7 Signs You Need More Protein & How to Increase Your Intake
Protein is one of the essential nutrients that your body needs to remain strong and function properly. Specifically, it supports some of our most important body systems, including the muscular system, digestive system, integumentary system, and circulatory system. In fact, without protein, life as we know it is essentially impossible.
Why Do You Need Protein?
Protein is often described as a building block utilized to form a variety of tissues. We need these building blocks to create muscle tissue, connective tissue like tendons, organ tissue, and even skin. Additionally, proteins serve several functions within cells, acting as hormones, neurotransmitter molecules, enzymes, and more.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get the proper amount of protein that your body requires. If you come up short on a regular basis, you could begin experiencing problems with your health and body composition. Together, these problems make up a serious issue known as protein deficiency.
Signs of Protein Deficiency
Protein deficiency is an indicator that you need a more complete, balanced diet that incorporates protein-rich foods. Fortunately, this condition often comes with several telltale signs that can help alert you that a change is necessary.
If you notice any of these protein deficiency symptoms, it’s important to address them with your physician, who can help you evaluate your diet:
- Swelling, especially in the legs, feet, and hands
- Hair, nail, and skin problems, including thinning hair, flaky skin, and brittle nails
- Slow healing
- A lowered immune system
- Mood changes
- Overall fatigue
- Increased hunger
How Much Protein Do You Need?
In general, federal guidelines set the ideal daily intake of protein at about 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. This translates to roughly 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men. However, your needs will vary depending on your age, physical activity, muscle mass, and other factors. You can calculate your exact requirements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s daily recommended intake (DRI) calculator.
Whether you’re experiencing protein deficiency, or simply want to increase your protein intake to meet your fitness goals, start by adding these foods to your diet:
- Animal Proteins – Meats, fish, and eggs are complete proteins that include all of the essential amino acids you need. It’s best to consume about four ounces of animal proteins per day.
- Non-Meat Proteins – Nuts, seeds, and legumes like peanuts, peas, beans, lentils, and tofu can help you maintain a high-protein diet. Aim to eat another two ounces of non-meat proteins to ensure you have the nutrients necessary for optimal health.
- Protein Shakes – If you’re struggling to consume an adequate amount of protein each day or need to boost your consumption to lose weight, a protein shake or protein shot can be an excellent solution. Look for options that include 20 to 25 grams of protein and essential carbohydrates to aid in protein synthesis.
- Convenient Meals & Snacks – While shakes are convenient, whole-food sources of protein are easier for the body to utilize. If you’re on the go, consider stocking up on protein-packed meals and snacks that you can prepare at a moment’s notice.
When you need healthy, delicious foods that fit your weight loss plan or physique goals, consider high-protein products from Nutmeg State Nutrition. All of our options are tasty, full of essential nutrients, and conveniently packaged for quick preparation and snacking.
Contact us today to learn more!