After 10 years on a ketogenic diet, I can unequivocally say the keto diet causes hair loss!
It was coming out by the handful and not growing back, until I made some changes.
I went to a new hairdresser and we got to talking about the keto diet (as I tend to do, I can’t help myself.) And she said that she only went on it for about 3 months and while she did lose weight, being in the hairdressing game, she did notice her hair become considerably thinner in that short time. Her cousin though had been on a keto diet for longer and lost at least half the volume of her hair.
It happened to me too. I had visited my old Gold Coast hairdresser and she was shocked at how thin my hair had become. You could see tufts of it growing back slowly along my hairline.
And on Instagram, a lovely lady I follow, Simmy Tan who has now shifted to Ray Peat style of eating after years of dieting, showed a photo of considerable bald patches forming on her head.
(Her subsequent recovery was a great story to follow as she grew all her hair back and even competed in figure body building competitions. Unfortunately in the last 6 months she has changed her instagram name and while she pops up on my feed from time to time her account is now set to private.)
A quick look on the net reveals the keto diet causes hair loss for loads of people with the explanation being that it is a response caused by metabolic or hormonal stress in the body. With some saying “don’t worry, stay on the diet, it grows back!”
Are you kidding me?
Keep eating in a way that stresses and damages your body, just for the sake of weight loss? The thinning hair is just one clue as to what is going on inside your body and it gets much worse than that!
So I wanted to write this because I still see everywhere – the recommendations for a keto diet, (example above is a case in point – your body is falling apart but keep going!) Even the medical industry is getting in on the act now recommending it and it is becoming mainstream.
The seduction of it is obvious – it works quite quickly in terms of weight loss, so the majority of people who are after the quick fix are happy. It even seems to improve people’s health markers like cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels; at the beginning anyway. But is there any research for long-term effects? Because remember it took 10 years before my body went haywire and all these things start to happen. (Read more here.)
I haven’t seen any long-term research. So all we have, is people like myself, the others listed above, even some of those who write about this now like Kate Deering and Cheryl Frost, who have all felt the negative consequences of keto for some years. All of us went off in a different direction to find answers because at some point it stopped working and we all felt like crap.
So here’s the main takeaway of my rant this week
The pursuit of weight loss should never be at the expense of your health.
When I went down the keto path, I had no idea it could potentially damage my health – no one promoting keto ever says it or warns you about it even now. So having lived it for 10 years, here is my warning – approach with caution. Do what you want to do, but educate yourself and just be aware; a keto diet is stressful for the body.
Instead of giving the body the exact fuel it needs in the form it needs it – that is easily digestible simple sugars, as glucose is the fuel for all cells – we are forcing it to have to work really hard to convert fats and proteins down into glucose to feed the cells.
It does it to a smaller extent all the time anyway, but in keto eating you are forcing it to do it all the time, to convert all of your fuel requirements and that’s a hard slog. And worse still, it sometimes also breaks down your body tissue – muscles, organs etc to get the glucose it needs. (Bye bye hard earned muscles!)
Be aware of symptoms
So if you are still eating a keto diet, listen to your body and if you start to notice any of these symptoms…
- low pulse rate – below 70 bpm
- low body temperature – below 36.7C (98F) waking temp
- thinning hair
- dry skin
- cold hands and feet
- cold most of the time
- thin eyebrows on outer half
- puffy face
- brain fog
- weight gain, and more…
…take action immediately because your thyroid is taking a hammering and you could do permanent damage. At that stage Keto hair loss will be the least of your worries!
This is why I, and the others I have been reading about, are moving to a more nourishing way to eat, that supports hormones and leads to optimal health. I’m not sure if we’ve all worked it out perfectly yet, but we’re working on it!*
*2022 Update: we HAVE worked it out and the answers are in my book the Zen Beach Diet. Join hundreds of women who are now on track and feeling fantastic. The book is available worldwide for immediate download here.