Can low-carb diets result in hair loss?

Hair Loss on Low Carb

Is it possible to lose hair when starting a low-carb diet? Yes, and there are many misunderstandings and myths about it.

Here’s what you may need to know.

Temporary hair loss can occur for many different reasons, including any big dietary change. This is especially common when severely restricting calories (e.g. starvation diets, meal replacements) but it can also occasionally happen on low-carb diets.

If so, it usually starts 3-6 months after starting a new diet, at which point you’ll notice an increasing amount of hairs falling out when brushing your hair.

The good news is that even if you should be so unfortunate this is only a temporary phenomenon. And only a percentage of the hair will fall out (the thinning will rarely be very noticeable to others).

After a few months all the hair follicles will start to grow new hair, and when they have regrown your hair will be as thick as before again. Of course, if you have long hair this could take a year or even more.
 

Background

To understand exactly what is happening it’s necessary to know the basics of how hair grows.

Every single hair on your head usually grows for about 2-3 years at a time. After that it stops growing for up to 3 months. Then a new hair starts growing in the same hair follicle, pushing the old hair out.

Thus you’re losing hairs every day, but as the hairs are unsynchronized it’s not so noticeable. You lose one hair and another starts growing, i.e. you always have about the same number of hairs on your head.

Stress and synchronized hair loss

If your body experiences significant stress more hairs than usual can enter the resting phase at the same time. This can happen for many reasons, like these:

  • Starvation, including calorie-restricted diets and meal replacements
  • Diseases
  • Unusually demanding exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Breast feeding
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Psychological stress
  • Any big diet change

Then as the new hairs start growing a few months later all these formerly resting hairs will fall out at almost the same time. This is called “telogen effluvium” in fancy medical terms (read more about it), and it’s relatively common.

What to do

If there was an obvious triggering factor 3-6 months before you noticed the problem – such as giving birth or transitioning to a strict low-carb diet – you don’t really have to do anything. In all likelihood the problem will be temporary.

As long as you eat a varied and nutritious low-carb diet it’s very unlikely that stopping it will speed up the hair regain, it will likely happen as quickly anyway. And unfortunately you can’t stop the hair loss from happening once it’s started, as the resting hairs will fall out no matter what you do.

It’s possible to run blood tests for nutrient deficiencies, but unless you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet (with no supplements of iron, B12) it’s unlikely that they will show anything interesting.

How to minimize the risk of hair loss when starting low carb

First, temporary hair loss is relatively rare after starting a low-carb diet, most people never notice anything like it.

There are no studies on how to minimize this small risk, but it’s likely helpful not to restrict calories, i.e. don’t do a low-carb and low-fat diet (AKA “starvation”). Instead eat as much fat as you need to feel satisfied and not hungry, an LCHF diet.

It may also be helpful to reduce other sources of stress during your first few weeks on low carb. Sleep well, be kind to yourself in general, and preferably don’t start an intense exercise program at the same time.

More

Read everything about possible side effects on low carb:

Low-carb side effects & how to cure them

Top 6 common problems when starting

Less common issues on low carb

 

Low-carb myths

42 Comments

  1. bill
    Since your link to Ivor Cummins blog, thefatemperor.com
    seems to be broken, I don't want anybody to miss this post:

    http://www.thefatemperor.com/blog/2015/10/17/lchf-the-late-great-dr-r...

    He had it all down back in 2000.

  2. Apicius
    Really? This happens? My hair actually got stronger and nicer on LCHF.
  3. angella
    LCHF great benefits so many ways, and I love the lifestyle except my hair thinning now for several years and is noticeable, my parting is getting wider with scalp showing through, and I feel the cold now and have to wear a hat when most of my life my hair was so thick that wearing a hat would be uncomfortably warm LCHF cured chronic dandruff, I wear navy and black now without a care in the world but when ever I brush or wash my hair handfuls fall out. I had very thick hair to start off with but now, as I approach 50, it is very fine and looks awful. The doctor did not take problem seriously, but I feel the loss of my hair very badly. I wish it wasn't so because every other aspect of my life has improved since starting LCHF. However, I have found very little information about hair loss and LCHF and most info says it is a temporary problem. However, I have not found it to be so and wonder if anyone else out there has more detailed information to offer.
    Reply: #33
  4. Jenny
    I started LCHF on 1 September 2014 with around 30-35 kg to lose. By April 2015 I had lost 15 kg and started noticing that my hair was starting to fall out quite dramatically - especially in the shower or when brushing. Tried googling it but not much info out there! Decided I preferred losing weight anyway - so carried on.... Consulted a doctor - she said it was rubbish but gave me some hair growth pills which I never remembered to take.... think I took 2 in all. In September I suddenly noticed my hair seemed fuller and in much much better condition. In fact people have asked if I have colored it as there is less grey (I haven't!).
    Reply: #5
  5. Bjarte Bakke Team Diet Doctor
    Nice story Jenny! :)
    Reply: #37
  6. Mel
    So glad I read this! Been following LCHF for 5 months and lost 63bs so far. Feeling great but my hair is suffering. It's falling out quite dramatically when I wash or brush it and is now much thinner than it was.

