Protein is an essential nutrient that your body needs to build muscle and stay healthy. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, you may feel weak and sick and develop serious health problems, like osteoporosis or kidney damage. Learn more about lack of protein symptoms, what happens when your body is low in protein, and how to get more of it into your diet. This is important to know in order to keep yourself healthy, energized, and strong every day.
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What is protein?
Protein is a macronutrient used to build our bodies. They can also be used as an alternative energy source if carbohydrates or fats are not available, although they cannot be stored. Proteins also help build and repair cells, hormones, antibodies, and enzymes, which is why we must consume them daily to maintain good health.
What are the symptoms of lack of protein?
While protein may simply seem like the building blocks of muscles, hair, and nails, it serves many other roles in the body too. That’s why deficiencies can be quite detrimental.
A diet low in protein can have adverse effects on your body, some of which might not be easy to spot right away.
Here are the common effects of low protein levels in the body.
1. It increases the risk of heart disease
If you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, you may be putting yourself at risk for heart disease.
Although it’s still a matter of debate, many nutritionists and doctors agree that low protein intake increases your risk for heart disease. Not only does a deficiency in protein contribute to low levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, but it also makes LDL cholesterol more dangerous.
Additionally, insufficient protein intake can lead to high blood pressure and increased chances of stroke. Since heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide, preventing its onset with a proper diet is essential.
2. It may weaken bones
Low protein levels have been shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of fractures, especially in postmenopausal women.
One study found that a high protein intake in postmenopausal women reduced the risk of hip fractures by 69 percent. In another study, a daily intake of 20 grams of protein slowed bone loss in postmenopausal women with recent hip fractures.
3. It may cause weight gain
It’s no secret that too little protein in your diet can lead to weight gain. Protein is particularly important when trying to lose weight because it keeps your hunger at bay.
Just like fat, protein fills you up and leaves you feeling satisfied so that you won’t reach for snacks and empty calories during the day. On top of helping keep off excess pounds, adequate protein intake is also essential for muscle growth and development.
4. It may lead to anemia
Protein is essential for the production of hemoglobin
Protein is a necessary nutrient in the production of hemoglobin, and anemia is a condition in which your body is low in hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that helps transport oxygen throughout your body
Low protein levels in your blood can cause anemia, a condition where you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body. This means that every part of your body isn’t getting enough oxygen to function correctly, causing everything from chronic fatigue and lethargy to headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
5. It increases the severity of infections
When protein levels are low, it becomes more difficult for your body to fight off infections like colds and flu. Consuming adequate amounts of protein has been shown to reduce inflammation, which causes most diseases.
When you’re battling a virus and your body is under attack, fighting it off will require strength and proper nutrition. If you don’t get enough high-quality protein in your diet, you’ll struggle in both categories.
5. Increases risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Research has shown that higher protein intake in type 2 diabetes patients can improve fasting, blood glucose, and insulin sensitivity. One study showed that when obese subjects cut their calories by 30 percent while increasing their protein intake to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight (about 0.68 grams per pound), they lost significantly more weight than a control group that followed a traditional calorie-restricted diet with less protein—around 20 pounds versus 13 pounds over six months.
How much protein do you need?
The recommended daily requirement for healthy adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram (0.36 grams per pound) of body weight, which is about 50 grams a day for an average adult male and 46 grams a day for an average adult female. The numbers reflect what’s needed to maintain muscle mass since you lose about .5 percent of your muscle per year beginning at age 30. So as you age and exercise less, you need less. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people over 70 years old consume only half as much protein as their counterparts 20 years younger.
And for those that don’t engage in regular exercises, they also don’t need as much—about 35 to 40 grams a day. Also, remember: Excess protein can turn into glucose (blood sugar), so if you have diabetes or want to lose weight, aim for moderate consumption.
Health benefits of protein:
Every individual needs a certain amount of protein in their body for proper functioning. Some essential benefits of protein include
Promotes muscle development
Protein is essential for muscle development. When you eat a diet low in protein, your body will start to break down muscle tissue for energy instead of using the protein to build new muscle. This can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and strength. To help prevent this, make sure to include at least one source of high-quality protein regularly in your diet.
