Symptoms of Low Protein

If you’re not eating enough protein, you may notice a few problems with your health. You may feel weaker than normal and have less energy. You may also lose muscle mass and have trouble staying warm. You may even notice changes in your hair, skin, and nails. All of these symptoms can be a sign that you’re not getting enough protein. Let’s discuss more on the symptoms of low protein below!

See Also Lack of Protein Symptoms and Best Vegan Protein Sources

What is Protein?

Protein is one of the three macronutrients (along with fat and carbohydrates) that the body needs in large amounts. It is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of tissues in the body.

Protein is essential for the growth and repair of all tissues, including muscles, bones, skin, and organs. It is also needed for making enzymes and hormones and transporting oxygen and nutrients around the body.

Without enough protein, the body cannot grow properly or repair damaged tissue. This can lead to a range of problems, including muscle wasting, impaired immune function, and slowed wound healing.

Health Benefits of Protein

There are many health benefits associated with getting enough protein in your diet. For example, protein can:

1. Help build and repair muscle

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps to build and repair muscle. When you workout, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. In order for your muscles to repair and grow stronger, they need protein.

2. Boosts metabolism

Protein has a thermogenic effect on the body, meaning that it causes your body to burn more calories when digesting it. 

This is due to the fact that protein requires more energy from your body to break down and absorb than other nutrients like carbohydrates or fat.

Additionally, protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue, meaning that it burns more calories even when at rest. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be.

Finally, protein is essential for many biochemical reactions in the body that help to boost metabolism. For example, protein is necessary for the synthesis of enzymes involved in fat-burning and energy production.

3. Reduces hunger and cravings

Protein is one of the most satiating nutrients, meaning it helps you feel fuller for longer and can reduce hunger and cravings. 

This is because protein takes longer to digest than other nutrients like carbohydrates, so it keeps you feeling satisfied for longer. 

Additionally, protein has been shown to increase levels of the appetite-reducing hormone leptin and decrease levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin. 

So not only does protein help reduce hunger and cravings in the short-term, but it can also help regulate your appetite in the long-term.

4. Protein Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, increasing your protein intake can help. That’s because protein promotes satiety, which means it helps you feel fuller for longer after eating.

This can prevent you from overeating and help you stick to your diet. Moreover, protein has a high thermic effect, meaning your body burns more calories digesting it than other foods.

5. Blood Sugar Control

Protein has a major impact on blood sugar levels. It slows the absorption of carbohydrates, which helps to keep blood sugar levels from spiking after eating. In addition, protein also helps to regulate insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are high, insulin is released from the pancreas in order to bring them down. 

However, when blood sugar levels are low, insulin is not released. This is why protein is so important in controlling blood sugar levels – it helps to regulate insulin release.

6. Boosts immunity

The immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. When the immune system is functioning properly, it can recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. However, sometimes the immune system needs a little help.

Protein can help boost immunity by providing the body with the amino acids it needs to produce antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that recognize and bind to foreign invaders, marking them for destruction by other immune system cells. 

In addition, protein can help increase the number of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting infection.

What are the symptoms of low protein?

rice in the hands of malnourished children

1. Swelling

Swelling is a common symptom of low protein levels. It can affect any part of the body, but is most often seen in the extremities, such as the hands, feet, and ankles.

Swelling in protein deficiency occurs because protein is needed for the proper function of the lymphatic system. Without enough protein, fluid can build up and cause swelling.

Swelling may also be a sign of other medical conditions, so it is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any unusual swelling.

2. Brittle nails

If you have brittle nails, it could be a sign that you are not getting enough protein in your diet. 

Protein is essential for the production of keratin, which is what gives nails their strength.

A lack of protein can also make nails dry and prone to splitting. 

If you’re experiencing brittle nails, try increasing the amount of protein in your diet.

3. Loss of hair

While it’s not always indicative of a serious health problem, hair loss can be a sign that you’re not getting enough protein in your diet. 

If you’re experiencing hair loss, you may want to check your protein intake and make sure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient.

4. Loss of muscle mass

If you’re not eating enough protein, you may experience a loss of muscle mass. This is because protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue. 

Without enough protein, your body will begin to break down muscle tissue for energy. This can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and strength. 

5. Easy fractures

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that low protein intake is a risk factor for osteoporosis and fractures. Protein provides the building blocks for bones, so when you don’t consume enough of it, your body is unable to create new bone cells.

