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Signs your not getting enough protein

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Article from Weather.com

July might be the peak of American meat-eating with all the backyard barbecues and summer parties. All in all, Americans are notable carnivores, downing about 260 pounds of meat per year, James Hamlin recently wrote for The Atlantic.

But there are some among us who still might come up short on protein, Cindi Lockhart, the senior program manager of nutrition and health coaching for Life Time Fitness, told weather.com. "For the average person, you should get some form of protein every time you eat," she said. "Depending on how active you are, you'll also want protein snacks in between."

Seattle sports dietician Kim Larson, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told weather.com that protein problems are relatively rare in the United States, but that getting a protein boost at every meal is essential, especially as we age.

To find out if you might need more of this essential nutrient, read on, though this article is not meant to diagnose any medical condition.

Cravings for "sugar, carbs and starches" might be symptoms of a protein insufficiency, Lockhart said, noting that insufficiencies are more common than deficiencies in the Western world.

"If you're reaching for crackers, cookies, breads and other refined carbs, and if you're hungry all the time, you might not be getting enough protein," Larson said. This is one reason why protein is so important for people who are trying to lose weight. It not only helps build muscle, which can stoke your metabolism, but also it can help you feel fuller, longer.

Protein supports muscle growth, so if you're having trouble building or maintaining muscle, that might be a sign of an insufficiency, Lockhart said.

Because of protein's role in muscle and bone growth, it's particularly important for people over the age of 50 to prevent the muscle wasting associated with aging, Larson said. Muscle wasting could also be a sign of too few calories, she said, adding that when the body has too few carbohydrates for energy, it breaks down protein. "Your muscles breakdown the protein that you're eating for energy, and then that protein is not used to build your muscle mass," she explained.

Protein fortifies the immune system — another reason it is so important as we age. "Getting sick a lot would certainly relate to protein intake," Larson said.

"Protein does so much for us. It regulates a lot of different metabolic systems," Larson said. "We think of sodium and potassium for fluid balance, but it's a very key component in fluid balance as well."

The important thing is to know is that you should have high-quality proteins for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she said.

If you're losing hair or noticing an uptick in split ends, your protein intake might be to blame, Lockhart said. This happens because when the body lacks protein, it stops growing hair to use protein elsewhere, according to WebMD.

Horizontal, white bands on your nails can also be a sign of a protein problem, Lockhart said.

"Protein insufficiency is more prevalent in kids — they can be picky eaters, and they're developing fast, so they need that protein," Lockhart said. "Anyone else who is a growing phase — adolescents, [during] pregnancy or lactation."

Vegetarians and vegan also have to be more conscious of what they are consuming, she said. Although it is completely possible to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet through beans, soy, nuts, dairy and eggs (depending on dietary restrictions). Although, Larson cautions, few plants sources contain all nine indispensable amino acids, so a variety of plant sources are needed.

The elderly are another at-risk group, Larson said, as muscle wasting is a problem associated with aging. Some very active people also might lack protein, which can help the body recover. "In general, marathon runners are not very buff. They don’t have a lot muscle mass," Larson said as an example. "They're a group that tends to under-consume [protein] and under fuel."

It was once believed that too much protein could cause kidney failure, but that is an out-of-date concern, Larson said. "We really don't see kidney failure even at 2.5 grams of protein per day per kilogram of body weight [170 grams a day for a 150-pound person]," she said. "That concern is obsolete."

Gender, weight, age, activity level and more all play a role in determining an appropriate protein intake, Larson said. Generally, 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is a good starting benchmark, with more protein needed if you're trying to lose weight, or if you're a very active athlete. Athletes who are heavily strength training might need as much as 2 grams per kilogram a day, she said.

"Proteins are made in our body all throughout the day, so you constantly have to replenish that steady stream of amino acids by eating protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner," Larson said.

Meat and fish are go-to protein sources for most people (and the reason why true protein deficiency is not much of an issue in the United States). Low-fat dairy and eggs are also great complete sources, Larson said.

As far as plants, "soybeans are one of the best sources of complete protein," Larson said. "Edamame, tofu: These things provide all of the indispensable amino acids [though] variety is really the key."

Protein combining used to be a big deal for vegetarian — for example, eating rice and beans together to hit all the amino acids at once — but now it is believed that a generally varied plant-based diet is enough.

Protein powders can also supplement intake, Lockhart said, particularly for on-the-go athletes.

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  • 2 years later...

Good info about protein. My surgery was in May of 2016.  I did experience. A substantial amount of hair loss Over a 3 month period.  It has stopped for this most part.  My beggest consern is no muscle mass and also skin discoloring.  I know more protein will help with muscle mass but I don't know about the skin discoloration?!

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