The ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, has become immensely popular in recent years as a rapid weight loss solution. With its emphasis on high-fat and low-carb intake, keto has proven benefits for dropping pounds quickly. However, this restrictive diet plan also comes with potential side effects. One concerning issue posed by keto devotees is: does this diet lead to increased hair loss?
Significant hair loss can occur with any major shift in diet, but particularly with restrictive diets low in essential nutrients. As keto limits carbohydrate intake drastically, it puts dieters at risk for deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, protein, and calories needed for healthy hair growth.
In this guide, we’ll help you understand the mechanisms and factors behind keto hair loss and what you can do to maintain healthy hair growth while following a ketogenic diet. With the right dietary adjustments and supplements, you can reap the benefits of keto without the unwanted thinning of your head of hair.
- The ketogenic diet’s extreme carb restriction can increase hair shedding temporarily as the body enters ketosis, but nutritional deficits have a greater impact on prolonged hair loss.
- Getting adequate protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals is crucial for maintaining healthy hair growth while following keto. Targeted supplements can help fill nutritional gaps.
- Managing stress levels and using hair-stimulating products helps mitigate temporary increases in hair shedding sometimes experienced when transitioning into ketosis.
- Customising the keto diet to meet individual needs through mindful macronutrient tracking, stress reduction, and personalised hair care regimens enables optimal hair health.
Can the Keto Diet Cause Hair Loss?
We know it can be worrying to see changes in your hair health when you start a keto diet. It’s common for hair growth to be affected initially, but this is often a temporary phase. Losing weight quickly because of eating fewer carbs can make more hair start to fall out. However, keto proponents note this increased hair loss is often temporary. As the body adapts to using fat for energy, hair growth may return to normal. However, other factors, like nutritional deficits, can have longer-lasting effects.
The ketogenic diet is characterised by an extreme reduction in carbohydrate intake, typically limiting carbs to just 50 grams or less per day. This very low intake of carbohydrates puts the body into ketosis, meaning it switches to burning fat as the primary source of energy instead of carbs.
When you eat fewer carbs, your body starts to use fat for energy instead. It turns this fat into substances called fatty acids and ketone bodies, which then provide energy for your brain and other organs. This metabolic state of ketosis is the goal of keto diets.
Is Keto Hair Loss Permanent?
When beginning a ketogenic diet, it’s normal to experience sudden hair loss as the body adjusts. But the good news is that it’s only temporary in most cases. This temporary phase of increased shedding can last around 2-3 months. It reflects the normal hair growth cycle being altered due to the metabolic changes of ketosis.
The anagen phase, where hair actively grows, is typically 3-10 years. This is followed by a short 2-3 week telogen or resting phase before hair sheds. However, changes in your diet and potential deficiencies can shorten the growth phase of some hair, leading to more hair entering the shedding phase at the same time. This results in noticeable hair loss, but new growth usually resumes once ketosis adaptations are complete.
However, there are caveats to this temporary hair loss pattern. Extreme calorie restriction, nutritional deficits, and high stress levels can prolong keto-related hair thinning. The key is taking steps to mitigate these risks and support healthy hair regrowth.
Reasons Why You Might Be Losing Hair On the Keto Diet
While temporary hair loss can occur when first entering ketosis, nutritional deficiencies likely play a larger role in prolonged keto-related shedding. The dietary restrictions inherent to ketogenic diets limit many foods that provide key nutrients to support healthy hair growth.
Protein and Calorie Intake on a Keto Diet
Getting enough protein is very important for healthy hair because hair is mostly made of a protein called keratin. However, many protein-rich food sources like beans, lentils, and grains are restricted to very low-carb ketogenic diets.
We understand the goal of rapid weight loss on keto, but it’s important to be mindful that very low calorie intake can reduce protein levels, which are crucial for your hair’s health. Consuming insufficient calories and protein puts the body into survival mode, diverting energy away from non-vital functions like new hair growth.
Hair roots need a constant supply of building blocks from proteins in your diet to keep growing. Chronic protein deficiency can contribute to hair loss by prematurely pushing more follicles into the telogen resting phase.
Experts recommend consuming at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which equals to 45-55.5 grams of protein daily for the hair health of most adults, more for active individuals. Very low-calorie ketogenic diets often fall short, lacking adequate high-quality protein sources like fatty fish, eggs, meat, dairy and plant-based proteins.
Vitamins and Minerals: Key Micronutrients for Hair
In addition to sufficient protein and calories, a variety of essential vitamins and minerals are required to sustain healthy hair growth cycles. Many of these key micronutrients are found in fruits, starchy vegetables, beans and grains, which are restricted on ketogenic diets.
