Protein And Hair
Taught to me in and anatomy physiology class as the building blocks of our bodies, Protein is a very complicated and very important macro nutrient.
We hear loads about protein when it comes to diet, but unfortunately it is seen as something only important to bodybuilders, for example, I recently saw one of these tosh click-bait articles about protein being carsonegenic and it championed the vegetarian diet to avoid protein. Obviously this was a terrible un-researched article, and I am not for a second saying that thats what most people believe. But it does make one think. Do people know what it is? How important it is? Or what good sources are?
There are loads and loads of blog post and articles about food and diet. Where and what to trust is a total nightmare. It is made even worse at the moment by click-bait. People who read the headline (if that) of a scientific paper and run to the hills with it. A good example of this is coffee which either prevents or causes cancer, depending on what article you are reading.
This brings a lot of distrust over the whole topic. And when people don’t know where to turn for information they can trust, they care less and less and that can lead to bad dieting.
Today we are going to look at protein, its sources for both meat eaters and veggies, how much you need, and what it does for the body.
As I look at the world through my eyes and as this blog is mainly about hair, I shall be writing mainly about the effect protein has on the hair and not just an overview a standard article.
I would also like to keep it simple, this isn’t a scientific paper, so I would prefer to keep it concise and reader friendly. With that said.
What is protein
Protein is one of the main groupings of food nutrition, the other two being fat and Carbohydrate. Protein is a collection of amino acids which are simple compounds. There are hundreds of amino acids However only 22 that the body needs and can utilise. These amino acids are then further broken down into 2 groups (sometimes 3, but we shall stick to two for ease) Essential amino acids and non essential amino acids.
The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These are essential because the body can’t produce these, they have to be brought into the body by diet. That doesn’t mean you have to be consuming these each meal, But you will need to factor these into your diet as a daily need.
The non-essential amino acids are: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. These amino acids your body can produce and so are not as important when it comes to diet. However the reason why I said that there are sometimes three groups of amino acid instead of two, is because when the body is sick or unwell sometimes the body cannot create these amino acids and needs to attain these from diet.
If you are unsure, worried or curious about your intake and needs of amino acid then go and see a doctor or a dietician.
We will be touching more in this chapter and more in this blog in general about good and bad sources of protein with regard to hair health. But just as a little note, these do not have to all come from meat, however meat and eggs are undeniably these best sources, so if you are vegetarian or vegan you will have to pay extra attention to getting these amino acids in your diet.
Luckily this isn’t hard at all, it just takes a little awareness and planning, Planning a diet can actually be more fun than you think, it can add a load of variety and ingredients to your diet and bring back a love for food.
Why is protein important for hair health?
protein in diet is very important to Hair health, Hair is made from a protein called Keratin. I wrote a small piece on hair structure here
so because hair is made of protein, it stands to reason that the body needs protein to make hair. There is obviously a limit here, If you were to smash away at steak and eggs each meal, your wouldn’t turn into Rapunzel but a deficiency in amino acids would effect the health of the hair and the skin.
How much protein does the body need.
This question varies massively, Personally I train a lot, I like to cycle swim and run. I am training for my first marathon this October and my first triathlon next year. ( I will do post on these in the future). So because I train I need and my body needs to repair more than a sedentary person, my body will need more protein. However it’s not as simple as me just eating more meat than someone else, I have to look at what time of the year and how much I am training and plan accordingly.
I am very interested in diet and health I read a lot about how many nutrients the body actually needs, which I realise isn’t everyones interest. I don’t think it has to be, I think (as with everything) it can go too far. True Food is a list of nutrients your body needs. But more important than that, Food is fun and should be see as a great pleasure in life.
Lets look at the main way for working out nutrient intake. RDA (recommended daily allowance) these are what they say, the recommended amount to take each day. This measure is mainly seen on the sides of packets with an amount usually in grams and % based on the “average” man and women. before we continue, I must say my criticisms on RDA. it is important that this is a guide, a one size fits all approach to diet, for food labelling companies to be able to put it on the side of packets, there has to be an average. Second criticism is that these vary from country to country so if you are reading this in the USA your RDA for sugar maybe different to a packet in Germany. Which in my mind throws the guidelines into question. The third critique I shall come to later.
