LCHF/KETO diet and hair loss

Katja's blog

I often see questions about hair loss on the LCHF/KETO diet. Especially women often notice increased hair loss a few months after starting the LCHF/KETO diet. And what is the reason for this? In the following, I have collected information about this and an explanation of why it can occur. Diet is not necessarily always to blame, it often turns out to be the result of several factors or a wrong approach. Above all, it depends on each individual and his organism. If you suddenly notice you're losing more hair than normal, check out a couple of tips on how to prevent or alleviate the problem.

Reasons why this can occur:

1. FAST WEIGHT LOSS

When starting the LCHF/KETO diet, weight loss is usually fairly rapid (of course, it depends on how much excesive weight we have to lose). So - you started the LCHF/KETO diet and a few months have passed, you've lost weight, and now you're noticing increased hair loss? This phenomenon even has a diagnosis or a name, it is called "Telogen effluvium". It is a phenomenon of hair loss that is the result of some drastic change, shock or stress and occurs 3-6 months after the change or the occurrence of stress/shock. Mothers are all familiar with this phenomenon a few months after giving birth. The good news is that it is a TEMPORARY and short-term phenomenon and that the hair grows back or regenerates itself. Better, more beautiful, stronger and healthier hair usually grows back.

2. INSUFFICIENT CALORIE INTAKE

The LCHF/KETO diet is extremely satiating and is known for effectively suppressing the appetite and regulating the feeling of hunger. In the initial stages of adaptation, the body does not yet know how to use ketones and fat for fuel, and therefore directs all its energy into adapting to a new type of fuel. At the same time, it reduces energy consumption for non-vital functions (such as hair growth). 

Many people do not replace their caloric intake correctly at the beginning of the LCHF/KETO diet. Just cutting out carbohydrates and eliminating all other forms of sugar and glucose is NOT enough. It is necessary to replace these calories with the intake of fat and protein. If we don't eat enough and properly, it will show sooner or later in our organism's response to these changes. These changes are naturally stressful for the organism. The consequences of stress are described in the reason number 1. 

3. LACK OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS

Many people change their diet for specific health reasons: poor immune system, autoimmune diseases, intestinal problems, migraines... So, basically, the organism is most likely severely malnourished with vitamins and minerals, or proper absorption is prevented due to various intestinal problems that we may not even realize exist in our organism (food intolerances, allergies, leaky gut syndrome, inflammatory processes... ), but they can cause different symptoms. So we already have a fundamentally bad starting point. But what happens when we start the LCHF/KETO diet? The body begins to produce less insulin, glycogen reserves are depleted. When glycogen stores are depleted and insulin is low, the kidneys receive a signal to excrete all excess water retained by the body. And thus they flush out all the electrolytes and a lot of other vitamins and minerals. This usually happens in the first few weeks of changing your diet. It is known as the KETO flu. It is precisely the initial stages of changing the diet that are essential, when our organism needs additional support in the form of really carefully selected food, additional salt, additional vitamins and electrolytes. Basic foods and quality fats are not necessarily always enough. And consumtion of more salt might not always be enough. It often turns out that the replacement of all the electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, sodium) is necessary and that the intake of only sodium (in the form of salt) is not sufficient. At least that's my personal experience. As well as the experience of many other women, because women in particular have a much more sensitive organism and the disruption of the electrolyte balance in the initial phase can lead to the phenomenon described in the rason number 1. In addition to what has been described, it is also necessary to introduce enough quality fats into diet, and we must not forget about Omega 3 fatty acids.

