Protein plays an important role in a healthy diet, as it provides the building blocks that help your body to build muscle (the result of exercise). However, for a number of people, protein is one of the LEAST important nutrients, not to mention one of the hardest to obtain. Vegetarians and vegans often suffer from a number of health problems thanks to their low protein intake, as do people to under-eat. Here are a few signs that you need a bit more protein in your life:
Your brain fills like it’s filled with wool
A “foggy” brain is the result of low blood sugar, which is often the result of too many carbs in your diet without anything to balance them out. Eating protein is essential for a healthy regulation of your blood sugar, because it helps to time the release of those carbs into your bloodstream. By regulating carb release, you prevent blood sugar spikes and their subsequent crashes. If you’re eating a lot of carbs–particularly empty carbs (read: white flour and sugar)–you’re going to be causing drastic spikes in your blood sugar without any protein to balance them out. You’ll find that your brain just won’t work properly, and it’s all because the carbs are being absorbed too quickly.
You have a craving for sweets
Sweets are made from sugar, something your body needs when it’s tired or drained. However, a sign that you’re not getting enough protein in your diet is an incessant craving for sweets. Protein helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady, but when they dip too low your body tells you that you need a quick influx of energy to balance out the glucose. The cravings are caused by the drastic rise and fall in your blood sugar levels that result from eating too many carbs without enough protein.
You feel tired and weak
Weakness is something that comes both from lack of muscle and lack of nutrition, and not getting enough protein can lead to both. You see, protein provides the building blocks that helps you to build muscle, but without protein, your body starts to break down the muscle fibers. As a result, your muscles shrink, and their capacity for work decreases as they store less and less energy. You’ll actually be weak thanks to the lack of muscle, which is the result of not eating more of the nutrients that keeps your muscles growing.
Your hair is falling out
Did you know that hair is made almost entirely of protein? The hair follicles on your head require protein in order to keep your hair growing, but what happens when you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet? The hair follicles themselves shrivel and die, along with the hair growing from those follicles. You’ll find that your hair starts thinning out, and they may even begin to fall out at an alarming rate. Often, by the time this happens, it’s too late to stop a lot of the hair problems.
You are sick fairly frequently
Protein isn’t just needed for big muscles, but it’s also necessary for proper immune function. Protein is used to build all of the compounds that keeps your immune system firing on all cylinders, but those who lack protein lack those compounds that protect their body from infections. They tend to be sick more often than those who get enough protein in their diet, particularly with colds and infections. Another sign that you’re not getting enough protein: hangnails, cracks, and tears in your skin!