With these criticisms in mind we can look at the RDA of protein as just a guide.
The Best way to look at Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein via your body weight and level of need.
The standard RDA for the “normal” person is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. So using myself as an example, My current weight is 70KG. so 70 multiplied by 0.8 is 56. Meaning I need to eat 56G of protein throughout the day. It is very important at this point to say, the RDA for protein is the minimum amount of protein needed for meeting nutritional requirements, not the maximum.
Endurance athletes obviously need more protein to repair from training. Meaning that their RDA 1.2 to 1.4 grams per kilogram of body weight. Strength training or power athletes require 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. The more physically active a person is, the more protein that they will need to consume.
Some research has recommended as much as 2 grams per kilogram of body weight to prevent muscle loss in athletes who want to lose weight and have reduced the amount of calories they consume. If you are looking into this level of dieting, I recommend talking to a Nutritionist or Dietician.
This way of dieting by the way, is called counting you macros. Macros being macro nutrients (fat carbs protein) which brings me to my final critique to RDA has to come up now, who counts their macros. I have an interest in diet but even for me its very hard. Especially when eating out. It is better to actually see what forms protein comes in.
Now you know how much to eat, its good to know what a gram of protein actually looks like in food form. This list does include meat and meat products. it does also include vegan food sources so do have a look through if you are vegetarian or vegan because protein is obviously just as important for you guys. I am starting to work with a nutritionist about my diet and these guides so I intend to do a separate posts for vegans and vegetarians in the future, including some recipes.
A medium egg has around 6g of protein in an easily digestible form in fact egg is the best bio-available protein there is and is what other foods are measured to. “Fast food and good for you” was their advertising tag line when I was a kid and its true. An omelette is a good way to start the day and is a good recovery snack too.
Milk and Yogurt
Dairy foods are packed with protein and contain bone-building calcium, too. It contains a blend of both slow and fast release whey and casein proteins. Personally I don’t drink milk unless its lactose free and even then it has to be ice cold. If like me you don’t like the taste, make a smoothie to cover it up. Same with yogurt
Fish and seafood
Fish and seafood are good sources of protein and are typically low in fat. Salmon is a great chioce, easy to cook feels meaty and full of omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce joint stiffness and inflammation. (more on this in a blog post on fats)
Soy is a great way of getting in the protein, regardless of if you are veggie or not, it comes in so many forms meaning its easy to get into your diet. some people complain about tofu being bland or not very tasty. This depends on how you cook it. I have a great recipe for cooking tofu and using it in veggie burgers, I shall share it with you in a post soon.
Nuts such as pistachios are a practical protein choice if you’re on the move or snaking. Around 50 pistachio nuts will provide 6g of protein same as 1 egg, Always get unsalted when buying nuts, the level of sodium is through the roof in most packets of salted nuts.
High quality proteins also contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are key in supporting muscle recovery. If you look at any body building website these are the first thing you’ll come across (usually in the form of a product you “need to buy”) you can get these BCAAs easily from eating a balanced diet with good forms of protein in this list. The Problem with pork is that Pork is fatty. That doesn’t mean don’t eat it, it just means you should factor that into your diet too. my advice with pork, is eat pork that looks like the actual animal. sure sausages can taste great but unless you go to a reputable butchers, you have no idea what is actually in there. this advice actually goes for all pre-made food come to think of it.
Chicken and turkey
When it comes to animal protein, opt for lean protein from white meat poultry such as chicken and turkey. My advice here is always marinade your poultry or you will be bored after two days of eating plain chicken.
Beans and pulses
These are great, meat eater, vegan, student. everyone. these are great value-for-money protein sources and can be used in an endless amount of dishes. Beans and pulses are also a good source of iron and fibre. which are also vital for hair health.
I hope that list helps. I will be doing more specific recipes for hair health in the future. for this I will be working alongside a dietician and a sports nutritionist to make sure that what i am saying is factual and this blog doesn’t just turn into another click-bait sensationalist diet blog. they actually run a great blog in both Spanish and English and have a practise in Spain. Check them out at
In my opinion diet is one of the leading factors in hair health and health n general for that matter. Like I say i will be making a series of these posts along with some great recipes so you know what meals are great to eat for Hair Health.
Thanks for reading guys