Protein is a hot topic in the fitness scene — it’s often talked about as it relates to refueling after a high-intensity workout, but protein does SO much more than just nourish those fatigued muscles. The benefits of protein are extensive since protein literally plays a role in every cell in the body.
Read on as we share just how important this macro is and some telltale signs that may indicate that you may not be getting enough in your diet.
The Benefits of Protein
Getting enough protein is important because protein is involved in:
- Making hormones & enzymes
- Repairing tissues
- Acting as a building block for your skin, blood, cartilage, muscles, and bones
Protein is literally important for every cell in the body and, since the body doesn’t store protein, it’s important to make sure that we are nourishing ourselves with the protein needed to keep our bodies in tip-top shape.
5 Signs That You Are Not Getting Enough Protein
Note that these signs can mean many different things, so always speak with your doctor about concerns related to any symptoms you may be having.
#1 Changes in Mood
Remember how one of the benefits of protein has to do with how protein really plays a role in every cell in the body? Well, this is true for the neurotransmitters in your brain too — that rely on amino acids (building blocks of protein). Without getting enough protein, your body may not be making enough neurotransmitters, which can have a direct impact on your brain and mood.
#2 Changes in Hair, Nails, and Skin
There’s a reason why collagen protein is having its shining moment in the beauty industry — it all has to do with the benefits of protein and how this macro plays a role is supporting the health of our hair, skin, and nails.
Without getting enough, we may experience thin and brittle hair, ridges on our nails, and flaking skin, giving us an indication that we may be slacking in the protein department.
#3 You’re Getting Sick More Often
A weakened immune system can happen for numerous reasons, but not getting enough protein could be one of them. A study found that diets low in protein were associated with a more severe case of the flu when compared to a diet that was higher in protein.
Here’s one more reason to make sure that we are getting enough high-quality protein sources in our diet to keep us healthy all year long.
#4 Your Muscles are Losing Mass
Not getting enough protein can lead to a loss of muscle mass. The body will take protein from skeletal muscles when we aren’t fueling our bodies with enough. This is why it is so important to make sure that you are getting enough to help build healthy muscles after all of that hard work you’re putting into your FitOn workouts!
#5 Increased Hunger
If you find yourself ravenous, even after a large meal, you may not be getting enough protein. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, so adding protein to your meals can help you feel full. Take a look at what your meals look like and notice if you may be slacking on the protein.
How Much Protein is Enough?
Ok, so we get that the benefits of protein are pretty impressive, but while getting enough protein is important, getting too much isn’t a good thing either. So, how much protein do we really need each day?
Generally speaking, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) suggests that we consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
Here’s an easy way to determine this number based on how much you weigh in pounds.
Take 0.36 grams and multiply this by your weight in pounds.
- 0.36 grams times 120 pounds= 43 grams of protein per day.
Note that endurance athletes, older adults, or those recovering from an injury require additional protein per day.
How to Get Enough Protein
Now that you know all about the benefits of protein and signs that you may not be getting enough let’s talk about how to make sure that you are packing in enough protein-rich foods.
Protein is found in plenty of whole foods — both plant and animal-based, so there are tons of options to make sure you are getting a well-rounded balance.
Here are some of our favorite high-quality protein options to enjoy as part of a balanced diet.
- Organic chicken/turkey
- Grass-fed ground beef
- Nuts & seeds
- Black beans
- Chia, flax, hemp seeds
- Organic cheese (preferably grass-fed)
And, if you’re looking for a quick way to pack in some clean protein after your sweat-dripping workout, check out three of our favorite protein-rich meals below.
3 Delicious Protein-Rich Meals
#1 Post-Workout Chocolate Almond Shake
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 handful of kale
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 1 scoop of protein powder
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
#2 Protein-Packed Stuffed Sweet Potato
- 1 cooked sweet potato, halved
- ½ cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 1 tbsp crumbled bacon
- 1 tbsp guacamole
- 1 pinch of sea salt
Add the chicken to the sweet potato halves and sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Add the dollop of guacamole and season with salt.
#3 Avocado Egg Toast
- 2 slices of gluten-free toast
- 2 eggs, cooked to your liking
- ½ avocado, sliced
- 1 pinch of paprika
- 1 pinch of sea salt & pepper
Start by adding the cooked eggs to the toast, and top with the sliced avocado.
Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Check out FitOn PRO for more delicious recipes and custom meal plans.
Up Your Protein Game
Protein is a key macronutrient that our body relies on. We have to nourish our body with the protein it needs to thrive, while also keeping quality in mind.
Start by giving these three protein-rich recipes a try to see just how impressive the benefits of protein can be for satiety, mood, and even for supporting the health of your hair, skin, and nails.