Moreover, protein is an essential macronutrient for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Without enough of it, your muscles will not be able to grow and recover as quickly as they need to.
When you work out, your muscles rely on protein to help them recover and grow back stronger. Protein helps your muscles rebuild their cells and cellular material, which helps them recover faster from workouts. In fact, studies show that consuming protein within two hours after exercise can promote faster muscle growth and recovery.
Promotes bone metabolism
Protein is essential for building and maintaining bone mass, and it can help prevent fractures. In fact, a protein-rich diet is one of the best ways to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Protein helps build and protect bone cells.
A high-protein diet helps build up the bone matrix, which is the structure that supports Bone Mass. This is because protein is a major constituent of skeletal muscle tissue, which provides the connective tissue that makes up bone. In addition, protein helps to stimulate the production of new bone cells.
Protein protects against osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin and brittle due to decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures. A high-protein diet has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis by increasing the amounts of minerals and vitamins in the body, including calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for the growth of healthy bones. Studies also suggest that protein supplementation may improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
Promotes better mood and cognitive functions
Protein is also known to help improve your mood and cognitive function. It has been shown to help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, as well as improve memory and cognitive function. In fact, one study found that people who ate a high-protein diet were 30% less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t eat protein.
Slows down the aging process
The aging process is a natural process of life, one which is unavoidable but also something that can be slowed down. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests high-protein diets can have a beneficial impact on health, including slowing down the aging process. Research has shown that consuming protein helps improve blood pressure, protect the heart and liver, and ward off age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It helps balance your hormones
Hormones are chemicals that your body produces to control important bodily functions like growth, metabolism, sexual function, and mood. Different hormones work together in a coordinated response to external stimuli to keep you functioning optimally.
Hormones operate in a feedback loop with one another. For example, when the level of a hormone such as estrogen decreases, testosterone levels increase to compensate. This process helps maintain equilibrium within the body so that no one hormone dominates.
However, various factors like stress, diet, and medical conditions can disrupt this delicate balance. When this happens, hormones can become out of balance and wreak havoc on your health.
Protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy hormone levels because it helps to support the production and function of enzymes responsible for hormone synthesis.
Controls blood sugar levels
A high protein diet has been linked to a lower risk of obesity and diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients. The study followed more than 1,500 adults for over 10 years and found that those who ate the most protein had a 36% lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome- a cluster of conditions that include obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes- than those who ate the least.
Additionally, those who ate the most protein were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. This is especially true because protein enhances blood glucose regulation, which helps keep your insulin levels within normal and prevent insulin resistance.
Promotes skin and hair health
Protein is a key nutrient for beautiful skin and hair. It helps keep your skin firm and elastic, and can help create new hair growth. In addition, protein helps to rebuild damaged cells and tissues, making your skin look younger and stronger over time.
One way protein achieves healthy skin is that it keeps you hydrated.
A lack of water can lead to dry skin, which can give you wrinkles and make your skin look aged. A good way to help keep your skin hydrated is to consume protein regularly. This will help keep your skin looking plump and less wrinkled.
Protein also helps build collagen. Collagen is a key structural element in the dermis, the layer of the skin closest to the underlying tissue. Collagen helps keep the skin flexible and elastic, which is essential for keeping your skin looking young and healthy. Eating protein regularly can help you increase your levels of collagen, which will help keep your skin looking firm and toned.
Also, protein promotes cell turnover. Cell turnover is responsible for the natural process by which cells are replaced by new cells as they die off. This process helps maintain healthy skin and hair.
How to increase your protein intake:
If you’re concerned about getting enough protein, try upping your intake. Try including more legumes, including beans, lentils, and nuts, into your diet. Tofu and edamame are also good sources of healthy plant-based proteins. A good rule of thumb is that if a food contains fiber (whole grains, beans), it likely contains some protein too.
Final thoughts on lack of protein symptoms:
Low protein levels in the body can adversely affect various bodily functions, from skeletal muscles to red blood cells to kidney function and beyond.
This, as a result, causes both short-term and long-term health issues. These can include increased risk for type 2 diabetes, weight gain, anemia, weak bones, and increased risk of heart disease.
Regularly incorporating high protein foods into your diets, such as legumes and nuts, is sufficient to provide the needed amounts.
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