- You have Flaky and Dry Skin, Weak Nails
- You are Always Hungry
- You always Feel Bloated
- You are Constantly feeling Tired and Lethargic
- You are experiencing Extreme Hair Fall
- In Spite of Losing Weight, There Are No Visible Changes In Your Body
- You Feel Irritated And Depressed More Than Usual
- You are Falling Sick Very Often
- You are Not Losing That Stubborn Thigh And Belly Fat Even After Working Out
In the world full of low-carb and high-protein diets, you might think protein-deficiency is rare. But surprisingly, it is actually very common especially to the people who are on a major calorie-deficit diet or intermittent fasting. In this article, we will discuss everything about the signs, symptoms and treatment of protein deficiency. It’s gonna be very helpful, so make sure you scroll until the end!
Protein is the most important nutrient our body needs to function and grow well. It helps in building and repairing muscles, repairing tissues, regulating blood sugar, growing shiny and strong hair and nails and many more vital functions of our body. So, when you don’t get enough protein, your health will deteriorate to a great extent. It can badly impact your growth, immunity and even your mental health. Let’s discuss this in detail!
What is Protein and Why Is It Important?
Proteins are the building blocks of our body. These are used to build muscles, skin, hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and many other organs that are very crucial for a body to function well. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that, you can live without protein.
Proteins are generally made from amino acids which are the small molecules linked with each other forming a chain. These long chains of amino acids are folded into more complex shapes which are known as the Proteins.
While some of these amino acids are produced by the body itself, others need to be supplied externally through the diet and other supplements. The external amino acids are known as essential amino acids, which you might have heard.
Protein is important for all the people regardless of their age, gender and body built. However, the requirement may vary depending upon certain factors. You can get proteins from animals as well as plants. But generally, the animal protein contains all the essential amino acids while plant protein contains only a few. This is because the animal tissues are similar to the human tissues.
So, if you’re eating chicken, fish, eggs, red meat on a daily basis, you’re surely getting enough protein! Keep it up!
What Is Protein Deficiency?
Protein deficiency is a term used to denote a health condition in which your intake doesn’t meet your body’s protein requirements. According to the studies, over one billion people suffer from protein deficiency and most of them are women, children and individuals who restrict their calories.
Although true protein deficiency is not in existence in the US, people get low amounts of protein from their daily intake.
This insufficient protein intake can cause certain health problems related to growth and functioning. There is also an extreme protein deficiency known as kwashiorkor which is most prevalent to children in the famine-affected and poor countries.
Protein deficiency can have adverse effects on our body. It can affect almost all types of functioning. Therefore, there are a lot of symptoms and signs that are associated with it.
Common Signs And Symptoms of Protein Deficiency
Below are the most common symptoms of protein deficiency.
You’re Not Losing That Stubborn Thigh And Belly Fat Even After Working Out
When you work out, your muscle fibers break down. To repair these muscles and tissues, you need to supply protein to your body. When you skip this step of refueling the body, the muscles don’t get repaired and all you’re left with is broken muscles. This condition leads to muscle loss. So, if you’re not losing fat from certain areas, insufficient protein intake is to blame.
You’re Crave For Sweets And Carbs All The Time
When you eat food that doesn’t have enough protein, you’re left unsatisfied. This is the reason why you crave for sugary, salty and fried food. Basically, protein acts as a regulator. It balances out all the things your body craves for and curbs the carvings. It also keeps you full for a longer time. So, be very alert if you’re craving unnecessarily for those chocolates, ice-creams, donuts, chips and burgers.
You’re Experiencing Flaky and Dry Skin, Weak Nails
If your skin is becoming dry and flaky and your nails are getting broken no matter how hard you try, it can be a sign that your body is lacking protein. Protein is responsible for glowing and healthy skin and shiny nails. When you don’t get enough protein through your diet, you will end up losing the lustre, moisture and glow from your skin. So, no matter how much expensive cosmetics you use, your skin will never feel good if you’re not taking care of your protein intake.
