As mentioned, amino acids are the building blocks of just about everything in the body. This includes the chemical messengers within the brain, or neurotransmitters. The synthesizing of amino acids produces dopamine and serotonin, the two brain chemicals responsible for drive, memory, and happiness.
Protein is a precursor to calcium absorption; the latter is responsible for strengthening our bones. It is unsurprising, then, that insufficient protein can lead to bone and muscle injury. We’re more likely to develop bone fractures, bone weakness, and even osteoporosis.
Brain fog is an umbrella term which encompasses several symptoms: fatigue, confusion, lack of focus, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and diminished mental acuity. Almost always, the problem is some sort of chemical imbalance within the brain. Dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all chemicals within the brain needed to focus. Low protein levels can throw these chemicals off.
Lack of protein in the body is often supplemented with carb-laden or fatty foods. As blood-sugar levels are discombobulated from low protein levels, we’re more likely to crave a sugary snack. The end-result is inflammation and hormonal imbalances; both of which contribute to higher LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Healthy metabolism and digestion (surprise!) require plenty of amino acids. When this is not the case, our gut throws a fit by producing fewer enzymes and reducing the contractions necessary for digestion and excretion.
Dr. Joshua Axe explains, “Low-protein, high-sugar/high-carb diets can contribute to insulin resistance, fatigue, inflammation and weight gain that disrupts the delicate balance of female hormones (including that of estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA) needed to sustain a regular cycle.”
We all know that adequate protein is necessary to gain muscle mass – but it’s necessary for muscle function, as well. Furthermore, even if you do work out on the regular, your results will be adversely affected. This is usually because of one or two reasons: (1) you don’t have the energy needed to go “all out,” or (2) your muscles can not properly recover because of protein deficiencies.
There are so many reasons for bad sleep, but one that’s not often considered is inadequate protein intake. The effects of low protein levels on sleep are systematic, and usually follow one of two courses of action. First, carbs take the place of protein, and carbs reduce the amount of insulin necessary to balance blood sugar levels. Or, your protein deficiency is raising the cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels in your system. Neither situation is conducive to a good night’s rest.
Many good protein sources (e.g. fish and eggs) do have a higher fat and calorie count than other carb-based and even fat-based foods. The difference is that protein promotes feelings of fullness (“satiety”) better than most foods consisting primarily of fat or carbs. Further, protein stabilizes blood sugar levels much better than carbs or fats do. This makes it less likely that you’ll snack or have a sugar craving during the day. The end result of adequate protein levels is, oftentimes, a healthier weight.
While we’ve mentioned meat, eggs, fish, and dairy as good protein sources, there are also plenty of good vegan and vegetarian options as well. In fact, some vegan and vegetarian foods, in addition to being a terrific protein source, are rich in fiber and other nutrients.
Almonds, flax, chia, hemp, adzuki beans, lentils, unprocessed oats, amaranth, farro, oats, and quinoa are all good sources. Regarding vegetables broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, and spinach are great choices.
The best types of meat to consume for protein are grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, and organic chicken and turkey.
Supplementing your diet with protein powder is a fine idea, assuming that you’re also getting plenty from food sources. Source