7 Signs that You're Not Eating Enough Protein

While hair loss is the most well-known sign of not eating enough protein, there are other signs you may not know about. Learn about them in this article!
7 Signs that You're Not Eating Enough Protein
Eliana Delgado Villanueva

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Eliana Delgado Villanueva.

Written by Lorena González

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Protein is fundamental to maintaining, growing, and repairing the cells in your body. A lack of this will make your body send you signs that are more noticeable than you may have thought.

If you think you aren’t eating enough protein, take a look at the following signs that your body may be sending you.

1. Cravings

Protein plays an important role in leveling out your blood sugar. It is converted into sugar and is usually stored in your liver. If you’re not eating enough, this process can’t happen, so you’ll start to get sudden cravings for sweets and other foods.

2. Dry skin, weak nails, and hair

thin hair is a sign that you're not getting enough protein

The specific protein for your hair is called Keratin. If you don’t consume the amount of protein you need, your hair will get thinner, more fragile, and it will fall out more easily.

Essentially, without Keratin, your hair won’t grow, it will be weak, and even dry. Keratin keeps the hair moisturized, healthy, and strong.

As for your skin, it’s also common for it to get flaky and excessively dry without protein.

If you notice crests or raised areas in your cuticles, this also may be due to a deficiency of this nutrient.

3. Trouble concentrating

If you’re finding it hard to concentrate, this may also be due to a lack of protein.

When your body doesn’t get enough of this nutrient, you may experience short bursts of clarity followed by more confusion.

The reason this happens is that there are fluctuations in your blood sugar levels, which directly affect your brain.

4. Muscle and joint pain

muscle and joint pain

If you notice muscle weakness and have joint pain even when you haven’t exercised, your problem may be a protein deficiency.

The reason is just that the tissues of your body, particularly your muscles, require protein to be properly nourished.

5. Slow recovery

If your injuries always take a long time to heal, it may be due to a lack of this micronutrient.

Keep in mind that this is indispensable for good healing and new cell growth. Plus, it’s also in charge of strengthening your immune system. You may even notice your wounds take longer to heal.

6. Fluid retention

fluid retention in foot

A poor diet containing insufficient protein can cause fluid retention, which will make you look bigger.

Try to avoid both alcohol and too much salt, eat a balanced diet, and drink plenty of water.

7. A compromised immune system

A protein deficiency may make your immune system weaken.

Protein is essential for your immune system, so a lack of it leads to general vulnerability to all kinds of illnesses.

Recommendations if you’re not eating enough protein

If you’ve noticed some of these symptoms, it’s time to add these healthy foods to your diet.

Eat more of the following foods:


lentils to help you get enough protein
  • Every 100 grams you eat contains 18 grams of protein. They’re also high in iron.
  • This legume will help renew your body’s cells and prevent premature aging.


spinach in a bowl
  • Spinach is a great option and is also a good source of calcium and iron.
  • You can eat it raw, in salads, or cook it. Cooking spinach increases its protein content up to 5 times and also increases its iron.

Seeds and nuts

a variety of nuts
  • These are high in fiber, thus preventing constipation.
  • Nuts are also loaded in phytosterols, which are great for helping lower blood cholesterol.
  • All you have to do is eat a moderate amount to notice the difference.



Meat is an excellent food that is rich in protein. Below, we’ll explain how much each has:

  • Chicken breast is great, low in fat. It also has got 26 grams of protein per 100 grams.
  • You also have roasted turkey, which also contains little fat. With it, you’ll get 29 grams of protein!
  • Steak provides 21 grams.
  • Lastly, ham contains 30 grams of this amazing micronutrient.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Martone AM., Marzetti E., Calvani R., Picca A., et al., Exercise and protein intake: a synergistic approach against sarcopenia. Biomed Res Int, 2017.
  • Jager R., Kersick CM., Campbell BI., Cribb PJ., et al., International society of sports nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2017.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.