As we know, protein is what our muscles are built from. Without it, we will be soft as paper and we won’t have enough weight. As a matter of fact, it serves a relevant role in the lives of everyone. An average person would need protein per day depending on the weight of an individual. So, if a person weight 120 pounds, the minimum amount of protein that that person can eat is 60 lbs. of protein. However, there are people who consume less and even no protein per day. Yes, these people might have protein deficiency which is dangerous in the long-run.
Before we get to the signs and symptoms, what makes a person protein deficient in the first place? Well, those people who are on a diet or have a different eating pattern than normal are at the risk of protein deficiency. This is dangerous because not only do proteins build muscle, it’s also responsible for our energies and other metabolic functions.
Jim White, RDN, and ACSM Exercise Physiologist puts emphasis on the importance of protein not just for those who exercise, but for everyone.
Protein is essential in almost all body functions and is responsible for the structure and make-up of hair, skin, muscles, hormones, and enzymes.”
So is protein deficiency a common condition?
Honestly, no. It should actually be a rare condition but a study says otherwise. According to the US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health, around 1 billion people worldwide have protein deficiency. This value is heightened especially in South Asia and Central Africa where 30 percent of children and young adults are protein deficient.
Are you getting enough protein? Do you think that what you’re eating is enough for your body to do the kind of work you do everyday? Here are the signs and symptoms that tell you you might be protein deficient.
You’re always drained
Do you feel tired and drained even when you have a complete sleep the night prior? It’s not just timing and it’s not the environment – it can be because you are protein deficient. Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD says that people who are protein deficient might have trouble pulling themselves to work out because of the lack of energy they are being supplied.
I would also argue that if someone isn’t eating enough protein, they probably aren’t eating enough calories overall. With that, a guy will feel fatigued and weak and will have trouble working out.”
So, one sign of protein deficiency can actually be a chained-reaction to you being unhealthy overall.
You don’t heal quickly
Not being ill is everyone’s wish but that is absolutely not the case. Because of the nature of our lives, we will be infected, we will get sick. To tell you honestly, that is normal but the fact that you’re not regenerating quickly? That can be a sign that you are protein deficient. According to Rizzo, not having enough protein can actually harm the immune system.
Protein is a vital nutrient for immune function and injury recovery. When people undergo surgery, they are told to up their protein afterwards to help with the healing process.”
Without the right amount of protein, injuries, wounds, and infections would really take time to heal. Moreover, it really might make you not properly heal. Another sign of it is that you might be having flu, fever, or the common cold more often.
Your cravings are getting worse
As normal people, we get cravings every now and then. Especially if we see or notice something we would want, our bodies will tell us to get whatever we’re craving for. However, if it happens regularly and your brain won’t allow you to think of anything else, then it can signify that you are becoming protein deficient. According to White, protein deficient-people also tend to crave savory foods more often than the usual.
During protein deficiency, there tends to be a heightened appetite or craving for savory foods. Our body is designed with this compensatory mechanism so that in the event of a food shortage, we would in theory desire the high-protein foods that we desperately need to sustain us.”
If you’re getting cravings fast and you’re regularly having these scenarios, you might make bad decisions on what to eat eventually. You might always choose to eat foods that are high on cholesterol and you might ignore its negative effects. Moreover, you can also start to overeat because of this which can lead you to being overweight.
You’re getting weaker and you’re losing muscles and weight
One obvious indicator that a person is protein deficient is when they’re losing muscles they naturally have. Naturally, a normal man will lose around 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass when they hit the age of 30; and that’s per decade. This phenomenon is known as sarcopenia, as per Rizzo.
When you’re not hitting enough protein, your body will start to look for protein in other parts of your body. Moreover, you feel less stronger and you might fit into your clothes differently, according to White.
If someone isn’t eating enough protein, the protein that they do eat provides energy for their everyday lives and bodily processes and not enough of it goes to the muscles.”
You experience nails and hair problems
The building blocks or protein are amino acids. As you haven’t known, your hair, skin, and nails – all of those are made of amino acids. So, if you’re short on protein, having low-quality, and easy-to-be-damaged hair, skin, and nails is a sign that you might be protein deficient.
Kelly R. Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, says that because of the lack of protein, since the bodies will prioritize more vital and functional organs, it will pull of the protein and amino acids from them to serve larger and more useful organs.
If the body is chronically not taking in the minimum requirement — or taking in too few calories and using protein as an energy source rather than for the body’s structure — it recognizes it needs to prioritize vital organs, and you’ll use amino acids for energy that otherwise would have created hair, new skin cells, and strengthened nails.”
So what do you need to do? Well, you need to improve your protein consumption. If you don’t have an idea, here’s a list of foods from HealthLine that are high on protein. Make sure to still have a balanced mean in order for you not to experience the consequences of being protein deficient.