    Went to have my hair cut two days ago, even though it didn't need it as it hadn't grown since my last appointment 10 weeks ago, and mentioned the hair loss and lack of growth to my hairdresser, commenting that the same happened when I once followed a meal replacement diet.

    It did start growing back eventually, leaving little short hairs sticking up all over my head, and became thick and healthy once they got to a decent length. So I'm hoping the same happens this time, as I still have a lot of weight to lose, and even when I reach my goal I want to continue eating LCHF as I feel so much better.

  7. 2 comments removed
  8. Marion
    I have androgenetic hair loss with thinning hair at the top of my head for over 15 years. 3 month after starting LCHF there came the telogenic effluvium on top, which nearly balded me. I knew about and expecteted this effect (shedding) from the hair growth tincture that I use for years (regaine), but it was really hard to deal with. I think the hair loss effect was so big, because my hair growth is already sychronised with regaine.
    I use a hair thickener now , the effect is amaizing, it's a big relief !!
    After another 3 months the hair from the "extra"effluvium/shedding starts to grow back .
    I have a lot of short hairs spiking through the top hair....hope you understand what I mean... :D...
    I can't tell if it is more hair than before, but it seems to be a little ?wavier??? (to have more waves) than before.
    Reply: #34
  9. 1 comment removed
  10. Laurel
    I started the low carb diet 5 months ago and have lost close to 40 pounds. Several months ago I to noticed my hair falling out more than usual. This past month has been particularly bad. My once very thick hair is noticeably thinner to me. I'm feeling great but not enjoying this. Hoping it will soon resolve:) I'm happy to read that it's not just me experiencing this. And perhaps it's more common than reported.
  11. Bev
    My hair always falls out when I am losing weight, whether that is LCHF or LFHC. I read somewhere that weight loss can trigger the hair follicles to go into a resting phase which results in more loss than normal. It has never caused me to lose so much that I saw bald patches :)
  12. Lisandra
    Dr Ron Rosedale goes into the specifics regarding the hormonal changes that cause this thankfully temporary process on the Living La Vida Lowcarb episode 1051.
  13. gbl
    Sleep well?! How does one achieve that? Pundits say this as if it's something we are able to do but have been stubbornly refusing.
  14. June
    Wow, glad to read all of your comments. I have been on hormone replacement for about 9 years and recently was taken off of them (about 1 1/2 months) and was positive the sudden hair loss was due to lack of hormones until my new physician said no way. They type of hormone I was on did not address hair loss period. My co-worker suggested it was the new low card diet I have been on for the last 3.5 months. I was sure she was wrong until I saw the Dr. I have always been blessed with crazy thick hair. Beautiful when it is well cared for. 3.5 months into this Low Carb dies it is coming out 10 fold. I don't even like to touch my hair now as I will come back with 10-12 hairs in my hand where previously it would be one or two. And it's not near as shiny. I'm 59 so to have experienced no hair loss at my age was pretty great, but after reading your comments, I'm hopeful this is temporary as I've lost pounds in the 3.5 months which is awesome. I'm also exercising with a trainer and he kicks my ass, which is probably contributing to my overall system stress. Anyway, thank you all for your comments and candor. I'm hoping my crazy thick hair will enjoy rebirth some day soon.
  15. Jill F
    This is really useful. I have been doing the reverse your diabetes low carb 800 cals diet for only one month and my hair has thinned lots in that time. I am going to see a dermatologist to rule out age related hair loss (although not in my family) and if it proves to be linked to diet I will report back. Seems a big co-incidence that it happened now though. Thanks for the link to the Ron Rosedale video - if he is genuine then it seems very possible I (all of us) may recover from this. Don't know if he is though?
    Reply: #17
  16. bill
    "...low carb 800 cals diet for only one month..."?

