Regardless of the influx of protein probes floating around, one basic question still remains that trumps all others: Are you protein deficient? Or protein sufficient?
The average American does not consume enough protein on a regular basis. Research reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey investigated the protein intake of over 11,600 adults over the age of 51 over a nine-year period and. In addition to looking at protein intake levels, dietary patterns and physical activity were also assessed. Turns out, up to 46 percent of the participants did not get enough protein regularly.
According to New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA holistic nutritionist and wellness specialist Shauna Faulisi, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has a high emphasis on our nation’s most-produced crops—wheat, corn, and soy. “Many Americans eat a high carbohydrate, high sugar diet that is low in protein and fiber,” she says. “And the issue with a diet like this is that after water, our bodies are mostly constructed of protein (it makes up 15 to 20% of our body weight.)” Simply put, we need ample amounts of protein on a regular basis for our body, brain, and hormones to function optimally.
The problem with consistently low protein levels is that the body does not receive ample amounts of other essential nutrients, like zinc, selenium and vitamins C, D and E, all of which are crucial for healthy bodily functions. Faulisi says, “Protein deficiency can manifest as brittle nails, thinning hair, joint issues, brain fog, insulin resistance, low energy, and a lack of satiation after meals.”
On the flip side, it is possible to become overly sufficient in protein, too. “This can happen when excess amino acids get converted into glucose and stored as fat. If you pay attention, you can begin to feel when the body has an insulin spike,” Faulisi says. “If this happens after eating a low-carb, high protein meal, decrease the amount of protein on your plate and increase your green vegetable intake.”
If a protein deficiency is a problem, try these easy-to-incorporate steps to feed your body with more protein: