Why Do People Experience Hair Loss On Keto Diets?

by Josh | Last Updated:  September 17, 2020
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If there is one question I see asked consistently online on Facebook and Twitter it is “Why am I losing hair?”. This is typically because they are following a 90% fat style ketogenic diet, what they don’t know is this was for medical treatment and isn’t proper or necessary to be in ketosis.

To get your body in ketosis you just need to limit your carbohydrate intake, that’s all, but frequently people are told that extra protein they eat is turned into glucose in the body. This is patently false and leads to poor choices for personal intake for the goals wanted.

Why Do People Experience hair loss on Keto diets? The answer to this is that the people who are losing hair are eating too little protein for the body to waste use of the amino acids to create hair and instead uses it to facilitate other body processes. Instead of doing a moderate protein level you want to aim for around .8 grams per pound of lean body mass which will give your body enough protein for all necessary functions.

Now we will explore why limiting your protein intake on a ketogenic diet will negatively impact your progression to a leaner, meaner, you.

We will be covering why a low protein intake specifically drives you to stop producing and to start shedding hair along with why low protein causes more lean body mass loss and more. Keep reading to explore all these different protein functions and requirements for proper body functioning.

Male and female hair loss set showing women and men hair loss areas over time - hair loss on keto diet
Male and female hair loss set

Hair Loss Signifies That Protein Intake Is Too Low

One of the first signs that you are becoming nutrient deficient is when your hair begins to fall out. The most straight forward fix for this issue is to intake more protein to ensure those nutrients are available in your body for use in building and recovery.

If your body lacks protein it moves into a “protein sparing” or “protein management” where it only provides the bare amount required without any extra to keep as much of it free and available as necessary.

Your hair is one of the first places you see this deficiency as it is more of a bonus or vanity use of protein in most cases as you aren’t freezing so your body doesn’t get the survival need.

I also wanted to add that an over consumption of Vitamin A has been shown to cause additional hair loss so make sure while on a keto diet that you are running a well balanced nutritional ketosis and not just a pure junk food ketogenic diet.

man worried for hair loss and looking at mirror his receding hairline - hair loss on keto diet
Man worried for hair loss and looking at mirror his receding hairline

Lack Of Protein Causes Losses In Lean Body Mass

Many people on a ketogenic diet lifestyle try to follow medical keto macronutrient percentages. This is not recommended as this can cause your intake of protein to be incredibly low and doesn’t allow you the proper amino acids to maintain overall muscle mass and repair processes which happen continuously each day.

A good starting amount should be about .8 grams per pound of Lean Body Mass, please make note that this isn’t per pound of Overall Body Weight.

Lean Body Mass can be calculated quickly when you know your current weight and your approximate body fat percentage, I get mine from my scale, though you could get a DEXA scan or other high tech evaluation.

This amount of protein will be very good to help build a base level of protein and muscle development in your body while supporting your fat loss goals.

If your goals are not fat loss but are muscle gaining oriented then you want to look at increasing the protein amount to around 1 gram per pound of Lean Body Mass.

This will help to provide the resource overall availability to be invested into building stronger bigger muscles while supporting all the other needs with a surplus.

Hair Loss Due To Massive Weight Loss

Many people on a ketogenic diet, especially when very much overweight, may shed the first large volume of weight in a very short time. Extremely fast weight loss can cause an almost “rebound” like effect in regards to hair loss due to the body composition changes.

If you experience hair loss the easiest way to see if this is the cause is to look at how much and how fast you recently lost weight. If you dropped 25/30 pounds then don’t jump to conclusions and give yourself some time to steady out and see if your hair recovers.

If your hair continues to thin and fall out, then start looking to address the next item on the list if you are taking in a good amount of protein daily.

Nutrients Are Needed Elsewhere

If you only have nutrients, both amino acids and a multitude of vitamins and minerals, in short supply then your body is stingy in their use. It specifically will only provide them to the systems which are required to maintain life itself, and unfortunately your hair, is not one of these systems.

There are some products which seek specifically to provide these missing nutrients, my wife and I use this one from Amazon, which just ensures we intake enough of a mixture of nutrients. I haven’t ever had a hair issue but it has definitely felt stronger and less fragile since I started taking them.

I do believe our food provides us less bio-available nutrition then is listed on the nutrition labels as our farms destroy the land to build mono crops.

This is my main reason for taking the supplemental pill, I would say if you find a quality local farmer or farmers market then you may get the necessary nutrients from a well balanced food intake.

Final Thoughts on Hair Loss on Keto Diets

When eating a ketogenic diet you must take time to build a proper intake that will support your health and wellness by giving your body the nutrition it requires. These are frequently overlooked in favor of using carbohydrate limited intake for keto junk foods and similar frankenfoods.

What you need to do instead is to increase your protein intake, remove the extra calories spent for protein intake from the fat macro of your nutrition plan and if necessary look into supplementing your food intake with the proper supplement to support your hair growth.

I listed the one we use above if you would like, the link will open in a new tab to Amazon. It does provide me a decent amount if you choose to make the purchase through my link and allows me to keep writing about useful topics like this.

If you know of anyone about to start a ketogenic diet or already on one and experiencing these issues please share this with them and tell them to read and post any questions below, I will take time to answer any questions posed and if they are over something I missed covering that we feel is important I will update the article to contain it also!

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