Does Whey Protein Cause Hair Loss?

Does Whey Protein Cause Hair Loss?

‘Protein’ is the talk of the town today. There is so much information about protein out there and everyone is pushing to meet their daily requirements. The benefits of having adequate protein are known to everyone, but the side effects of overdoing protein should be noted too.


There is a huge demand and popularity of protein shakes today. This is available in the form of whey protein, isolate, vegan/ plant or pea protein etc. Most people have dabbled over these varieties of protein supplements available and wondered which the best one for them is.

Also Read: What are 5 food groups and why are they included in a diet for healthy hair?


What is whey protein?

Milk is made up of two proteins – casein and whey. Whey is the watery portion of milk that separates from the casein or the curds in the process of cheese making. Whey protein is a complete protein as it contains all the 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. It is one of the most commonly used protein supplement. While the benefits of consuming whey protein are many, there are also some side effects, whey protein hair loss being one of them.

Whey protein and hair loss:

Can whey protein cause hair loss? Whey protein side effects on hair are also undeniable. The question is, does whey protein cause hair loss? It is true to some extent. Recent studies and research show that extreme consumption might lead to hair loss as well. 

Whey protein contains inorganic growth hormones like DHEA and creatine, which not only increases your muscle mass but also, promotes high levels of testosterone hormones in the bloodstream. Testosterone is converted into the chemical DHT, which hampers the growth of new hair follicles causing whey protein hair loss.

Before looking at can whey protein cause hair loss let's understand the link between whey protein and hair loss. The connection between whey protein and hair loss depends on whether it is Whey Protein Concentrate or Isolate. Whey protein hair loss happens because of the Brand Chain Amino Acids present in whey protein. However, WPI has more of it, and WPC has less of it. High BCAA in Whey Protein Isolate is undoubtedly good for muscle growth and overall health. Yet, there

is a side effect to it. BCAA increases testosterone levels in your body which can be a cause of whey protein hair loss. Studies have shown that individuals who take WPI face more whey protein hair loss than those who take WPC. 

When on a high protein diet or taking whey protein in excess amounts, you tend to cut out or drastically limit the intake of other foods like carbohydrates. Cutting out food groups leads to nutritional deficiencies which causes whey protein hair loss. Also, carbohydrates contain a lot of calories that your body, including your hair follicles, uses for fuel. With low carbohydrate diets, your body no longer has its preferred source of energy. If your body doesn't have enough fuel, your hair follicles may be one of the first organs to shut down to conserve energy. This leads to whey protein hair loss. 

Also read: Role of Nutrition in Hair Health

Difference between whey protein and isolate protein:

Whey protein is one of the most widely used supplements today. It is consumed to meet the daily protein requirement and for its benefits like muscle building and recovery. With so many different types of proteins available in the market, how do you know the difference between them and what is good for you?

Two of the most popular protein powders available are whey protein and whey isolate. What is the difference between whey protein and whey isolate?

While both, whey protein and whey isolate are derived from the same milk concentration, whey isolate is basically whey protein that has been filtered to remove the lactose. This is to create a leaner and lower fat protein source.

The major difference between whey protein and whey isolate is the nutritional content per serving. Whey protein has between 10-15% protein content per serving with over 50% lactose and almost 2% fat. Whey protein isolate contains over 90% pure protein content with under 1% lactose or milk fat.

However, the types of amino acids found in both forms of whey are virtually identical, since they are derived from the same proteins.

Another form available is whey protein concentrate. While both, whey concentrate and isolate, will digest in the body at the same rate and also contain

the same amounts of amino acids; concentrate may cause bloating and digestive issues due to its higher lactose and carb content. Isolate whey protein is more processed, while concentrate whey protein is less processed. 

Hydrolysate is another type of protein supplement available. When whey protein is hydrolyzed, its protein chains are broken down, making it easier to digest; also known as “pre-digested” protein.

Also Read: Your plate tells us the health of your hair

Benefits of whey protein for hair:

Whey protein has a number of health benefits like increasing lean body mass, weight loss, better immunity and many others. One of its important benefits is also that is helps hair growth and prevents hair fall.

