Dr Russell Morse Wilder from Mayo Clinic prescribed ketogenic diet for the treatment of epilepsy in 1921. Today, people might think that the trending “Keto Diets” is a completely novel invention, but that’s not the case. It has been with us for almost a century. Today, they are popular as weight-loss diets. They are low in carbohydrates and high in proteins or fats. The Paleo and Atkins diets fall under the category of the ketogenic diet. Despite their numerous advantages, there are many adverse effects associated with them, including keto hair loss.
This is because a true keto diet, that is what people usually go with, requires low-carbohydrate consumption, in combination with high-fat intake, instead of proteins. In order to understand this, let’s take a look at everything in greater detail.
The State of Ketosis in the Ketogenic Diet
Our body uses carbohydrates, sugar, as a source of energy. However, in their absence, as happens in the keto diet, it looks towards fats and proteins. It is important to remember that in keto diet you’ll have to reduce the carbohydrate quantities in your food to less than 50g per day. This will require a high increase in fat consumption. Excessive protein intake can be harmful.
With low sugar in the blood, the production of insulin decreases. Glycogen is broken down to produce glucose, which is then taken up by the cells of the body. Once the carbohydrates in the body are unable to supply energy, protein and fats take over as the main fuel of the body. This is ketogenesis. It produces ketone bodies to replace glucose. Eventually, the body enters a state of ketosis, where ketone bodies are sustainably supplying energy to the whole body.
It can take from 3 to 4 days for the whole process to complete.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are four types of ketogenic diets. They all differ in terms of their carbohydrate, protein, and fat quantities. These are as follows:
- The standard ketogenic diet, which is predominantly fat-based. It is usually 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs.
- The high-protein ketogenic diet, which is mostly similar to the standard ketogenic diet but the protein ratio is slightly increased. This usually contains 60% fat, 35% protein and 5% carbohydrates.
- The targeted ketogenic diet allows for consumption of carbohydrates when you’re working out.
- The cyclical ketogenic diet is the one where you can have a period of high-carb intake between the ketogenic diet cycles. For instance, five days of the ketogenic diet, with low carbohydrate content will be followed by two days in which you can up the quantities to higher levels.
Who Needs to Try the Ketogenic Diet and What Benefits it’ll have for them?
Ketogenic diets are thought of as miracles for those seeking weight loss. There’s been quite some research about the weight-losing effects of keto diets. A study did find that the very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet was effective for reducing body weight. Another found that the ketogenic diet helped the participants of the study lose 3 times more weight compared to those who followed nutritional recommendations of Diabetes UK.
Still, it remains a mystery whether how ketogenic diets help in weight loss. It is believed that as greater calories are required to convert fat into energy, people lose weight faster than when they’re using carbs as their main body fuel. It is also thought that the high-fat, high-protein diets increase satiety hence decreasing the hunger for more food.
From diabetes 2, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, brain diseases, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s to even acne, this diet has been thought to help. Although many fingers point in favour of this diet, it does have certain disadvantages to it.
Can Ketogenic Diet Be Harmful?
Yes, because it’s not sustainable. You can remain on them for a few months, but because of its restrictive nature, many people choose to let it go. Moreover, there’s a lack of research on the long-term effects of this diet.
Most commonly, people experience constipation, bad breath, nausea, vomiting, headache, sleep difficulty, irritability and mood swings because of lack of sugar, and fatigue. That is the keto flu. The good news is that it doesn’t last for more than a few weeks.
As the diet requires greater fat consumption, many people end up eating foods that are high in LDL-C (the “bad” cholesterol). Some extremely dangerous conditions can result from a ketogenic diet. Ketoacidosis is a risk, in which high level of ketone bodies in the blood changes its pH level. Those who have type 1 diabetes need to be careful about this. Furthermore, it can lead to the development of kidney stones.
A study showed that 13 out of 195 children who were on a keto diet for treatment of epilepsy developed kidney stones. This happens because of high-protein food. It makes the urine more acidic and increases levels of calcium and uric acid.
It can also cause depletion of electrolytes and nutritional deficiencies. Therefore, it is better if you consult a professional doctor before starting a keto diet. It has many health risks, which will negatively impact your normal functioning.
Why you Might Experience Keto Hair Loss
Keto dieting can indeed cause your hair to fall out. This is because of the restrictive nature of the diet. Furthermore, the ketosis state induced in a ketogenic diet is similar to what happens in starvation mode. This will cause your body to prioritize supplying energy to more important organs, such as your heart. Thus, your hair will not grow properly.
For healthy hair, you need to consume foods that contain biotin (vitamin H), vitamin C, A, D, and E, along with iron and protein. In their absence, your hair will become dry, prone to breakage, and frail, lacking moisturization. A study conducted on mice in 2013 showed a strong association between biotin deficiency and keto diet.
For those who’re on the standard ketogenic diet, mentioned above, there’s a higher risk of hair loss because of the low protein intake. One study showed that lower intake of proteins and poor caloric stores were mainly responsible for hair loss. Keratin protein makes up most of your hair. Without its adequate presence in the body, you cannot expect your hair to grow well.
Mineral and vitamin deficiencies are one of the adverse effects of keto diets. Iron deficiency is a major reason why many people lose their hair. Moreover, such drastic lifestyle changes can cause you mental and physical stress. Other than keto flu, mood swings, and dietary restrictions, there’s such a thing called “keto crotch,” which involves a vaginal discharge and strong odour following the diet. It causes the growth of bad bacteria and can lead to vaginal infection. The stress alone can cause keto hair loss.
These are a few reasons why many people feel reluctant to continue keto diets for longer than a few months or years at times. It can simply be a hassle to deal with, and keto hair loss is just one of the many.
How you can Minimize Keto Hair Loss
We know there exists a close relationship between the keto diet and hair loss. But there are a few things that can help with that.
For starters, you need to take adequate rest. You might experience insomnia as a part of the keto flu, but it is temporary. In addition, you need to take care of any nutritional deficiencies that might develop as a result of the keto diet. That is why you need to diversify. Try to eat a little bit of all you can while on your keto diet. These nutritional deficiencies can be especially dangerous in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The drastic changes that come with hopping on a keto diet can be risky. To keep your immune system healthy, strong and functioning, you need good food.
There are trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa residing in your gut. And they are all thriving on different chemical compounds in your food. Lack of diversity can upset the balance of your gut flora and affect your immunity.
Lastly, if you feel that the keto diet isn’t working out for you, try to look for alternatives. There are multitudes of diet plans available out there, and you can find yourself one that fulfils your needs and expectations better.
Keto diet and hair loss have a close connection, which is why you need to be careful before choosing this diet. It is not suitable for long periods either.
If you’re excessively losing your hair, even after you’ve stopped dieting, then you need to find out what’s causing your hair to fall. Hair transplant does offer a permanent solution to those who truly need it. You can achieve good hair density too with this procedure.
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