Have you started experiencing Keto hair loss? Learn why it could be happening and how to get your healthy hair back again without throwing in the towel!
Keto Hair Loss
I started following a ketogenic diet five months after having our fourth baby. As in previous pregnancies, postpartum hair loss hit with a vengeance around three months. At first, I didn’t think much about the hair loss, as I figured it was just my hormones regulating, but since baby number four came back to back to number three my hair never really recovered. Typically, my hair grows so thick during my pregnancies that the hair loss afterward isn’t that big of a deal.
As I began losing weight on keto, I noticed that the hair loss that typically slows down after a few months of having a baby wasn’t slowing down at all. It seemed particularly worse than normal, and I began to grow concerned as there were no signs of it stopping. Each time I washed my hair, handfuls would fall out. I tried throwing it in a bun on days it wasn’t necessary to “fix” my hair, and that seemed to help a little. I babied my hair as much as I possibly could, but I will admit I was starting to panic. So, I began researching to see if there was anything I could do to at least slow it down.
Thankfully, I found some solutions that worked for me, and my hair stopped falling out in handfuls. Recently, my friend, Jamie, started following the keto lifestyle, and she began experiencing the same kind of hair loss. She and I put our heads together to come up with this comprehensive guide to keto hair loss in case it might be helpful to others. Below, I have included the information that we found to be helpful.
How Does Hair Grow? (3 cycles of hair)
You’re probably ready for an immediate solution for your thinning hair. (I completely understand!) But it’s helpful to start at the beginning with a basic knowledge of how your hair grows. There are three hair growth cycles:
- Anagen – This is the active growth cycle. In this cycle, your hair follicle (the part below the skin) produces a hair shaft from root to tip. It will grow hair an average of about half-inch per month but grows faster in the summer than the winter.
- Catagen – This is a short transitional phase that lasts about ten days. Growth completely stops.
- Telogen – This is a resting phase where you typically shed some hair.
Big lifestyle or diet changes can disrupt your hair’s growing cycle, causing it to speed up. Without enough time in the Anagen phase, you’ll experience hair loss.
What Causes Hair to Fall Out (besides keto)
Everyone loses up to 100 hairs a day, even the healthiest heads of hair. So when you clean out your brush and pull some hair out, it does not necessarily cause for alarm.
If you find yourself losing hair more rapidly than that – you have a right to be worried. A Keto diet may not be the real culprit, but there are some side effects of this way of eating that could be causing hair loss. Dramatic calorie reduction, stress, nutritional deficits, and too little protein all may have a role to play.
Other causes of hair loss are hormonal changes, anemia, and low thyroid function.
Does Ketogenic Diet Cause Hair Loss?
Being on the Keto diet can undoubtedly trigger some of the side effects mentioned above. Many people, including me, have experienced temporary hair loss during the first few months. Obviously, being less hungry on Keto and eating less often will likely mean you are reducing calories. And adapting to a new way of eating can be stressful, both psychologically and physically. Combine those factors with a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and hair loss is a common result.
Can Low Protein Cause Hair Loss?
Low protein is one of the leading causes of hair loss on the Keto Diet.
If you’re new to the Keto diet, you may find yourself trying to avoid protein at meals to stay under your macros. Eating too little protein, however, will cause you to lose iron. Iron deficiencies can lead to hypothyroid symptoms, which are key to hair loss. The main molecule that stores iron is a protein, so cutting back too much will cause your iron levels to drop.
6 Reasons for Keto Hair Loss:
1. Drastic Calorie Reduction:
Studies have shown that significant weight loss causes hair loss. When calories are reduced dramatically, your body uses its energy on vital systems, rather than hair growth. In short, fewer calories = less energy to go around. If you need ideas to up your caloric intake in a healthy way, check out my weekly keto meal plans!
2. Telogen Effluvium:
Big diet changes can throw you into a common condition called Telogen Effluvium, which means you’ll shed a lot of hair for 2-3 months. It’s temporary in most cases, although very alarming! Once your body gets over the shock, it should adapt, and your hair cycle will get back on track.
