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8 Signs You're Not Consuming Enough Protein


1. Cravings or Hunger After You’ve Eaten

Protein fuels you and helps you stay full for longer. If you’re grazing throughout the day, feel like you need snacks or have a lot of cravings, this is one of the clearest signs that you aren’t getting enough protein. It is also a sign that you may have blood sugar dysregulation.

If you have blood sugar dysregulation it is even more vital that you are getting enough protein, especially in the morning at your first meal of the day. The easiest way to do this is a smoothie with a good quality protein – this is what I do every single day and it is honestly life changing for so many reasons (post on this coming soon!).

Protein evens out blood sugar peaks and troughs, so when you’re craving sugar or carbohydrates, rather than going for some chocolate or sweets or ‘beige’ carbs, you should actually be reaching for protein. This will help avoid the crashes after a blood sugar spike.

Why does protein keep you fuller for longer? It’s the most satiating nutrient. Protein stimulates the secretion of satiety hormones, such as PYY and GLP-1, which are associated with feelings of fullness.

2. Swelling/Fluid Retention

Often referred to as Oedema. This may surprise you but Oedema or swelling on your stomach, legs, feet and hands can be a sign that your protein intake is too low. This is because proteins circulate in your blood, which helps stop fluid from building up in your tissue. A lack of protein will not be able to regulate this. This is quite a severe symptom of lack of protein, meaning your protein intake is abnormally low (more so than the majority of the public, who do have too-low protein intake but not to this extent). So, if you do notice signs of Oedema, remember to see a doctor to rule out any other cause.

3. Hair, Nail & Skin Issues

Your hair, nails and skin are made up of proteins, such as elastin, collagen and keratin, so if you’re deficient in protein, your hair, nails and skin will suffer. If you’re not producing enough of these proteins then you may experience dry skin, brittle or ridging in nails and thinning or dry hair.

The first sign of protein deficiency is quite often hair thinning or loss. This is because the B-vitamin Biotin, is needed for the metabolism of amino acids from proteins, and this vitamin is responsible for the health of your hair, as well as your nails and skin. A lot of the time with my clients, biotin-loss or deficiency is evident in those who have other clear signs of protein malnourishment.

4. Muscle Loss

You may see the scales going down and thinking ‘great, I’m losing a bit of weight’, if this is your health goal. However, muscle weighs more than fat and if you’re not consuming enough protein this weight loss is likely coming from diminishing muscles and not body fat. This is because if you’re not getting enough protein from your diet, your body will break down muscle tissue to get more of it in order to keep functioning. Remember that the more muscle mass you have, the stronger the metabolism so losing muscle will mean that you’ll burn less and less calories overtime.

5. Frequent Injuries/Slow Recovery

There has been brilliant marketing campaigns in the past which talks all about how bones need calcium to grow stronger, but they need a lot more than that. One thing that is absolutely crucial to strong bones is protein.

If you’re not getting enough protein to fuel your organs and bodily functions, protein is borrowed from other areas, i.e. your muscle tissue. The type of muscle isn’t discriminated, so this could well be borrowed from skeletal muscle tissue and therefore, your bones aren’t protected enough. Without strong skeletal muscles, you are more prone to injuries such as bone fractures or breaks.

Existing cuts, scrapes, sprains and bruises also take longer to heal with the absence of sufficient protein. This is likely due to not having enough collagen to heal and also not having enough proteins to blood clot to heal a wound.

6. Weakness

If your muscles are reducing in size, you will feel less strong. This will lead to feelings of weakness over time. It makes sense, right? If your muscles are breaking down, you’re not going to feel quite as invincible as you’d like.

Additionally, protein is a component of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout the body via our red blood cells. If this is reduced, you will feel fatigued. Too-low levels will result in extreme weakness and shortness of breath.

There are so many reasons why lack of protein could lead to feelings of fatigue, such as blood sugar spikes and crashes, inability to fall asleep and have restful sleep, reduced metabolism and a sluggish digestive system… stay tuned for more posts on this coming soon!

7. Regularly Getting Sick

The amino acids that you get from proteins are vital for a healthy, functioning immune system. This is because the amino acids help make the antibodies that are activated during an immune response, which are essential for fighting off viruses, bacteria and other foreign invaders.

In addition to this, protein helps support a healthy gut, as you need protein to absorb the other nutrients in your diet and supplementation that will require for a healthy immune system. Did you know that most of your immune system is located in your gut? It is in your best interests to feed your gut what it needs to function optimally!!

8. Brain Fog

Do you often lose focus or feel unable to concentrate? Are you pigeon-holed as a ‘day dreamer.’ This is less likely a personality trait, and more likely an imbalance in your body.

Brain fog is often linked to blood sugar dysregulation, gut issues and lack of protein. This is because amino acids are essential for manufacturing neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin. Therefore protein deficiency can negatively impact your mood, resulting in poor sleep, anxiety, depression and brain fog.

The Bottom Line

Most people do not get enough protein and this is causing wide-scale blood sugar dysregulation. I can confidently say that because I’ve seen what a typical diet is for all of my clients prior working to with us and protein is generally only found at dinner time but not breakfast or lunch… Cravings have been normalised as a result, but this is not a sign of a healthy body! Read more on blood sugar dysregulation in my previous post ‘signs of blood sugar dysregulation.’


Everyone, but especially those with imbalanced blood sugar levels, should be having protein at breakfast. The best way of doing is having a smoothie so you are easily absorbing your essential nutrients as well as getting a good amount of protein intake to start your day.

Ideally, you should be getting between 20-30g of protein per meal, 3 meals a day. Which roughly looks at 60g minimum for a 120 pound person, which is ok if you’re NOT weight training. If you are exercising regularly and weight training you should be roughly following the scale of about half your body weight in pounds in grams of protein, plus 1g of protein of your ideal body weight.


Remember, you don’t need to go overboard, you just need to be smart with it. Get your protein in with a good quality and clean plant-based, nasties-free and easy to digest protein powder in your morning smoothie. Why am I such an advocate for this? Because not all protein is equal! There is more and more research that red meats, your token protein, can actually spike blood sugar after a meal.


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