thus, causes insulin spikes that increases your cravings for high-energy, sugar-rich foods. If you find yourself wanting ten doughnuts instead of two or even drooling at the picture above, you might be a victim of protein deficiency.
5. Your Mood Swings Have Gotten Out Of Hand
Because of unstable blood sugar levels, a deficiency in proteins may cause your mood to go haywire. You may feel lost, confused, or irritable, or extremely happy and on edge and without cause. If you find your mood dipping and rising whimsically, consider the possibility of being protein deficient.
6. Your Hair Has Become Scanty And Dry
Keratin is the protein that is threaded together to form your hair strands. A low protein intake consequentially means inexplicable, unacceptable hair fall and extremely dry tresses. Increase your dietary protein intake to nurse your hair back to health.
7. Your Nails Are Brittle And Ridged
Your nails are structures of laminated layers of keratin (Yes, the hair protein). Depriving your body of the protein it needs may manifest as brittle nails or nails with horizontal or vertical ridges. All in all, unhealthy nails.
8. Your Wounds Take Long To Heal
Insufficient proteins in your body translates to a compromised immune system. Tissue repair and clotting of blood are essential components of the immune system. Torn tissue as found in cuts and wounds will, thus, take longer than usual to heal. A weaker frame (muscles and bones) will also make you more injury prone.
9. You No Longer Get Beauty Sleep
This has certainly drawn your attention. No one has to convince you of the importance of sleep, and when it is threatened, you must take action. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, helps you fall asleep. Serotonin is made of amino acids, nothing but the building blocks of proteins.
To make matters worse, the hunger pangs and sugar cravings associated with protein deficiency tend to disturb your sleep and leave you feeling tired all day long. So, if sleep is something you’ve been craving for, you might want to consider getting checked for protein deficiency.
If you’ve been nodding your head to most of these symptoms, it’s time you act on it. Whip up interesting recipes with protein-rich ingredients like eggs, almonds, chicken breasts, oats, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, quinoa, and lentils. You may also invest in whey protein supplements to meet the recommended Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of 0.8 grams protein for every kilogram of your body weight per day or 0.36 grams per pound.