3. Nutritional Deficiencies:
When starting a low carb diet, many people forget that they’ll need to replace the vitamins and minerals they’re losing. Your kidneys may flush out electrolytes your body needs like zinc, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and iodine. Replacing electrolytes on keto is essential to feeling your best.
A Biotin deficiency could be another culprit. Biotin helps convert food into energy, and some studies show that a lack of Biotin can cause hair loss. Start with 1,000 – 2,500 mg of Biotin daily.
Does stress ever not play a role? When starting a restrictive diet, your body will undergo all kinds of new stress. It can cause temporary hair loss (Telogen Effluvium) or even Alopecia Areata (large clumps of hair falling out). Try to limit stress in other ways if you can.
6. Underlying Medical Condition
In my efforts to track down every possible culprit of hair loss on keto, I had DNA testing down in conjunction with a physician. My results showed that I have a gene variance that can affect hair loss due to my body, not absorbing certain vitamins properly. Since then, I have made sure to supplement my body with the proper vitamins it needs to function correctly. If you have tried many methods of stopping hair loss on keto, you may want to talk to a doctor to rule out a medical condition that might be contributing.
How Long Does Hair Fall Out Excessively on Keto?
Typically hair loss on Keto lasts 2-3 months. At that point, the stressors and growing pains of being on a new diet begin to fade, and your hair re-enters the Anagen (or growing) phase. My hair loss followed this timeline pretty closely. It came back much healthier after re-entering the growth phase (thank goodness!)
How to Stop Keto Hair Loss:
While you may not be able to stop your hair from falling out as quickly as you’d like, you may be able to help it come back sooner. Some practical things you can do to minimize keto hair loss are to get more sleep, hydrate well, eat enough calories and protein, and don’t do too much at once (i.e., New diet, new exercise regimen, intermittent fasting, etc….) Basically, keep your body’s stress to a minimum.
Here are some other things you can do to help!
Add the following products to your daily diet – Collagen, and Biotin. Collagen is our body’s main structural protein and is vital to hair and nail growth. Supplementing with it can only help! Biotin has also been shown in studies to effectively stop hair loss. Here are the ones I use daily:
**Recently I tried a new brand of collagen that a brand had sent me to try. Within two weeks, my hair started falling out again. I didn’t connect the dots, but when I finished that brand, I went back to Perfect Keto Collagen, and within a few weeks, my hair stopped falling out again. I can’t 100% say that changing brands was the cause of my hair suddenly starting to fall out again, but I noticed a huge difference once I switched back to the Perfect Keto brand.
Next Steps to supplement keto hair loss:
Zinc – Zinc promotes good thyroid function and stimulates the hair growth repair cycle. You can find a good supplement, or get these from Pumpkin Seeds (or Pepitas)!
Caffeine – Studies show caffeine can help spur on hair growth.
Essential Oils – Peppermint Oil applied to the scalp has been shown to quickly induce the Anagen stage. Lavender, Rosemary, Cedarwood, and Sage have also shown positive results. (Some studies show Rosemary to be as effective as Minoxidil!)
Hydrate: To help keep the hair you have, hydrate it well so it will be less brittle. Try to drink at least half your body weight in water ounces. (So if you are 150 lbs, drink 75 ounces.)
Coconut Oil – Stimulate your scalp by massaging in coconut oil before a shower. Be gentle so as not to rip out any hair, but this should moisturize your scalp to make it more healthy.
Other Keto Resources You Might Find Helpful:
- How to Make Keto Weight Loss Work When You are Busy
- Cheat Day on Keto: How to Get Back on Track
- Top 5 Benefits of the Keto Diet
Don’t Miss Any New Recipes:
If you aren’t already following my Easy Keto/Low Carb Recipe Page on Facebook where I post all my new recipes, you can join here and follow me on Pinterest here. If you are just getting started following a keto diet and would like more information, there are tons of fantastic resources. Amazon has several excellent books you may want to check out here. It’s all about learning what works best for you and your family.
Disclaimer: While I feel confident offering suggestions for the Keto lifestyle, I’m not qualified to give medical advice. As always, when it comes to your health, seek a doctor’s advice.