When you switch to a keto lifestyle you will notice a lot of changes, both physical and mental. Most of these changes are truly positive. But I do get a fair amount of questions about some less positive, but often temporary, changes, one of them being hair loss. So here are a few quick pointers on how to deal with that if it occurs.
Keto is not always to blame
Hair loss often gets mentioned, and mostly by women, as a side-effect of weight loss on a keto lifestyle. One thing to keep in mind though is that hair loss can really occur with ANY type of rapid weight loss, not specifically with keto alone. This type of hair loss usually subsides when weight loss slows down to a normal rate.
Another thing to remember is that hair loss can just as well be attributed to a whole variety of other factors. Peri-menopause, thyroid issues, auto-immune diseases, onset of hereditary thinning of the hair (which can start at a very early age as well, not just later in life), stress, pre-existing deficiencies and even certain medications (click here for an informative video to learn which ones). It does not necessarily have to do with the change in your diet.
If you suspect low thyroid or hypothyroidism may be the root cause of your hairloss I strongly advise to get tested. Dr Ken Berry explains here what to look out for in terms of symptoms other than your hair loss. He also explains here how to get properly tested.
Are you eating enough?
I do find that the main reason women experience hair loss on a keto diet is, simply put, not eating correctly. There is a tendency, and again especially with women, to unnecessarily restrict calories, mainly because this is what a diet has always been associated with.
I can not stress enough though that while yes, keto has an appetite suppressing effect, you should only ever eat at a small to moderate deficit at most. And if you are following personal macros: always reach protein and fat daily. Restricting caloric intake to the extreme will result, even on keto, in the body directing all the nutrients to the life supporting functions of the body. And guess what: hair is not life supporting.
So whatever else may or may not be going on, the baseline to ensure healthy happy hair and to minimise hair loss is to always make sure you are:
- not eating at a too large deficit;
- eating adequate protein;
- getting as much of your 25 grams net carbs as possible through healthy keto vegetables.
Are you experiencing a not too excessive amount of hair loss without any obvious underlying causes? Try supplementing with biotin or collagen. On a side note: because a vitamin D deficiency is something that is extremely common and can contribute to hair loss I always recommend supplementing with it.
On to a more serious, but also common, root cause of hair loss: iodine deficiency. Your thyroid gland needs iodine to produce the necessary thyroid hormones for growth and repair of damaged cells. But not just that: it is also needed for the support of a healthy metabolism. Low iodine levels for that reason may also account for your hair loss.
Keep in mind, again, this is not just something that is limited to those on a keto diet. As I said above, iodine deficiency is incredibly common in general. It is suspected 1 in 3 people are deficient in iodine to some degree. To know for sure if this is the case for you make sure an urine-iodine test is included in your thyroid panel. You can also choose to get this test done separately.
If you already suspect an iodine deficiency based on symptoms alone you may want to consider using Lugol’s iodine 2%. You could also start using an iodised LoSalt, although this is a less preferable method. You may also want to add iodine rich foods to your diet or use kelp tablets.
Keto food sources of iodine are:
- plain yoghurt
- iodised salt
- canned tuna
If you are at all worried you should always consult a doctor, especially if you suspect thyroid issues or other possible medical problems.
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