Whey Protein, Hair Loss & Your Hair Transplant

Anyone that’s going a bit thin on top might be making their hair worse due to the sports supplements they’re taking in their keenness to get more brawn.

Ask any gym instructor and he will tell you that in the first 3 months of a person joining up and engaging in heavy workouts, though he builds lean muscle, he also complains of hair loss.

Unfortunately, hitting the heavy weights and resistance and endurance training are big testosterone boosters.

Being sensitive to DHT and when exposed to higher levels of testosterone manifesting as DHT at the hair cell level, the hair 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.

It is also well known that people in the gym who do heavy workouts, take a glass of protein shake or a protein bar to help muscles recover and build mass.

Keeping in mind that there are no official scientific findings that say protein shakes directly cause hair loss, we as doctors have seen many patients with accelerated hair loss when they start doing strenuous training in the gym & more so when they start taking protein shakes.

So the 2 causes that are blamed are-
1. Increased testosterone levels due to heavy workouts themselves. Leading to increased DHT formation and increasing susceptibility of hair follicles.
2. Taking whey protein to feed the muscle mass.

So this brings us to Whey protein.

What is Whey protein?
Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese-making dairy industry. This leftover after cheese is extracted out of the milk, contains a lot of essential ingredients.

This is processed through microfiltration to extract whey protein which contains all 9 essential Amino Acids (EAA)
1. histidine,
2. isoleucine,
3. leucine,
4. lysine,
5. methionine,
6. phenylalanine,
7. threonine,
8. tryptophan,
9. & valine.

So what are BCAAs?
Of these 9 EAA. 3 have special characteristics– leucine, isoleucine, and valine

They are referred to as- BCCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids).

So why are EAAs & BCAAs important to take?
The EAA and BCAA cannot be synthesized by the human body and therefore must be provided in the diet.

So why can I not take them in natural form?
It is scientifically confirmed that soon after resistance training, there is a small window period during which AA delivery to the muscles is enhanced. Hence only AAs in their purest form will be advantageous in quickly building muscle mass. Of course, you cannot carry eggs to the gym and even if you do since you may have a gym at home, they will need to be digested and this will take time.

So what causes hair loss?
In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, BCAA was blamed as the main culprit that causes hair loss.

A study blames 2 AAs found in whey.

d-aspartic acid and carnitine that result in higher 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.

This could be the culprit but what meets the eye is always not the truth.

Tomes of literature may have been written about the safety of protein supplements and that BCAAs will not cause hair loss.

What is suppressed is the fact that the dairy industry ruthlessly injects the following hormone increase cow milk yield and these are-
1. prolactin,
2. growth hormone, and
3. glucocorticoids

To my mind besides BCAAs, the presence of these hormones in the protein isolate is equally to blame.

For whey protein in itself is an innocuous natural product of milk.

A study by another hair transplant surgeon, Dr. Larry 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.

So what do I do?
it is essential for us if we need to stay healthy, to incorporate natural proteins in our diet.

You could take protein X and besides, Soya and egg white and lots of milk.

However, their biological value will be lesser than protein supplements but you can take solace in the fact that you will remain healthy and not suffer from added hair loss.

If you have to take Whey, do not take those that contain Creatine or DHEA. Also try Organic proteins.

What is Biological value?
BV is a useful reference number.

Bioavailability of protein to muscles is different for different foods and the baseline for comparison is an Egg (whole egg, not egg white) which is taken as 100 for reference sake.

Egg in fact is the best available natural protein

For comparison-
Egg- 100
Whey protein (104)
Cow’s Milk- 91
Egg white – 88
Fish- 83
Beef- 80
Chicken- 79

Or should I stop going to the Gym?
Modify your exercise routine.

Testosterone level surge happens when weight training. Cardio, on the other hand, is said to reduce levels of DHT in the body.

So a balance of cardio and weight training alternating with aerobic based exercises like jogging will keep testosterone and therefore DHT levels in check.

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.

To conclude, I would say stop any protein supplement for 6 months after the hair transplant till the hair is fully grown. After this, it is up to you to consider what is good for your remaining thinning hair with the knowledge we have discussed in this VIdeo.

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