Seven Signs of a Protein Deficiency
From the time we were first shown a food pyramid in elementary school, we’ve been taught the importance of protein in our diets. But how do we know what’s really enough? There are many factors that impact the optimal amount of protein for us as individuals, but as a general rule of thumb we can determine a rough estimate of recommended daily protein intake by multiplying our weight by 0.36.
That being said, here at Tonic Products, we’re big believers in listening to your body. The amino acids in protein are the building blocks of many different bodily processes, so chances are if you’re not getting enough protein, your body will tell you one way or another. Here are seven sneaky signs you may have a protein deficiency
1. Feeling Weak, Fatigued, or Achy
A lack of protein will result in losing muscle mass, which negatively impacts our strength, balance, and even our metabolism. When we’re lacking in these areas, we can feel fatigued overall, and experience more trouble with joint aches and pains.
2. Slow Healing or Recovery
If our bodies to not have enough protein (collagen protein specifically), both surface injuries like cuts, and internal injuries like sprains may take longer to heal. This is because collagen is the building block of our connective tissues. If cuts and scrapes seem to linger, sports injuries persist, or you’re generally overly sore after workouts, you may want to consider upping your protein intake.
3. Frequent Hunger or Cravings
Protein is the most satiating nutrient group, so frequent hunger or sporadic cravings may be a sign we need more protein. It’s scientifically proven that eating protein helps us feel fuller longer, and when our body is fueled appropriately, it doesn't overproduce that hunger hormone (Ghrelin) that drives us to snack. With that, protein helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. If we’re low on protein and our blood sugar is spiking and crashing, we may start craving sweets specifically.
4. Dull and Brittle Hair, Skin, and Nails
Our hair, skin, and nails are made up of collagen, elastin, and keratin, all of which are proteins. Weak and brittle hair, skin, and/or nails can be a major indicator that your body may not be getting enough protein and is pulling protein from those sources.
5. Getting Sick Often / Poor Immune Health
The bottom line here is that our immune system and our immune cells specifically need protein to function. Scaffold proteins are essentially how our immune cells send signals within the system that an immune response may be needed somewhere in the body. Plus, the amino acids in protein help produce antibodies when needed, which activate our white blood cells that fight off bad bacteria and viruses. Past that, much of our immune system lives in the gut, and protein is needed to both digest and absorb the nutrients we consume to maintain healthy gut (and immune) balance.
6. Brain Fog or Mood Changes
Lack of protein can even affect our minds and mood! This is because some hormones and all neurotransmitters are made up of amino acids (from protein). If our body isn’t keeping up on healthy hormone and neurotransmitter production, issues like brain fog, impacted mood, poor sleep cycle, and even anxiety can appear.
7. Skeletal Injuries or Fractures
Despite what the dairy industry has told us, our bones are more than just calcium. Protein (specifically collagen) provides the framework for healthy bones. If we aren’t getting enough protein, our body pulls from wherever it can to help keep us fueled. With that, as our muscle mass increases, our bone density needs to bulk up as well to support that. If you struggle with stress fractures, skeletal injuries, or even breaks, it may be a sign that you need more protein.
If any of these are sounding familiar, you may want to consider increasing your protein intake! There are even some populations prone to protein issues, so if you are an athlete, on a weight-loss diet, overly stressed, or more advanced in your age, you may need to pay extra close attention to these aspects of your health.
Increasing your protein can of course be done through the food you consume, but an easy way is to add our Gym & Tonic Collagen Protein to your routine! It’s tasteless, odorless, and will dissolve in any liquid, so it’s as easy as just tossing a scoop or two in your morning coffee, smoothie, or oatmeal!