A recent study suggested a less widely known problem with the diets of Americans-- We’re not getting enough protein. Whether you’re a highly active athlete or someone who’s just trying to stay healthy, protein is vital to our performance and ability to function. Discover what happens when you’re not consuming enough protein and which symptoms you’re likely to notice.
Protein Isn’t Just for Bodybuilders
One of the biggest myths involving protein is that only those who are obsessed with building muscle need it. Protein is crucial to our survival and is the key component in new blood, bone, tissue, and muscle throughout the body. Ultimately, skipping out on protein will leave you frail, weak, and vulnerable to problems you wouldn’t develop otherwise.
How Much Protein Do You Need for Your Fitness Goals?
If you’re someone who’s trying to build muscle, then you’ll need more protein than average to make it happen. Millions of people spend their time and money lifting weights and working out, but if the nutrients aren’t there, your muscle growth will be minimal. Consuming insufficient protein while working out will result in tough hours at the gym with very little results.
How Much Protein Do You Need To Grow Muscle?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you need 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight in protein each day to grow muscle. This means that a 200 lbs person will have to consume around 100-180g of protein each day to enhance their muscle mass. Many weightlifters neglect this part and never see their muscle grow to its full potential.
Avoid Sarcopenia By Consuming Ample Amounts of Protein
Sarcopenia is the condition where we lose muscle, and it typically happens when we reach an advanced age. However, working out at the gym tears your muscles down, which is why they feel so sore afterward. If you don’t take in enough protein to build them back up, then your muscles will stay in their worn down state, and you’ll never see the definition you worked so hard for.
Growing muscle requires more protein than in an average diet.
7 Signs That You’re Not Getting Enough Protein
Lacking the protein to achieve your fitness goals is one thing, but being truly protein deficient is a far more serious matter. A wide range of symptoms and conditions can occur from failing to consume enough protein. Everyone needs protein, regardless of their diet or level of physical activity, and not getting enough can lead to problems like these:
Edema - Swelling in your extremities
When you’re not getting enough protein, you retain fluid. This can manifest as a condition called edema, in which your hands and feet may appear enlarged and swollen. This symptom of protein deficiency can make your workouts, and other activities that require fine motor skills, more difficult or uncomfortable.
Not Healing Quickly From Injuries
Protein is the key building block for the blood, bones, and tissue in our body. When it’s missing, the healing process takes longer than usual because it can’t produce these crucial components. For patients who are getting dental work or another upcoming surgery, a lack of protein can really extend the healing time.
Since protein is the building block that keeps bones strong and healthy, a deficiency will leave your bones vulnerable to damage. This means an injury that may have otherwise been nothing to worry about may cause more pain and soreness than expected. To ensure that your recovery is proceeding normally, it’s vital to take in enough protein.
Problems With Your Hair, Skin, and Nails
Have you noticed your hair thinning, skin crackling, or nails developing ridges? If so, the cause may be a lack of protein in your diet. The same overlying reason applies here as well-- protein is such a vital part of replenishing the nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Children’s Growth May Be Stunted
If you have a child that’s a picky eater or one that hates foods that are high in protein like meat or beans, then it’s crucial to make sure they get protein from other sources. One of the most critical times in our lives to eat the nutrients you need is when you’re still growing, and those who don’t get enough protein may never reach their full height as a result.
Increased Appetite and Cravings
This is the main reason protein is so valuable for weight loss. When the body isn’t receiving enough protein, it responds by increasing cravings for savory foods specifically. These are foods that typically contain protein, but even when they don’t, they’re high in calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, obtaining ample amounts of protein is crucial no matter which diet you’re following.
Fatty Liver and Other Liver Problems
Protein deficiency is often synonymous with liver disease since both conditions have closely-related symptoms. The reason protein deficiency affects the liver is that without protein, your liver has difficulty removing lipids and toxins. This is an extremely important symptom because if left untreated, it can lead to liver failure.
Three Ways To Implement More Protein Into Your Diet
If you’re reading this and are wondering how you can possibly eat more protein than you currently do, it may be time to cut back on other foods to make room. Consider these options for increasing the amount of protein you take in each day:
Drink Protein Shakes
Protein shakes are an excellent way to consume 20-30g of protein in a single shake. Plus, high-quality protein blends are typically low in calories and sugar, since they know their products are for people who are concerned about fitness. To make a protein shake, simply get a protein shaker bottle or a blender, add scoops of protein, and mix with your favorite low-calorie drink.
Cut Back on Processed Food
If you’re going to make one cutback to your diet, reducing the amount of processed food you take in is the best bet. Processed meats are recognized as carcinogens and other processed food is often high in sugar and devoid of real nutrients. By figuring out the least healthy foods in your diet and reducing your intake of them, you can make more room for healthy proteins.
Select Five New High Protein Foods and Add Them Into Your Diet
When it comes to protein, it’s best to obtain it from different sources, because different types may have different compositions and traits. To ensure that you get enough protein in your diet, figure out which types of protein you enjoy eating, and think of creative new ways to infuse them into your meal plan. For example, if eggs are one of your top picks, then you can make breakfast bowls that are ready to take to work for the week.
Breakfast bowls are an easy way to consume a lot of protein.
Protein Allows You to Reach Your Full Potential
If you’ve been working out and haven’t been seeing the results you want or have been struggling to lose weight and haven’t made progress, protein may be the missing link. By taking action to ensure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet, you’ll be supplying your body with the nutrients it needs to heal, function, and grow. Whether you want bulky muscles or not, don’t forget that protein is the key to keeping our bodies strong on the inside and out.