    It's amazing your teeth haven't fallen out too.

    Where has this site ever advocated an 800 cal diet?
    You're doing it wrong.

    Reply: #18
  17. Bev
    Sounds like Michael Mosley's BSD ...

    1.BSD Fast 800:

    An intensive 800cal, 8 week, Mediterranean Style Low Carb Diet. Aim for a 10%-20% weight loss or continue for up to 8weeks, depending on your original weight. This approach is a challenge and requires determination, but the benefits are a rapid response in terms of weight loss and improvement in blood sugars. This requires planning and focus for up to eight weeks.

  18. Laurel
    I am happy to report back that after months (3) of excess hair loss it has slowed down significantly.
  19. gbl
    Bill: I'm betting fast days are around 800 calories and maybe less, and yes, the DD doctors advocate fasting. Fasting is a form of calorie control.
  20. Penny
    I (43 yr old female) too have been having significant hair loss since lowering my carbs. It's crazy! I am concerned as my once thick hair is feeling thinner. Brushing it in the morning I have a sink full of hair. I have been taking hair/nail vitamins along with vitamin D. My labs all came back normal. It is encouraging to read that this is common and it will slow down. I will report back in couple months on any slow down.
  21. Kaylene
    Thanks for recently posting this Penny. I started my LCHF diet at the end of May 2016. Just recently I've noticed severe hair loss - I went from a daily hair washer to only washing every three days or so because of the hair I would find in the drain, my hairbrush and on the bathroom counter/floor. I too just started taking hair/nail vitamins along with iron and vitamin D. I'm praying this will help. The amount of hair loss is causing added stress and I'm sure not helping the situation. Please keep us posted on your hair loss...praying for you to report "lots of new hair" next time we hear from you!
    Too add - I'm a 45 yr old female
  22. KIMERLEE
    I have been on LCHF since 5/1/16 and have lost about 30 lbs so far. I am 46 years old. I have been noticing my hair falling out more and more and washing less and less because I am getting handfuls of hair falling out. Today I stopped into the health food store to ask about it because they always seem to be knowledgeable. Found a man that was familiar with this diet and first thing he asked me was, "Are you eating any greens?" Well yes, I have two or three salads a week... His eyebrows raised. He said, " Well that is why your hair is falling out. You should be having at least two to three salads a day. Your body needs the vegies to produce and maintain the hair follicle. If you are not eating enough micro nutrients your body will suffer. " So, basically people on lchf tend to forget about the vegies. Especially on a strict carb. I tend to keep my carbs under 5gr a day, but i guess I require more. I myself eat lots of eggs, cheese and butter and it's hard to grab something when needing a snack because you usually need to cook something. He told me to start grazing on the vegetables (salad, broccoli, brussels, carrots, cauliflower, basically anything in the produce section.) and that no supplement is a good replacement for good healthy food. So I grabbed some broccoli and left.
    Reply: #24
  23. Diane
    I have changed my eating habits to a LCHF for the last 6 months. I am 53. I have noticed considerable thinning of my hair on the sides of my scalp about 3 months into the diet change. I have gone to my MD and to the Derm. I was noted to have a toxic Vit D. Otherwise, I am within normal limits on my nutrients. Derm said it was Alopecia- however, the follicles are dormant and can still produce hair follicles.
    I'm wondering what nutrients are you all taking? I have been told to use Rogaine by the Derm.
    I do take Biotin. I like the LCHF but I'm not liking the hair loss. :(
  24. Dee123
    December 11
    I started LCHF at the end of Feb 2016, so stuck to it faithfully for 10 months now, and suffering with major hair loss to the point where it's going to be a deal breaker for me. After serious thinning, I now have definite patches of skin showing......and there's no signs of it abating. And to add insult to injury, the weight loss stopped around 6 months ago and no matter what I try I can't seem to lose even a pound (and yes....this includes cutting out dairy and fasting). Sorry, but I can't be low carb, fat AND bald. It's making me miserable. The main advice has been to crack on and be patient as things will improve if I do, but it's coming up to a year now and no improvement.
    It's very difficult to advocate this WOE when I look such a mess, people are constantly picking hair off my clothes and telling me to come off it as it's so noticeable and I've now stopped going out socially as my hair is embarrassing. I'm so glad it's now winter and I can wear a hat when out shopping. My nails are non existent too, they're so brittle and crumbling and recently, I've started getting acne! I've never had spots on my face in my life, even when I was young, (I'm 59). I've always received compliments on my skin until now. I eat plenty of greens every day, make sure I have enough 'healthy' fat, (ended up counting all my fat/protein/calorie intake even though the promised simplicity of this WOE was what attracted me most) , taken all advice I can find on here and other sources of info on low carb, but to no avail. I know someone is likely to reply that I must be doing something wrong and it has to be my fault, but I can assure you, I have researched extensively and not been stupid on my approach to this WOE, and of all the diets I've tried in the past, I've never had my hair literally fall out, ruined my nails, developed spots and still stayed fat......it just doesn't make sense. Surely It should be the opposite when on a healthy diet?
    If I was losing weight, maybe I would probably cope somewhat better, but I'm not, so I can see Christmas being enjoyed off LC as this is just not sustainable for me. I'm just praying my hair will come back and I've not done permanent damage.
    Reply: #26
  25. Apicius
    Dee,
    Why not ask your question directly on the ask the experts forum? Don't you think some professional advice or coaching would help?
  26. Laurel
    That is a good idea. Definitely ask the experts so you can take this information back to your doctor. Something is not right. I have certainly experienced hair loss as noted on my above comments. I have only recently started adding intermittent fasting as my weight loss has stalled. My hair loss definitely slowed down and is growing back in. The texture has changed as has the texture of my skin.
  27. Dee123
    Thank you for the responses Apicius and Laurel. I did ask some questions on here some months back when I first started having some problems, but never got a response. It was then I started researching further afield on the net, reading blogs, websites, joining low carb forums. Keto, Paleo, Primal, Atkins, you name, I've read it. Now I think I'm all maxed out on advice.
    It is very common to have severe hair loss, especially for older women, or so I have found out. There are even some historic posts on here from a couple of years ago from people having this very problem, but no real solutions as to how to prevent it or deal with it when it is severe. The advice seems to be the same, just stick it out as it is temporary. The ones on the forum whose hair eventually came back have said to just be patient, but I'm just wondering how many women didn't, or couldn't, do this due to the severity, or maybe it didn't improve and they just came off LC never to be heard from again.
    The weight stalling is common too, but I just didn't expect it to happen so soon, and some women haven't lost anything for over 12 months even though, like me, they still have an awful lot to lose. That's the killer, there's no real incentive for me to keep going if you get the side effects but stop losing anything at all.

