A quick Google search on keto hair loss will reveal to you many stories of people who’ve suffered some sort of hair issue while on a low carb high fat ketogenic diet. Is it true that keto diets cause hair thinning and hair loss? There can be several different reasons your hair is thinning out on your low carb diet.
By trying various natural hair loss remedies, and pinpointing any problems with your nutrition, you give yourself a better chance at getting to where the problem originates from.
There are so many factors to consider here when it comes to keto hair loss. Let’s look at 9 possible scenarios that may or may not be connected to your ketogenic diet.
1. Rapid Weight Loss, Ketogenic Diets & Hair Loss
If you’ve recently started a keto diet, have started losing weight, and now you’re noticing hair loss, it could be from the weight loss. This would be considered Telogen effluvium, a type of hair loss that stems from drastic or rapid weight loss in men or women. The good news is that this type of hair loss will almost always be temporary and things usually get back to normal in acute cases of Telogen effluvium.
As described by the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology,
If there is some “shock to the system”, as many as 70% of the scalp hairs are then shed in large numbers about 2 months after the “shock”. This sudden increase in hair loss, usually described as the hair coming out in handfuls, is acute telogen effluvium.
This temporary hair loss is tied to yo-yo dieting. It makes 90% of your head’s hair growth go into a “resting phase.” Normally, only 10% of the hair on your head is in the resting phase. This hair loss connected to keto diet weight loss slows the growth phase down as well. It can last up to 6 months. Anything longer than that would be considered chronic Telogen effluvium. The type of hair loss connected to ketogenic diets is more often the acute kind if you read other people’s experiences.
If your hair problems are a result of rapid keto weight loss, then it’s usually a couple months before things get back to normal. Biotin has been used successfully by many in this circumstance to help support their hair growth after a bout of shedding and thinning. Telogen effluvium caused by keto weight loss is a temporary annoyance that is best ignored. Hair follicles are still there waiting to sprout again, and usually do as you’ll witness from hair stubs coming in.
2. Biotin Deficiency From Keto Dieting
A biotin deficiency could cause hair loss on a ketogenic diet. If you’re doing a completely proper keto diet, and have been for a long time, there’s always the chance that your body is giving you a sign that a low carb high-fat diet is not right for you. However, there is proof showing that keto diets cause biotin deficiency. Because of this, if you feel great other than this annoyance of hair loss on a keto diet, then I’d look into upping your biotin intake. Either by eating more biotin foods or taking a biotin supplement. Before drawing any conclusions, I’d try to see if it’s the biotin deficiency causing the hair loss or thinning on your keto diet.
This study performed on mice showed that ketogenic diets can cause biotin deficiencies. It increases biotin bioavailability and consumption which results in exaggerated biotin deficiency in biotin-deficient mice. Here’s the concluding statement to the mice and biotin study:
Therefore, biotin supplementation is important for mice that consume the ketogenic diet. It is suggested that individuals that consume the ketogenic diet have an increased biotin requirement.
B Vitamins & Minerals During Keto Adaptation
Sometimes it’s all the B vitamins you’re missing out on. Not just biotin. If you’re not consuming extra B vitamins or minerals when becoming fat adapted in the beginning stages of your keto diet, this could be a good reason why you’re suffering keto hair loss. As a solution, add some nutritional yeast (for the B vitamins), minerals and trace minerals (trace minerals help proteins form in the body) and see what happens.
3. Alopecia And The Ketogenic Diet
Alopecia is a hair loss related autoimmune condition that comes in many forms. All forms of alopecia can be tied to hyperthyroidism, but there really is no exact cause known. It can come from other places. If it’s the thyroid, proper treatment will make the hair loss go away and reverse itself. Taking vitamins like a wholefood multivitamin or biotin can be great for your hair health on a keto diet, but if you have an underlying autoimmune condition, it probably can’t be fixed with vitamins. It needs a lifestyle change and restored thyroid health.
Many things can activate an autoimmune disease on the brink of getting triggered in your body. If this is the case, then something in your lifestyle (maybe even the keto diet) activated it. With this form of hair loss, it is said to resolve itself on its own as long as you take care of the problem.
