The daily recommended protein intake for an average sedentary woman is around 46 grams. If you’re an avid athlete, pregnant, or going through other hormone fluctuations, you may require different amounts. Regardless of what the proper number is for you (determine that with your doctor, based on your lifestyle and overall health), tracking our protein can be tough. Sometimes I have weeks when I just don’t have time to buy or cook meat, for example. So I have frozen pizzas and canned soups with salad, but it’s easy for my protein levels to drop drastically in that time frame, without me even realizing it. Unfortunately, some diets are naturally low in protein–it’s their pitfall. Proteins make up the building blocks of…well…everything. Every organ and bone in your body needs protein. Here are signs you may be low on protein.
Protein plays a big role in building antibodies. If you’re low on antibodies, then your immunity will decline, and you’ll have a hard time fighting off viruses. Should you find yourself catching more colds than usual, low protein could be at play.
If you’re low on protein, then your body has to prioritize the little protein you have the best it can. That means your organs may borrow protein from your skeletal muscle tissue in order to function. When that happens, you’re more prone to fractures.
When you’re low on protein, your muscle fluid may begin breaking down. Once again, your body is pulling that protein to the essential organs. When this occurs, you can experience more joint pain.
Do you find your nails breaking? Do they feel soft, bending quicker when you push on them? Protein makes up your nails, so when you’re low on it, you’ll notice that your nails crack, chip, and break easily.
When you are low on protein, your body actually reduces hair growth in order to conserve protein for other jobs. That’s why you can find your hair thinning if you don’t get enough of this important nutrient.
Your fat to muscle ratio
Have you been looking or feeling flabby, even though the scale says you’ve actually lost weight? That could be because, due to low protein, you’re losing muscle mass.
Protein plays a role in hemoglobin production, which transports oxygen through the body. If you don’t have enough of it, you’re bound to feel constantly tired.
You’re craving sugar
When you don’t eat enough protein—which can keep your blood sugar stable—your body may crave sugar for an instant blood sugar boost.
Your fingers and toes blow up
By blow up we mean expand. Having enough protein keeps fluid from pooling in our extremities (hands and feet). If you’re low on it, you may find these parts of your body swelling.
You feel faint
Low protein makes for thinner blood and that means a drop in blood pressure. If you find yourself feeling light headed often, you may be low in protein.
Your feel short of breath
Low protein can also lead to a slower heart rate. Are you short in breath from a rather mild activity? Low protein might be at work.
Your liver figures are affected
If you have blood work done and your liver figures come back abnormal, you may be low on protein. Liver disease and low protein are linked.
Your B12 levels are low
Should your blood work show low B12 levels, this could be another side effect of not consuming enough protein since we get B12 from animal food sources like steak and eggs.
Your skin is one of your largest organs and protein is the building block of it. If your skin has been flaky lately, it could be a sign it doesn’t have the proteins it needs to create new cells.
Being low on protein will lead to an overall feeing of brain fog and confusion.