    I have had everything checked out by my doctor, bloods tested for everything, thyroid checked, hormones etc. I had to insist as she wasn't inclined to do it if I didn't feel ill. Nothing wrong, all within normal range. She just told me to come off the diet as she couldn't explain the hair loss and it obviously wasn't suiting me. I get the feeling that she doesn't agree with this eating plan and I so wanted to prove her wrong! lol.
    I take vitamins C, D, B12 and magnesium. I drink plenty of water and include pink himalayan rock salt morning and evening. I've never eaten breakfast, ever, even before starting LCHF as it never sat well on my stomach. I cut out my morning BPC (can't tell you how hard that was to do), also berries, dairy and nuts and restricted my protein. I IF for 5 days a week and started doing a full fast for two days a week. I did lose about 4lbs the first few times I did this only to regain it all when I started eating again. I buy only grass fed, fresh meat from a local farm shop as I live rural and cook all my green veg in Kerrygold butter, add good olive oil or home made mayonnaise to my salads and try to have eggs incorporated into my meals every day (bought fresh from a local free range farm). Salmon or fresh tuna once a week from our local fish shop, it's costing me a fortune.
    I was able to take early retirement 3 years ago so have no stress other than this WOE and the lack of hair. I go to bed earlier even though not really tired, and do daily dog walks of 30 to 40 minutes a day unless weather is really bad. I don't snack or eat after 7pm. I really don't know what else to do.
    People have said I'm eating too much, others said not enough, one person advised cutting out the butter as well as it was a dairy product (not been able to do that), some have said to eat more regular meals even when not hungry, some have said I'm not doing anything wrong and to just be patient. Some said to just keep tweaking until I find what works for me.........OMG! The list goes on. So much for the simplistic 'just eat fresh food and good fat' way of eating I got so excited about.
    I just know with Christmas looming I'm not going to be able to stay on track. Giving up potatoes and bread has been so hard for me and still is, as is cutting out dairy, especially cheese. I LOVE cheese. The rest of the forbidden food doesn't really bother me too much and I don't have a sweet tooth, never have, so not bothered about that, but bread and potatoes? I fight that demon every day. None of the substitute recipes satisfy me, most went in the bin. I've started having my BPC in the mornings again as I can't keep this up indefinitely if I have to leave out all the things I really love. Started having cheese again too now. If my weight starts to go up then I'll just stop altogether. I'd rather be happier fat than obsessed and stressed as I am now.
    Husband is sick of me lol. Can't remember the last time we had a meal together as he doesn't get in until 6.30pm and has his evening meal around 8pm. He keeps this regime even at weekends, and as I have my meal around 4 or 5 pm, we never get to eat together any more. He's supportive, so won't eat in front of me as no way will he give up his bread and potatoes for anything and he likes a piece of cake or dessert after. He doesn't agree with fasting and he knows how upsetting I'm finding the hair loss and I know he wants me to stop. He keeps asking what I've had to eat, and I'm appalled to say I've started lying on my fast days so as not to upset him, so it's adding to the stress. He weighs the same now as he did when he was 18, has a 34 inch waist, full head of hair and eats what he wants. Life just isn't fair is it? lol.
    Sorry this has been so long, needed to vent. Good luck to everyone on here. Glad it's working so well for others. xx

