So you’re fully prepared to face the minor downsides of the lazy keto diet to reap the major health benefits. You’ve stocked up on salty broth and read about the signs of ketosis and keto flu ; you’ve grit your teeth on sugar cravings. But how much do you know about ketosis and hair loss?
Yes, ketosis and hair loss.
While the science isn’t quite in on the connection between the two, hair loss is apparently a common enough symptom among keto dieters that a search on “ketosis and hair loss” on Google yields about 721,000 results. So what can you do about this embarrassing and annoying issue?
1. Wait it out
This might sound counter-productive, but there could be no need to panic just yet. Temporary hair loss is said to be one of the possible natural side effects of drastic weight loss, no matter what diet you’re on. The reason for this is because more of your hair than usual goes into a “resting phase”, where they stop growing. This could happen at any time between 3 to 6 months after you start a new diet.
Generally speaking, ketosis and hair loss is barely noticeable to others and only lasts a couple of months, so there’s really no need to worry. Just sit back and relax. Your hair will grow back soon enough.
2. Eat More
In some cases, however, the hair loss stems from other reasons and needs to be addressed in a different way. One possibility is when you accidentally enter a “starving diet”, or a diet with not enough calories. If you’ve not been eating enough in general, your body may concentrate all its limited nutrients on your vital organs instead of extraneous functions -like growing healthy, strong hair. Some other effects of a starving diet include brittle nails, weak hair or low energy levels. The solution, of course, is to ingest more nutrient-dense foods.
Another related factor in ketosis and hair loss is the lack of dietary protein. Being on lazy keto and not tracking your macros except carbs, this might happen if you’ve been too careful with your protein intake and inadvertently entered a low-protein keto diet. Your hair and nails are made of keratin, a type of protein, which naturally needs to by supplemented by sufficient amounts of dietary protein. Remember, your protein requirements equal to about 0.5g protein per pound of lean body weight. The key is moderation, not starvation.
3. Throw Back some Vinegar (or Liver)
If you know that you’ve been taking in enough calories and protein, then what you may be facing is low stomach acid. This is when your body isn’t digesting the protein properly. Symptoms of this include indigestion, bloating and gas. A small cupful of apple cider vinegar daily would help.
On the other hand, the underlying cause could be absorption problems, where the body is unable to make full use of the vitamins in your food. In which case, make sure your greens or sources of vitamins are cooked (not boiled) and taken with a little fat. Toss your salads with some vinaigrette, and try out some liver in your meals. Liver meats contain highly bioavailable nutrients like vitamin B6 and vitamin D, and can be found in the form of pate, liverwurst and foie gras.
4. Bulk up on Biotin and other Nutrients
While on a keto diet, you may also experience a deficiency of biotin, zinc, magnesium, potassium and so on. This is due to the body’s lessened insulin levels, causing the depletion of glycogen -and therefore electrolytes. Load up on egg yolks, almonds, cauliflower and spinach to replenish on biotin, or lamb, grass-fed beef, mushrooms, cashews and pumpkin seeds to meet your zinc requirements. There are also plenty of supplements for all the aforementioned minerals on the market.
5. Take Prebiotics and Probiotics
Sometimes, poor gut health could be another hidden culprit behind hair loss, causing acid reflux, a poor immune system and difficulties in maintaining a healthy weight too. Try keto-friendly probiotics such as low-carb yogurt, raw goat milk kefir or a sugar-free probiotic supplement. Aiding in these are the prebiotics, or gut-friendly fiber. You can obtain it from kale, chard, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and other low-carb vegetables as well as psyllium husk.
(As an aside, bone broth and its collagen-rich properties are also a boon to the gut.)
6. Perform a Scalp Massage
Say your hair is on its way back after ketosis and hair loss, but you’re feeling impatient. You can try stimulating faster hair growth by doing a scalp massage. Use coconut oil to hydrate and soothe your scalp, as it can tackle hair growth blockers such as dandruff. The vitamins E, K and antioxidants in it also nourish and strengthen hair, which may help prevent further hair fall. We suggest applying it before a shower as leaving it on overnight could result in greasy hair (even post shower).
7. Start Drinking Green Tea
Feeling thirsty? Caffeine has been shown to promote hair growth by prompting the hair shafts to grow faster, and one of its many sources is green tea. However, unlike coffee and hot cocoa, green tea also contains ECGC and polyphenols, which support the growth of hair follicles and protect hair cells respectively. Another helpful component is panthenol, which many shampoos use to aid in the production of strong hair. Lastly, green tea speeds up your metabolism, which naturally includes hair growth. So bottoms up!
Hair loss as a side effect of your keto diet is scarier than it sounds. For most people, ketosis and hair loss just a temporary setback and your scalp will soon correct itself. Even if you’re one of those unfortunate souls where it lingers longer, there are a myriad of tips and tricks to reverse hair loss, as detailed above. So carry on to better eating and ketosis -stress-free.