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11 Signs Of Protein Deficiency


Hypoproteinemia is another term for protein deficiency. It is a condition in which a person has drastically lower levels of protein in their blood.

The precise protein requirements of each individual could vary significantly.

How much protein you need depends on your age, gender, body weight, amount of exercise, level of activity, and daily requirements which could change a little bit on a day-to-day basis.

Everyone needs protein, and you would not want a protein deficiency whether you’re an athlete trying to lose weight, a weekend warrior, or whatever it might be.

Even while most people eating a normal diet do get overall protein.

Many people might not be getting enough of these critical amino acids because they are not eating the best sources of protein.

Exhaustion, increased appetite, and weakness are the three most common signs of your body experiencing a protein shortage.

In this article, we will be looking at some of the many signs associated with protein deficiency.

Signs Of Protein Deficiency

Here are a few signs of protein deficiency:

  1. Loss Of Body Mass

    A higher protein diet is preferable to a lower one for people looking to gain more body mass.

    You undoubtedly already know that protein is necessary for maintaining your energy levels in addition to helping you create new lean muscle mass.

    Muscular atrophy, tiredness, and fat gain could[1] all be the effects of a lower protein diet. It may also be the cause of athlete triad, a condition that results in bone mass loss.

    In reality, if your food is inadequate to support your energy needs or tissue regeneration, you may exercise more but achieve less success.

  2. Increased Appetite

    Fat and protein take longer to digest than carbs. If you eat a lot of carbohydrates and do not balance your meals with more fat and protein, you’ll feel hungry sooner.

    Your sugar levels would[2] jump and then crash again if you only consume milk and oats for breakfast. You’ll turn to additional carb intake to get you going again as a result of this.

    To feel full for hours, eat a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This translates to a meal that is 30% carbohydrate, 30% fat, and 40% protein.

  3. Muscle Loss

    Protein is a key component of muscle tissue in your body and is required for both muscle maintenance and growth.

    A lower protein diet for an extended period could[3]alter your body composition and lead to muscular atrophy.

    When protein intake is restricted, waste is your body’s response to obtain protein from other sources, ultimately compromising the body shape in return for the energy required for your body to function.

    When older people consume inadequate amounts of protein, they are more likely to experience muscle loss. Eating more protein helps prevent muscles from aging as quickly.

    In addition to preventing muscle loss, getting adequate protein could aid in muscle growth.

    Boosting your protein consumption might help you gain more muscle and make you stronger, especially when done in conjunction with various resistance training.

  4. Irregular Menstrual Cycle

    The disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most prevalent causes of infertility and irregular periods in women.

    Pre-diabetes and obesity are two elements of risk factors for PCOS. In actuality, 40-60% of all women with PCOS have insulin resistance.

    High-carb, high-sugar, and low-protein diets could cause weight gain, inflammation, lethargy, and insulin resistance

    It could[4]upset the delicate hormonal balance in women necessary to maintain a regular period cycle.

  5. Poor Sleep Cycle

    Poor sleep and insomnia have been linked to low serotonin, aberrant sugar, and elevated cortisol levels. Serotonin is necessary for restful sleep whose production requires protein.

    Consequently, insufficient protein intake causes the synthesis of serotonin to diminish, which impairs the quality of your sleep.

    Another important aspect of enhancing sleep is maintaining a healthy sugar level.

    Additionally, incorporating a diet with an adequate amount of protein in your meals and lowering the absorption of glucose could[5]improve your sleep cycle.

  6. Frequent Food Cravings

    The need for constant food cravings in-between meals could indicate a protein deficiency. The most satiating nutrient is protein, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer.

    A lack of protein could[6]make you feel hungry periodically throughout the entire day.

    Eating a greater protein meal than a higher-carb meal encourages the release of several satiety hormones, including GLP-1 and PYY.

    These hormones are linked to greater sensations of fullness and satiety and have been shown to reduce subsequent food intake.

    Additionally, although protein may reduce sugar swings, you could crave sweet dishes to quell your hunger, which might result in spikes of sugar peaks and falls.

  7. Feeling Fatigued

    The capacity and motivation to crush and complete an exercise could both be seriously affected by exhaustion.

    Many times, fatigue could result from a factor unrelated to nutrition like heightened anxiety and stress levels, a lack of recuperation time between sweat sessions, and inadequate sleep.

    It could[7]also be brought on by a deficiency in protein in your diet. There is a direct association between protein deficiency and exhaustion.

    There is less of a possibility that you could feed yourself well if you are undernourished because being undernourished could make you feel more exhausted.

    Additionally, when a diet lacks enough protein, your body will begin to break down muscle mass to meet its demands, a process which might in and of itself lead to exhaustion.

