The keto flu and constipation are the most common drawbacks most people get when switching to a ketogenic diet. But what about hair loss? Although most people do not get this side effect, those who do will find that it is not often discussed.
Before you panic and make the switch to another type of eating plan, you can rest assured that losing your hair on keto is only temporary, and it is an indirect effect of this diet that can be avoided entirely or reversed if it’s already started.
If you are experiencing this symptom, this article will explain if a low-carb high-fat diet can make you lose your hair, why this may happen, how long it may last, how to prevent it, and whether keto can reverse it altogether. Let’s begin!
It is possible that your hair might start falling out during keto. However, it may not be directly due to your low-carb diet. Several causes and conditions can cause your hair to start thinning or falling out.
It might be your body’s way of telling you that it is under stress from switching diets, maybe because you are not eating enough calories, not getting enough nutrients, or not having enough protein.
So, how frequent is it for people to have hair loss from keto?
In one study, researchers investigated the possible side effects on adolescents who were doing the ketogenic diet. They found that only 2 out of the 45 people had hair thinning or loss1. This represents only a small percentage (4%).
However, there are not many studies when it comes to the hair side effects of a ketogenic diet.
The keto diet itself won’t cause your hair to fall out, but this symptom can happen during a low-carb one due to a related reason or underlying condition. Here are the most common reasons why you lose hair on keto.
A low-calorie diet (ranging to less than 1,200 kcal per day) can create several health conditions. One study showed that 25% of those that followed a low-calorie plan had an increase in their hair loss2.
One of the most common mistakes people often make when switching from a high-carb to a low-carb diet is that they only eliminate the carbohydrate group. However, remember that you need to get your energy from somewhere else since carbs are no longer available. Thus, you need to consume 70-80% of your calories from healthy fats like avocado, nuts, fatty fish, and seeds.
A common drawback of the ketogenic diet is that people might get nutritional deficiencies if they are not careful. You need vitamins and minerals like biotin, zinc, and vitamin C to have healthy hair.
Several studies have researched the impact of nutritional deficiencies on hair loss. One study found that it was seen in those that had a copper and zinc deficiency3. Another study found that it could happen when people lack vitamin D4.
Thus, if you have been losing hair since you started doing keto, consider having some bloodwork done to ensure optimal vitamin and mineral levels.
Stress plays an important role. The stress could be a result of cutting carbs from your diet all at once, instead of gradually. This increased stress raises your cortisol levels, reducing your hair growth by up to 40%5.
Now, switching to a low-carb diet may not be the only thing causing you stress. If you constantly are stressed due to work, personal or family relationships, or other situations, these might increase your chances of experiencing this side effect.
A lack of protein is another possible reason for losing your hair. One study showed that people who decreased their calories and protein intake experienced hair loss6.
When your body isn’t getting enough protein, it prioritizes its use for other functions (like enzymes, hormones, or tissue repair). Since hair is not an essential part of keeping you alive, it might not encourage the new formation of hair7.
This symptom shouldn’t last long. On average, people experience this symptom during 3-6 months, stabilizing after that.
It is important to have a nutritional check-up on your current diet. Once you determine if your problem is not eating enough, not having enough protein, a decrease in your nutrients, or stress, it is time to take some action steps:
While you need to eat less to lose weight, there needs to be a balance on how many calories you should be restricting. Make sure not to go down past your basal metabolic rate.
When you are switching to a new eating pattern, make an appointment with a dietitian or a healthcare provider so they can guide you on how to make the switch in the best way possible.
Add more healthy fats to your diet, like nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, and olive oil to ensure that you are getting enough calories during the day.
If you still think you are not eating enough, track your calories and your macros to get a clearer picture of how much you are eating during the day.
Every color of a fruit and veggie has a distinctive nutrient. Thus, you want your plates of food to be as colorful as possible. Try to have at least three different colors during the day to ensure that you are getting different nutrients.
Reduce your stress levels by meditating, doing yoga, journaling, or art therapy. Find an appropriate way to release stress, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Also, if you are at an especially stressful point in your life, this might not be the best time to switch to keto.
Make sure that you are not having less than 15% of your calories coming from protein. The ideal amount would be at least 20% of your total calories.
Add more high-protein foods like eggs, bone broth (it has collagen), Greek yogurt, seitan, tofu, tempeh, cheese, chicken, meat, fish, and seafood.
To prevent getting this symptom, make sure that you are adding enough healthy fats and non-starchy veggies to your diet. Additionally, have protein in every meal to ensure that you get enough during the day.
When you are starting this journey, you might want to take a nutritional supplement for an extra boost.
Yes, a ketogenic plan can reverse hair loss as long as you focus on having enough nutrients and calories during the day. You won’t go bald from doing keto, but you need to pay extra attention to the calories and the type of foods you are having.
If you are still seeing an increase in hair loss, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider to check if there are other underlying causes.
Although it is not a common side effect, this can happen to people who drastically make a nutrition change when they have a very restrictive diet and don’t pay attention to having nutrient-rich foods (like veggies).
When switching to a ketogenic diet, make sure that you are eating enough healthy fats, protein, and veggies during the day to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
It should last less than six months. If it continues, make sure to go to the doctor.