4. Thyroid Disorder
Hypothyroidism is a form of autoimmune disease. It can come from leaky gut or from other factors. Make sure to take care of your thyroid and get tested if you think your keto hair loss could actually be from thyroid issues. On top of taking care of your thyroid, you can improve your hair with vitamins, minerals and foods rich in biotin, zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B12 and vitamin E.
5. Lack Of Calories
If the hair issues really are because of your low carb ketogenic diet, it could mean that you’re not consuming enough calories. It’s not good to eat low carb and low fat, thus dropping your calorie intake. If you’re not eating enough, your body will focus its energy on your vital organs and let up on things like strong hair follicles on your head. You need to consume enough calories.
If you’re missing out on calories because you’re new to the keto diet (or perhaps your meals are not big enough if you’re doing intermittent fasting/keto), then you’re not going to have the basic nutrients to feed and support the proteins of the body. This will affect your thyroid gland as well.
Avoid accidentally doing a low calorie diet. A low calorie diet is when you’re not consuming enough calories to meet your nutrient needs. Weak hair or hair loss, brittle nails, and low energy levels are good indicators to know if you’re getting enough nutrients from food or not.
The solution? Eat enough food with enough nutrients. You want nutrient dense foods, with a sufficient level of protein (learn more about how to calculate sufficient protein levels for you in the next keto hair loss factor).
If you are getting enough calories, maybe try mixing in some high carb days. “Carb ups” is the process of shocking your body in a good way that keeps it guessing and doesn’t get it too accustomed to the low carb diet. There’s another form of this where bodybuilders on a keto diet will time their carbs around their workouts. A feast and famine cyclical ketogenic diet (CKD) will usually solve this problem for you in the most natural way. You get to enjoy a “carb up” day 3 or 4 times per month, usually followed by a fast to complete the “feast and famine” keto diet cycle. This occasional high carb day seems to be the cure for many’s hair problems on ketogenic diets.
6. Lack Of Dietary Protein
Not consuming enough protein is a good indicator as to why you’re losing your hair on a keto diet. It’s simply nutrient deficiency. If you’re not hungry, they say it’s good to listen to your body and lay off the food, but at some point you’re going to need to fulfill your nutrient requirements, especially protein when it comes to hair and nail health.
In the following keto hair loss video presentation by Dr. Berg, he starts off with some good news, saying that if you’re losing hair on keto or intermittent fasting, it’s most likely going to come back and grow more.
If your keto diet doesn’t include enough protein, this can cause hair loss and hair thinning.
When on a keto diet, although it’s not a high protein diet (unless you’re doing the Melissa McCarthy style high protein keto diet), it’s also far from a low protein diet. An optimal ketogenic diet, as one practiced and talked about in Dr. Mercola’s, Fat For Fuel, is a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet.
In my personal opinion, I’d much rather eat too much protein (and get kicked out of ketosis), than eat too little and suffer the consequences from protein deficiency. How much protein should you eat? Opinions vary, but on average you should have at least 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. 90 grams of protein for a person who weighs 180 would be a safe number almost on the high side (we don’t need as much protein as we think).
A quick calculation for sufficient protein consumption: 0.37 grams of protein (not total grams which includes fats, water, etc.) X your body weight. So, 180 X 0.37 (minimum) or 0.7 (maximum) will give you a good amount of protein to shoot for each day if you weigh 180 pounds.
Our keto macros blog post shares three different options for calculating your protein macronutrient targets for a well-rounded ketogenic diet.
7. Adrenal Fatigue & Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency can cause hair loss. Ferritin is a protein that helps us have adequate iron levels. There’s a connection between adrenal fatigue and iron deficiency.
If you have low ferritin levels (and thus low iron), this can cause symptoms that are similar to hypothyroidism such as hair thinning, hair loss, breathlessness, GI issues, etc. (source)
8. Gut Health
Leaky gut syndrome is a sneaky health issue that causes major health problems. Among them, autoimmune disease. While adopting a new keto lifestyle, you should pay extra attention to your gut health as it’s easier to avoid gut healthy fibers if you don’t eat enough low carb vegetables.
