Why do some people experience hair loss on the keto diet?
Keto's adjustment period sometimes seems daunting in the beginning, but many find the changes are surprisingly easy to make and stick with (perhaps because of the delicious foods you can eat, or because Keto simply makes you feel better all-round.)
You've cut carbs accordingly.
You're keeping an eye on those electrolytes.
You've successfully dodged Keto Flu. That wasn't hard, was it?
You have achieved ketosis, and at this point you're definitely seeing results.
But, are you noticing hair loss? This one is unexpected.
Hair loss is a temporary side-effect that isn't terribly common, but it does happen to Keto dieters now and then. It's helpful to remember that everyone has his or her unique hair loss and hair growth periods; we all are subject to bouts of shedding and regrowth.
Unlike our nonhuman mammalian counterparts, these periods can be random. There doesn't seem to be a definitive, predictable cycle for human beings. Therefore, nobody should fret the odd thinning of the hair too much.
There are also a few non-diet reasons why hair loss can happen, like thyroid and hormonal issues, or stress.
That being said, if you're on Keto and you find yourself losing more than just weight, it's time to examine a few of the finer points of the lifestyle. Here's a simple guide we've put together that explains why you might be experiencing hair loss on Keto, what to do about it, and how to avoid it happening in the first place.
Though being calorie conscious is an essential part of any dieter's toolkit, there is such a thing as taking it too far. Just like when beating Keto flu, it's important to consume enough calories to combat potential hair loss on Keto. Even though dramatically cutting your calorie intake (or straight-up fasting) leads to deceptively rapid weight loss, the goal with Keto is to stay energetic, healthy, and nourished while losing.
Calories aren't bad for you -- they are our body's energy source. Going into extreme calorie deficit creates something akin to a state of emergency in the body, where the small amount of energy taken in gets expended only on the most important organ systems. Nonessential ones, like hair growth, get put on hold if there isn't enough energy to go around. The growth of hair gets arrested, and it may start falling out.
Carbohydrates absolutely must be replaced with enough healthy fats and proteins to prevent hair loss and malnutrition. Leaving a huge gap in caloric/energy intake leads has many more negative consequences than just losing some hair. Starvation diets are never recommended.
Not Enough Protein
Protein is one of the major building-blocks of skin and hair -- and good skin and hair are the telltale signs of health and vitality. The hair follicle has one of the highest cell-turnover rates in the entire human body, which requires a constant supply of proteins and amino acids. Each hair fiber is comprised of 99% protein.
There is a link between hair loss and nutritional deficiency, particularly protein. Of the three macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins), protein is the one that many a novice Keto follower will get wrong. Some people worry that consuming too much protein will kick the metabolism out of ketosis, so they end up consuming too little.
The amount of ketones present in your bloodstream will indeed decrease if you consume protein in amounts that exceed moderation, but evidence shows that you'll remain in the ketogenic state, especially if you remain active. It's a good idea to monitor your protein intake; if you experience hair loss or your energy levels start flagging, it's a sign to consume more. At the start of going Keto, there's room for experimentation and adjustment to make sure your individual needs are met.
Lack of Biotin and Vitamins
Biotin belongs to the class of B vitamins. It facilitates the process of breaking down food into energy, and it's also needed for hair growth and overall hair health. Like all vitamins, biotin is found in certain foods in trace amounts. Unfortunately, a lot of foods that contain biotin are fairly high on the list of foods to be avoided on Keto (legumes and many fruits, for example).
Biotin supplements are one way many people mitigate hair-thinning and hair loss, but in order to be fully effective, your daily B Vitamins should come mostly from food and not capsules. Nuts (peanuts, almonds, and walnuts), mushrooms, organ meats, and egg yolks are all Keto-friendly, biotin-rich foods.
Other vitamins and minerals we need for hair growth are Zinc and Vitamins A, C, E, D. Getting enough vitamins is generally not difficult if you pay attention to nutrition facts and make sure to have variety in your diet. And supplements can still be your friend: A daily multivitamin can boost your nutrition enough to prevent hair loss if you can't seem to get all your vitamins from diet alone.
The good news is that hair loss is not one of Keto's more common side-effects. If you do experience it, it's helpful to remember that it's a temporary one which will go away once the body has adjusted to ketosis.
The bottom line is that hair loss on Keto is usually a product of unmet nutritional needs. Keto shouldn't be treated as a crash diet. Cutting calories and nutrients drastically leads to hair loss -- and has other more dangerous consequences. Following the guidelines of Keto and eating lots of Keto-friendly foods is the best way to ensure proper nourishment (and a head full of shiny hair) while you lose weight.