Biotin is one of the most important vitamins for hair health. This B vitamin helps produce keratin and keeps hair follicles healthy. Deficiency can lead to brittle, thinning hair. Ketogenic dieters are at risk for inadequate biotin intake with the elimination of good sources like whole grains and legumes.
The mineral iron also enables healthy hair growth by carrying oxygen to follicles. Iron deficiency is common even in non-keto diets and is further worsened by a lack of iron-rich foods like spinach, lentils and fortified cereals. Low iron can accelerate hair shedding.
Other key hair-supporting micronutrients often lacking in keto diets include zinc, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, D and B-complex. Assessing where nutritional shortfalls may exist can help counter hair loss.
How Can I Tell if My Hair Loss Is Due to Keto?
When transitioning to a ketogenic diet, being aware of the signs of potential hair loss can help you identify and address issues early. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Increased shedding - Seeing more hairs than usual on your brush or in the shower drain points to excessive shedding. Keep an eye out for dramatically increased fallen hairs.
- Thinning - Noticeably decreasing hair density or volume, being able to see more scalp, and overall thinner-looking hair strands can indicate hair loss.
- Hairline recession - Pay attention to any receding hairline or bald patches, which may signify hair follicle miniaturisation.
- Dry, brittle texture - Hair that is drying out, coarse or splitting at the ends may reflect nutritional deficiencies or dehydration.
- Slow regrowth - If shedding increases but new growth seems stunted, the anagen phase may be cut short, indicating an underlying issue.
- Dull, lacklustre locks - Hair that becomes frizzy, lifeless and lacks shine can be a warning sign of hormonal or nutrient-related problems.
Being vigilant about any of these symptoms and taking prompt action to adjust your keto diet and hair care regimen helps mitigate hair loss.
Managing Stress and Hair Loss on a Keto Diet
In addition to nutritional deficits, high-stress levels can exacerbate hair shedding for keto adherents.
Psychological and Physical Stress Factors
Stress affects hair growth and shedding through various pathways. Emotional and psychological stress releases hormones that disrupt the normal hair cycle. Physical stressors like dietary changes, illness or calorie restriction can have similar effects.
Sudden weight loss is a physical stressor tied to accelerated hair loss. The ketogenic diet’s dramatic carbohydrate restriction and transitions into ketosis act as significant physical stressors on the body. The hormonal effects of this stress can shift more hair into the shedding phase.
We know how challenging stress management can be, but finding ways to reduce stress is important for both your overall well-being and for maintaining healthy hair growth. Techniques like meditation, exercise, social connection, and adequate sleep help counter stress hormone effects. For keto dieters, slowly transitioning into very low-carb eating may further minimise stress.
Keto Diet as a Stressor: Mitigating the Effects
It’s important to recognise that starting a ketogenic diet is a big change for your body and can be stressful. We’re here to support you in making this transition as smooth as possible. Strategies like mindful carb reduction and adding certain keto-friendly foods can help minimise hair-damaging effects.
Gradually decreasing carbohydrates over several weeks allows the body to slowly adapt to using fat for fuel. This less drastic transition into ketosis reduces the sudden stress of quick carb restriction.
Adding foods like fatty fish, eggs, bone broth, and green vegetables provides more protein, vitamins, minerals and fluids to counter nutritional deficits. Tailoring the keto diet to meet micronutrient needs supports hair health.
Effective Strategies for Healthy Hair Growth While on Keto
The ketogenic diet can be adapted and supplemented to support continued hair growth instead of increased shedding. With careful nutrition and hair care, it is possible to reap keto benefits without compromising locks.
Balancing Macronutrients for Hair Health
To maintain shiny, healthy hair on keto, ensure adequate intake of protein and calories. Hair is over 90% protein, requiring a steady supply of amino acids for growth. Experts recommend consuming at least 0.8 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of body weight daily. Increase protein slightly with exercise.
Great protein sources on keto include fatty fish like salmon, pasture-raised eggs, bone broth, nuts, seeds, and low-carb dairy products. Try incorporating collagen peptides, which provide the amino acids cysteine, proline and lysine vital for hair keratin.
Do not restrict calories excessively, as this stresses hair follicles. Aim for a modest 20-30% calorie reduction from maintenance needs for gradual weight loss. Adding calorie-dense foods like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados helps prevent deficits.
Supplements and Hair Care Products
Nutritional supplements can help fill gaps in vitamins, minerals and amino acids that may arise from ketogenic diet restrictions. Key supplements for hair health include:
- Biotin - This is a vitamin that helps make keratin (a key part of hair) and encourages hair to grow. Try to get 2.5 to 5 milligrams of biotin every day.
