It’s no secret that protein is important. It makes up the foundation of your

hair, skin and muscles; transports oxygen; repairs and rebuilds tissue cells;

and even helps promote healthy blood clotting. Not only that, but protein is

vital to maintaining normal blood sugar, healing wounds, killing bacteria and

keeping your body functioning efficiently.

Most people are able to easily meet their protein needs with their normal diet,

making protein deficiency relatively uncommon. However, certain groups are

at risk for developing a protein deficiency, including those who are restricting

their caloric intake (and, as a result, their consumption of high-protein foods),

as well as people consuming a poorly planned vegetarian or vegan diet.

A lack of adequate protein can have a significant impact on your health. The

following are 9 common signs that could indicate a protein deficiency.

Your Sleep is Suffering

In the body, protein is used to create important neurotransmitters, like

serotonin, which are responsible for regulating the sleep/wake cycle. A

deficiency in protein can lead to a deficiency in serotonin, which can lead to

insomnia and sleep disruption.

You Can’t Concentrate

If you’re experiencing brain fog, along with difficulty concentrating and

trouble retaining information, a protein deficiency could be to blame.

Neurotransmitters linked to learning and memory are produced using amino

acids, so getting enough protein in your diet is crucial. Additionally, a

balanced diet with adequate protein has been shown to boost learning and

improve motor skills and work performance.

“A Harvard study published in the January 2022 issue of The American Journal of Clinical

Nutrition suggests that getting enough protein in your diet may be important for protecting your

cognition. Researchers evaluated the self-reported dietary habits and health of more than 77,000

men and women who were followed for more than 20 years. Compared with eating

carbohydrates, eating protein was associated with lower odds of developing cognitive decline

later in life. It didn’t take much to make a difference. For example, for every 5% of calories that

came from animal protein instead of carbohydrates, there was an 11% lower risk for developing

dementia. And for every 5% of calories that came from plant protein instead of carbohydrates,

there was a 26% lower risk for developing dementia.” (1)

You Have High Cholesterol

Replacing protein-rich foods with refined carbs and sugary foods in your diet

can wreak havoc on your cholesterol levels. This causes your liver to process

fat less efficiently, resulting in high cholesterol. On the other hand,

high-protein diets have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and even

reduce the risk of heart disease.

You’ve Put on a Few Pounds

Filling your diet with protein-rich foods is a great way to keep your waistline

in check. A high-protein diet can decrease appetite and cravings, boost

metabolism and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for

stimulating hunger. A low-protein/high-carb diet, on the other hand, can lead

to more empty calories, increased cravings and weight gain.

You’re Not Getting Results From Your Workouts

If it feels like you’re spending more time in the gym but seeing fewer results, it

could mean you’re not getting enough protein. A low-protein diet can cause

muscle wasting, fatigue and fat gain. Plus, not only do you need protein to

build more muscle mass, but protein is also critical to keeping energy levels up

so that you can make the most of every workout. As we age we need to be even

more vigilant in this area because we tend to have a decline in muscle mass.(2)

You See Changes in Your Hair, Skin or Nails

Protein forms the foundation of your hair, skin and nails, so it’s no wonder

that this is where you’ll find some of the most visible signs of protein

deficiency. Brittle nails, flaky skin, hair loss and hair thinning can all indicate

that you need to ramp up your protein intake.

Your Periods are Irregular

One of the most common causes of irregular menstrual cycles is polycystic

ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition characterized by hormonal imbalance,

infertility and cysts on the ovaries. Obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes are a

few of the most common risk factors for PCOS, and insulin resistance is

estimated to affect 50-70 percent of women with the condition. A

high-carb/low-protein diet can disrupt hormone levels and contribute to

insulin resistance, further upping the risk of PCOS.

You’re More Moody or Anxious

Proteins are used to synthesize mood-controlling neurotransmitters like

dopamine and serotonin. Low levels of these important compounds may be

associated with depression, mood swings and anxiety, but getting enough

protein in your diet can help boost neurotransmitter production and stabilize

your mood. So you can see the immense importance of getting adequate protein. Here are

some examples of protein that you can make sure to get into your meals.

Calculating your protein. You can use this template for calculating what you need depending on

your activity level or goals.

(1.2-1.6) x wt (kg)

Calculate the wt by dividing pounds (lbs) by 2.2. So for a person with a weight of 150 lbs we

would get 68 and this is what the calculation would look like. We will use 1.4 x 68 = 95.2. This

person needs 95.2g of protein daily for optimal health.