Protein is needed to build up muscles and organs, strengthen the immune system and digest food. When your meals do not provide you with enough protein, your body will take it from the muscles and give it to where it is needed the most.
As a result, your arms and legs may become thinner. Your immune system may also become weakened. The rule of thumb for protein consumption is approximately 100-150g and 80-100g per day for HIV positive men for women.
Excellent sources of protein include lean red and white meat such as beef, pork, lamb, mutton, chicken and turkey. Fat and skin can be removed to reduce the amount of saturated (bad) fat. Eggs, milk and dairy products are also good sources.
Unlike animal foods, proteins from vegetables including nuts, seeds and legumes are incomplete. That means some essential amino acids which form the protein are missing. If you are a vegetarian, it is very important to have a varied diet so that the missing amino acids can be compensated from another type of food.