- Iron - Important for delivering oxygen to hair follicles. Look for iron supplements with vitamin C to enhance absorption.
- Zinc and vitamin D - These support hair follicle cell production and growth. Zinc also boosts collagen.
- B-complex - All B vitamins contribute to hair health. Opt for a supplement with biotin plus other B vitamins like niacin, B5, B6, etc.
- Amino acids - Cysteine, methionine, lysine, and proline are important building blocks for making keratin, which is what your hair is mainly made of. Taking a collagen supplement can give you these necessary ingredients.
In addition to supplements, treatments like Finasteride (Propecia), Regaine, and Regaine for Women can help stimulate hair growth in androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness. Finasteride is an oral medication that blocks DHT, the hormone that causes hair follicles to shrink. Regaine and Regaine for Women contain minoxidil, which improves blood flow and nutrient delivery to follicles. Using these treatments together with supplements provides both internal and external support for robust hair growth.
Using hair care products on your scalp along with taking supplements can give better results. Caffeine shampoos like Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo or Alpecin Double Effect extend the time hair remains in the anagen growth phase. Scalp massage serums with peptides improve follicle circulation and nutrient delivery for healthier hair growth.
Seeking professional guidance helps customise the ideal supplement and hair care regimen for your situation. This combines the right internal and external solutions for robust hair on a ketogenic diet.
Personalised Approaches to Keto Dieting and Hair Health
Customising the Keto Diet for Your Needs
When starting a ketogenic diet, it’s important to customise it based on your individual needs for optimal hair health. Use a macro calculator first to determine your daily protein, fat and carb needs, considering factors like age, gender, activity level and weight. This provides personalised macros to achieve ketosis without excessive restriction.
Incorporating nutritious foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, greens, eggs, dairy, and berries provides key hair nutrients. You may also strategically time carb intake around workouts to fuel activity. Consider your lifestyle and preferences when customising your keto diet for easy adherence and hair support.
Monitoring and Adjusting the Diet
If you notice signs like increased shedding or thinning, it’s a gentle reminder from your body to reassess your diet. We’re here to help guide you through making any necessary adjustments. Proactively adding more protein, calories or targeted supplements can address deficits before they worsen.
Regularly weigh yourself and recheck macro targets and caloric intake to ensure you aren’t overly restricting. Periodic “keto resets” - short periods boosting calories, carbs and protein - help replenish the body and counter metabolic slowdowns.
Tests like amino acid or vitamin level assessments provide objective data to fine-tune your keto diet for optimal hair growth. Seek professional guidance on correctly interpreting results. Careful customising and monitoring are key for hair health on keto.
Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy
Starting a keto diet doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to great hair! Now that you know how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls, you can adjust the diet to fit your needs and keep your locks looking their best. A few tweaks to your eating plan, some targeted supplements, and the right hair products can help you get all the benefits of keto without damaging your hair.
And remember, you don’t need to figure this out on your own.
At The Independent Pharmacy, we want to be in your corner every step of this journey. Whether it’s advice on modifying your keto diet, suggested supplements for hair health, or products to stimulate growth, we’re here to help. We know making this big lifestyle change takes commitment - and we’re committed to working with you to make keto work for YOUR body and situation. Reach out anytime to learn more about customising your regimen for strong, vibrant hair even on keto.
We’re wishing you the best of luck and can’t wait to help you meet your wellness goals without compromising your gorgeous locks!
What’s the toughest part of starting the keto diet?
Getting through those first few days can be a real challenge! Headaches, fatigue, cravings, and brain fog are super common as your body transitions into ketosis. Stick with it by staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and knowing it’ll pass.
Can keto hair loss be reversed?
In most cases, yes! The initial shedding that many experience when starting keto is usually temporary as your body adjusts. Tweaking your diet to get the protein and nutrients you need, keeping stress in check, and using supplements and hair-friendly products will typically help hair regrow once you’re keto-adapted.
How long does keto hair loss usually last?
It varies, but many find the increased shedding lasts around 2-3 months as their body gets used to ketosis. Taking proactive steps to support hair health can shorten this adjustment phase. But chronic restrictive dieting and nutritional shortfalls can draw it out.
What foods can help stop hair loss?
Load up on protein-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, avocados, berries and yoghurt. Also aim for foods with iron, biotin, vitamins A, C and D, zinc and omega-3s. All superstar nutrients for strong hair!
What foods are bad for hair loss?
Limit foods with refined carbs, added sugars, processed oils and unhealthy fats - they can promote shedding. Also go easy on alcohol, fried food, high-sodium eats and caffeinated drinks which can aggravate hair loss.