By Lisa Payne
You know you should be eating protein, but are you getting enough protein?
Protein seems to be in just about every type of food we eat. However, since every individual’s dietary needs are different many people often aren’t actually getting enough protein to get them through their day-to-day lives.
Protein serves as the building blocks for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, nails, and blood. It provides us with many vitamins and minerals, and helps keep us satiated after each meal. If you’re not sure you’re getting enough protein, check out these five signs you could be missing out!
Aches and pains
Let’s face it, working out hurts sometimes. But you shouldn’t be hobbling to the kitchen or reaching for the Ibuprofen bottle after every workout. If taking a recovery day or two between workouts doesn’t feel like enough time to banish muscle soreness, you may want to take a closer look at what you’re eating. On top of overall eating a balanced diet and eliminating things like sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats, tabulate the number of grams of protein you consume daily.
Still hungry after meals
A thriving metabolism might make your stomach grumble a little more often. But if you’re often hungry 1-2 hours after a meal, or maybe even waking up for a midnight snack, your meals need makeover. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight. 1 pound of body weight equals 2.2kg. This is just a rough estimate for the general population. If you work out regularly or have other individual needs, you may need to increase your protein to stay fuller longer. Plus, the fuller you are at meals, the less calories you’re likely to consume-making you one lean, mean, healthy machine!
Brittle nails, dry skin, or hair breakage
Another sign that you’re low on protein is if you notice your nails peeling, your skin cracking, and/or your hair splitting. Hair, skin, and nails are made up of the proteins keratin, collagen, and elastin. Going back to the building blocks reference, the protein you eat will build the cells in your hair, skin, and nails to strengthen them. Want shiny hair? Start snacking on some apple slices with almond butter!
Low protein levels, or protein deficiency caused by malnutrition, or kidney or liver disease can cause swelling. Edema, or swelling, is often in your lower extremities when there aren’t enough proteins to hold your sodium, water, and electrolytes in your blood vessels. This produces excess fluid and water retention.
Not seeing results at the gym
If you’re taking adequate rest days, are executing balanced workouts that are challenging and individual-specific, and you aren’t seeing results, your muscles could be lacking one key ingredient. Since lifting weights creates micro-tears in your muscle fibers, consuming protein (along with those rest days), will help to rebuild those tears and create stronger muscles.
Eating protein at every meal will have you feeling strong, satiated, and pain-free! Aim for healthy protein in foods like peanut butter, lean meats, quinoa, nuts, fish, and beans. Eat enough protein and you’ll repair muscles properly, feel great, and get stronger with less risk of injury!