Lack of Protein Symptoms – Healthier Steps

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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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Check out some of the Best Vegan Protein Sources!

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 may 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.

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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.

assorted vegan protein sources on wooden boards and gray background

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 to 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 starting 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 who 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
  • Promotes bone metabolism
  • Slows down the aging process
  • It helps balance your hormones
  • Controls blood sugar levels
  • Promotes skin and hair health
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Prevents cardiovascular conditions
  • It helps you maintain an ideal weight.

How to increase your protein intake:

If you’re concerned about getting enough protein, try increasing 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 diet, such as legumes and nuts, is sufficient to provide the needed amounts.

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