An essential nutrient, protein supports the immune system, maintains healthy skin, hair, and nails, and builds and repairs tissue. Many people, however, do not consume enough protein in their diets, which can lead to a variety of health problems. These 11 signs may indicate that you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet.
Before we start, understanding these signs can help you make adjustments to your diet to ensure that you are getting the necessary amount of protein to support your overall health and wellbeing. From fatigue and weakness to increased hunger and mood changes, read on to learn more about the signs of protein deficiency and how to address them.
Fatigue and Weakness
Protein is an important source of energy, and when you don’t get enough of it in your diet, you may feel fatigued and weak. This is because your body doesn’t have enough protein to break down and convert into glucose, which is necessary for energy production.
Slow Recovery from Exercise
Protein is essential for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue after exercise. When you exercise, you create small tears in your muscles, and protein is necessary for repairing those tears. Without enough protein, your muscles may not recover as quickly, which can lead to decreased performance and an increased risk of injury.
Loss of Muscle Mass
When you don’t consume enough protein, your body may start breaking down muscle tissue to use as a source of energy. This is particularly true if you’re not consuming enough calories overall. When your body doesn’t have enough protein to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, it can lead to a loss of muscle mass over time. This is sometimes known as ‘muscle wasting’.
Protein is one of the most satiating macronutrients, meaning that it helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. When you don’t consume enough protein, you may find yourself feeling hungry more often, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Hair, Skin, and Nail Issues
Protein is necessary for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and nails. When you don’t consume enough protein, your body may divert the limited protein it has to more essential functions, like supporting organ function, and as a result, your hair, skin, and nails may become dry, brittle, and weak.
Edema, or swelling, can occur when there is a lack of protein in the diet. This is because protein is necessary for maintaining proper fluid balance in the body. When you don’t consume enough protein, fluid can accumulate in your tissues, leading to swelling in your hands, feet, and ankles.
Weakened Immune System
Protein is necessary for the production of antibodies and immune system cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and diseases. When you don’t consume enough protein, your immune system may be weakened, making you more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
Protein helps regulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are important for regulating mood. When you don’t consume enough protein, your body may not be able to produce enough of these neurotransmitters, leading to mood changes and symptoms of depression.
Slow Wound Healing
Protein is necessary for the repair and regeneration of tissues, including skin and muscle tissue. When you don’t consume enough protein, your body may not be able to repair damaged tissues as quickly, leading to slower wound healing times.
Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases
Studies have shown that not getting enough protein in the diet can increase the risk of chronic diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. This is because protein is essential for maintaining bone density, supporting heart health, and regulating blood sugar levels.
Protein is necessary for the production of neurotransmitters that regulate brain function and mood. When you don’t consume enough protein, your brain may not have enough of these important neurotransmitters, leading to brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be worth examining your protein intake to see if you need to make adjustments to your diet.