Read more about this in the other blogs on this website:

4. STRESS

I have mentioned a few things about stress already. What does stress mean? When we turn our diet upside down, there is definitely a lot of stress at the beginning of this "nutrition journey" just by preparing the menu and choosing the right foods. There is also "the social preassure" that comes from people having different opinions of the LCHF/KETO diet. Addition stress to our organism can also be caused by:

  • insufficient calorie intake
  • change of fuel source (switching from glucose to ketones and fat)
  • adaptation process
  • increased physical activity 

Many people start feeling great and full of energy when they change their diet. And they are losing weight. What's more beautiful than a good self-esteem and a great feeling of well-being? But be careful with physical activity in the initial stages of adapting to the new diet. An organism that is used to regular physical activity will not feel any difference. An organism that is suddenly forced into physical activity (in addition to already having a lot of work with adapting its mechanisms to a new source of energy) feels this change as stress. Therefore, my advice for the initial weeks, is to focus on proper nutrition and gaining knowledge about the diet and to avoid extreme workouts.

5. PROTEIN DEFICIENCY

Protein deficiency can play a big role in hair loss. The LCHF/KETO diet is NOT a protein diet, but nevertheless the intake of quality proteins is necessary and important. A great way of adding more protein to our diet is consuming bone broth and collagen, which is a pure protein (and contains as many as 18 amino acids, of which 8 are essential amino acids) on regular basis. Let's choose a quality source of collagen. Preferably marine collagen, type 1. Where to buy quality collagen and what kind to choose follows below.

6. IRON DEFICIENCY AND EXHAUSTED ADRENAL GLAND

Iron deficiency can cause hair loss. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, so it is wise to check your iron and ferritin values in the laboratory every now and then. There is also a connection between an exhausted adrenal gland and iron deficiency in the body. A properly designed LCHF/KETO diet is rich in iron, so it usually deos not cause low iron levels. The problem of hair loss can arise if the organism is already in such a state at the beginning of the change in diet and then it is subjected to additional stress (without taking into account the matters described previously).

How to prevent hair loss and the body's stress response, what to watch out for and what to take in case of hair loss?

The first rule is the correct choice of food, which should be of good quality, unprocessed, fresh... In addition, it is necessary to pay enough attention to the replacement of electrolytes (which is extremely important, especially at the beginning!) and vitamins, especially if the change is undertaken due to health problems. 

Below are a few important nutrients that need to be provided in the form of food or supplements.

1. BIOTIN

Biotin is important for the health of our hair follicles and for hair resistance. It is found in foods such as:

  • cauliflower
  • eggs
  • salmon
  • almonds
  • avocado
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • dairy products

Adults need around 30 micrograms per day. Make sure you consume enough of the listed foods or get a food supplement that contains biotin.

2. MSM

Methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) is an organic form of sulfur found in animal products, vegetables, and algae. It helps in the synthesis of creatine, which is also responsible for the health of hair and nails.

3. BONE BROTH

Bone broth has countless positive properties. More about bone broth and how to cook it here:

10 reasons to eat bone broth

Recipe for the best bone broth

4. COLLAGEN

Collagen is extremely important for our body. It is a part of hair follicles – the cells that make new hair grow. A lack of collagen can weaken the hair follicles and it can result in hair loss.

Read more about collagen here.

You can also order collagen in its pure form, type 1, in powder form in our online store:

bovine collagen

marine collagen

5. ZINC 

Many studies confirm that zinc deficiency can lead to thyroid problems and hair loss. Here are a couple of foods that are rich in zinc:

  • lamb
  • beef (pasture farming)
  • cocoa
  • pumpkin seeds
  • mushrooms
  • poultry

Conclusion: LCHF/KETO diet as such is not the cause of temporary hair loss, because LCHF/KETO foods are based to be high-quality, nutritious, full of useful ingredients and are unprocessed. A set of different factors leads to hair loss and it is necessary to understand that our body is a sensitive mechanism of countless reactions that have their own causes and consequences. The female organism is particularly vulnerable with its monthly fluctuations in hormones. Therefore, my advice - don't rush and be patient. Above all gain enough knowledge. Give your organism time for proper adaptation, support it with the vitamins and minerals and with the right selection of foods. Don't limit calories too much and don't cause additional stress (and thus an increase in cortisol) to your body. Your body will reward you with well-being, the best energy, a healthy immune system and even weight loss when the time comes. 

THE PRODUCTS MENTIONED

PURE collagen powder - Marine 175g

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