You’re Always Hungry
As a matter of fact, carbs digest much faster than the protein and fats. This means, when you eat food rich in carbohydrates, it will digest quickly and you’ll be hungry after an hour of eating.
Most of the people start their days with some cereal and milk, which spikes their blood sugar and then crash. This encourages them to load more carbs which can be harmful for your health.
Protein takes time to digest. When you eat enough amounts of protein, it will digest slowly and thus you will feel full for longer. You will not crave for the junk and sweets.
You Feel Lethargic and Tired Even After Doing Nothing
When you don’t take enough proteins, your brain will certainly freeze. It is a protein that makes you feel active and alert. On the contrary, carbohydrates and fats make you feel lazy and tired. Another reason behind your lethargy can be anaemia which is caused due to iron deficiency. The good thing is, the foods rich in iron are also rich in protein. These include red meat, chicken liver, beans, seeds etc.
You’re Experiencing Extreme Hair Fall
Dry, itchy scalp and less voluminous hair are the symptoms of protein deficiency. So, if you’re noticing a cluster of hair on your comb, it can be an alarming situation. Proteins are very important for your hair and skin. When you don’t include enough protein in your diet, you are likely to experience an extreme hair fall.
Generally, the vegetarians and the vegans suffer from this condition because the non-vegetarian diets don’t contain all the amino acids. To help this, you need to include a variety of plant-based foods like pulses, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
In spite of Losing Weight, There Are No Visible Changes In Your Body
As we already discussed, workouts may result in weight loss but not necessarily in fat loss. This is the reason even after losing a substantial amount of weight, you don’t notice any changes in your body. This is because you’re losing your valuable muscle mass instead of that stubborn fat.
As per the experts, you should eat more protein when you’re trying to lose weight. It will not only curb your sugar cravings and keep you full for longer but will also preserve your muscles. So, include high protein food items such as chicken, eggs, fish, tofu, seeds etc. in your clean diet.
You Feel Irritated And Depressed More Than Usual
Insufficient protein can cause brain fog. As a result, you may experience mood swings very often. Protein helps in keeping your mind relaxed and stress-free because the amino acids are responsible for the production of serotonin and dopamine which are feel-good neurotransmitters.
In the absence of these neurotransmitters, you feel depression, anxiety and stay irritated most of the time. So, next time when you go through such behavioural changes, try to grab a protein bar, it will surely help.
You Always Feel Bloated
Bloating is a condition when your stomach feels full and swollen. Sometimes you may also experience swelling in your joints and legs as well. This can happen due to lack of protein.
Protein is very important to balance the fluids in our body. In the absence of it, you’re very likely to feel bloated even after avoiding food items that are known to induce bloating.
You can easily get rid of it by swapping some of the daily items by the protein-rich ones. You can do this by replacing your sour cream with Greek yogurt, and chocolates with a protein bar.
You’re Falling Sick Very Often
Are you taking sick leaves more than usual?
Proteins promote the antibodies that keep us away from sickness. It is the biggest immunity booster. When your body lacks protein, you’re likely to fall sick, catch cold and flu very often.
So, instead of making rounds of clinics, try to incorporate adequate amounts of protein in your diet.
So, this was about the symptoms of protein deficiency, now how can you get rid of it? The treatment is pretty simple, incorporate protein-rich foods in your diet. Although there are many external protein supplements, you should try to meet your protein requirement through the natural sources.
Foods that are rich in protein
Chicken is the best source of lean protein, this is the reason why it stays at the top of the list. If we go by 2,000 calories, a healthy man and a woman need about 56 and 46 grams of daily protein respectively. Cooked chicken is an excellent way to meet this requirement. About 100 grams of cooked chicken offers a whopping 25 gram of protein. The best part is, it tastes super good and is a staple at most of the homes. You can include lightly grilled or boiled chicken in your salads. Also, avoid eating fried chicken for obvious reasons!
Apart from chicken, turkey is also an excellent source of protein. It is one of the healthiest non-veg foods you can have. Surprisingly, it has better protein content than chicken. About 100 grams of cooked turkey offers 29 grams of complete protein. Grilled turkey mixed with bean sprouts, greens, onion and drizzled with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice makes a delicious protein-packed salad.
