- Protein is necessary to keep the body functioning optimally.
- If you are not consuming enough, you may lose muscle, and struggle to recover from workouts.
- Dietitian Nicola Ludlam-Rayne told Insider that weak hair, nails, and skin can also be a sign.
Protein is an essential nutrient necessary for maintaining health, and every cell in our body needs it to function properly.
In the Western world, it’s rare for people to not meet the “relatively low” recommended daily intake in the United States of 50 grams, dietitian Nicola Ludlam Ryan told Insider, but individual requirements for optimal performance vary with activity levels, dietary pattern, age, and fitness goals. .
If you are active or trying to lose body fat, fitness professionals recommend increasing your protein intake up to 0.9 grams per pound of body weight, spreading the intake evenly throughout the day.
For someone who weighs 160 pounds, that means consuming up to 144 grams of protein per day.
Protein is saturated, has a higher thermogenic effect than fats and carbohydrates (meaning the body uses more energy to digest it), helps maintain muscle while a person loses fat, and helps muscles recover from workouts.
If you don’t eat enough protein, you may lose muscle. They have weak skin, hair and nails. Feels more hungry and struggles to recover after exercise, Ludlam Ryan said.
She told us the four physical signs you may not be consuming enough.
Ludlam-Rain said muscle mass naturally begins to decline after age 40 (known as sarcopenia), so getting enough protein as you age is especially important.
This is why protein requirements are higher for older adults: Protein and aging researchers recommend consuming 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or higher) for older adults, which is roughly the same as recommended. Active adults.
“If you follow a particular dietary pattern such as a vegan diet and/or reduce your calorie intake to lose weight, there is an increased risk of losing muscle mass along with fat, which is why a source of protein is so important to your diet,” Ludlam Raine said.
Weakened skin, hair and nails
If your hair and nails are weak and your skin loses its elasticity, it could be a sign that you are not eating enough protein.
“A lack of protein in the diet can cause hair and nails to become brittle and more susceptible to damage, as proteins (such as keratin) play an important role in the structure and function of the cells that make up the body’s organs and tissues,” Ludlam Ryan said.
Protein helps keep skin firm, too, according to research.
If you’re hungry, it could be that you don’t eat enough in general, or that you don’t eat enough protein.
“Protein is the most satiating nutrient compared to carbohydrates and fats, so if you have a protein deficiency in your diet, you may find it more difficult to feel full after a meal,” Ludlam-Rain said.
Recovering from bad exercise
If you find that your body takes a long time to feel better again after a workout, it could also be a sign that your protein intake is too low.
“Protein is essential for growth and repair, so if you don’t get enough protein after a workout, especially after a strength training exercise, your muscle’s ability to grow and recover before your next workout will be reduced,” Ludlam-Rain said.
This can manifest as muscle aches and fatigue, which means you may have a hard time performing at your best in future workouts.
Research suggests that protein isn’t just important after a workout – it’s best to eat some at regular intervals throughout the day.