Most microorganisms and plants can make all 20 standard amino acids, while humans must obtain some of the amino acids from the food.
How would you know if you’re protein deficient? Under are some symptoms that can be related to inadequate protein. Keep in mind that as with any nutrient deficiency, symptoms can have other reasons, so this is a general list and not to be used to self-diagnose.
Constant food cravings and needing snacks often between meals may be the consequence of a high-carb/sugar and low-protein diet. Protein evens out blood sugar highs and lows.
Muscle and joint pain
Muscle faintness, aching, or being flabby where you used to be muscular may be a symbol of your muscles or joint liquid breaking down to supplement calories instead of using the protein you eat to shape muscles, tissues, and cells.
Slow recovery from injuries
To heal and rebuild new cells, tissue, and skin and for immunity we need a sufficient amount of protein.
Hair, skin, and nail troubles
Tinny hair, hair falling out, shedding skin and nails, and ridges in nails are certain of the first signs your body might not have enough protein.
Edema or fluid accumulation: protein plays a part internally in keeping fluid from accumulating in tissues, especially in feet and ankles.
Getting sick regularly
Frequent illness means you have a poor immune system and immune cells are made from proteins.
Foggy brain, short bursts of mental energy, followed by the fog may be related to fluctuating blood sugar and lack of protein.
How much protein should you eat?
It’s pretty hard to become protein lacking if you eat a diet with a diversity of whole foods. If you aren’t getting sufficient protein, that perhaps means you aren’t consuming enough calories, you’re following a unhealthy diet, or you have some digestive imbalances.
If you eat too limited calories, your body will use the protein you do eat for energy in place of building muscles, immunity, and healthy hair, skin and nails, etc.
At a least, the average person needs to consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body heaviness. For a person who weighs 150 pounds, that would be about 55 grams of protein each day.
But the “right” amount of protein depends on many factors, including activity levels, age, muscle mass and current state of health.
Who’s at risk of protein deficiency?
As we become older our absorption and ability to use protein is less efficient.
Athletes burn more calories and use more protein to build muscle.
Those recovering from an acute illness or injury
To heal you need at least one and a half times the normal protein recommendations.
People who are stressed
Stress hormones rise muscle, bone and tissue breakdown in times of both physical and emotional stress.
People on a weight-loss diet
It’s been shown in studies that adequate protein is required for weight loss to balance blood sugars and avoid muscle breakdown.
Those with digestive issues or low stomach acid
Many people have an imbalance in their gut and don’t digest proteins competently, which can lead to lowered immunity, weight gain, and protein lack. To digest protein you must have sufficient stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL).
What can you do if you think you’re lacking in protein?
- If you’re consuming processed foods and lots of carbs and sugars, start replacing those with whole foods like three or four portions of fresh meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, plus whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. There’s great protein in plant foods as well as in animal foods.
- If you’re vegan, good protein sources include whole grains, lentils, soy, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
- If you don’t like protein foods or don’t like to eat them, consider a protein powder supplement made from soy, eggs, rice, peas, or whey.
- If you think you may have low stomach acid, check with your doctor or dietitian to get a good supplement.
- If you have a lot of stress in your life, look into learning to meditate or do yoga, or find whatever activities work greatest for you to decrease stress.
Lucky for us, protein is obtainable in many forms, raw and cooked. No matter what type of diet you follow, we have a number of methods to add more protein to our diets in a healthy and delicious way!