Are you feeling under the weather even on sunny days? Do you have a hard time recovering from injuries? Are your workouts leaving you drained and aching all over? One potential reason for all these problems may be insufficient protein intake. Proteins are the building blocks of all living cells, and if your diet is lacking this important nutrient (which is often the case with vegans and vegetarians), you may be in for a rocky ride with or without heavy workouts in the mix.
The average protein needs for sedentary adults total 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight a day, but the figures can double or even triple for breastfeeding women, professional athletes and individuals recovering from serious illnesses. Still, how do you know you need extra proteins, and more importantly, what can you do about it? Here are the main signs that your diet may be lacking protein, followed by the easiest ways to remedy the deficiency.
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Symptoms of protein-deficient diet
- Persistent fatigue and moodiness – Without proteins to stabilize blood sugar levels, you may experience drowsiness, moodiness and low energy levels. If not timely remedied, the problem may evolve into obnoxious brain fog, memory problems and chronic fatigue.
- Constant cravings – If you crave sweets after meals, your body may be needing extra quantities of easily digestible energy to keep blood sugar levels steady. Simple carbs provide a quick energy fix, but they do not offer a lasting solution and can even aggravate the problem further by causing diabetes type 2.
- Lengthy recovery from injuries – Protein deficiency is often manifested in prolonged recovery from injuries. Since the body is not getting sufficient quantities of tissue-building matter to repair damages, natural healing processes can slow down considerably.
- Hair and nail brittleness – Proteins are used in the production of all tissues in the body, including hair and nails. Once the organism goes into conservation mode due to a pressing lack of protein, your hairline may begin to recede, and your nails can become brittle.
- Overall weakness and sensitivity – Without quality nutrients, the organism becomes easily exhausted and prone to allergies and infections. If even the easiest exercises feel too strenuous or if you are constantly falling ill, it may be time to reach for proteins instead of simple sugars.
Efficient protein deficiency fixes
If you have identified some of the symptoms listed above as your everyday problems, consider the following fixes to get your protein intake and overall wellbeing back on the right track.
- Use protein supplements – Quality protein powders are an excellent source of this precious nutrient. Proteins from whey and casein powders are metabolized more easily than those found in solid foods, so they are an ideal dietary addition for people whose diet is low in protein.
- Up red meat intake – If you are not a plant-based diet aficionado, increasing your daily intake of meat such as lean chicken, steak, pork loin, beef (either as jerky or roasted), tuna and turkey may solve your protein deficiency.
- Eat plenty of beans and lentils – Soy, legumes, garbanzo, pinto, black and kidney beans are probably the cheapest protein foods out there. High in vitamins and minerals, lentils and beans should be consumed several times a week for optimal nutrition.
- Increase consumption of dairy and eggs – Low-fat milk, cheese and eggs are rich in protein, potassium and calcium, so add them to your plate when looking to counter the side effects of protein deficiency.
- Add nuts and seeds to your plate – Various seeds and nuts such as almonds, chia seeds, peanuts and flaxseed contain lots of protein, providing a more balanced snack than carb-rich foods.
Beating protein deficiency and restoring seamless health and stable energy levels is easy if you know which foods to add to your plate. Do not wait for fatigue, candy cravings, muscle pains and other problems to turn chronic: beat them with the right diet and supplements.