Do you have difficulty maintaining clean skin, nail and hair growth, with low energy and fatigue, and struggle to stop yourself from binge eating? You may be deficient in protein, a common problem we see in our clients–especially those who have pain, are on fad diets or eating low calories to lose weight. Other symptoms tend to include:
Pain, stiffness or tightness that won’t go away
Unable to grow muscle
Low body temperature
Stress and anxiety
Protein is one of the three macro nutrients, it's the building block that repairs, grows, and maintains tissue health. It’s really easy to severely under eat protein, even if you eat animal products daily.
Protein gets broken down into amino acids that our body can use, and the right balance of amino acids can aid in creating high metabolism, and preventing stress and damaged tissues. If our body does not get enough protein for normal functioning it will increase cortisol (the stress hormone that breaks down tissue), and it will break down our muscles to get those essential amino acids that we need to function. If you’re unable to repair aches and pains, or unable to grow muscle and have weak collagen it might be time to not only look at how much protein you’re getting, but the amino acid profile too.
We often find that clients who have experienced pain for years or decades can be stuck in a chronic state of stress; meaning their nervous system is not able to go into repair and relaxation phase as it is permanently stuck in cortisol and break down mode. Which likely means these people are running off stress hormones instead of cellular energy to get through their day.
How the modern diet has changed protein sources
To start with, I promise this post doesn’t end in, “go eat Paleo and lose all of your friends!” However, it’s likely you’ve seen a lot of research about red meat being inflammatory, and there’s definitely a reason for that.
Traditionally, humans weren’t just eating muscle meats, we were eating the whole animal; making broths from bones, eating organ meats, cooking with meat on the bone, essentially eating nose to tail. These days most of us just eat boneless muscle meat, which looks like a good source of protein, however the ratio of amino acids just from muscle meat can create inflammation.
Muscle meat is high in the amino acids tryptophan, histidine and cysteine. While these are necessary, in the wrong ratio they can be inflammatory without the other amino acids. When muscle meat is eaten with bone broths, and organs they contain much more gelatin and collagen which are high in the healing amino acids glycine and proline. These amino acids make up the amazing properties of our collagen (and fascia!) with collagen being the most abundant protein in our body, giving our tissues structure and tensile strength (stronger than steel!).
How much protein?
Inactive people need on average about 100g of protein a day. If you are going for a walk, or hitting the gym, or even just getting some *ahem* one-on-one time with your partner, you’re going to need, on average, about 30g more.
First of all check how much protein you are eating daily, then check the QUALITY of that protein. You might be surprised at how little amino acids they have.
Keep in mind we need MINIMUM 90-130g of protein a day, depending on your level of activity. We tend to find that most of the protein our clients eat are also very high in fat… which, if you’re like me, and your body is a carb burner rather than a fat burner, will leave you feeling mentally and physically sluggish.
Examples of protein: 100g steak = 30g, 2 eggs = 11g
Sources of protein: high quality collagen powder, grass fed casein, bone broth, organic cottage cheese, eggs (whites), oysters, low fat dairy, and organ meat.
Our Favourite Collagen Supplement
Our favourite Collagen is made up of eight of the nine essential amino acids, and is really high in glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, and arginine—key ingredients to the health of your skin, hair and nails, and vitally important in healing from exercise and injury (like inflammation and pain) and keeping your bones and joints in good nick. Importantly, collagen is a protein that has been broken down into small peptides, making it much more bioavailable. It absorbs into the bloodstream rapidly. It’s easy to consume. Mix it into a glass of OJ or milk, or put it into a cuppa. You’ll barely notice it’s there, but your body will thank you!
Our favourite is a premium grass fed and grass finished Beef Collagen, unflavoured and mixes easily, allowing you to combine with juice or any other hot or cold beverage of your choice. Collagen hydrolysate has no gritty taste like some other forms of protein and is an alternative to whey based proteins, which can cause bloating and stomach upset in some people.
Pre-order your collagen by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
How can you make sure you're eating enough protein?
The accurate way: track using the free version of the Cronometer App. This will involve weighing your food and adding it to the app
which will tell you exactly how many calories, proteins, fats and carbs you're eating. This is excellent to get in the habit of doing if you’re struggling with pain, energy, fatigue, insomnia, hormones, weight and so much more.
Commit to doing it for a week. The more used to doing it you get, the faster you’ll be able to do it, and the easier it will become habit. Measure everything – the things that blew me away way were (a) how little protein I ate versus how much I thought I was eating, and (b) just how much fat snuck into my diet, even though I'm a carb burner.
Related Article: The Often Overlooked Importance of Protein