Protein. You know you should be eating a portion of it with every meal and even more if you’re looking to lose fat or gain muscle, but how can you be certain if you’re really getting enough? Your body does offer a few subtle cues that will let you know if and when to increase your intake.
Here are 5 signs to determine if you need to push the protein:
1. You look washed out
If your ‘do’ is starting to look light at the top, this is your first alarm bell that protein is too low. Hair is made up primarily of a protein called keratin and when keratin is low, your hair doesn’t have that full, shiny look. Protein is also needed for healthy skin and nails.
If your nails are brittle and skin looks washed out, it could mean you need to up your intake to look your best from top to toe.
2. Injuries refuse to heal
Protein offers the raw materials needed for healing injuries.
If you’re still hobbling around for two weeks after a recreational soccer game, then there’s an excellent chance you’re lacking in protein. Regardless of the severity of your injury, whether it’s a busted leg or a grass burn, protein is the ringmaster for healing.
3. Feeling a little ‘meh’
You probably celebrate protein for its ability to fill you up, build muscle and power up your immune system, but those elements all work in symphony to decide whether you use the happy or sad faced emojis on any given day.
Protein creates neurotransmitters, which are crucial to the health of your brain and nervous system. So if you’re in a poor mood and feel like you’re trying to see through a daily forecast of brain fog, then protein is the dietary fix to create weather that’s a lot sunnier.
4. Your immune system has the fighting spirit of a baby seal
If you’re always the first casualty to get wiped out by seasonal colds, then a protein deficiency could be at play because this nutrient is present in every single one of your cells.
If your cells aren’t lavished with the ingredients they need to be robust, then you’ll lack the antibodies needed to fend off nasty bugs. Getting a cold once or twice a year is normal, but if you’re getting ‘every’ cold, that’s a warning sign that your protein levels need a serious top up.
5. You’re always puffy
You know the feeling where every part of you seems just a little too squidgy?
If you’re becoming the human waterbed, then a lack of protein may be to blame. It keeps the fluid in your blood vessels, away from the soft tissues all around your body. When your protein levels drop, then those fluids hang out in the tissues.
OK, OK, you get it. But how much do you need?
You know that protein is essential for a healthy body and mind, but you can get too much of a good thing. Most people eat high protein diets to lose weight and build muscle mass, but you can only absorb so much protein before the excess gets stored as fat. That’s why it’s important to provide your muscles with the perfect amount.
Everybody is different so you should customize your plan to your goals.
The first step in this endeavor is to get 1g-2g of protein per lb of lean body mass.
So for a (220-lb) guy who has 10 percent body fat, you’d use a (198-lb) (lean body mass LBM) multiplier to give you 198g of protein per day at minimum. Divide this by 6 and you get a rough guide of 33g of protein per meal.
If you don’t want to count your protein intake in grams, then aim to eat one and a half palms worth for each of your three main meals and a half a palm’s worth for each of your snacks.
Pack your protein
The best way to make sure your protein needs are always fulfilled is to plan for the times when you’re not in your kitchen. Protein bars are a great option for when you’re on the go, busy and need a protein fix.
FitJoy bars have 20g of protein, are gluten free and have no artificial preservatives. And with all the dessert-inspired flavors, it makes the experience of eating a protein bar that much sweeter.
Perfect Amount of Protein, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197704/
The FitJoy Team
Our team likes to stay in the know and ahead of the game when it comes to eating, exercise, and wellness in general! We take the latest buzz in the nutrition world and make it easily translatable for your own life.