RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
Rapid weight loss is one of the commonest reason for hair fall. I constantly hear from many people that after starting the keto diet they are observing hair fall. They keep asking me why is it happening and is it related to keto diet. The answer is yes. When you are following low carb high fat diet, you lose water from your body and in turn lose weight rapidly. Due to this rapid weight loss, you have hair fall initially. This is known as telogen effluvium, a common type of hair loss that can occur as a result of sudden weight loss. However, this type of hair loss is temporary and will STOP in 2-4 months depending on individuals.
Telogen effluvium caused due to rapid weight loss is temporary and it’s better to ignore and not take much stress.
LARGE CALORIE DEFICITS
Many people while following ketogenic diet, restrict their calorie intake. This leads to calorie deficit which could be a reason for hair fall. If you are not taking the required amount of calories by your body, then it will try to get the energy from your vital organs and let up on things like strong hair follicles on your head. Weak hair or hair loss, brittle nails, and lack of energy are very good indicators to know whether you are getting enough nutrients from your diet.
You should have enough calories from nutrient dense foods. You should increase your carbohydrate intake occasionally. I too had hair loss when I was in the state of nutritional ketosis. Then due to some personal reason I stopped following the ketogenic diet and I observed that within few weeks the hair fall also stopped. I again started on ketogenic diet with occasional high carb diet days and realized that I did not have the hair loss problem which I had when I started the ketogenic diet. This occasional high carb day seems to be the cure for hair loss who are on ketogenic diet.
NOT ENOUGH PROTEIN
Most of the people starting with ketogenic diet have very little protein as they think consuming too much protein can knock them out of ketosis through gluconeogenesis, which is actually not correct. A recent study showed that along with calorie deficits, not consuming enough protein were the two main factors responsible for hair loss. Furthermore, iron deficiencies are also known to cause hair loss. Ferritin which is the main iron storage molecule is a protein. A study showed that low serum ferritin concentration is associated with hair loss.
You should have enough protein to stay healthy. The easiest way to calculate how much protein you need to have each day is multiply your current weight in kilogram with 0.8. This is as per the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein which is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight .The result is the amount of protein in grams you need to have each day. For example, if a person weighs 70 kilograms, then he/she should have 70×0.8=56 gm of protein each day.
VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCIES
Several studies have shown that deficiency of vitamins and minerals are related to hair health. While following ketogenic diet, many people only concentrate on macros which are fat, protein, and carbohydrates. They hardly talk about micros like vitamins and minerals which are equally important. When you are in the state of nutritional ketosis, there is rapid water loss from your body. As a result, essential vitamins and minerals get flushed out with your urine. The scientific reason behind this is that when you consume less carbohydrate, your body produces less insulin, and the glycogen stored in your body gets depleted. When glycogen stores are depleted, your kidneys excrete water along with electrolytes like sodium, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iodine in large amounts. Lack of vitamins can also lead to hair loss when you are having ketogenic diet.
You need to concentrate on your micros along with your macros. Include foods that are rich in zinc, magnesium, potassium and iodine. If you are interested to know more about these essential vitamins and minerals, please read the following articles “Magnesium Deficiency Raises Your Risk of Many Chronic Ailments and Premature Death”, Potassium Plays a Key Role in Your Everyday Functions, and “The Best Food Sources of Potassium”.
Biotin, also known as vitamin H, helps your body convert food into energy. People having ketogenic diet may have biotin deficiency which may be a causative factor for hair fall.
Eat food which are rich in biotin or you may consider taking a biotin supplement. Foods like cauliflower, avocados, mushroom, spinach, cheese, egg yolks, nuts, fish, meat or organ meats are rich in biotin.
Stress is one of the major reason for several health problems and hair loss due to stress is no exception. If you have hair fall during keto diet, taking stress will only aggravate hair fall.
If you are on ketogenic diet for months and haven’t take a high carb diet for long time, it is high time that you have an occasional high carb day. Many people have benefited from occasional high carb day including me. Avoid taking any stress about eating too much carbs, or getting out of ketosis.
While your body is getting adapted to new keto lifestyle, you need to take extra care of your gut. Leaky gut syndrome is very common among people having ketogenic diet as they tend to have less fibrous food and concentrate only on high fat foods. This could lead to hair fall in many people.
Include lots of vegetables in your diet, which are rich in fibre. In fact, you should try to get all your carbs from vegetables only. Supplements like collagen, l-glutamine, and zinc can help if you are having gut problems.
Anupam Ghose, a physician by training, was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) in 2017. After the diagnosis of T2DM he followed a low carbohydrate high fat (ketogenic) diet and reversed his T2DM within a year. Now he is on a mission to educate people and spread awareness about T2DM. Since he could reverse his T2DM following ketogenic diet, now he is doing extensive research on ketogenic diet and expanding his knowledge on this particular topic. His main goal is to make people understand that the conventional method of treating T2DM is incorrect and it is very much possible to reverse T2DM through diet and lifestyle modification.