Is keto hair loss a possible outcome of starting a low-carb diet?
Well, it is possible, however, this side effect of the ketogenic diet has often been an object of discussion that led to certain myths and misunderstandings about it.
In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about keto hair loss and how to prevent or fight it.
Hair loss in general can occur due to many different reasons, including drastic changes in the diet.
In fact, hair loss is linked to cases of systematic starvation, but it can also sometimes occur with a decrease of carbohydrates.
The symptoms are, well… More hair falling when you’re brushing it.
And we mean a lot. So much that you eventually start seeing that your hair is less thick.
The good news however, is that in most cases, this is a temporary condition and sooner or later, the hair starts growing normally and its roots regain strength.
Furthermore, even if you do get some hair loss, in most cases it will not be visible.
Why Does Hair Fall on Keto?
Well, to understand exactly what happens, you need to learn a bit more about just how the hair grows.
Generally, each hair on your head takes a whopping 2 to 3 years to grow.
After that long growth period, the growth stalls for about 3 months.
Then, in that hair starts growing a new hair that pushes out the old one.
This way, we lose hair every day, but it is not visible, simply because the hairs’ growth is not perfectly synchronized (or at all, for that matter).
You lose a hair that started growing 2 years ago and 10 more start growing the same day.
In other words, the number of hairs on your head is never a constant.
Stress and Hair Loss
If you’re going through an unusual amount of stress, it is normal for the body to lose more hair than normal.
Stress is just a generic term for an array of different factors that can affect hair loss:
- Energy depletion.
- Some diseases.
- Psychological stress.
- Drastic changes in the diet.
And so, when new hairs start coming out months later, all the old hairs will start falling simultaneously.
Carbs & Hair Loss
Well, truth is that there really is no bulletproof evidence that hair loss has anything to do with carbs.
It is possible that some cases of hair loss on a ketogenic diet may be due to the reduced carb intake, but that is still an object of discussion.
Usually, when we have such a problem at hand, we cannot possibly blame one thing, as there is a flurry of factors that comes into play.
Let’s check out some other possible reasons why you are losing hair on a ketogenic diet.
- Micronutrient Deficiency
Truth is that certain macronutrients become demonized and some people just start becoming obsessed with them, while forgetting about other important aspects of the game plan.
The body is a complex organism which requires a wide variety of substances to function.
Those include, but are not limited to carbs, fats, proteins and also vitamins and minerals, which we call micronutrients.
Statistically, most people that switch to the low-carb, keto lifestyle, experience a deficiency of zinc, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
All of the above-listed micronutrients are essential when it comes to maintaining hair health.
- Energy Deficit
In many cases, it has been shown that when you are in a deficit of certain calories and nutrients, the body prioritizes the health of its vital organs.
Basically, everything that is non-vital and non-essential, such as the hair, will remain back on the list of priorities for the body.
Due to the fact the ketogenic diet offers a very satiating meal plan, abundant of proteins and high calorie fats, overall energy intake may be mistaken at times.
That is to say that you might be in a deficit, without even knowing it.
From then on, what may occur is a loss of hair.
Now of course, some hair loss is completely normal and it might not even be happening because of your diet.
However, if you notice that you are losing a lot of hair and it gets less thick, then you should tweak your nutrition plan and make it more diverse.
We already talked about this but we want to stress on it (pun intended).
You might have heard about someone getting white hairs from sudden, acute stress.
And that is in fact true – Your hair actually speaks a lot about your emotional health.
It appears that the hair is perfectly linked with many systems of the body, including the central nervous and immune systems.
What this means is that when the central nervous system goes through acute stress, that will also affect the hair and that in turn may lead to hair loss.
Bottom line here is – Don’t stress on your diet or anything else that doesn’t negatively impact you.
- Biotin Deficiency
Odds are you know about the vitamin groups of the first couple alphabet letters.
However, we bet that you have little to no knowledge about vitamin H.
Yes, vitamin H is often referred to as biotin, which serves a wide variety of functions in the body.
Those include but are not limited to macronutrient breakdown, as well as growth of the nails, nerves and hair.
In many cases, keto dieters suffer from a deficiency of this very important vitamin, which is a possible reason why they experience hair loss.
- Protein Deficit
As we have talked in previous articles, your whole existence is protein.
The eyes you look at this article with, the finger you scroll down the page with… All of that is protein.
You ARE protein.
With keto however, people take a couple of routes – Most of them either overconsume or under consume it.
Why? Well, probably because they fear that too much protein will make them go out of ketosis, as the body will start converting it to glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis.
Facts are that most people that are at a deficiency of protein during a keto diet, will experience hair loss, along with other unpleasant side effects.
- Gut Flora Problems
Alright, we can say that the gut is like the hearth of the body.
Why is that? Well, because we need nutrients that we get from food, in order to be able to use them for the sustaining of various functions.
What this means is that the body must be primed to digest the food optimally, in order for it to be well absorbed and do its job.
If your gut flora is not happy, you may experience diverse side effects linked to not just hair and its loss, but many other functions as well.
How to Stop Keto Hair Loss
Alright, we have now analyzed the problem and listed out the common causes associated with it.
However, we didn’t mean to imply that hair loss is permanent or something that always happens with keto.
As a matter of fact, keto hair loss is just temporary.
When the task at hand is dealing with keto hair loss, there are a couple of things we can do:
This is one of the first micronutrients that the body gets depleted of, once a keto diet is introduced.
Zinc is tightly linked to hair growth, which is exactly why a deficit of it may lead to hair loss.
Supplementing with zinc and adding zinc rich foods in your diet is one of the best ways to solve this problem.
Vitamin H is found in many food products, such as eggs, nuts, veggies and some fish.
Biotin is often prescribed to people whose hair reacts acutely to the transition to the low carb lifestyle.
The good thing is that we don’t really need to shove this vitamin in big amounts, as just a little will do the job.
This is one of the substances that is of prime importance when it comes to maintaining skin, nail and hair health.
A lack of collagen will more than likely lead to the undesired side effect of hair loss.
Fortunately enough, we have the chance to live during a time when everything you can think of is available, meaning that you can feel free to supplement with collagen.
As we mention, proteins, which are essential for every single one of your physiological processes, may be the leading cause of hair loss.
The deficiency of this viable macronutrient, (which as a matter of fact comes from the Greek “Protos”, meaning ‘first, primary’) is also a gateway for iron deficiency, which can further worsen the symptoms of hair loss.
It is recommended that you get enough protein from food, but you can also supplement with protein powders, if you feel you can’t get enough protein from food.
Furthermore, not only will proper protein intake result in a reduced hair loss, but it will also help you improve body composition & retain lean body mass, while on a keto diet.
Hair loss is a nasty issue that may occur to anyone, whether they are on a keto diet or not.
However, with the ketogenic diet, we are imposed to a bigger risk of encountering this issue, as the keto diet implies a sub-optimal micro/macronutrient intake.
We have to make sure that we have sufficient protein intake, while also taking care of stress management and vitamin intake.