Protein, you know you need to eat it, but why? Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats are the three macronutrients your body needs, and protein is the nutrient that our bodies need an abundance of–it’s not called the building block of life for nothin’–because protein contains essential and non-essential amino acids. The body doesn't create essential amino acids on its own; therefore, we get them from foods we eat that are considered complete protein sources, like animal-based products. You can also get essential amino acids from plant-based foods, as long as you’re eating a wide variety.
The body is constantly recycling proteins to assist it in many functions like digesting food, feeling satiated for longer, and repairing and recovering muscle and energy. Without consuming enough protein, the body will start to show signs that a protein deficiency is occurring.
5 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein
1. Weak Hair and Nails
If you’re noticing more hair on the shower floor or your nails are constantly chipping, it’s time to get your hair and nails into shape. When protein levels fall, your body will start to preserve the protein it has and stop sending it to your hair and nails, causing it to slow down the rate of normal hair and nail growth. Your hair will shift from growing to a resting phase and lay dormant.
2. Always Tired
No, you don’t need more coffee, but more protein if you’re feeling sluggish and fatigued.
Without protein, your body cannot get the fuel to repair and build tissues or give your body enough oxygen to develop red blood cells–yeah, kind of a big deal.
Protein makes you feel fuller longer as it takes longer to digest, and can also suppress appetites to avoid impulse or overeating eating. It's even been shown to promote healthy blood sugar levels to prevent blood sugar spikes or the urge for sugary sweets.
4. Getting and staying sick
It’s never fun being sick, but your immune system could be compromised if you seem to be getting sick often. Protein helps the body build antibodies to fight off infections and boost your immune system. And when you are sick, it’s the best time to consume more protein-rich foods/liquids to help kill harmful bacteria.
5. Loss of Muscle
As mentioned, protein is the building block to our bodies performing optimally, and it helps to heal and rebuild new cells and tissue. If we’re not getting adequate amounts of protein, then our bodies will break down our muscles because it’s unable to rebuild properly without it.
How much protein should we be getting?
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (0.36 grams per pound) of body weight per day. For a sedentary 150-pound adult, that would be 54 grams of protein a day.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that anyone who exercises regularly or strength trains should consume more protein to rebuild muscle tissue, upping their intake to 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight (0.5 to 0.8 grams/pound), which is 75 to 128 grams for a 150-pound adult.
Protein deficiencies are rare in the US, but if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult your local physician to see if your diet could benefit from adding more protein.