November 9, 2015

Why a Lack of Protein Can Damage Your Health

In the world of fitness we often talk about the benefits of getting more protein in our diets. It is the vital building block that enables our body to function grow and repair.

Writing for the Independent, Dr Alexandra Phelan summed it up nicely, stressing: “The tens of thousands of processes and reactions that happen within our body each day would not be possible without proteins.”

It’s clearly important, therefore, that we ensure these functions occur. Yet, looking at it from another perspective, what can happen if we get it wrong?
A lack of protein can actually lead to health problems and become a serious issue. Here we look at the signs of a lack of protein – and what issues this can lead to…


  • Do you get more colds than usual? A general lack of immunity can result from a lack of protein. Ill health and long recovery periods from injuries can certainly be a sign that something is amiss.
  • Tiredness is also a tell-tale sign. If you are forever fatigued, even after a good night’s sleep, then it is time to check on your diet to make sure you are getting the right amount of fuel for your daily activities.
  •  Do you always fancy a chocolate bar or some sweets? Never feel totally ‘full’? If your blood sugar dips your body will crave a sugar fix to correct that, yet this might in fact be a sign that you don’t consume the right diet for the long term. Avoid this boom and bust cycle of cravings by upping your protein count.


  • A really common symptom of a lack of protein is swelling of the ankles. This is often caused by kidney problems and the retention of water. The kidneys are often the organ to suffer from a lack of protein.
  • You could suffer from bruising as your body struggles to cope and recover from stress and strain.
  •  Many people experience muscle loss and cramp as their body becomes weaker. This can make even the most mundane of lifting or physical tasks more of an ordeal than it needs to be.
  • Brittle and ridged nails can be the result of a lack of protein – as well as the loss of hair.
  • The impact can be felt on your liver, causing fluid in the abdomen.

Easy fix

  • Simple blood or urine tests can identify a lack of protein in your diet. The good news is that a controlled, balanced diet that takes in all the essential nutrients, including protein, will help you to avoid this.
  • The smart use of supplements can be a potent way to achieve that balance – avoiding a diet that feels unnatural or is just plain expensive. People will give you varied advice on the exact amount of protein you should have but the best bet, as with any diet, is to be precise to your personal circumstances – your height, weight and physical activity. Use a protein calculator and keep on top of what you consume to avoid the problems outlined above.

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