6 Suprising signs you may be lacking protein
Your love of Nutella is one of them
Known as the building block of life, protein is essential to almost every aspect of our well-being. As a macronutrient made up of amino acids, it aids our cell renewal process and is crucial to the body’s ability to regenerate. From a strong immune system to healthy skin, hair and nails, protein plays a vital role in our overall health. Yet, despite the importance of this macronutrient in the functioning of every cell in our body, many of us don’t place a nutritional emphasis on getting the right amount of protein in our diets.
Expert opinion holds that we should be consuming between 46 to 56 grams of protein a day, depending on our body weight and height. This is the optimal intake required to support the body’s normal tissue maintenance and growth. While this may sound easy to reach, on any given day this may look something like 2 eggs, a 100 gram serving of salmon, a serving of yogurt, a handful of almonds, and 25grams of cheese. When placed within the context of dietary intake, this goal is not always easily achievable. This is especially true of individuals leading busy lifestyles, those subscribing to a vegan or vegetarian diet or picky eaters who simply don’t consume enough protein-rich foods.
So whether you prefer a plant-based diet or simply don’t count your macros, here are some surprising telltale signs that you may not be consuming enough protein.
You’re always reaching for the Nutella
Are you reaching for the Nutella jar in between meals or hiding chocolate and crisps in your office drawer? If you are experiencing food cravings, the good news is that you may not have an addiction to sweets and snacks but rather a body needing more protein. Filling up on carbohydrate-rich meals with little to no protein will lead your sugar to spike and drop leaving you with unhealthy food craving in between meals. Protein digests in our bodies at a slower rate and therefore leads to more gradual blood sugar changes. If you want to avoid snacking, make sure you fill up on protein.
Hot tip: Why not try our delicious peanut butter protein powder smoothie for lunch. It’s a sneaky dessert and hit of protein in one – sans the guilt.
Forget a bad hair day, you’re having a bad hair year
When it comes to beauty, it truly does begin from within and this includes your hair. Keratin, that expensive treatment you have been putting into your hair every time you visit the salon, is in fact a protein. And while it may help keep the integrity of your hair, it won’t help you keep those luscious locks from thinning. Once protein stores are depleted, your body uses it for more essential functioning and sadly does not take your desire to have Gisele Bundchen hair into consideration. All those expensive hair treatments you invest in will be going to waste if you don’t ensure you have an adequate intake of protein in your diet.
Hot Tip: Next time you crack an egg and put protein in your hair, remember to add protein into your smoothie as well. Consider it a part of your beauty routine.
You’re not catching enough Zzzz’s
If you are finding yourself counting sheep every night and struggling to sleep, your dinner may be the culprit. While we all know key aspects of sleep hygiene such as avoiding caffeine after 4 pm, going to bed at the same time, leaving our social media at the door and sleeping in a dark room, what we are less aware of is the role of protein in helping us sleep. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in protein not only helps induce sleep but also helps improve the overall quality of sleep. In a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men who led a high protein diet reported better sleep patterns than those who didn’t, falling asleep quicker and waking up less throughout the night.
Hot tip: Why not whip up a hot chocolate before bed. Turns out it really does help you get to sleep like grandma said, with one glass containing an average of 10g of protein.
Your brain is a little foggy
As it turns out your 3:30 itis may have less to do with a busy day and more to do with a lack of protein intake. Neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine are all made up of protein and help regulate mood, concentration and overall alertness. Your inability to concentrate or a lack of motivation may not require a hit of coffee but rather a dose of protein. This will not only help regulate your blood sugar levels, but it will also help improve your mood.
Hot Tip: Our Top of the Choc protein powder is packed full of organic cacao which will not only help you beat 3:30 itis but will also deliver a serious dose of happiness.
You’re prone to colds and infections
When it comes to cold and flu prevention and reducing the severity of infections, we all know the importance of supplements such as Vitamin C. What we are less aware of is the importance of protein in helping boost our immune system. Studies have consistently linked protein deficiency to reduced immune responses which not only leaves us more susceptible to colds, it also prolongs the severity of infections. Studies have shown that following a low-protein diet for a duration of 9 weeks significantly reduced the immune response of female participants. Whether plant or animal based, protein provides the building block of our immune system and should be considered as part of one’s cold and flu preventative regime.
You can’t fit into your favourite jeans
We know that as we get older our metabolism naturally slows down, however, your inability to fit into your favourite jeans may have less to do with hitting your 30’s and more to do with a lack of protein in your diet. A protein rich diet not only helps us feel fuller for longer by decreasing appetite and cravings, but it also helps boost our metabolism. By helping control blood sugar levels, and helping suppress levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger, protein plays a key role in weight loss and management.
Hot Tip: Feeling the need for a mid-morning snack. Why not reach for a healthy protein ball. All the flavour and goodness that won’t hurt the waistline.