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Managing Hair Loss on a Ketogenic Diet

Ever noticed more hair falling down the sink after you’ve gone keto? You’re not alone.

Several people transitioning from a typical diet to a ketogenic one find themselves getting hair loss for a few months. They may also notice changes in the general condition of their hair’s health.

Fortunately, this is a temporary condition that’ll generally resolve once the body already knows how to adapt to the keto diet. Though temporary, this kind of hair loss can still be bothersome and anxiety-inducing, especially for those who haven’t had hair loss issues before.

In today’s post, let’s look at why the ketogenic diet can cause hair loss. We’ll also explore ways on how to enjoy this diet while keeping your tresses thick and healthy.

What Causes Keto Hair Loss?

Ketogenic diet is all about eating high-fat foods and limiting carbohydrate intake. It works by letting the body turn fat instead of carbohydrates into energy. All these happens when the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis.

Several studies have proven keto’s benefits on weight management, making it one of the most popular diets today for weight loss.

While going keto has a myriad of benefits for your overall health, it does come with a few downsides. Among these is a marked increase in hair loss after initially shifting to a keto diet. But why does this happen? Here are the main reasons:

  • Sudden Decrease in Calorie Intake

You may not be getting enough calories when you first start on a ketogenic diet. It’s because most new keto dieters fail to replace the calories previously taken from carbohydrates with ample amounts of fat and protein. Weight loss and excessive hair shedding often ensue because of this.

But low calorie intake also plays a major part in hair loss. For instance, a study concluded that a calorie-restricted diet may induce restrictions in hair growth. Energy meant for hair growth gets redirected to vital systems such as the ones controlling the heart, brain, and lungs. This is your body’s natural compensation response to a drastically calorie-deficient diet.

  • Deficiencies in Nutrients

Several possible nutrient deficiencies may affect those going keto for the first time. Such nutritional deficiencies may have a negative impact on general hair health.

When you first start on a ketogenic diet, you tend to eat significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates. This will cause your body to produce less insulin, a hormone that stores sugar from carbohydrates. Glycogen, a major form of carbohydrate storage in humans, also gets depleted.

As glycogen levels in the body go down, the kidneys respond by excreting more water and electrolytes from the body. Electrolytes and nutrients that get flushed out include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Iodine
  • Zinc

These nutrients and electrolytes are all needed for healthy hair growth.

Keto followers also tend to get less of protein, amino acids, and biotin. These nutrients are all crucial for good hair health.

Moderate protein intake is fine in keto, but several people tend to under-eat protein-rich foods, fearing that they will not enter ketosis if they increase protein intake to a moderate one.

  • Sudden Stress

A drastic shift in diets may put the body under undue stress. Your initial transition to a ketogenic diet may cause major stress to your body, possibly leading to various kinds of hair loss conditions such as:

  • Telogen effluvium – A stress-induced condition wherein more hairs rapidly enter the telogen stage of the hair cycle. This is the hair loss condition typically experienced by first-time keto dieters.
  • Alopecia areataThis hair loss condition is characterized by hair falling out in patches or large clumps all around the scalp.
  • Trichotillomania – A mental health disorder wherein a person gets an irresistible and recurrent urge to pull hair, leading to habitual hair pulling and major hair loss.

The ketogenic diet can put your body under stress because of the following possible reasons:

Preventing and Minimizing Hair Loss While on Keto

You can definitely take some measures to mitigate the hair loss you’re experiencing on the keto diet. Here are some suggestions:

1. Replenish hair-friendly nutrients with keto-approved foods

Biotin, zinc, protein, iron, and vitamins A, C, and D are all essential for glowing and strong tresses. These nutrients also tend to be deficient on a ketogenic diet. Thankfully, there are lots of keto-friendly foods you can eat that carry these nutrients. Try adding more of these foods to your ketogenic fare:

  • Biotin – Aim for 30 micrograms of this nutrient daily. Spinach, liver, egg yolks, salmon, avocados, mushrooms, cauliflower, and dairy products all contain biotin. A moderate amount of peanuts is also acceptable.
  • Zinc – Mushrooms, dairy products, fish, meat (grass-fed beef, chicken, and lamb), shellfish, nuts, and seeds are all packed with optimal zinc levels. Try to consume more of these foods in your daily keto fare to prevent a deficiency.
  • Protein – Moderate protein intake is a must in keto. Various kinds of meat such as pork, beef, shrimp, salmon, fatty fish, tuna, sardines, chicken, and eggs can provide the protein you need for hair health. You may also opt for plant-based protein sources such as soybeans, nuts, seitan, green peas, chia seeds, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and spinach.
  • Iron – 8-30 mg of iron per day is needed while on keto. Keto-friendly iron foods include organ meats, raw broccoli, pumpkin seeds, eggs, spinach, and dark chocolate.
  • Vitamin A – You’ll need 700 mcg (for women) or 900 mcg (for men) of vitamin A in a day. Never exceed more than these recommended amounts or you’ll risk getting vitamin A toxicity. Keto-friendly options include liver, meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
  • Vitamin C – Shoot for at least 90 mg of vitamin A daily. Achieve your goal by eating more thyme, parsley, mustard spinach, kale, yellow peppers, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Vitamin D – Fatty fish, egg yolk, oysters, tuna, and mushrooms are all excellent keto-friendly vitamin D sources. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is at 600 IU. If you’re not constantly exposed to sunlight, you might need to increase daily intake by up to 1,000 IU.

You can take targeted supplements if you and your doctor find that you’re suffering from a specific nutrient deficiency. Avoid taking additional vitamin A supplements on top of a vitamin A-rich diet to prevent toxicity.

2. Take probiotics for gut health. 

Dramatically switching up your diets can affect your gut bacteria, altering your normal digestive processes. You can take probiotics in the form of sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and pickles. Probiotic supplements can also help.

3. Treat your scalp and tresses with coconut oil.

Restore your hair’s strength and shine by applying coconut oil to your scalp and strands. Coconut oil can help replenish protein in your hair. It also aids in improving scalp circulation, infuses moisture to dry locks, and shields hair from damage and brittleness.

You can directly apply coconut oil on your head and massage your scalp and hair with it. You can also indulge in easy-to-make coconut oil hair masks.

4. Be gentler to your hair. 

Temporarily avoid treatments such as perms, straighteners, hair colors, curling, or relaxers. Go easy on the blow dryer and hair iron. Let hair loose as well and avoid tight hairstyles which may tug on hair at the roots. Switch to a gentler shampoo and conditioner, and use a microfiber towel to pat wet hair after you shower. Do all these to prevent further mechanical and chemical stress on your hair.

In a Nutshell

Nutrient deficiencies, excessive calorie cutting, and stress all contribute to accelerated hair loss while you switch to a keto diet for a few months. But this type of hair loss is reversible, and it should gradually go away once your body has adjusted well to the keto diet already.

Meanwhile, you can mitigate the effects of hair fall on a keto diet by including keto-approved foods rich in biotin, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, C, and D. An adequately moderate amount of protein intake is also crucial. Talk to your doc if you think you have a nutrient deficiency as well.

Other things you can do to manage keto hair loss include upping your probiotic intake, giving your hair a coconut oil mask or massage, and treating your hair gently.

Keto and hair loss don’t have to go hand-in-hand always. Fight hair loss with our suggestions and enjoy your ketogenic diet journey with thicker, fuller, and stronger locks!

Have you ever experienced hair loss on a keto diet? What did you do to manage it? Share your experiences and ideas with us by typing away in the comments section.


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