If you’re thinking about losing weight, you probably would have come across “keto diets.” Even though the internet may have been the place where you first heard about it, a keto diet was developed back in 1921 by Dr Russell Morse Wilder for the treatment of epilepsy.
Although they’re effective in helping you lose those extra pounds, they can have some unwanted side effects, one of which is keto hair loss. Mainly, it is the result of the change in dietary habits. It doesn’t have to do with the “state of ketosis” that’s induced in the body.
Hair loss is an indirect consequence of this diet. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to better deal with this kind of hair loss. However, to understand that, you need to know what the keto diet is and how it is that it causes hair loss.
What is Keto Diet?
Essentially, a keto diet is a high fat, low-carb diet. Mainly, our body uses carbohydrates (sugar) as its source of energy. However, in its absence, as happens in the keto diet, it makes use of fats and, lastly, proteins. A keto diet intends to make the body burn fat instead of carbohydrates to get energy. With low sugar in the blood, the production of insulin decreases, and it also lowers blood sugar levels.
In a keto diet, you’ll have to reduce the carbohydrate quantities in your food to less than 50g per day. This shortage is replaced by increased fat consumption. The reason why it’s fat is that excessive protein intake can be harmful to the body since it causes problems with its metabolism.
Normally, glycogen (a complex sugar) is broken down into glucose (simple sugar), which is then taken up by the cells of the body. Once the carbohydrates in the body are unable to supply energy, fats take over as the main fuel of the body. This is ketogenesis.
Ketones replace glucose. Eventually, the body enters a state of ketosis, where ketones sustainably supply energy to the whole body. It can take from 3 to 4 days for the whole process to complete.
Keto Diets & Weight Loss
A very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet is effective for reducing body weight, notes a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. One study published in Diabetic Medicine found that the ketogenic diet helped the participants lose 3 times more weight compared to those who followed the nutritional recommendations of Diabetes UK.
Still, it remains a mystery 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 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.
Types of Ketogenic Diets
There are four types of ketogenic diets. They all differ in terms of their carbohydrate, protein, and fat intakes:
- Standard ketogenic diet – This is predominantly fat-based. It is usually 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs.
- High-protein ketogenic diet – It 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.
- Targeted ketogenic diet – It allows for the consumption of carbohydrates when you’re working out.
- Cyclical ketogenic diet – It 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.
Side Effects of Keto Diet
Yes, because it’s not sustainable. You can remain on it 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:
- Bad breath
- Sleep difficulty
- Mood swings
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 a 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.
Does Keto How Does Keto Hair Loss Occur?
Keto dieting can indeed cause your hair to fall out. It can happen because of a few reasons:
This is because of the restrictive nature of the diet. 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. This can be a reason for keto hair loss.
For those who’re on the standard ketogenic diet, there’s a higher risk of hair loss because of the low protein intake. One study showed that a 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, and you can experience keto hair loss.
Body’s Saving Energy
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. That, again, will result in keto hair loss.
Body’s In Shock
Drastic lifestyle changes can physically and mentally stress you out. When you’re suddenly changing your diet, your body will experience “shock.” This can result in the entering of the majority of hair follicles from the anagen phase of growth to the telogen phase. This result in a kind of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. In addition, sudden weight loss can cause keto hair loss.
Other than keto flu, mood swings, and dietary restrictions, which can physically shock the body, you can mentally stress out because of something known as a “keto crotch.” It involves a vaginal discharge and a 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 To Stop Hair Loss On Keto?
Keto hair loss recovery is something that many people want to know about, especially if they plan to continue the diet. To stop this kind of hair loss, you can consider doing the following.
For starters, you need to take adequate rest. You might experience insomnia as a part of the keto flu, but it is temporary. If you’re not sleeping well, it can result in a hormonal imbalance, which can make you crave more fatty foods.
This can upset the diet and result in weight gain instead of weight loss. Therefore, you must sleep well. For that, you can consider exercising daily, having a sleep schedule, ensuring a peaceful environment, and managing stress. That’s because poor sleep can also cause problems for the body, which can result in keto hair loss.
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 to stop keto hair loss. 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 COVID (which itself can cause hair loss indirectly).
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. Poor health can cause keto hair loss.
You can also consider taking supplements to ensure that you’re not suffering from any nutritional deficiencies that are causing keto hair loss. However, make sure to consult your doctor about it.
Change Your Diet Plan
If you feel that the keto diet isn’t working out for you or you’re struggling to deal with its side effects, 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. For this, it is best to consult a doctor or nutritionist. This can also put an end to keto hair loss.
There exists a close relationship between the keto diet and hair loss. The diet alone can also cause other health problems, such as keto crotch and keto flu. The long-term safety of this diet hasn’t yet been studied, so you need to be careful. In addition, you should consult your doctor before starting it.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr. Hassan Soueid.