Whether you’re the type that shuns carbs or the one that avoids all fat, one food group that’s probably on your radar is protein – but it can be confusing.
Not if you read this need-to-know guide.
In recent years, protein has become the macronutrient literally on everyone’s lips. But according to new research by Healthista, more than 90 per cent of us don’t know how much we need.
Here, British nutritionists May Simpkin and Rick Hay reveal the seven signs you're not eating enough protein.
You’re craving salty or sweet foods
‘Protein slows down the release of sugars into the blood stream, and therefore helps to ensure blood sugars are balanced,’ says Ms Simpkin.
‘A low protein, high carb diet will release sugars quickly into the blood stream. Once insulin is released to remove these sugars, cravings will kick in as blood sugars quickly drop’.
Your muscles are flabby
If you’re not eating enough protein, your body will have no choice but to break down muscle to ensure its needs, Ms Simpkin asserts, an effect that will be pronounced if you exercise a lot as your body will be using muscle as fuel which is not a good idea.
‘This will result in weakened muscle tone, reduced muscle mass and weak joint support.
Without enough protein, your body will also take longer to recover following injury you may also get increased muscle and joint aches,’ says Ms Simpkin.
Your hair’s failing out
Okay maybe it’s not that serious but if your hair skin and nails aren’t as radiant as you would like, your protein intake might be the reason.
‘Lack lustre or thinning hair, weak or brittle nails, nail ridges and dry, flaky skin are all initial indicators of lack of protein, as the body is unable to regenerate the cells efficiently to replace dead cells,’ says Ms Simpkin.
Poor immune health
Getting sick often is an indicator of poor immune health and can be as a result of lack of proteins, as immune cells are all made up of protein.
‘Without enough protein, immune cells cannot repair and multiply quickly enough to combat bugs and germs,’ says Ms Simpkin.
Can’t concentrate? Blame your lunch. ‘Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are all made up of proteins.
‘A lack of protein can lead to low mood, poor concentration and reduced mental alertness and these can also be exacerbated with similar symptoms of poor blood sugar balance if you’re not eating enough protein’.
Can’t sleep? Blame your dinner. Without enough protein, hormone production is compromised and cause imbalances that will ultimately affect sleep quality and disrupt your night’s sleep.
‘Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps to induce sleep and eating a little protein around bedtime can help to improve sleep quality,’ says Ms Simpkin.
Find tryptophan in protein foods such as seeds and nuts, turkey breast, some cheeses, beans and lentils and eggs.