Dieting, Stress, and Hair Loss

Q:

I’m experiencing hair loss since I started Keto. Any suggestions how to stop it?

A:

So, a lot of you have been asking about hair loss. I figured it was a good idea to accurately address the issue so everyone can understand what’s going on.

While there are other *rare* causes, what you’re likely experiencing is called “telogen effluvium” (a type of alopecia). It’s caused by emotional and/or *physiological* stresses.

In particular, related to diets, it’s the thinning or shedding of hair because of early entry into the telogen (resting) phase. If you are eating in a way that provides you with adequate fats and protein, this condition generally reverses and resolves by itself.

Besides dieting in general, hair loss can also happen due to under-eating protein, or by having a micro nutrient (vitamins or minerals) deficiency – which happens frequently with extreme low-calorie diets. Higher protein (and generally lower-carb) diets, when properly followed, may follow more than 200% of the RDA of protein. The RDA averages about 46g for women and 56g for men.

Telogen effluvium *generally* reverses itself in a hair cycle or two. What that means is, if the stressors of such a big dietary change cause hair loss/thinning for one cycle (roughly 3 months), then it will be an additional 3 month to 6 month period, before your hair has grown back. If you lose for two cycles, then it’s 9-12 months. Some people who are trying to lose weight, and are eating with larger deficits, may experience longer periods, depending on their individual circumstances.

In some instances, such as when the person was also experiencing hair loss related to other situations (such as androgen alopecia, or “pattern baldness”), one may find that their hair does not return to the same volume as before the diet, simply because they were already naturally losing it, and it returned to that state.

Anecdotally, numerous people on higher protein/fat diets (like low-carb or keto-type) diets have reported that their hair grows back thicker. That may be due to them finally making protein requirements they had previously been missing while eating the “Standard American Diet”.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Make sure you are eating enough protein. Animal sources (fish, beef, collagen protein from fish or beef) are the preferred sources due to the amino acid profile. If you aren’t meeting you dietary requirements, please reconsider your dietary habits, because your diet isn’t properly balanced.
  2. Review your diet to make sure you don’t have any micro-nutrient deficiencies. “Micro nutrients” are (in simplest terms) your vitamins and minerals. “Macro nutrients” are protein, fat and carbs. First and foremost, remember to eat as healthy as possible. Whole, less/unprocessed foods are the best starting choices for building your dietary menu. Secondly, you can supplement. Numerous people find a need to supplement certain micro-nutrients (such as magnesium, sodium, etc).
  3. Review your supplements to make sure you’re getting everything you need. So many people think Biotin is all they need to hair. And that’s just not true. I’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you get a handle on what all you might need. BUT!!! As with any supplementation, I must state the disclaimer of “talk to your health care practitioner before starting or stopping or changing any supplements”. =)

“Short Answer: The body isn’t concerned with your self-esteem, it’s concerned with your survival. Therefore, if you are stressed, or deficient in the basic building blocks you need, it’s reasonable to expect that your body will prioritize your protein, vitamins, and minerals to repair your organs, muscles, and tissues, and save things like your hair or nails for last. ”

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Christy R. Hall

Christy R. Hall is a Wellness Mindset Coach & Emotional Alchemist. She focuses on helping people change their lives from the inside out. She uses hypnosis, Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help her clients achieve real and lasting change. Christy says, “When you know how the mind works, it’s easy to make changes.” Christy fancies herself to be a Jedi Master, a verbal Ninja, and a Mindset Architect. In her free time, she spins yarn (both literally spinning fiber into yarn, as well as, writing), crochets for charity, watches silly cat videos, looks at pictures of Corgis, and plays massively multiplayer online games. Her current favorite is Elder Scrolls Online.