Get the Muscles You Want and Lose the Hair You Love: The Potential Problem with Protein
You just finished your workout at the gym and reach for your protein powder to make a quick shake. While your protein shake is meant to help your muscles recover and grow, did you know some say you could also be making it harder for your hair to grow? It has been reported that there has been an increase in men experiencing accelerated hair loss because of powdered protein and the activity they partake in at the gym.
While it may seem like a stretch, when you understand one of the primary causes of hair loss and look at the effects and ingredients in protein powder the connection is more clear. While there are contradicting studies and research is on going, it is said by some studies that certain ingredients in protein shakes may increase testosterone.
Ingredients in whey protein, specifically some of the amino acids, have been found in studies to be a potential cause of boosting testosterone. Past research has found that d-aspartic acid and carnitine are two of the amino acids found in whey have resulted in higher testosterone levels.
Also, in an issue of “Biological Trace and Element Research” found that calcium could significantly increase testosterone levels. Protein shakes will also very often contain growth hormones such as Creatine and DHEA, which not only increase muscle mass, but said to increase testosterone levels in the bloodstream as well.
Wondering what this all has to do with hair growth?
Taking a closer look at hair loss, especially in men, one of the primary causes is high levels of DHT. DHT is a chemical produced by testosterone and high amounts will contributes to androgenetic alopecia, or more commonly referred to as male pattern baldness.
With androgenetic alopecia, the hair follicles are genetically sensitive to DHT and when exposed to higher levels of it they will begin to shrink, in turn, causing their lifespan to shorten and eventually stop producing healthy looking hair. Men experiencing this type of hair loss will typically notice the hair at the temples and crown of the head slowly thin and disappear.
Keeping in mind that there are no official scientific findings that say protein shakes directly cause hair loss, some doctors say protein supplements do, however, accelerate hair loss for those men who suffer with androgenetic hair loss or alternatively, those who are predisposed to balding, as many men are.
Dr Kouremada-Zioga, a hair transplant surgeon, there said 70% of male patients who come into her clinic are avid users of protein shakes. Also, a study by another hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Shapiro, studied the difference between whey protein isolate on its own and with added vitamins. After having ¾ of genetically prone subjects take whey protein isolate (sans vitamins) for at least 4 weeks, he found that 95% of them noticed moderate or worse hair damage from taking whey protein isolates. Specifically, these subjects experienced hair loss, breakage, dullness, weaker hair, less bounce, thinner and slower growth. Significant damage was reported by 30% of the subjects.
What can you do?
Take a look at your exercise routine. It is said that excess weight lifting can increase testosterone levels and also help accelerate hair loss in those genetically prone to balding while on the other hand, cardio has been said to reduce the levels of DHT in the bloodstream. A recommended balance of cardio and weight lifting is claimed to be the best idea for those concerned with high testosterone and DHT levels.
Also, Dr. Shapiro found that the subjects who had specific vitamins, minerals, herbs and proprietary amino acids added into their whey protein shakes actually experienced better hair results suggesting that one could potentially counteract the negative effects of whey by adding similar ingredients. In general, HairMax supplements, available here, can contribute to overall hair health and a great addition to any healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, Dr Kouremada-Zioga advises “men who are pre-disposed to balding to stop using protein shakes that contain growth factors and hormones.
Instead, they should try and incorporate natural sources of protein into their diet such as chicken, fish and eggs.” To learn more about some of the different foods that can help promote hair health, check out this blog post.
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