The beauty industry has successfully injected mass confusion into how to take care of your hair properly. Knowing what it takes on a nutritional level to support hair growth is super important, and there’s a lot of customization you can do based on your hair type and lifestyle. No matter what your unique hair needs are, there’s one nutritional key that every person needs to build a foundation for healthy hair. If you don’t get enough of it, it doesn’t matter how many vitamins you take or hair masks you do, your hair health will suffer.
The most important food for healthy hair is also what your hair is made of: protein! More specifically, hair is made from a protein called keratin that is made from collagen. You’ve probably heard of collagen powder being added to smoothies and healthy baked goods or seen it in the supplements aisle of the grocery store. Because proteins are the building blocks for making hair, protein is the most important food for healthy hair. Getting enough protein means that your body has enough resources to channel into your growing thick, strong hair at its healthiest.
Getting Enough Protein
The body prioritizes nutrient distribution based on the most vital functions. Your heart and brain get first dibs and the hierarchy goes from there. Guess what’s at the bottom of the totem pole because you don’t need it to survive? That’s right. Hair! Since hair is considered less important, if you come up short on your daily protein needs, your hair misses out. It may thin or grow out as brittle and easily damaged.
How much protein is enough? Here’s the rule of thumb for women. For every 1 pound of lean body weight, you need 1 gram of protein. That means for a woman with 100 pounds of lean body weight, she would need 100 grams of protein every day. If she was engaged in high intensity exercise or weight lifting, she would need more on top of that. The 1 pound to 1 gram rule is the baseline for maintenance.
If you find that you struggle to get enough protein, try including a small portion of meat with every meal because meat is the best, most dense protein source on the planet. A shake with a scoop of organic protein powder can also be a helpful protein booster. If you use a protein powder, be sure to read the ingredients and make sure it doesn’t have any fillers or artificial flavors. A low-quality protein powder will be a net negative to your health.
Knowing Your Metrics
There are several brands that make inexpensive scales that can read various biometrics like lean body weight. If you don’t already know what your lean body weight is, I highly recommend investing in one to keep track of where you’re at. You can also use a notebook or an app to track your protein intake throughout the day to make sure you’re meeting your daily quota. Thinking you’re maybe getting enough protein or you’re “not sure” isn’t good enough if you truly want to experience lush, healthy hair.
Keep in mind that the hair you currently have is a result of your past hair care. Once you’re getting enough protein every day, it will take some time for the results to show. Your overall success with healthy hair will also be coupled with your nutrient levels, hormones, product use, and lifestyle.