Protein Deficiency

Photo by montatip lilitsanong on Unsplash protein

Protein Is Necessary to Life


I remember many years ago when liquid diets were the rage, people started dying from a lack of protein. While those liquid “meals” had enough calories, you were supposed to add whole foods to the plan. Of the many people who did not, some died. At first the deaths were a mystery but very soon the reason for those deaths became obvious. The ones who died were not getting  enough protein.

Many people think that if they limit their meat consumption they will lose weight. That may not be the case. Lean meat eaten in moderate quantities is not a hindrance to weight loss. Protein stokes the metabolism, reduces the appetite and  helps to regulate hormones all of which will help you lose weight.

Protein is a source of dopamine in our bodies. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that allows us to enjoy life. Although many people shy away from eating animal products nowadays, animal products are the richest source of protein. Meat, eggs, poultry and fish are excellent sources.

Some of the symptoms of protein deficiency are as follows:

  • Brittle hair, nails and dry skin. Since hair, skin and nails are composed largely of protein, a deficiency will show up here early.
  • Fatty Liver has become all too common. It’s common in obese individuals and alcoholics. Fatty Liver can result in liver failure.
  • Loss of muscle mass… In David’s article, Losing Muscle Mass as We Age he discusses this at length. It’s called sarcopenia and it’s accelerated by low protein intake. I have noticed my entire life that as most people age, they eat less protein! Don’t do that. Older non-athletes still need about 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Athletes need 1.2 to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. Read Protein Supplements to for a comprehensive guide on protein sources.
  • Weak bones! Most of us are aware that a calcium deficiency will cause weak bones but are unaware of the link to protein. A study in postmenopausal women who had recently broken a hip showed that taking a mere 20 gram protein supplement every day for only 6 months slowed bone loss by 2.3%! (1)
  • Slow wound healing… If our bodies don’t have the building blocks to rebuild, we won’t heal. With longer healing time comes a higher risk of infection.
  • Hunger! If you don’t eat enough protein you will never be satisfied. You will keep eating to try to satisfy the need for protein. Protein satisfies and helps you to stop eating when you have reached your calorie allowance.
  • Weakness…one study showed that just one week of low protein intake could affect muscle mass. (2)
  • Getting sick frequently…your immune system  uses protein to make the antibodies that fight diseases of all kinds.
  • Depression…Amino acids that are found in protein are used to make dopamine and serotonin, your feel-good brain chemicals
  • Swelling…although this is seldom seen in developed countries, it can happen. I have known someone who lived almost exclusively on carbohydrates and she stayed swollen all over all the time. She also stayed sick. Protein is used to make albumin in our blood which helps to maintain a proper osmotic pressure to keep our fluid levels in good working order. When the albumin in our blood is off, we swell.

While these symptoms of protein deficiency are well known there are others. Too little protein affects every aspect of our lives. We are omnivores, meant to eat both plants and animals. If you are vegetarian or live some other lifestyle that avoids animal products, be sure to do your homework and get your protein. If you just don’t like meat, which is our richest protein source, the same thing applies to you. Don’t assume that you are getting enough. The results could be disastrous.

If you are trying to lose weight, or even control your weight, enough protein will make it much easier. You will feel and look better and find it much easier to control your appetite and be healthier doing it. Make a conscious effort to be accountable concerning your protein intake just as you are about getting enough water or counting your calories. You can get the free version of  My Fitness Pal and it counts your protein, carbs and fat right along with your calories. We use it every day. It’s easy to get enough protein when you make it a priority at every meal.

Comments and questions are most welcome!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.