Protein is an important component of our diet as well as our body. We are often concerned about mineral deficiencies like that of calcium. But protein deficiency is also a serious problem. You see, protein is one of the building blocks of the body and is necessary for several functions. A daily intake of at least 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kg) is generally recommended. However, depending on your age, body weight, level of activity, state of fitness and underlying health conditions, this may vary. It is said that older adults and people engaging in more physical exertion (like athletes) generally require greater amounts of protein. If you are not meeting the basic protein requirement benchmark over a significant period, it can have grave consequences. Hence it is important to keep an eye out for warning signs.
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Here Are 5 Signs You May Be Protein Deficient:
1. Decreased muscle mass
Protein is the main component of muscles. Thus, the loss of muscle mass is a crucial sign that you may need to increase your protein intake.
2. Weak nails and hair
Your hair, skin and nails are composed of protein. Thus, if you are deficient, your nails might become brittle, your hair may thin out and your skin can become red in certain places. You may also notice the colour of your hair fading.
3. Greater risk of bone fractures
The density and strength of your bones also depend on protein. If you are deficient, you may become more prone to fractures. It can also impact your overall bone health.
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4. Increase in appetite
Protein promotes the production of peptide YY (PYY), a hormone that makes you feel full. But if you are not getting enough of it, you might find yourself feeling more hungry often. Hence, an unusual increase in your appetite may be a sign you're low on protein.
5. Compromised immunity
Protein can help strengthen your immune system. If you are not getting enough of it, you may fall sick more often. You may also notice that your symptoms are more severe than usual. Protein deficiency can also increase the risk of catching certain infections, hence it should be addressed as soon as possible.
Besides these symptoms, fat accumulation in liver cells could also imply that you're low on protein. In children, the deficiency could manifest as stunted growth, as they require a consistent intake of protein to nourish their growing bodies.
How To Increase Protein Intake?
Narrow down protein-rich foods that you can consume on a regular basis. Plan your meals to include some amount of protein in everyone. It is recommended to eat protein first to not only promote satiety but also balance your blood sugar levels. Here are some foods that can help combat protein deficiency:
Eggs are not only rich in calcium but also protein. Thus, eating eggs for breakfast ensures you start your day on the right note. Eggs are also loaded with a variety of other nutrients.
In general, dairy products can greatly help combat protein deficiency. Apart from protein, paneer (cottage cheese) is also rich in calcium and can provide your body with several benefits. It contains healthy fats and is low in carbs.
Legumes are one of the best sources of non-dairy proteins. So you should be consuming more soybeans, lentils, kidney beans (rajma), chickpeas (chana), etc. Having some homemade dal daily can be a convenient way to keep yourself well-nourished.
Replace your packaged snacks with almonds, pistachios, cashews and other nuts. This will not only provide you with protein but also healthy fats. Nuts give you a sustained energy boost and are easily portable. Hence, they're one of the easiest ways of increasing your daily protein intake.
Now you know what to do to keep up your protein intake. Always make sure your diet is balanced!
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.