Are You Eating Enough Protein? 5 Signs to Check Now

Protein is an essential part of the diet. It helps to build, repair, and maintain the body’s structures.You need it to make the bricks and mortar of the body, including muscle, bone, and blood. But how much protein does the average man need in order to stay healthy?

How Much Protein Should We Need Daily?

Most Americans take in about 15% of their calories from protein, which is well within recommended daily requirements. However, some research suggests that higher-protein diets may help you maintain a healthy weight or preserve muscle health with aging.

The United States Department of Agriculture currently recommends that both men and women eat about .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight, but Bonci says that if you’re strength training or exercising regularly—or are trying to preserve muscle while cutting calories—you may need a little more. (One pound is equal to 2.2 kilograms; so, an adult who weighs 150 pounds would need 54 grams of protein.) And there’s more to it than just meeting your macros—you should also be eating protein at the right time, too. “The body is most happy when it’s getting some protein every four to five hours,” says Bonci.

However, if you are wondering if you get enough proteins, here are five signs that you may not be getting as much protein as you should be.

1. Swelling


One of the most common signs that you’re not getting enough protein is swelling (also called edema), especially in your abdomen, legs, feet, and hands. A possible explanation: The proteins that circulate in your blood — albumin, in particular — help keep fluid from building up in your tissues. But many things can cause edema, so be sure to check with your doctor in case it’s more serious.

2. You’re prone to stress fractures

stress fractures

Your bones need more than just a healthy dose of calcium—they also need enough protein, too. That was the conclusion from a 2018 research review from some of the world’s leading osteoporosis foundations, which found that eating a protein-rich diet can help protect your bones.

When we aren’t getting enough protein to fuel our organs and brain, our bodies borrow from other areas, including the storage in our skeletal muscle tissue. Without the support of strong skeletal muscle tissue, our bones are more susceptible to injures like fractures and breaks.

3. Your hair and nails look brittle

stress fractures

Because protein is an essential part of your hair and nails, your nails can feel softer and your hair can become more brittle over time. The hair can lose some of its luster, and may not be quite as thick as it used to be. It may also start to split.”

After a few months of not eating enough protein, you may also experience some hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, in part because the body shuts down hair growth to preserve its protein stores.

4. You’re losing weight—from your muscles

losing weight

The number on the scale may be ticking downward, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Typically, if people aren’t getting enough protein, their bodies will break down muscle to get more of it. And if they’re losing muscle, they’re also holding on to fat stores, so their body composition could be changing in an adverse way.

5.Getting or Staying Sick


Amino acids in your blood help your immune system make antibodies that activate white blood cells to fight off viruses, bacteria, and toxins. You need protein to digest and absorb other nutrients that keep you healthy. There’s also evidence that protein can change the levels of disease-fighting “good” bacteria in your gut.

The following is a chart of protein in most common foods. You can use this chart as a general guidance in your diet.

Protein: Meat and more
FoodServingProtein (grams)
Roasted chicken breast3.5 ounces31
Pink salmon, canned3.5 ounces20
Greek yogurt, plain6 ounces17
Milk, 2% far1 cup10
Beans, cooked½ cup6-9
Cheddar cheese1 ounce (slice)7
Egg1 large6
Nuts1 ounce (1/4 cup)4-7
Corn on the cob1 large ear4
Baked potato1 medium3

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