What do a raw vegan, a keto dieter, and a traveler have in common? They can begin losing their hair if they don’t eat enough. To put it another way, keto doesn’t immediately cause hair loss. Instead, a significant change in what and how much we eat can contribute to hair loss or what many call Keto Hair Loss.
Fortunately, consuming more appropriate keto meals will help your hair regenerate just as thick as before and is a straightforward cure. To attain your weight loss objectives without thinning hair, let’s discuss each crucial aspect of hair health.
Anatomy of Human Hair & Keto Hair Loss
Although the portion of our hair visible to us is primarily made of inert protein fibers, a lot happens beneath the skin’s surface to produce the sturdy tissue we know as hair. Generally speaking, the anatomy of human hair may be broken down into two primary components:
- The follicle – Located deep under the skin, this is where hair growth begins (or ends) in response to nutrient and chemical cues from the body.
- The shaft – The portion of the hair that is touchable. Keratin, a protein that has been compressed and fused, composes the majority of its composition.
Process of Hair Growth
The hair growth phase comprises of:
- Anagen phase – This is the time when hair grows. The old hair is forced up and out of the follicle during this phase as the new hair grows at a rate of 1 cm every 28 days.
- Catagen phase – This is a two-week-long transitory stage during which growth ceases.
- Telogen phase / Resting phase – This is the period during which growth is wholly halted for up to 100 days.
Even while each hair follicle cycles through these stages throughout a person’s life, the proportion of hair follicles in each phase varies depending on a person’s lifestyle. For instance, significant increases in stress can result in a higher proportion of follicles transitioning into the telogen phase. This eventually causes more hair to shed than usual. In other words, more stress causes more hair loss.
Can the Keto Diet Lead To Hair Loss?
Making a significant dietary change is one stressor that is frequently ignored and might result in hair loss. Following a new diet frequently requires us to cut out specific food categories, which raises the possibility that we won’t consume enough calories, protein, or particular micronutrients to sustain optimal health. This forces your body to give your essential organs priority over hair development.
We must address the following causes of keto hair loss to prevent this from happening or to encourage hair regrowth.
Excessive calorie restriction
Rapid weight reduction, according to studies, can result in hair loss. This is because when you drastically cut back on calories, your body reacts by prioritizing the most crucial processes for the use of energy.
More hair follicles will switch from growing to resting. This frequently happens when people following the ketogenic diet don’t replace the calories they would regularly consume from high-carb foods with those from lean proteins and healthy fats.
Inadequate intake of protein
Overeating protein can prevent us from entering ketosis, which is a common keto worry. Because of this, many people following a ketogenic diet reduce their protein consumption without realizing that they’ve actually cut back too much.
In reality, even carnivorous dieters who consume high-protein meals throughout the day can easily stay in ketosis. Furthermore, the adverse effects of consuming too little protein outweigh those of eating too much. A person who consumes less protein may lose the same weight as someone on a moderate-protein keto diet, but a lot more will come from their muscle and hair.
Muscle and hair loss will be hastened and made worse if insufficient protein consumption is combined with a diet that cuts calories severely.
Lack of micronutrients for hair growth
Changes in our diets can also result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Your hair follicles require specific vitamins and minerals for proper performance, much like any other bodily process. Ensure you are eating foods high in biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, D, and E to protect against hair loss.
It’s also essential to replace the minerals your body loses while it adjusts to the keto diet. These comprise iodine, salt, magnesium, and potassium.
A minimally processed ketogenic diet that includes fresh seafood, fresh meat/poultry, eggs, low-carb veggies, avocado, high-fat cheese, and keto nuts/seeds is the easiest method to minimize vitamin and mineral shortages while on the ketogenic diet. For example, pickles are a good, healthy, keto-friendly snack, says this resource.
A sudden decrease in carb intake
Your body will begin using more fat and ketones as fuel when you reduce your carb intake and enter a state of ketosis. The transition from carbohydrates to fat might differ dramatically from person to person because of a concept known as metabolic flexibility.
For instance, while some of us enter ketosis quite quickly, others suffer from flu-like symptoms, lethargy, and elevated stress levels. Addressing the preceding three causes of keto hair loss will frequently make the shift to ketosis easier. However, you might need to reduce your carb intake gradually if strict keto is still too demanding for your body.
Issues with gut health
Every system in your body is directly impacted by the condition of your stomach. For example, your follicles may stop producing new hair if you have gastrointestinal problems since they can make you feel more stressed overall.
How Can You Prevent Hair Loss During the Ketogenic Diet?
In order to ensure minimal hair loss, the following strategies can be adopted:
Track and calculate your macros as you get used to the keto diet
You may address the top two ketogenic hair loss causes (insufficient protein and calorie intake) with this step. Generally speaking, it is better to maintain a calorie deficit of between 5 and 30% during keto. In addition, aim for a smaller deficit to prevent muscle and hair loss if you have lower levels of body fat or only a few pounds to lose.
When it comes to protein intake, you may either use the figures from a keto calculator or use the following recommendations to determine your daily limit:
- Consume 0.6 to 0.8g of protein per pound of lean body mass if you are sedentary.
- Consume 0.8 to 1.0 g of protein per pound of lean body mass if you are a frequent exerciser.
- Eat 1.0 to 1.2g of protein per pound of lean body mass if you lift weights.
Aim for the upper end of these protein intake recommendations to reduce your risk of losing muscle and hair.
Once you have your keto macros, monitor your food intake with a monitoring tool that is suitable for the keto diet to ensure that you are meeting your macro targets and reducing your risk of hair loss. You can lose up to 10 pounds of water weight during your first week on the keto diet. During this period, be sure to consume enough electrolyte-rich water. Aim for a gradual weight loss rate of 1-2 pounds per week after your first loss of water weight. This gradual loss of weight will lessen the strain that sticking to a new diet puts on the body.
Mostly consume foods that are high in micronutrients
We also need to fulfill our vitamin and mineral requirements to lower the risk of hair loss. Make sure to include natural sources of biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, D, and E in your keto meals, to be more precise. This will not only correct any micronutrient deficiencies that may be causing hair loss, but it will also enhance your gut health and help you adjust to the keto diet.
Eat more minimally-processed low-carb foods
This includes meat, organ meats, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, low-carb fruits and vegetables, nuts, high-fat cheese, and mushrooms. However, for some of us, using these food items might not be sufficient to stop hair loss entirely. In this situation, special care must be taken so the body can adapt to a ketogenic diet as smoothly as possible.
Utilize the proper foods, supplements, and techniques
By filling in any gaps in your keto diet that may still exist, this phase will facilitate your body’s entry into ketosis. The best keto supplements include:
- MCT oil
- Vitamin D3
- Coconut oil
- High-biotin foods
- Zinc-rich foods
- Green tea
In addition to this, you should aim to add stress-relieving activities to your keto lifestyle. Moreover, be gentle with your hair as you adjust to keto. In order to ensure this, use a mild, moisturizing shampoo and a conditioner. It is also preferable to avoid harsh products, chemical treatments, tightly braided or styled ponytails, and prolonged exposure to heat.
The Bottom Line
Although there are numerous recommendations for preventing hair loss on keto, the most important thing is to adhere to a well-planned diet strategy that includes nutrient-dense low-carb dishes. This will help you lose weight naturally while addressing the dietary deficits that lead to hair loss and promoting healthy hair development.