Unfortunately, we live in celebrity-obsessed culture where the lives of glamorous high-profile stars such as the Beckhams and Kardashians are regularly thrust in our faces. In fact, there has never been such a time where fashion, beauty, and hairstyles of the rich and famous are so often scrutinised.
This media-led dangerous obsession with looks and beauty regimes has therefore resulted in many of us signing up to the nearest gym and slogging away for hours each week in our desperate quest to achieve the perfect beach body
to resemble the look of these celebrities...who typically pay exorbitant amounts for personal chefs and trainers it must be remembered.
Heavy and intense gym sessions often mean people consume a protein bar or shake before and/ or after their workout, providing a quick energy boost prior to exercising and helping muscles to recover thereafter.
High protein supplement risks
Sales of high-protein products have soared in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015 alone, they rose by a staggering 500%. However, there could be one rather frightening and overlooked side effect from taking protein supplements.
This side effect is hair loss. If you are in the gym as you read this, take a look around. Are there many gym-goers with thinning/receding hair? Additionally, you may see some people that have simply shaved their head bald to get rid of what little hair was remaining.
It could be that those people are, or have been, heavy users of whey protein, with many leading experts pinpointing the protein supplement behind a surge in the number of men seeking how to combat hair loss
such as Regaine, Propecia, and even enquiring about expensive hair transplants.
According to some experts, resistance training in the gym – such as weightlifting - could play a part in a thinning thatch. This is particularly heightened if combined with the consumption of protein powders.
It is believed that when combined, weightlifting and protein powders are causing a substantial rise in the body's testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels, key components behind hair loss. DHT is behind follicle destruction particularly in men, especially in those with hereditary hair loss.
Although naturally-produced, DHT - a converted form of testosterone – rapidly attaches itself to a man's hair strand's receptor cells, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients. This will cause the follicles to shrink and the hair to wither over time, until it eventually dies.
This mean gym-goers – particularly those pumping the heavy weights and loading up with whey protein – could be putting themselves at risk of an earlier on-set of hair loss.
What is whey protein?
So, what is whey protein exactly you may ask? You may not be aware that it is actually a by-product of the manufacture of hard, semi-hard or soft cheese, and is a complete protein, comprising of all nine essential amino acids.
Lifting weights increases amino acid delivery to muscles, which is why many people consume whey protein straight following exercise, to help boost their muscle growth.
However, a leading hair loss expert has spoken out about his concerns regarding whey protein supplements.
“Whey protein exaggerates or accelerates the hair loss process because there is evidence it increases the level of testosterone when combined with muscle-building exercise,” said Dr Bessam Farjo, hair transplant surgeon, and friend of Medical Specialists® Pharmacy Managing Director, David Bailey.
Dr Farjo had a first-hand experience of the issue with his son Janan Farjo. Janan was a regular gym-goer and was consuming whey protein when he noticed he was starting to suffer with hair loss. After deciding to ditch the whey protein, his hair has apparently begun to grow once more.
However, it is unlikely that every
avid gym-goer who consumes whey protein will suddenly begin to lose their hair. “It is important to distinguish between cause and effect here. Protein shakes do not cause hair loss,” Dr Kouremada-Zioga, Hair Transplant Surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, told the Daily Express in 2016.
“They 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.”