Protein is vital for living organisms. It provides the body with energy, helps it to recover, and keeps us satiated. It consists of long-chain amino acids which form the basis of muscle. There are 20 types of amino acids in the body. 11 are “non-essential” and produced by the body. The 9 others, categorised as “essential” amino acids, must be consumed from food.
Signs of protein deficiency can be characterised by a few telltale indicators.
Muscle, bone, and joint pains
Protein deficiency can cause muscle reduction, pains, and weakness. These are indicators of muscle and/or joint fluids breaking down to boost calories, rather than using the protein consumed to build and rebuild muscles, cells, and tissues.
Repairing and rebuilding new tissue, cells and skin require ample amounts of protein. Thus, prolonged healing from injury is a signal of protein deficiency.
Trouble with hair, nails, and skin
Our hair, nails and skin need protein to grow healthily. Thin hair that constantly falls out, peeling skin and nails, as well as brittle nails with vertical ridges are some initial signs that the body may not have enough protein.
A lack of protein can lead to unstable blood sugar levels. It may result in poor neurological functioning, such as short spurts of mental energy, mental fatigue, and brain fog.
Struggling with weight loss
Compared to carbohydrates, foods high in protein trigger the slow release of sugar into the bloodstream. Thus, satiety is increased substantially, reducing food cravings and overeating. Protein also helps to boost the body’s metabolism because it builds lean muscle that burns more calories.
How Much Protein Is Adequate?
Protein deficiency is uncommon in a diet with a range of whole foods. The minimum requirement of protein the average person should eat is 0.8 – 1.8g per kg of body weight. 0.36 grams per half a kilogram of body weight. However, the suitable amount of protein intake is contingent on other factors, such as age, muscle mass, activity levels and health. Types of People at Risk of Protein Deficiency
The elderly: the body’s ability to digest and use protein efficiently drops as it ages
Athletes: use more protein to build and repair muscle
People recovering from an illness or injury: about 1.5 more protein is needed to heal injuries
Those who are stressed: emotional, physical, and psychological stress leads to the release of stress hormones that elevate the rate of muscle and tissue breakdown.
People on a diet to lose weight: studies show that regulating blood sugar and averting muscle breakdown for weight loss requires ample protein.
People with digestive issues: digestive imbalances causes difficulties in digesting proteins efficiently. Weight gain, decreased immunity and protein deficiency can follow. An adequate level of stomach acid is necessary to digest protein.
How to eat more protein
Eat whole foods such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, whole grains, and vegetables. For vegetarians, incorporate beans, nuts, whole grains, lentils, soy, and vegetables into the diet. If you are finding if hard to eat enough protein, consider implementing protein powder supplements such as Xndo shakes.