Let’s say you are on your weight loss journey to lose a few extra pounds or try to get back into a healthy weight range -- good for you!
But, a few months in you may start noticing unwanted changes to your hair if you aren’t careful, namely hair thinning and excessive shedding.
Not all weight loss means that your hair will suffer, but if you rush into a very restrictive diet, skip out on necessary nutrients, or run on too much of a deficiency each day, your hair may protest.
Below, we will cover why hair loss might happen when you are losing weight, how to structure your diet to help avoid the risks of losing some hair, and what you can do if you have already experienced hair loss from losing weight.
It is possible to go overboard when you are starting out on a weight-loss mission. You may extremely cut back on your caloric intake while burning off even more through exercise.
And, while this may help the scale dial back pretty quickly, you may be damaging your hair (or your body) at the same time.
Of course, the goal is to make your body healthier through your weight loss journey, not put it under undue stress and trigger hair shedding.
The mayo clinic recommends structuring your weight loss plan to aim for losing 1-2 pounds per week. Anything more than that may be a little too extreme. It can be done, of course, but it may not be good for your body or hair.
Not eating enough protein can be a common mistake that is made when you are starting a new diet.
But, since adequate protein is needed to help maintain your muscle volume, energy levels, as well as healthy skin and hair, you don’t want to miss out on getting your recommended amount each day.
Hair is mostly composed of protein, so in order for it to grow as fast and healthy as possible, you need to be hitting your protein goals. If your body is not getting enough protein, it will likely choose to give whatever protein it does have into life-sustaining processes, and not have extra to lend to your hair.
Here is a protein intake calculator to help you figure out what your daily protein goals should be -- even when you are dieting.
Be careful when choosing a new diet to ensure that is not overly restrictive, instead choose one that contains a range of fruits, grains, proteins, and vegetables to ensure that all the vitamin and mineral boxes are being checked each day.
If a diet recommends that you eat only a small handful of foods each and every day (looking at you, banana diet), you may be hitting your calorie goals, but it is unlikely that you have given your body the wide range of vitamins and minerals that it needs to function properly and maintain your hair.
If you are planning on going vegetarian or vegan, a B12 and vitamin D supplement are musts.
Adequate iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A are all needed to help maintain healthy hair growth, and a long-term deficiency in these could lead to hair losses (in addition to other problems in your body).It is best to get all of your vitamins and minerals through food intake. But, if you are unsure that your new diet covers all of the nutrient bases to help prevent hair shedding, you can add in a daily multivitamin to play it safe.
If your hair loss started about 2-3 months after you began your diet, or if you had very sudden weight loss from a health condition, you may be experiencing a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium.
This type of hair loss is often sudden and leads to hair coming out rapidly in a diffuse pattern (not clumps or well-defined patches). Telogen effluvium happens when your body goes through a very stressful period, like losing weight too rapidly, a surgery, giving birth, or a severe illness. With telogen effluvium, up to 50% of your individual hair follicles are shifted out of the growing (anagen) phase into the resting (telogen) phase, which then progress to the shedding phase. Since, normally, only about 10% of your hairs are in this telogen phase, having a much higher percentage of hair shift all at once may make you start noticing a huge increase in shedding than what you are used to.
Luckily, for most people dealing with telogen effluvium, once the stressor is stopped or taken away (like very rapid weight loss), the hairs tend to return to their normal growth cycle after 3-6 months, with a full recovery in 6-12 months.
If you have already experienced hair loss from very quick, overly restrictive, or nutrient-lacking dieting, you may need to give your hair a little extra TLC for it to get back to normal.
Step one is choosing a healthier diet plan with an emphasis on nutrition, adequate-protein, and making sure you are not losing weight too fast.
Next, you may be able to help stimulate faster healthy hair growth by taking a hair, skin, and nail vitamin or using a topical medication with Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine).
Finasteride is a common prescription medication for hair loss in men. But, this targets the hormonal aspect of male pattern hair loss, and may not work for you if your hair loss is only nutrition or weight-loss-related and not hormonally driven.
Here at Strut Health, we offer prescription hair loss treatment in both oral and topical forms. We have options for men and women, and can adjust the formulation based on your needs.
If you are experiencing hair loss and want to see if a prescription medication is a good fit for you, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors.
If you are a good fit for treatment, your prescription can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.