The body can utilize proteins more effectively if it has normal kidney functions and that protein consumption causes hair loss is a misconception, Chou Chien-hsin (周千欽), a nutritionist at Taipei City Hospital’s Songde Branch, said on Sunday.
Proteins are made up of one or more amino acid chains and are categorized as “complete,” common in soybeans, fish, eggs, meat and dairy products, “partially complete” (whole grains, rice and oatmeal) or “incomplete” (animal hooves and tendons), Tsai said.
Complete proteins contain an adequate proportion of the nine essential amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth, she said.
It is recommended that a healthy adult consume about as many grams of protein per day as their weight in kilograms, Chou said. For example, a person weighing 70kg should consume about 70g of protein per day.
People seeking muscle growth and lifting weights can increase their protein consumption 1.6 to two times the recommended amount, she said.
Studies show that a healthy person with well-functioning kidneys can metabolize two times the recommended daily protein intake, but a high-protein diet can affect people with kidney diseases, Chou said.
People on a high-protein diet should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and to flush out excess nitrogen, she said. They should choose protein sources carefully, as some high-protein foods are also high in calories and can be stored as fat, causing obesity.
Fatty red meat has a lot of saturated fatty acid and can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, she said.
People should eat more soybeans, fish and chicken for proteins, as soy-based foods can help reduce cholesterol and fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart, she said.
People who eat boiled meat with no condiments should also consume vegetables and get enough carbohydrates and minerals, she said.
Hair loss is most often due to hereditary factors or stress, rather than high protein intake, Chou said.
Studies show that people who regularly do weight training are more likely to lose their hair as exercise boosts testosterone levels, while dehydroepiandrosterone is a common ingredient in protein supplements, although it is not used in Taiwan, she said.
People who have poor kidney function, diabetes or chronic diseases should not have a high-protein diet, Chou said. People should consult a doctor or a nutritionist before starting a diet and not consume more than two times the daily recommended intake of protein.
When excessive protein is ingested, nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia, urea and uric acid, can build up in the body, she said. There is also an increased risk of osteoporosis, as phosphorus in meat can affect calcium absorption.
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