How to tell if you aren’t getting enough protein

How to tell if you aren’t getting enough protein

If you aren’t getting enough protein, you run the risk of developing serious health problems. Protein is an essential macronutrient that the body uses for the development and repair of all your cells. When you don’t get enough, you can have a range of symptoms including a weakened immune system, wasting muscles and mental health problems.

Here are 5 signs you aren’t getting enough protein.

Weak immune system

Your body relies on protein to be able to defend itself. Protein is vital for creating antibodies and when you don’t get enough, your body is unable to put up an immune defense. A study of older women showed that following a low protein diet caused significant losses in their immune response, making them more vulnerable to infection.

Muscle loss

When you aren’t getting enough protein in your diet, your body is forced to find another protein source. The first place it takes protein from is your muscles. This means that protein deficiency can lead to your muscles wasting over time. You can recognise muscle wasting as shrinking muscles and muscle weakness. This is especially prevalent in older people who don’t have sufficient protein in their diet.


Another common symptom of protein deficiency is Oedema. Oedema is swelling in the body, most commonly in the feet, ankles, legs, hands and stomach. When you aren’t getting enough protein, your body increases the secretion of antidiuretic substances in the body which prevent the normal processing and excretion of water. This causes swelling and discomfort.

Brittle hair and nails

As well as using protein for building muscle, your body also requires protein for hair and nail growth. Hair is composed of 98% protein. If you aren’t getting enough protein, you might notice that your hair and nails are brittle and coarse. In extreme cases, you might also experience hair loss or shedding.

Mental health problems

Long term protein deficiency can even affect your mental health. Psychological symptoms of protein deficiency include tension, irritability and depression. Protein malnutrition during pregnancy may also negatively affect the brain development and mental health of infants too.

Steps to boost your protein intake

If you’re worried you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, there are some simple ways to boost your daily intake. From eating more protein-rich foods to having a daily protein shake, it’s easy to up your protein.

Here are 10 ideas to help you eat more protein every day:

  • Opt for eggs over cereals in the morning
  • Eat more nuts and seeds
  • Have high protein snacks like protein bars or greek yoghurt
  • Enjoy a high protein food with every meal
  • Add more whole grains and legumes
  • Have protein shakes between meals
  • Choose lean meat over fattier cuts
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on pasta and salads
  • Try cooking with nut butter
  • Swap out bread for rye or ezekiel 

Protein bars and protein powder are especially easy ways to increase the amount of protein in your diet. They’re low effort and great for days when you’re on-the-go. Both whey and pea protein are easy to digest and are excellent for helping support muscle regeneration, healthy weight management and even improving heart health.

Getting enough protein?

If you are following a plant-based diet, it’s really important to make sure you are getting enough protein every day. Free Soul vegan protein blend is a complete, clean protein source that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It’s also formulated specially for women’s wellness with added ingredients to support your health including balancing your hormones and boosting your energy.

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