Taking a good look at your nutrition and current lifestyle factors (sleep, sun exposure, prescription medications) will help you pinpoint everything contributing to your leaky gut, and therefore, your autoimmune disease symptoms such as hair thinning and hair loss.
It’s another of the many health factors to look into, as it can be connected to your keto hair loss. Health supplements including collagen, l-glutamine, and zinc can help with gut health, but this requires a lifestyle change more so than added products to get to the real root of the gut health problem.
9. Stress And Keto Hair Loss
The last thing on this list could easily be the first. If you’re dealing with hair issues on your keto diet, it may be best to reevaluate the advantages of lugging around that stress versus giving in to whatever keto-related thing is making you stress. For example, if you’re so strict with a keto diet that you haven’t eaten high carbs in months, it’s probably a good idea to loosen up on yourself. This, in fact, could be your problem as carb loading has been known to help many people on a keto diet. And it will help lessen your stress.
If you’re losing your hair, stressing out about it unfortunately makes things worse. What I think helps (if you’re a guy), is watching a bunch of Jason Statham movies, so you can see that pulling off the bald look is very doable. Worst case scenario, hair transplants have come a long way since the Nick Cage days. The bottom line is that you can do something about it, so you might as well stop overthinking it.
If this hair loss has come on 1 to 3 months after starting a ketogenic diet, then rest assured this is temporary. One thing you can do to ensure a speedy return to normalcy is the following 5 natural hair loss remedies. They can all be done concurrently.
5 Keto Hair Loss Tips
1. Essential Oils For Keto Hair Loss
Rubbing a little mixture of coconut oil, castor oil and rosemary oil into your hairline to strengthen the hairs coming in, and taking a biotin supplement to further support this hair coming in is not a bad idea. Biotin is not something you can use topically. Use hair strengthening essential oils (and maybe a dab of some lavender essential oil on your temples for stress).
Good Oils To Use:
- Castor Oil
- Almond Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Argan Oil
- Cedar wood Oil
- Lavender Oil
There are many more than just these oils listed above that are recommended to help prevent hair loss and to strengthen and invigorate your hair follicles.
2. Light Head Massage and Light Brushing
You can do the oils and the massage together to tackle 2 natural hair loss birds with one stone. Besides the head massage, light brushing can also help stimulate your hair follicles. If you have pimples on your hairline, this could be a sign of something else going on inside, like an overtaxed liver. Take care to be extra gentle during bouts of acne in these areas and make sure to use a natural hair loss shampoo like the coffee one in the next point I’m about to describe, to keep your hair and scalp clean.
Head massage for keto hair loss
3. Caffeine Shampoo For Hair Loss Prevention
I got one of these coffee shampoos from a local farmer’s market in Thailand. The Thai company that has made this exact same formula for over 20 years. They gave me a couple travel pieces to go along with the bottle. I think it’s one of the best hair regrowth products simply due to its fresh coffee aroma. Plus, it’s good to know that the caffeine helps invigorate my scalp and works as a great hair loss remedy. This is its selling point.
I’m not sure of its dht blocker capabilities, but I think it’s one of the best shampoos for hair loss prevention simply due to the lack of chemicals and its potential effectiveness. It’s free of all the sulfates, and unreadable chemicals and colors, and it contains a few of the best essential the oils for hair regrowth.
Here is one of the better coffee shampoos I’ve seen on Amazon, but it’s not as good as this one I got at the farmer’s market. Amazon has everything, but not a big selection of natural coffee caffeine shampoos.
Update: Here are pictures of the shampoo for thinning hair I got at the farmer’s market:
The brand is called, Anantra, and it’s especially formulated for hair regrowth. And here’s their shampoo ingredients:
- castor oil
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- ginger oil
- other extracts great for keto hair loss prevention.
They key with a good shampoo to help instead of hurt the issue of hair loss going on, is to not use one with a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce or even spell if your life depended on it. These to me signal something unnecessary. I don’t want to pay for extra bubbles or a fake, nice scent at the cost of my health, or in this case, keto hair loss.
