It’s now easier than ever to get your daily protein fix. Supermarket shelves are filled with protein-packed products, while social media is awash with ways you can up your intake. So, you’d think it would be pretty much impossible to not be getting in your recommended daily intake of this popular macronutrient, right? Surprisingly, many of us aren’t getting enough, and, with the rise of veganism and ‘free-from’ diets, it’s proving difficult for many of us to pack in the protein.
So, are you getting your fix? Here are a few clues that might suggest otherwise.
1) You’re exercising but not seeing any physical changes
If you’re getting a sweat on at the gym but struggling to see a difference in your body, then you’re probably not packing in your post-workout protein hit. Whether it’s a protein shake to refuel after a heavy weight session or ensuring your evening meal features foods such as chicken, fish, beans and legumes, it’s essential to fill up on protein, especially if you’re training hard at the gym. Why, you ask? Well, when you lift weights, muscle fibres break down and, in order to help them repair and grow, you need to refuel. Fail to do so and you’ll suffer from muscle loss and those last few painful reps will be a big old waste of time.
2) You’re hungry an hour after eating
If hunger pangs hit a mere hour after your carb-fuelled breakfast, then it’s time to rethink your morning meal options. Make sure your breakfast features protein, as this will keep you feeling fuller for longer, unlike carb-heavy breads and sugary cereals. Many breakfast foods cause your blood sugar levels to spike, leaving your stomach rumbling before your first meeting has even started. Protein, on the other hand, takes longer to digest so will keep you satisfied for longer. Opt for options such as eggs, fish, Greek yoghurt or even a protein shake if you prefer easy, on-the-go fuel.
3) You’re craving sugar and carbs
If you’re not getting in your daily protein fix, then you’ll notice a need for sugary snacks and all the carbs. Eating sufficient amounts of protein helps keep you fuller for longer, meaning you’re less likely to crave that bag of pick n mix or that big hunk of buttery bread.
4) You’re always in a bad mood
Turns out you might not be able to blame that annoying colleague for your constant bad mood after all! Cos, if you’re not getting enough protein, then feeling irritable can be a side effect. Protein has been proven to boost mood, as it provides essential amino acids that help your body produce feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. So, next time you feel you’re about to snap, grab yourself a Carb Killa® and, we promise, all will be good with the world again (ish).
5) You’re tired all the time
Struggling to keep your eyes open? If you’re getting enough shut eye, then it may be time to address your diet. Lack of protein could be the cause of those stifled yawns and dark circles. Carb-heavy foods are known to make you feel full and sleepy, so maybe skip the jacket potato or greasy burger at lunchtime and choose something high in protein instead.
Iron deficiency is also a common cause of fatigue. Luckily, many high protein foods, such as red meats and fish and seafood, are also packed with iron so upping your intake of this essential macronutrient could also decrease your risk of diseases such as anaemia and keep your iron levels healthy.
6) You’re losing weight but your clothes are still tight
The scales show weight loss but the zip on your jeans says otherwise. If you’ve been training consistently and eating well, it can be really frustrating when the results you’re after fail to materialise. But just cos you’ve lost weight doesn’t mean you’ll drop a dress size or look any different. Ask yourself: is it fat or muscle you’re losing? Because, if you’ve been swerving the protein, then chances are it’s muscle mass you’ve been missing out on. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, so if you’re avoiding this macronutrient then, regardless of how many reps you do at the gym, you’ll see little movement on the muscle front. Muscle weighs more than fat, so it’s natural to see a decrease on the scales, but muscle is also essential if you’re looking to achieve a toned, shaped and strong body.
7) You’re always bloated
If you’ve got a 24/7 food baby, without that post-cheat meal happiness, then lack of protein may be to blame. Banish the bloat by – you guessed it – making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet! In order to maintain a healthy balance of fluid in and outside of the cells of your body, protein is a must. Without an adequate amount of protein in your diet, this balance will skew and you’ll feel sluggish and bloated.
We hope these tips will encourage you to cram some more of the good stuff into your diet! Wanna learn more about this popular macro-nutrient? Read the 6 protein myths you need to stop believing over on our blog.