How do I tell if I have a protein deficiency?

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Protein deficiency is actually a fairly common occurrence. Most male adults typically do not eat enough quality protein each day. While that might not be a big concern to them, if you are looking to get big as in bodybuilder big, then having a lack of protein is not going to help you reach that goal.

So how can you tell if you are deficient? Let’s look at some of the common signs.

Common Signs of Protein Deficiency

Keep in mind this is for bodybuilders and average Joe’s…protein deficiency

  • Decrease in Muscle Mass – Generally speaking if you are noticing a decrease in body mass or specifically a drop in your lean muscle then a lack of protein is probably the culprit. This will go hand in hand with strength drops. Loss of general tone, muscle hardness, and definition can also be lumped into the affect of protein deficiency. Obviously for a bodybuilder this is probably the worst thing that could happen outside of a serious injury.
  • Slow Healing – Collagen is a key protein that is vital to the healing process. Cuts, scrapes, and other issues with the skin or other areas of the body that don’t have enough collagen available will heal much slower. This one can be a bit trickier to notice with the advance of topical healing agents and band-aids. But if you notice that cuts seems to take a lot longer time to heal compared to when you were a kid, a lack of protein could be the issue. How long has that scab been there?
  • Fatigue – Ever felt really tired even after a full night’s sleep? Sometimes not even caffeine or other things can get you going. Well forget chugging another Rockstar and instead consider protein deficiency as a possible problem. A lack of protein in the blood can lead to fatigue shown with a lethargic state and lots of yawning.

Many of these occurrences are natural signs that you body is deficient whether you are a bodybuilder or not. But since lifters are typically breaking down muscle more often and their body requires higher amounts of protein each day, this symptoms can easily still occur once a deficiency sets in and the body ‘steals’ protein to help do whatever is the most urgent action at that time.

What to Do

If you think you are deficient the first step is to start tracking your intake. Get a journal and write down everything you ate yesterday, the day before, and the current day. Then go to a nutritional website to review your meals with a fine tooth comb to calculate the total grams of protein you are taking in each day.

The RDA states you should be taking in at least .8 grams of protein per 2.2 pounds of bodyweight. So the next step is to weight yourself. For example, a 200 pound man would need (200/2.2 * .8) 73 grams of protein per day at the minimum. For a bodybuilder than number is more like .8 grams per pound of bodyweight, or 160 grams per our previous example.

Now take the three totals from the journal and average them and then compare against how much you need to take in. If what you are eating on average is less then you have a protein deficiency. So the obvious fix to that problem is to increase your protein intake!

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