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Do you need more protein in your diet?

With all the various diet crazes that come and go: South Beach, Atkins, Ovo-Lacto, Whole 30, The Werewolf diet, a diet where you pee on a stick…a diet where you eat cotton balls (seriously?), most agree that protein is essential to your health and well-being.

According to the USDA, the daily recommended allowance of protein for a 150-pound adult is around 50 grams of protein a day. It can increase to about 90 grams for a training athlete. Protein is key for delivering vital nutrients to your body not only to build and repair muscle, but also make enzymes, hormones, and other important things your system would definitely miss if protein went on strike. This MVP also regulates your tissues and organs, gives you energy, and can help maintain a healthy weight.

Despite its definite importance, one of the most common dietary deficiencies is protein and it’s not only vegetarians and vegans who fall short. There are a few warning signs that can illuminate the need to take your protein pills before you put your helmet on. Here are a few symptoms that may indicate you need more protein in your diet:

Food, Glorious Food

While it is normally true that your body craves what it needs, it isn’t necessarily correct that your body needs that donut. When you are low on protein, your body can play tricks on you - instead of hankering for a hunk of cheese, you may want a spoonful of sugar. According to a study in Diabetes Education, protein can even out your blood sugar, so without it, you may be looking for a quick fix from the candy man. This process, gluconeogenesis, uses protein to stabilize your blood sugar and decrease your food cravings.   Gluconeogenesis is the process where amino acids from protein are metabolized slowly to sugar and this stabilizes blood sugar and spares muscle protein from being digested. So, next time you feel the urge to break you off a piece of that Kit Kat bar, reach for a handful of nuts instead.

Dietland

It’s not always easy to eat a well-balanced diet in today’s fast-paced world. Preparing nutritious meals often fall by the wayside when squeezing in an extra meeting is essential, or a commute cuts into meal prep time. Even if you aren’t restricting calories, the type of food you eat can have an effect. If you are short-cut eating, chances are you are losing out on much-needed protein. Consuming a lot of processed foods can cause your body to use what little protein you do eat for energy. This leaves little left over for cell repair. So, that daily Cool Ranch habit can really mess up your muscles.

Even if you shun MSG and GMOs, if you are on a restrictive diet you may have a protein deficiency. Eating a vegan diet that is heavy on the carbs can tip the scales into a protein shortage. Having a healthy vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean that you can just swap out meat for bagels. Those who don’t eat moo can right the balance by supplementing their diet with legumes, nuts, seeds, or a whey protein powder like SFH’s Fuel or Pure.

Achy Breaky Smart

Athletes who are burning a lot of calories, building bulk muscle, or recovering from an injury are likely to need more protein. They need these power building blocks to help repair and rebuild the cells in the muscles that were broken down. If you aren’t getting enough protein, there is a good chance your muscles will be sore and achy, even without that balls to the wall workout. Translation? Poor nutrition can cause all pain and no gain. If you are on the DL and you can’t seem to bounce back from a tear or a sprain, this might also be the cause. According to Reader’s Digest, a lack of protein can cause your body to break down existing muscles to get its necessary amino acids. So if you haven’t got time for the pain, be smart and power up with protein.

Hide nor Hair

According to Women’s Health, abstaining from essential amino acids can cause your hair follicles to weaken and you may notice your hair begin to thin or even fall out. Protein also builds the body’s biggest organ: your skin. The skin is a major protection barrier from disease and you want to keep it healthy to maintain a healthy immune system, not to mention your peaches and cream complexion. If you notice poor skin, or if you develop brittle nails or hangnails, it may be a sign you need to consume more protein.

Cold Snap

If you are always coming down with something it could be you haven’t been building up your immune system.  Protein is one of the building blocks of the immune system. Without enough of that power- packed p, yours may weaken, making you more susceptible to that flu flying around your office. Snap back into good health and make sure you can battle any germs the gen pop throws at you. Add more lean meats, legumes, or whey into your diet. You can do it with a daily protein shake using SFH Whey Protein

Diss Stress

If you happen to be going through a trying period in your life, the stress hormones which produce cortisol can break down tissue and cause the need for extra protein. According to a Dutch research study conducted by C.B. Markus, individuals with high stress levels were given whey protein, containing a high ratio of amino acids. They found that after consuming the whey, the group experienced lower cortisol levels and an increase in serotonin – two things you definitely need if you want to be more Namaste than Stay Away. So, in addition to the deep breaths, yoga, and rounds with the punching bag, add some reps with a healthy whey protein shake like Fuel to the mix to help you chill out.