Protein is undoubtedly, unquestionably, and definitely a very important part of a healthy diet and when you don’t eat enough protein bad things happen! That is the simplest way of answering the question – What happens if you don’t eat enough protein?

If you don’t eat enough protein then you will lose muscle mass. This in turn reduces your strength and makes it harder for you to keep your balance. Also your metabolism will slow down. Not eating enough protein can also lead to anemia, when your cells don’t get enough oxygen; this will make you tired.

You should know why it is important to eat enough protein and why it must be a part of your diet. At the same time, you should also know what the bad effects that protein deficiency can your body can suffer and what are the signs that your body will show to indicate that you are not getting enough protein are. You will know all these and much more in this post. Let us start with the basics and then go deeper!

How much protein does your body need?

As a standard, a human body needs a minimum of ten per cent of the daily calories from protein. The best part is that there are many foods that are rich in protein so you can get them from various items. Further, the sources of protein are not just limited to meat; you can consume vegetables or dairy products as well that are rich in protein.

For instance, for breakfast you can go for some low-fat Greek yoghurt that has about twenty grams; for lunch get skinless chicken breast, which will get you twenty-five grams in one serving; and at night one cup of black beans, which is about fifteen grams. This way, you can include protein in every meal with other items and your body can break the protein down and reuse them in a number of ways.

Signs of protein deficiency

Your body will show various signs that are often not painful but hint towards protein deficiency. The following are the major signs that your body can show if you are protein deficient:

  • Swelling
    Swelling is the most common sign that tells that you are not eating enough protein! Swelling or sometimes known as edema will show up in few places as a sign: your hands, feet, legs, and abdomen. Although these signs can indicate towards something else, you should not ignore these signs. Whenever you notice swelling anywhere in your body, try to understand the possible reason and seeing a doctor right away is always a good idea. But how is swelling a possible sign of protein deficiency? A possible explanation can be that the proteins circulating inside your body help in keeping the fluid to build up in the tissues and with inadequate protein that can happen.
  • Changing moods
    A human brain uses certain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that relay information among the cells. Many such neurotransmitters are composed of amino acids, and these amino acids are protein’s building blocks. Therefore, inadequate protein in your body can lead to your body’s inability to create a sufficient number of neurotransmitters! As a result, the entire work structure of your brain may get affected. Further, your body may create a low level of serotonin and dopamine, which can make you feel overly aggressive and depressed.
  • Poor focus and concentration
    Adequate protein consumption makes sure that the tyrosine and amino acid are efficiently promoting the neurotransmitters, which keep us focused and energized. Adequate protein consumption makes sure that the tyrosine and amino acid are efficiently promoting the neurotransmitters, which keep us focused and energized.
  • Skin, nail, and hair issues
    Do you know that our skin, nails, and hair are composed of proteins such as elastin, keratin, and collagen? It’s true, and when your body fails to make them, you may suffer from thinning or brittle hair, deep and ugly ridges on the fingernails, and flaky and dry skin! Therefore deficiency in protein can affect how you look as well.
  • Hunger
    The most obvious sign of protein deficiency is hunger. It’s a known fact that protein fuels a human body, and it is one of the three calorie sources, along with fats and carbs. If you feel like eating often despite having regular meals, it could be because of protein deficiency.
  • Slow healing
    Protein deficient people often find their scrapes and cuts healing after a considerably long time. Similarly, with inadequate protein levels, a human body can take longer than usual to heal workout-related mishaps or sprains. This generally happens when a human body is not able to make sufficient collagen, and it is found in the connective tissues and skin. Further, you need proteins to make blood clot as well. Therefore, if you have inadequate protein levels in your body, you can have injuries taking a long time to heal themselves!
  • Fatigue and weakness
    Studies showed that just within seven days of not consuming enough protein could negatively affect the muscles that are responsible for a human body’s movement and posture. It becomes prominent if a person is 55 and is protein deficient. Further, if it exceeds more than a week, protein deficiency can result in the reduction of muscle mass, and that will further affect adversely the body’s strength. As a result, the human body will struggle to just keep the balance and have a healthy metabolism. It can lead to a grave health issue called anaemia, where the cells inside a human body do not get sufficient oxygen, and that makes the body tired and weak.

What happens if you are protein deficient?

As the name suggests, protein deficiency is when your protein intake is inadequate, which means you are not eating enough protein as compared to what your body needs. In other words, your body needs a certain amount of protein that you have to get, and if you don’t then you may suffer some health implications. So, when your diet doesn’t have sufficient protein for a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

  • Muscle wasting
    Naturally, when you think about protein, you think of muscles! That means that protein is very important for your muscle growth as well as its repair and strength. When your diet provides your body insufficient protein, you will see and experience a low body mass, weak muscle function, and strength. Further, when you don’t consume enough protein, you can also experience muscle soreness, weakness as well as cramping. If a human body does not get sufficient protein from his or her diet, the body extracts protein from the muscle tissues and then utilizes it as an energy that helps in supporting other bodily functions. This will eventually cause muscle atrophy or wasting.
  • Poor and slow wound healing
    If your body gets proper nutrition that also includes sufficient protein intake, your wound healing will be healthy and natural. Similarly, if your body suffers from protein deficiency, the wound healing ability of your body will also be poor. Various researches and studies revealed that protein deficiency contributes to extremely poor rates of wound healing and a compromised collagen formation. Therefore, if you do not consume enough protein, your wound healing capability may be compromised greatly, leading to other adverse health issues.
  • Infections
    Adequate protein intake also boosts the immune system of the human body. If you do not have a healthy and working immune system, your chances of infection can increase by many folds, and your body may not be able to fight them off.
  • Other issues
    Various studies have proved that when your protein intake is inadequate or insufficient, you can suffer from various other health problems, such as reduced enzyme production, electrolyte imbalance, reduced calcium and bone homeostasis, and many other health problems. Therefore, protein intake is of utmost importance for your body to function well and protect it from health risks.

How you can get enough protein

To ensure a steady and healthy amino acids’ flow, you need to eat enough protein, and that does not mean you should eat more than you need! Remember, when you consume extra protein, your body will use them to build muscle only, not body fat. So, if you want just the adequate amount of protein to support the functions, structure, and cells of your body, here are some smart sources of protein:

  • Include meals that have approx twenty grams of protein. In addition to that, you should also include snacks that have about ten grams of protein. For reference, you can cook three ounces of chicken breast for yourself that can give you about twenty grams of protein.
  • Include in your diet high protein grains such as quinoa.
  • Avoid wheat-based pasta and choose bean-based noodles.

So, when your diet doesn’t have sufficient protein for a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

  • Avoid pork, turkey, and fresh chicken because they are generally enhanced with a solution that contains salt.
  • Include low-fat or lean poultry and meat.
  • Choose seafood that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as anchovies, sardines, trout, and salmon.

Here is a smart list for vegetarians that will make sure that they have sufficient protein intake:

  • Quinoa
  • Pumpkin sees
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Almonds

Protein Takeway:
What happens if you don’t eat enough protein?

Protein is extremely important for every cell and body tissue, and if they fall short, they can lead to impaired body functions. Including protein to a diet is simple. However, being aware and knowing about protein deficiency is important, so that you can identify the signs on your body and remember how you and your life can get affected by it. This post will help you understand protein deficiency and how to overcome it.


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