When it comes to protein deficiency, here are 5 signs that you may have a problem.
Constant or frequent physical and or emotional hunger can be a sign we are not fueling our body properly. This is especially true if this hunger is happening after meals or frequently throughout the day regardless of snacking or skipping meals. We need protein to promote signals of satiety (feeling full) to the brain and stabilize blood sugar. Precious amino acids from protein are needed for many biological processes in the body as well.
Fatigued muscle, increased body fat and loss of muscle can all be signs of inadequate protein intake as amino acids from protein are the building blocks of muscle. When the diet is low in protein the body is forced to break down muscle mass in order to gain amino acids to use for various processes in the body. Prevent muscle mass loss ensuring repletion of amino acids post-workout.
A deficiency in protein can certainly lead to both muscle fatigue and brain fog or fatigue. As mentioned above inadequate protein can promote muscle wasting leading to muscle cramps and unfavorable shifts in body composition. Amino acids such as glutamine are used alongside glucose in the muscle for fuel. Also as mentioned above, amino acids are needed to build neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function and memory as well as brain fog.
Keep in mind both collagen and keratin are the main components of hair and both of these are comprised of amino acids from protein. Inadequate dietary intake can certainly lead to hair loss as the body needs amino acids such as cysteine, lysine, arginine and methionine to form hair.
Protein is necessary to maintain adequate balance of fluid in and outside of the cells. Without proper protein coming from the diet the body often will retain fluid on the outside of cells causing both fluid retention or edema particularly around the abdomen and dehydration of the cells.
The Many Roles of Protein
From a structural standpoint, amino acids are needed to fuel and support the musculoskeletal system as well as on a tissue and cellular level everything from cellular membranes to hair and nails. It is important to note that amino acids act as a major building block for almost every biological process in the body. For instance; amino acids are also the building blocks of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. For this reason, individuals who are deficient in protein are also deficient in neurotransmitters that can drive hunger and cravings leading to weight gain and can even impact mood, anxiety, and sleep. The best thing you can do is make sure you have enough protein with each of your meals!