Even if it’s because of keto and it’s temporary, you want to stop using these cheap products that can damage your health in many ways after a while. It doesn’t help your case for healing your thyroid either. One of the very first things they recommend those suffering any autoimmune condition to do, is to stop the use of all chemical products, from the bathroom to the kitchen to the laundry room.
4. Derma Roller For Keto Hair Loss
The derma roller can be used in conjunction with essential oils or alone. They come with different microneedle lengths, from 0.25 mm all the way up to 1.5 mm in length. They go right down and help stimulate hair follicle growth.
Microneedling works by stimulation of stem cells and inducing activation of growth factors. In this randomized blinded study on the effect of microneedling with dermarollers in Androgenetic Alopecia, they concluded that yes, it works. And it works really good.
Results from the microneedling study:
The results were pretty amazing.
Hair counts – The mean change in hair count at week 12 was significantly greater for the Microneedling group compared to the Minoxidil group (91.4 vs 22.2 respectively).
Here’s an image from the study:
The study concluded that “microneedling is a safe and promising tool for hair stimulation and also useful to treat hair loss refractory to Minoxidil therapy.”
As far as hair counts, the mean change in hair count at the 12 week mark was “significantly greater for the Microneedling group compared to the Minoxidil group.”
Best Derma Roller To Buy?
It comes down to the needle length. They vary. In the study mentioned above, they used a dermaroller with 1.5 mm sized microneedles.
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How To Use?
This is a good presentation showing how to do a proper dermaroller procedure with essential oils for hair loss:
In the study, the microneedling procedure was done on a weekly basis for 12 weeks.
What they did was they rolled the dermaroller over the affected areas of the scalp “in a longitudinal, vertical, and diagonal directions until mild erythema was noted (which was considered as the end point of the procedure).”
5. Eating More Biotin Foods
Biotin has shown to be effective at sparking hair growth and the regrowth of thicker hair. And ketogenic diets have been shown to make you deficient in biotin. The solution? Eat more biotin foods and/or take a biotin supplement if you’re on a ketogenic diet.
Here are some of the top biotin supplements currently available online.
Adults only need 30 micrograms of biotin daily (source), so taking a biotin such as the ones with 500 mcg are not needed if you’re eating plenty of biotin-containing foods. However, if your keto diet is still causing a deficiency and you’re still noticing hair thinning symptoms, a biotin supplement ranging anywhere upwards of 10,000 mcg per day is a popular route that many take.
Foods High In Biotin
Other than a biotin supplement, a handful of biotin rich keto foods like cheese, egg yolks, nuts, fish, meat or organ meats should be enough. Biotin is found in non-ketogenic diet-friendly foods also, like bananas.
Keto Hair Loss Prevention
Doing these five natural hair loss remedies at the same time could help you hold on just long enough while you take care of the real underlying issues causing this autoimmune condition of hair loss. They provide great support for keto hair loss and for any other general reasons for hair loss.
When it comes to the ketogenic diet and hair loss, it more than likely is an acute case of telogen effluvium, and it will be temporary. However, due to the study on mice, it might be wise to start getting more biotin. If it’s truly keto hair loss, chances are your hair will stop shedding and grow back strong once this current resting phase is over. Biotin can be key for some. Waiting it out works for many too. Most seem to get their luscious hair back either through carb ups, biotin supplements or simply by letting the body adjust.
While waiting this out and practicing a keto diet, just do your best to not think about it, temporary or not, a good counteractive measure you can take right now is a combination of natural hair loss remedies. From coffee shampoos to essential castor oil mixtures, these will all help you have healthier hair and could potentially help stop hair loss as well.
Additional Information on Hair Loss and Keto:
- Roland Peralta interview with Dave Asprey after a 15 year struggle with hair loss
- Dr. Dan Pompa on How To Fix Hair Loss and Hormone Imbalance
- Early facial signs of hypothyroidism
- Keto Health Expert Louise’s personal experience with keto hair loss
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