  8. Unhealthy Nails And Hair

    Because protein is a necessary component of both your nails and hair, over time your nails might feel softer and your hair might feel brittler.

    Your hair may[8]not be as thick as it once was and could lose some of its lusters. It is also possible that it begins to separate.

    After a few months of inadequate protein intake, you could also experience hair loss. This is partly because your body slows down hair development to protect its protein supplies.

  9. Weight Gain

    Low muscle mass also equates to a slower metabolism, which may directly cause weight gain since the body consumes calories more slowly.

    Additionally, protein not only keeps you energized but also increases satiety (makes you feel fuller for longer) by lowering levels of the hunger hormone known as ghrelin.

    This could[9]be a huge help in managing weight and reducing cravings.

    Additionally, the digestion of protein in your intestines takes longer. Therefore, if your meal is low in protein, it is going to digest fast and raise your sugar.

    Soon after this increase in sugar comes to a fall, this continuous tumbling and spiking of sugar cause intense cravings for food that leads to weight gain.

  10. Slow Healing Wounds

    Protein intake is important to promote wound healing.

    Patients with chronic illnesses, the disabled, and the elderly are more prone to experience PEM (protein-energy malnutrition), which is more likely to result in wounds.

    Consuming enough protein is essential for maintaining protein reserves, especially in these people at risk since protein stores speed up the wound healing process.

    A loss of more than 20% of body mass hinders the healing of wounds, and a loss of 40% or more might[10]encourage the emergence of pressure ulcers, which are localized damage to tissues.

  11. Edema Or Swelling

    Edema is referred to as the accumulation of fluid in the tissues.

    A protein, albumin, circulating in the blood is crucial for preventing edema specifically in the hands, feet, legs, and abdomen.

    In essence, the proteins work to keep salt and water inside your blood vessels, preventing fluid from seeping into your tissues.

    Water could[11]exit the blood vessels and get accumulated in your tissues when the blood’s protein level is very low.


In wealthy developed nations, protein insufficiency is rare. Chronically low protein intake could cause some of the aforementioned symptoms and signs of protein insufficiency.

If you notice any of these symptoms and are worried that you are not receiving enough protein through your diet, speak with your healthcare provider for advice tailored to your wellness objectives and requirements.

Most people could get the protein they need from food alone. However, protein supplements might be helpful if you are particularly active or having trouble getting enough protein in a day.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
  1. Marc A. Raj; Julie A. Creech; Alan D. Rogol. Female Athlete Triad Last Update: August 14, 2021. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430787/
  2. John W. Apolzan,Nadine S. Carnell,Richard D. Mattes,et al. Inadequate Dietary Protein Increases Hunger and Desire to Eat in Younger and Older Men J Nutr. 2007 Jun; 137(6): 1478–1482.doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1478
  3. Rachel R. Deer and Elena Volpi Protein Intake and Muscle Function in Older Adults Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 May; 18(3): 248–253.doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000162
  4. H.R. Harris,L.J. Titus,D.W. Cramer,et al. Long and irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, and ovarian cancer risk in a population-based case-control study Int J Cancer. 2017 Jan 15; 140(2): 285–291.Published online 2016 Oct 6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.30441
  5. Marie-Pierre St-Onge,Anja Mikic, and Cara E Pietrolungo Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep; 7(5): 938–949.Published online 2016 Sep 7. doi: 10.3945/an.116.012336
  6. Heather J. Leidy,Cheryl L.H. Armstrong,Minghua Tang,et al. The Influence of Higher Protein Intake and Greater Eating Frequency on Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Men Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Sep; 18(9): 1725–1732.Published online 2010 Mar 25. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.45
  7. Domenico Azzolino,Beatrice Arosio,Emanuele Marzetti,et al. Nutritional Status as a Mediator of Fatigue and Its Underlying Mechanisms in Older People Nutrients. 2020 Feb; 12(2): 444.Published online 2020 Feb 10. doi: 10.3390/nu12020444
  8. Emily L. Guo and Rajani Katta Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 1–10.Published online 2017 Jan 31. doi: 10.5826/dpc.0701a01
  9. George A. Bray,Steven R. Smith,Lilian de Jonge,et al. Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating JAMA. 2012 Jan 4; 307(1): 47–55.doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.1918
  10. L Russell The importance of patients’ nutritional status in wound healing Review Br J Nurs. 2001 Mar;10(6 Suppl):S42, S44-9. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2001.10.Sup1.5336. Available from:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12070399/
  11. Amandeep Goyal; Austin S. Cusick; Beenish S. Bhutta Peripheral Edema Last Update: July 10, 2022. Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554452/

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