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 I need to add, 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, and 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.
ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH?
I do find however 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 that you should always eat to their full macros. 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.
For those of you experiencing a not too excessive amount of hair loss without any obvious underlying causes and while still adhering to the macro rules, supplementing with biotin or collagen can be helpful. 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 at the same time quite 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 and 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 I do advise to consult your general practitioner and get tested.
If you already suspect an iodine deficiency based on symptoms alone you may want to consider adding iodised LoSalt to your diet, which is the easiest way to supplement. However, this is only available in the US and the Netherlands. For those in other parts of the world you may want to look into supplementing iodine through food sources or tablets.
Keto food sources of iodine are:
- plain yoghurt
- iodised salt
- canned tuna
I hope this information helps! As always, if you are at all worried you should always consult a doctor, especially if you suspect thyroid issues or other possible medical problems. Questions or comments? Let me know in the comments section.