You constantly feel weak and hungry
Cookbook author, Terry Hope Romero noticed that her vegan diet left her unsatisfied and lacking energy throughout the day. “When you work full time and have a long commute, and you regularly work out or you have a lot of errands to run, it can be easy to fill up on processed carbs,” says Romero. “To feel full every day, especially when you’re working out to build muscle, it’s not really the best approach.” Protein takes longer to digest, which makes you feel full and energised. When Romero started consuming more protein (by adding natural protein powders like hemp protein and brown rice protein to everyday foods), she started feeling stronger and more satisfied.
Your muscles look MIA
It takes more than daily gym visits to look and feel strong. You need to eat enough protein to fuel your body’s tissues with the necessary amount of amino acids (protein’s small subparts). If you don’t, your body will break down your muscles to get amino acids from their fibres. One key body part to watch is the clavicle, says dietitian, Dr Jessica Bijuniak. If your collarbone is becoming especially prominent, it could be time to make sure you’re eating enough protein.
You’re struggling to lose weight
A high-protein, low-kilojoule diet helps people lose weight, maintain muscle mass, improve bone quality and lose ‘bad’ fat, according to 2019 study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. Researchers put 96 older adults into two groups: a low-kilojoule, low-protein plan, or higher-protein plan. After six months, the people in the higher protein plan lost around 8 kilograms more than the low-protein eaters. They also maintained more muscle mass, had improved bone quality, and lost more ‘bad’ fat (belly fat).
Eating enough protein is especially important on a diet because it helps ensure that you lose fat, not metabolism-boosting muscle, as you slim down. “High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolise, and use, which means you burn more kilojoules processing them,” the magazine notes. “They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full sooner and for a longer amount of time.”