Protein. We all need it in our diets but are you getting enough? Some people are, especially if they follow one of the 'hot diets' like the Atkins or Paleo diets. How healthy those diet plans are overall is a matter of much debate that we'll leave for another time but they are certainly protein packed.
Athletes and 'gym rats' usually do rather well in the protein department as well as a protein supplement has become a part of many of their pre/post workout regimes.
Many other people though, even the ones who believe that they have a very healthy diet, are not eating enough protein and their bodies and overall health actually suffers because of this.
But how do you know if you really should be adding more protein rich foods into your everyday diet? Well you don't need a special book or even your doctor to tell you, your body will, if you'll only listen to it.
Here are just some telltale signs that you should be eating more protein:
You Crave Sweets and Never Quite Feel Full
One of the first signs that your body is lacking the protein it needs is that you never seem to quite feel full and that a craving for sweets – a serious craving – occurs at the end of all the meals you do eat.
You might think that a body short on protein would point you towards steak and eggs rather than the cookie jar, but one of the crucial functions of protein within the body is to help regulate blood sugar levels. If you are lacking in it your blood sugar levels are likely to become completely erratic, especially after eating a meal, and the sweets craving is an attempt to get a quick energy fix.
Your Thinking is Cloudy
When your blood sugar levels are up and down your concentration and ability to focus is often seriously compromised, leaving you feeling foggy and a bit 'out of it'. This is because protein is essential for energy regulation as well, meaning that a snack might give you a brief up but without a regular intake of protein to stabilize things the fog is likely to almost become the norm.
Your Hair and Nails are a Mess
Not in the sense that you could use a visit to the salon, but in that your hair is thin and brittle – no matter how many expensive products you slather onto it to try to improve it and your nails are prone to easy splits and cracks.
Many people fail to realize that both their hair and their nails are made up almost completely of protein. When a body is short on the stuff it will, in an attempt to do the best it can with the limited resources it is being given to work with, divert protein away from 'non-essential' systems like hair and nails in order to keep more vital functions going.
Where to Get More Protein
As there is a lot of conflicting information out there about what you should and should not be eating it can be rather hard to figure out just how best to add extra protein to your diet. Dairy is a good source but didn't you hear that you should be eating less of that? And red meat come to that matter, another good source of protein, isn't that supposed to be bad for you as well?
Well no, LEAN red meat and low fat dairy are both still great sources of protein but so are legumes, quinoa, eggs, edamame and nuts so even a vegetarian can boost their protein intake rather easily and still enjoy what they eat.