    Reply: #29
  28. Apicius
    If you are a member of this website (it's something like 9$ per month) you ask your question directly to a coach. But, please make your question generic...like, "what are strategies around XYZ issues". Don't ask a specific health question, like "I take 30 mL of XYZ medicine, should I reduce it and by how much?" They can only answer generic questions - or else the health police comes after them for giving personal medical advice on the internet. If you ask your question on the non-members open forum (like this one), it's a crap shoot...maybe it is answered, maybe poor answers and if you are lucky you get great advice.

    OK, I'm going to give you one more piece of advice...check out intermittent fasting. On the search, look for "Dr Fung", or "fasting". This may be the silver bullet you are looking for.

    Good luck.

  29. Lisa Setser
    I started the Ketogenic diet this past June and by November I was down 50 pounds. But my hair is literally 1/2 as thick as it was! It is coming out at an alarming rate. It's actually nice because my hair was so thick before it was hard to manage. But I don't want to lose anymore!!!!! This article made me feel better. Thanks!
  30. Shawn
    Kind of a relief to read this. I wasn't overweight but started a paleo diet for health reasons. I'm 34. Wasn't trying to lose weight but paleo really helped with some achy joints. Felt more energy (anxiety?). But. Hair started to fall out in clumps. Like many of you I don't even want to touch my hair or shower because of how much falls out. Over 100 hairs a day. Yes I was counting! Realized that while low carb was great for some things growing hair is a pretty intensive energy heavy process. From what I gather my body just started to shut down the non vital systems. For those of us here that is our hair growth. Dieting and or a new diet is very stressful on your body and mind even if you are in a low stress environment. Back on carbs now. I gained a bit of fat back but I'd rather have some fat and hair than be ripped and have thin hair. Also. I just feel way better on carbs.
  31. Juanjo
    If each single hair grows for 2-3 years, then stop and finally it's pushed out by a new one. How some people have that long hair that needs years and years to grow? Or, If you don't have hair cuts, it stops to be longer after 3 years? It isn't in my experience.
  32. Ellen
    I started losing hair when I was 47. Now with the LCHF it has started falling out again.
    I miss my hair, I could sit on it and it was very thick. I've finally decided if it gets too sparse, I'm getting a wig! I have been asking about hair loss for years.. There is a distinct lack of interest on the part of any doctors I've seen. Kind of you're fat, so what, nobody cares! I would like to know why it happens though.
  33. Mic
    Hi, what kind of hair thickener did you use?
    Thanks.
  34. JLH
    I've been in LC for about 5 months and have chronic hair loss for the past 4 months. I lost a few pounds which is all I needed to lose. I continue to keep carbs low, around 20-30, and eat all I want, so not extreme and do eat vegetables, so could this still cause hair loss?? Getting desperate to find a solution. All my labs are great so no other causes.
  35. Ricky Martin
    There are certain vitamins that are essential for health of your hair. Your daily food intake should contain adequate vitamins and nutrition per day. Should you decide to engage in a weight loss program, you need to know the various nutrients that are necessary for healthier hair. Tailoring of the diet to include and achieve a weight goal must also include appropriate levels of essential vitamins for your hair.
    https://www.realself.com/article/calorie-diet-vitamin-deficiency-hair...
    http://naturalhairtransplant.co.in/chennai/
  36. Lee W.
    It appears there is a lack of research that has been done on the effect of hair loss with dietary changes, especially low-carb diets. It seems to me that it is much more common than has been reported by advocates of low-carb diets. I transitioned to a low-carb diet over a year ago, and then to a ketogenic diet several months ago. I am now starting to experience hair loss, although I am also under quite a bit of stress due to some financial concerns, so I am not sure if it is related to my dietary changes. I have been losing weight and most other factors seem to be improving, although I have had some abnormal thyroid blood test results. I am now taking an iodine supplement recommended by my functional medicine physician. I am certainly hopeful that my hair loss is temporary, but I am very concerned about some of the posts here that say it may not be.