Let’s see how whey protein benefits the hair:

Hair growth: Hair is made up of protein and hence protein deficiency can cause hair fall and hair loss. Consuming whey protein to meet the daily requirement helps prevent hair loss.

Boosts collagen: Collagen gives hair its elasticity and structure. Having whey protein boosts collagen production; making hair longer, stronger and shiner.

Good scalp health: Consuming whey protein in required amounts nourishes the scalp and keeps the hair follicles healthy. This keeps the scalp clean, fights dandruff and prevents hair loss.

Great conditioner: Instead of your shampoo, you can use whey powder as well. Thoroughly rub some powder on the scalp. To get a clean and oil-free scalp, wash it off with lukewarm water. Alternatively, you should first shampoo it and follow it with a rinse of whey. Leave it for 10 minutes and wash it off. Whey conditioner will give great body and texture to the hair without weighing it down like other hair products.

Side effects of whey protein and does whey protein cause hair loss?

Taking any supplement or whey protein in excess has its side effects, whey protein hair loss being one of them. Some of the side effects of excess consumption of

whey protein are listed below:

The most common side effects of whey protein are gastric and digestive issues such as gastritis, bloating, cramps, nausea, decreased appetite, headache and fatigue.

  • Excess protein intake can worsen kidney problems.
  • Consistent high intake of whey protein can cause acne.
  • Excess amounts of protein can deplete the body’s stores of calcium resulting in brittle bones and teeth.
  • In women, excess amounts of protein leads to excess ammonia production. Women should not consume more than two scoops of protein powder a day.
  • Excess consumption of protein can overload the liver, leading to serious health problems.
  • Excess whey protein consumption can lead to whey protein hair loss.

So, should you consume whey protein? Does Whey protein cause hair loss?

Whey protein has a number of benefits and when taken in excess, it also has side effects and can cause whey protein hair loss. So, should you consume whey protein or not? Can whey protein cause hair loss ? While there is no blanket answer to that, it is very individualistic depending on your daily diet, workout and medical history. Here are a few things to keep in mind when consuming whey protein, especially to prevent whey protein hair loss:

Make an informed choice between isolate and concentrate depending on what works for you. WPI may cause more whey protein hair loss than WPC.

Use a different type of protein to avoid whey protein hair loss. Whey might be the most popular type of protein supplements, but it’s not the only one. Many other alternative sources of proteins, from casein and pea protein to rice and soy protein are easily available.

Takeaway:

The bottom line is that whey protein has its numerous benefits and also certain side effects like whey protein hair loss. Like every supplement, whey protein should be consumed wisely. Choose the correct type of protein-based on your diet, workout and medical history. Over consumption will undeniably lead to whey protein hair loss. The correct quantity of whey protein is important to avoid whey protein hair loss. It is best to take the opinion of your physician or nutritionist when consuming whey protein.

 

FAQ’s:

Do protein shakes cause hair loss?

Research shows that though protein shakes are beneficial in a number of ways, overdoing protein shakes may lead to whey protein hair loss.

Does whey make hair fall?

Over consumption of whey leads to increased testosterone which can cause whey protein hair loss.

Can too much protein make hair fall out?

Excess consumption of whey protein causes increased levels of testosterone. This testosterone gets converted to DHT which damages the hair follicles resulting in whey protein hair loss.

Is whey protein good for hair loss?

When consumed in correct amounts, whey protein can be good for hair loss. Protein is essential for hair as hair itself is made up of a protein called keratin. Whey protein boosts collagen production and improves scalp nourishment helping hair growth.

Can high protein diets cause baldness?

High protein diets are restrictive on carbohydrates and other nutrients. Lack of nutrients results in hair loss. Restricting carbohydrates which is the main source of fuel for the body as well as the hair follicles, results in shut down of hair follicles to conserve energy, making the hair go into resting phase and causing whey protein hair loss.

 

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Dr. Moyna Vakil, B.H.M.S

Nutrionist & Dietetician

Translating her love for healthy and delicious food into a professional career. With a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics, Dr. Moyna truly believes that eating healthy is the perfect recipe for a lifetime of wellness.

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