This means that your existing bone cells become weaker and more susceptible to breakage. 

In addition, low protein intake can also lead to muscle weakness, which can further increase the risk of falling and fracturing a bone.

6. Fatty liver

A new study has found that a low protein diet can lead to increased fat accumulation in the liver, which can lead to fatty liver disease.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California, found that mice on a low protein diet had significantly more fat accumulation in their livers than those on a normal diet. 

The low protein diet also led to increased inflammation and insulin resistance in the liver.

7. Retarded growth in children

Children need protein for proper growth and development. If they don’t get enough protein, their bodies can’t make the hormones and enzymes needed for normal growth. This can lead to retarded growth.

Protein is also essential for building and repairing muscle tissue, so if children don’t get enough protein, they may have difficulty gaining or maintaining muscle mass.

What causes low protein?

Protein deficiency can have a number of causes, including:

Inadequate intake

Inadequate dietary intake is the most common cause of protein deficiency. This may be due to poverty or food insecurity, which can lead to insufficient intake of all nutrients, not just protein. 

Other causes of poor dietary intake include restrictive diets and eating disorders.

Increased protein demand

Increased protein needs can also cause protein deficiency. This is often seen in pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers who need additional protein for their growing baby. It can also be seen in people who are recovering from an illness or injury, as they may need more protein to help repair their tissues.

Poor absorption of protein

Certain medical conditions can lead to poor absorption of protein from the diet. For example, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease can both cause malabsorption of nutrients, including protein.


Intense exercise can increase your need for protein. If you are not consuming enough protein-rich foods or your body cannot absorb or use protein properly, you may experience symptoms of protein deficiency, such as muscle weakness and fatigue.

How much protein do you need each day?

It’s a common question: how much protein do you need each day? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Your protein needs depend on your age, activity level, and overall health. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, there are general guidelines you can follow.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, for a person who weighs 150 pounds (68 kilograms), that would be about 54 grams of protein per day.

However, the RDA is just the minimum amount of protein you need to stay healthy. If you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight, you may need more than that.

For instance, research shows that people who lift weights need 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to build muscle mass. So, if you weigh 150 pounds (68 kilograms), you would need 102-119 grams of protein per day if you’re lifting weights regularly.

And if you’re trying to lose weight, you may need even more protein – up to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight – to help preserve your muscle mass while you’re cutting calories.

What foods contain protein?

When it comes to getting enough protein in your diet, it’s important to eat a variety of protein-rich foods throughout the day. This will help ensure that your body gets all the essential amino acids it needs to function properly.

There are many protein sources. Here are some of the best:

Beans and other legumes: These are a great source of protein for vegans. They are also high in fiber and low in fat. Some good options include black beans, lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas.

Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein for vegans. They are also a good source of healthy fats and minerals. Some good options include almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds.

Tofu and tempeh: These soy-based products are a great source of protein for vegans. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes.

Vegetables: Yes, vegetables can be a good source of protein for vegans! Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens are especially high in protein. Other good options include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.


There are a variety of grains that can be a great source of protein for vegans. Some of the best and most popular grains include:


Quinoa is a grain that is packed with protein. It has all the essential amino acids that your body needs, making it a complete protein source. Quinoa is also high in fiber and other nutrients, making it a great addition to any vegan diet. This grain can be used in place of rice or pasta in most recipes, making it a versatile and healthy option for meals.


Buckwheat is a delicious and nutritious whole grain that is perfect for those looking for a protein-rich option. This little grain is packed with all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle and repair tissue. Buckwheat is also a good source of fiber and antioxidants, making it a great choice for those looking for a healthy and filling meal.


Amaranth is a grain that is high in protein and fiber and a good source of iron and calcium, and it is also gluten-free. Amaranth can be cooked like rice or quinoa or ground into flour and used for baking.

Related Articles:

  1. Vegetables With High Protein
  2. Raw Vegan Sushi 
  3. Mung Beans Nutrition: A Great Plant-based Protein Source
  4. Vegan  Protein Powder

Final Thoughts

If you think you may be protein deficient, it’s important to speak with a medical professional to get a diagnosis. 

However, there are some common symptoms of low protein that you can look out for, such as fatigue, muscle weakness, and loss of hair. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s worth increasing your protein intake to see if it makes a difference.

There are plenty of high-protein foods that are delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet, so there’s no need to worry about not getting enough protein.

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