These days, myriad of diets promise a healthy and sexy look, and the more diets we try, the more we get confused: what is actually good for our body? The palette is highly diversified, starting from the raw vegan lifestyle through the Mediterranean diet all the way to the Ketogenic line. Whatever we choose, we should keep in mind that our body needs certain nutrients, the protein being one of the most important ones. Its name already tells a lot, as it comes from the Greek word proteos, which means “primary” or “first place.”
Here is a collection of the most telltale signs that your body gets not enough protein.
Skin and nail problems
Collagen, elastin, and keratin are important components of our nail and skin. What you may not know is that these are all proteins. If your body doesn’t get enough of these valuable nutrients, it will result dry and flaky skin, and ridges on your fingernails. Other causes may lay in the background, but your body will be thankful for a sufficient and balanced diet.
A common sign that your body is not getting enough protein is swelling. It can appear in your legs, feet, hands or in your stomach. According to experts, the symptom may develop when the blood contains a low level of protein, as protein circulation prevents fluid to get accumulated in your tissues. Again, many reasons can lay behind it, so if your symptoms don’t lessen, be sure to check it with your doctor.
This one is probably the most obvious symptom. If your body doesn’t get what it needs, your brain is going to ring the bells: you are hungry. And remember, hunger may force you to eat easily reachable snacks that are full of carbs. According to studies, eating food that is rich in protein helps you feel fuller all day long.
Our brain needs special chemicals called neurotransmitters to convey information between the cells of our body. Amino acids are the building blocks of these neurotransmitters, which we know are the base of protein. It is easy to understand that low protein content in our diet could lead to a lack of producing those neurotransmitters, and that may negatively affect your brain’s work, causing depressive or overly aggressive mood.
Fatigue and weakness
If you eat constantly much less protein that your body would need, you will feel weaker and you will get tired faster, your strength fades away. At the same time, your metabolism also slows down, and it will be harder to keep your balance. In medicine, the symptom is called Hypoproteinemia, and it is quite common among people suffering from anorexia and bulimia and in countries of the third world.
Loss of muscles
Protein is the food of our muscles. Studies clearly show that one week with not enough protein can already cause a significant decline in our muscle performance, and over time, it directly leads to a loss of muscle mass. No wonder, dietary supplement producers provide countless of different sized and flavored protein products, powders and bars, they are a must especially for athletes having a hard workout routine.
Getting and staying sick
Eating an insufficient amount of protein can weaken your body’s ability to fight off infections, a common cold can take you to your bed. For our immune system, amino acids – the building blocks of protein – play a very important role in producing antibodies in our blood that fight against not just bacteria and viruses, but also against toxins. With the help of protein, many nutrients can absorb better, that will help us to stay healthy.
Studies show that being on a low protein diet can have a result on the recovery of our body, scrapes and cuts may take much longer to get better, and it’s not just our skin that is affected. Sprains and other exercise-related accidents seem to heal slower, as well. The reason behind the symptom can be again the lack of collagen which our body cannot produce in the required volume.
New studies found that increasing the protein consumption in our diet may reduce the liver’s fat content and at the same time it lowers the risk of diabetes in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. According to researchers, these important findings should get implemented at clinical cases immediately in order to experience its potential benefits.
Insomnia and sleep disorders can be the reason for unstable blood sugar levels. This happens when our body produces less serotonin – that is know as happiness hormone, and more cortisol, which is also called “stress hormone”. Our blood sugar fluctuations during the whole even when we sleep (or try to). Eating protein rich food before bed can support serotonin production, and contrary to carbs, it has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
Believe or not, being gassy and having problems with going to the toilet can be also linked to a low amino acid intake. A number of metabolic and digestive functions are regulated by amino acids. If your body doesn’t get a sufficient amount of them, you most probably will suffer from these awkward symptoms very soon. Also, try to divide your daily protein dose into small portions, rather than eating all at once.
Irregular menstrual cycle
Millions of women all over the world suffer from irregular menstrual cycles, many of them fight against infertility due to an illness called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Besides obesity insulin resistance or diabetes is the key reason for it. Low-protein and high-carb diets contribute both to insulin resistance and weight gain that disturbs the fragile balance of the female hormone system, and together with that the regular cycle.
Too tight pants
Many people are afraid of eating too much protein as (fatty) meat or cheese contain more calories than carbs. The key here is that high-protein foods make you feel full quicker and for longer than carbohydrates or fats do, and this will prevent you from overeating and snacking. Protein also helps stabilize your blood sugar, so giving up with munching and snacking will go much easier.
New studies say that protein deficiency can also lead to a loss of sexual interest or libido. This might be a consequence of feeling exhausted and of the negative swing of hormones. That is again a sign that needs deeper analyze, and if you experience a continuous disorder, check it with your doctor.
Unusual hair loss
Only a few weeks of low protein intake can result in thinning hair and hair loss, as our body will redirect the limited protein to organs where it is needed the most. It’s easy to see that we can live without hair, but the lack of protein could cause in other cells fatal damages. So if you want a shiny, thick crown of hair, be sure you’re eating a balanced diet.
Effect on children’s development
According to a new study, one in seven school-aged kids in the U.S. doesn’t get a sufficient dose of protein. If we have a look behind the numbers, we can see that 30% of their daily calories come from low-nutrient, carb-rich snacks and candy. This is a very dangerous spiral, that has a negative effect on their physical and mental growth and development.
Recommendation: How much protein should we eat?
We all are different with different needs. If we want to get the answer to how much protein we need, we have to consider our gender, age, body weight, and daily activities. According to the official recommendation of the USDA, the daily minimum intake of protein for adults with an average weight and activity level is 56 grams/day for men and 46 grams/day for women. This is basically the level that we need to survive.