  37. Sam
    Did keto for 1 month over 12 mths ago. Started with crazy thick hair, now have bald spot right in front and really thick, noticeable, pink part. Went off keto after 1 mth because of hair loss. Thought it was starting to grow back. Last two or so days, starting to get thinner in the front again. 51 yr old female. Think I stuffed up my hormones/thyroid. May never get hair back?!? Added bonus, now have massive stomach, never had before keto. If I had it all to do again, would NEVER do keto. Be warned.
  38. Nicole
    I'm experiencing hair loss for the last 2 months (after 5 months of serious low carb) and I am shocked there is not more information on this with LCHF. I don't understand how someone can go from eating garbage processed food to whole nutrient food and suddenly start losing hair! Losing hair to me is a sign there is seriously something wrong. There is so much talk about cholesterol, increased blood glucose, even weight gain on LCHF but no more than this article. Just a lot of guesses like increase protein. Eat Biotin. This article states - do nothing. Well that's not helpful to people who are watching clumps of hair fall out month after month. More information needs to be provided please so people like me can understand this problem and continue to trust the process.
    Reply: #41
  39. Tina
    Same thing here Nicole. I can see way too much scalp. "They " say give it time, it gets better. I've been doing this for 6 months, and I noticed hair thinning about a month ago. I've seen no improvement at all. I'm starting to think I'd rather be a little chubby then bald. I'm starting to lose a little faith in the Keto way.
  40. Lucy
    Hi Nicole, and also Sam and Tina – I feel your pain! I’ve had the same problems. I appreciate there is some advice and reassurance in this article (and love all the recipes on the site, thanks!) I also note that Peter Biörck (of Team Diet Doctor) says in another thread: ‘we simply don’t yet have the resources to respond to questions in the comments or via email ... it would be great if you could help each other in the comment section.’ So I’m hoping I can help out! What I did originally, and I’m guessing you’ve probably already tried, is follow religiously whatever advice I could find on websites, from podcasts like Jimmy Moore’s, from books and so on, like ensuring I replace electrolytes, eat enough green leafies, etc., but my hair kept coming out. This had never happened before no matter what diet I’d tried – but I clung to the idea that it would go eventually away if just stuck to doing what I was doing long enough! In the end, though, I realised that I had to try something different and cast my research net wider. What I discovered is that being in ketosis all the time isn’t necessary or desirable for everybody. I didn’t have the symptoms of metabolic syndrome before going keto, so my body didn’t need that kind of really long-term repair. So if you've either not had symptoms (and are doing keto for other reasons) or have had symptoms of metabolic syndrome and since reduced or even reversed them on a keto diet, you might want to try something a bit different and monitor your response to get rid of some of the potential negative effects, like hair falling out! The great thing about the ketogenic diet is that it, of course, makes you fat adapted and your body has been shocked out of its previous level of carb dependence and has become a fat-burning machine. Given this, we can be reassured we’ve done ourselves a great amount of good by becoming fat-adapted. After realising it wasn’t necessary to continue like that solidly, though, I’ve since found an approach that has completely stopped my hair falling out (and also stopped feeling like my heart was pounding out of my chest at night which also obvs caused some sleep problems.)
    I think the main reason why our bodies have reacted in this way is because in some people the body thinks it’s in a permanent state of fight or flight because of (as I understand it) the fasting-mimicking aspect of being in ketosis which can put chronic stress on the body. See this JAMA study (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1199154), for example, which states “Although the very low-carbohydrate diet produced the greatest improvements in most metabolic syndrome components examined herein, we identified 2 potentially deleterious effects of this diet. Twenty-four hour urinary cortisol excretion, a hormonal measure of stress, was highest with the very low-carbohydrate diet.” So what I prefer to do is still get the benefits of being in ketosis but do so cyclically to avoid the body sensing it’s in a permanent fasted state and hence stop it from producing too much cortisol. This stops unwanted side-effects like hair falling out, pounding heart and an inability to sleep, and can be done in different ways.
