Lab to Life Series: 6 Signs of Protein Deficiency

Lab to Life Series: 6 Signs of Protein Deficiency

You might be concerned with the amount of quantity of protein you consume. Chances are, although you might be eating the right amounts, you might fall short in terms of your quality and frequency. The body needs daily absorbable, high quality and complete protein. This blog will explain 6 signs of protein deficiency that might surprise you!

You may have read our blog on the importance of protein … The first article in this Lab-to-Life series on protein started with the fundamentals, “Lab-to-Life Series: 5 Little Knows Facts About Protein & It’s Functions”. In this interview of our Chief Science Officer Dr Jean-Francois Lesgards (PhD: Chemistry/biochemistry and researcher for CNRS) by Sheila Partrat, we will explore 6 signs of protein deficiency.

Sheila asks:

Jean-Francois, in the first post we looked at our daily protein requirements, and how we often fall short.How can we tell that we are not getting enough protein?

Jean-Francois replies:

Firstly as a refresher, we can store fats and carbohydrates that are used for energy in the form of fats (triglycerides) or glycogen (for glucose), but we can’t store amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body.That’s why we need to replenish our protein supply daily.Protein deficiency can manifest in many ways, which are not always easy to identify.

Jean-Francois continues…

Here are a few signs to be aware of:

1. Lowered Immune System:

Most of us know that good nutrition; in addition to sleep and good hygiene is key in maintaining immunity. Quality protein however is not always high on the list, which it should be. High-quality protein, rich in essential amino acids (EAAs), particularly in sulfur amino acids (cysteine, methionine) will boost our immune system as well as our anti-inflammatory defenses.

2. Wounds take longer to heal:

Slow wound healing: Protein aids the body in repairing damaged tissues. When we don’t get enough protein, we have a difficult time forming collagen, necessary in the healing process.

3. Poor Sleep:

There are many factors that negatively impact the quality of sleep; one of the possible causes is unstable blood sugar levels and a decrease in serotonin production. Blood sugar swings during the day carry over through the night. Eating foods with quality protein before bed can help stabilize blood sugar. It can also contribute to the tryptophan and serotonin production that encourages quality sleep.

4. Prone to Injury:

A diet that is low in protein can raise the risk for muscle lossslow bone healing, and increase bone weaknessfractures, and even osteoporosis. Protein is key for calcium absorption and helps with bone and muscle metabolism. It’s even more of an issue when we age. A diet high in amino acids can help treat muscle loss due to aging (sarcopenia).

5. Poor Concentration:

Protein is needed to support many aspects of healthy neurological and hormonal functioning. Poor concentration can be a sign that there is a deficiency in the neurotransmitters you needed to focus including dopamine, adrenalin, noradrenalin, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters are synthesized using amino acids. Certain Amino acids also increased magnesium uptake in cells contributing to the relief of stress.

6. Blood Sugar Fluctuation:

An adequate supply of protein helps to regulate blood sugar and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that whey protein can be used in medical/nutritional therapy to regulate blood sugar (hyperglycemia). It can also lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, and the risk of hypertension, and consolidate arterial health. 

Sheila asks:

Where do does our body get the amino acids necessary if we don’t get them through food

Jean-Francois replies:

It’s quite simple. If the foods we eat provide too few amino acids, especially essential amino acids, (see BP#3 on quality protein), our body breaks down protein-rich tissues – our muscles, for example, in order to access them. Therefore, the initial effect of low protein intake can result in muscle wasting accompanied by increasing weakness.

Thanks Jean- Francois. It’s clear. Adequate protein is essential to health. The quality of protein is also important.


If you are experiencing one or more of these signs there is a possibility you are not getting enough good quality, absorbable protein in your diet on a daily basis.It may be time to re-evaluate what you are eating on a daily basis to determine if you are getting enough protein. Check out our blog on what distinguishes quality protein and where to find it.

Our bodies are amazing machines and if you give it what it needs it will function optimally without supplementation.