- Egg Whites
Eggs are the cheapest yet the excellent source of protein. The best part is, some vegetarians can also consume them. Eggs are readily available and get ready in minutes. You can either eat boiled eggs on their own or try adding them to your salad bowls. You can even try poached eggs with some lightly sautéed greens such as asparagus. A whole egg contains 6 grams of protein, so you can include a good amount of egg whites in your food because this part contains more protein than the yolk.
- Red Meat
Not only the white meat but red meat is also high in protein. Depending upon the type, per 100 gram of beef can serve protein ranging from 26 to 36 grams.
White fleshed fish is one of the best sources of protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It is very good for your skin, hair and nails. You can try including grilled and smoked fish in your dinner. This was for the non-vegetarians. But many vegetarians and vegans think that they can’t get enough protein because they can’t eat animals – which is completely wrong!! There are amazing plant-based foods that are rich in protein.
High-protein foods for vegetarians and vegans
Chickpeas are the best plants based protein source. You can add them to your salads, curries and can have them on their own. The best part is, they taste amazing and creamy. 100 grams of cooked chickpea contain about 19 grams of protein which is a decent amount. The good thing is, they get digested much better than meat. To help you more, here is a quick and delicious recipe using chickpeas: Mix boiled chickpea with chopped onion, tomatoes, spinach, pomegranate, parsley, mint and season it with some salt and pepper and drizzle a spoonful of olive oil. Your super easy and delicious salad is ready. Also, never use canned chickpeas because they are high in sodium. Try to use freshly boiled chickpeas.
Soybeans are ideal food for the vegetarians as they are high in protein, vitamin C and folate. Moreover, they are also low in saturated fats which makes them an even better option. You can use soybeans, soy milk, tofu in your daily meals. Apart from protein, soy products are rich in fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Don’t be surprised to know that just a single bowl of cooked soybean can serve 28 grams of protein.
- Greek Yogurt
Thick and creamy Greek yogurt not only tastes delicious but is also packed with nutrients. It can be your go-to snack. Either eat it with your salads or add in your smoothies, it tastes amazing. It will not let you crave for sugars and will keep you full for longer. One cup of plain greek yogurt can provide you with 12 to 18 grams of protein.
Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts you can have. They are high in protein, vitamin E, magnesium, copper and good fatty acids. About 1 cup of almonds can serve 7.5 grams of protein. You can include roasted and soaked almonds in your breakfast.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein and magnesium. Plus, they’re really cheap. Interestingly, 30 grams of pumpkin seeds can provide about 8 to 9 grams of protein.
Peanuts are great sources of protein and several other nutrients. They also contain polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid etc. About � cup of peanuts can provide you with 7 grams of protein. You can have them roasted as snacks or can make you one peanut butter.
Quinoa is named among the superfoods. It’s a rich source of protein, fibre and other essential nutrients. It is the rare plant-based food that contains all the nine essential amino acids. 1 cup of cooked quinoa can give you 8 grams of quality protein. It is great for people with gluten allergies.
- Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is packed with protein and is low in calories as well. Not just that, it contains many other essential nutrients. About 100 grams of cottage cheese can serve 23 grams of protein which is a few grams less than the same quantity of chicken. You can have it in the same way you have chicken.
- Edamame beans
Edamame beans are the green soybeans. They are excellent sources of protein and fiber. These beans also contain all the nine essential amino acids required by our body. Apart from it, they are rich in magnesium and potassium which act as a fuel to our body. You can eat half a cup of cooked edamame seeds to get 9 grams of protein.
- Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are the powerhouse of many essential nutrients. Just two spoons of these little seeds can provide you with 6.3 grams of protein. These are also low in calories and are great for your heart. Regardless of the diet you’re following, you can always include them in your food. Protein deficiency can impact your health in a great way. But the good thing is, you don’t need external treatment or medication as long as you include protein-rich foods in your diet.
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