Proteins are long chains of amino acids that are essential for the body to function properly. Protein provides us with energy, helps our bodies to recover, helps you burn fat, and keeps our tummies satisfied. Our bodies use protein every day to function but it must be constantly replaced in order to avoid protein deficiency. The question now is how would you know if you’re not getting enough protein? The signs below may indicate just that – although, be sure to keep in mind that when it comes to any type of nutrient deficiency, symptoms can have other causes too.
1. Food Cravings: Constant food cravings and the need to snack often between meals may be the consequence of a high-carb/sugar and a low-protein diet. Protein evens out blood sugar highs and lows. In fact, craving sweets is the most common one and is one of the first signs. You may have the feel that you want to eat sweets more than you used to and also feel as if you’re never quite satisfied.
2. Muscle and Joint Pain: Your body needs protein in order to build new muscle mass. It’s also important for keeping energy and motivation. If you aren’t getting enough protein, the result can be muscle weakness, pain, or being flabby where you used to be muscular. Without adequate protein, you can work out more but see fewer results because your diet doesn’t support tissue repair or your energy needs.
3. Sleep Problems: Insomnia and other sleeping difficulties are sometimes associated with unstable blood sugar levels too, along with lower serotonin production and increased cortisol. If your body’s blood sugar is swinging up and down throughout the day, that continues at night – carbs require significantly more insulin than protein or fat, so if you eat protein-packed foods just before bedtime, that can aid serotonin and tryptophan production, which has a minimal effect and blood sugar.
4. Slow Recovery From Injuries: To heal and rebuild new cells, tissue, and skin and for immunity, we need a sufficient amount of protein. A diet low in protein can increase your risk for muscle loss, bone weakness, fractures and even osteoporosis. Research has shown that a diet high in amino acids can help treat muscle loss due to aging.
5. Brain Fog: Your body needs protein to support healthy neurological functioning. Poor concentration, lack of motivation and trouble learning new information can be signs that you’re low in protein. Dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin are neurotransmitters that your body needs in order to focus. Neurotransmitters are synthesized in the brain using amino acids. You might feel like you’re in a brain fog if you’re not getting enough protein.