    To do this you can follow the ‘carb-up’ approach, promoted by Lianne Vogel of Healthful Pursuit – this is when you eat healthy carbs (it’s not a green light to binge-eat cookies sadly enough!) at certain times of day which allow you to sleep well at night and, as she points out, keep your hormones happy. She’s a great person to follow for this kind of approach and has a load of informative videos and advice on her site.
    I take a similar approach to Lianne’s – I eat within a relatively short eating window (a 10-hour window of between 6am to 4pm) and I’m less strict on the carbs than I was. This allows 14 hours for digestion and for the body to have a cyclical (short) period of being in ketosis. (If you’re fat-adapted and do a lot of exercise, as I am/do, you can more easily slip in and out of ketosis.) I used to do a similar restricted-time approach when I was 100% keto but it was later in the day. The problem with this, though, was that it contributed to the problems I was having at night with a pounding heart and a feeling of being madly alert/not being able to sleep. Since I’ve had a Fitbit with 24-hr heart monitoring I’ve been able to see what happens at night-time when I eat late in the day: my heart rate at night is much higher while it’s digesting and I don’t sleep as well. By contrast, if I finish the eating window by 4pm (latest 5ish) my body has time to digest food well and then my heart rate is in the 50s overnight. (I’ve also tried longer fasts of up to 5 days btw.) It wasn’t just the eating late that was the issue for me – I realised I wasn’t necessarily getting all the micronutrients I needed in spite of trying to replace electrolytes, etc. So I track my micronutrients these days and recommend using Cronometer rather than My Fitness Pal to do this – after all, as we know from the many comments on this, ketonians need even higher levels of some micros such as potassium, so it’s important to keep track of these rather than guessing/hoping for the best.
    Got loads more I could say but this is long enough already I think! :-)
  41. sue kennedy
    Castor oil, cold pressed, organic taken internally and used topically will restore your hair in a matter of weeks!
  42. 1 comment removed
  43. Nicole
    This is for Dee 123...if you are on LCLF diet and you are losing your hair you should increase your healthy fat intake. This should help with hair growth. If you are on LCHF -Keto diet you may be lacking potassium in your diet.
    A potassium deficiency, also called hypokalemia, can actually cause your hair to fall out. High-salt diets cause excess sodium accumulation around the hair follicles, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients required for healthy hair. This, in turn causes hair loss. Increasing potassium intake will remove excess sodium and eliminate the potassium deficiency and resulting hair loss.
    Hope this helps :)
  44. 1 comment removed
  45. Deb
    Well what a relief that I am not alone in this hair loss. I was so interested to read all the comments on this and will give it a few months before totally panicking. I have lost a considerable amount of hair at the side, and a patch at the back. I am in UK and the doctors don't want to know. I had blood test which was inconclusive and they have just put it down to stress. No wonder I'm blooming stressed, I can't even get an appointment with the GP regarding this! They just say on phone that there is nothing they can do. I have bought Regaine from internet in the hope this will help but I am shocked by the total disinterest of the medical profession.
  46. Laura
    This is so helpful! I had thought it was the 3 weeks of metformin I took last April when first diagnosed. I went on LCHF and reversed my diabetes but noticed hair loss 6 months later. Pleased to report it has grown back - lots of fuzzy short hairs have appeared. My husband started LCHF 4 months ago and his hair has thinned, hopefully it will start to grow back in a couple of months.

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