Could You be at Risk for Not Getting Enough Protein?

Could You be at Risk for Not Getting Enough Protein?

As we’ve written before, when it comes to weight loss, no nutrient gets more attention than protein. And there are plenty of good reasons.

This macronutrient is a building block of your diet – along with fat and carbohydrates, your body truly couldn’t run without it.

Depending on your weight loss or athletic goals, you might find yourself wondering if you’re getting enough. How much you need can greatly vary.

On the one hand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sets nutritional standards for the U.S., recommends healthy adults get between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day. Those looking to increase muscle mass, though, might consume as much (or more!) than one gram per pound of bodyweight per day, meaning a 150-pound woman tries to fit in 150 grams per day.

Although true protein deficiencies are not likely in the developed world, thanks to the proliferation of animal products in our diets, you still could not be eating enough depending on your lifestyle.

Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Protein

You have constant cravings. If you can’t stop craving sweets, or feel like you’re never full, you’ll probably benefit from adding some additional sources of protein to your diet, Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., author of The Flexitarian Diet, told Women’s Health. Try eggs, legumes, lean meats, fish, dairy or unprocessed soy foods, such as tempeh.

You feel tired or weak. Whether you’re not recovering from hard workouts, or you feel generally sluggish and weak all day long, a lack of protein could be to blame.

older woman tired holding head

This symptom can also manifest in your brain. If you can’t shake a fog, no matter how many trips to the coffeemaker you take, it could be a protein problem.

WH explains:

“Protein at meals helps time-release the carbs for steady energy rather than up and down spikes. If you’re relying only on “fleeting foods,” such as crackers or bread, you’ll only experience short bursts of mental energy, followed by the fog.”

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Your hair is falling out. Thinning hair and peeling nails – or nails that develop hard ridges – may mean you are not eating enough protein. See your doctor to make sure.

You’re struggling to lose weight or gain muscle. One reason bodybuilders eat so much protein: It can crowd the carbohydrate calories out of your diet, making it possible to burn fat and gain muscle.

You’re retaining fluids. If you’re truly protein deficient, you may retain fluids, according to Reader’s Digest. “Proteins help to hold salt and water in blood vessels; without enough protein, these fluids can seep into surrounding tissues, according to Harvard Health Publications,” the magazine explains.

We’re talking more than just water weight after an indulgent weekend, here. This type of fluid retention will be uncomfortable.

Pay attention to what you’re body is telling you and consult a physician if you’re experiencing a combination of these symptoms!

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