You’ve done really well, the weight is starting to come off but something scary is happening. When you shower or brush your hair, big clumps come away.
Hair loss after weight loss is so scary to experience and it can be enough to make you question whether this journey is really worth it. If you are going to experience hair loss after weight loss, surely it’s a sign that something is really wrong.
Well it is, and it isn’t. I am going to explain why hair loss after weight loss is a common experience. I will also go into detail so you know what is normal about hair loss after weight loss and what is not.
It can be remedied if you are experiencing it and it can be reversed if you are already worried about your hair loss.
Toxic Diet Culture
Our approach to orthodox methods of weight loss, leaves many of us stuck in the toxic dieting mindset. Weight loss at any cost. Whether we have to deprive ourselves of calories, nutrition or miserably exist on shakes, battling hunger every day, it doesn’t matter as long as we see those results on the scale.
I know this from personal experience. After all, I have been dieting since I was 14 years old. I am an old pro who knows the lengths that we go to, to see weight loss, no matter how we have to achieve it.
The stance I take is anti toxic diet culture, despite being a weight loss coach. In my weight loss program Protein Priority Diet, excessive means are not allowed to lose weight. Long term calorie restriction is also banned and we practice reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting for weight loss
Reverse dieting simply means increasing your calorie intake to raise your metabolism after long term calorie restriction or dieting. Yes, you read that right. Increasing your calories, improving your metabolism while losing weight at the same time.
It sounds like some weight loss voodoo but it’s not. It’s highly scientific and it works. Just ask my members!
The Protein Priority Diet is different because you don’t practice long term calorie restriction until you get to your goal weight. That is a recipe for disaster.
Not only will you experience chronic and extreme hair loss, but it also makes it almost impossible to maintain the weight loss. Yo yo dieting is the direct result of toxic diet practices and restriction of calories and nutrients.
I do not, nor ever will support weight loss by any means. Break the toxic diet cycle for long term weight loss success.
Hair loss after weight loss – the normal amount
If you experience hair loss after weight loss, is usually caused by a health condition called Telogen Effluvium. This condition experienced during weight loss is usually acute. Meaning that it is temporary and sometimes dramatic, rather than chronic (something ongoing). When the ratio of fat and muscle in your body changes, and there is a big reduction in your BMI, this causes physical stress, which signals the hair follicles to move into an inactive stage. This means that new hair doesn’t grow.
Once your weight stabilises, your hair will begin growing again. This is the kind of hair loss after weight loss that I would consider normal. Yes it can be alarming to see your hair falling out and no new hair growing in its place. But this type of hair loss is temporary and will resolve when you stop losing weight or when your body adjusts to the new BMI.
Hair loss after weight loss – what is not normal
Once your weight stabilises or your weight loss slows you should begin to see an improvement in your hair growth. You can observe this in the tiny fluffy baby hairs that grow around the hairline. Like peach fuzz. It’s not possible to say how long it will take to see this new hair growth but I would suggest that if you don’t see new hair after three months, then it’s time to look at what else might be causing it.
If you don’t see new hair after three months, something else is going on.
Not enough calories
Go back to the point about toxic diet culture. If you have been sucked into one of the mainstream approaches to weight loss, yes I include keto, it can lead to long term hair loss. This is because of the full steam ahead, calorie restriction until you reach your weight loss goal. The longer you restrict calories the more damage you do to your body.
The fact is that calorie restriction is needed for weight loss. It’s also well known in the healthcare community that restricting calories can help with most health issues and help you live longer. I know you’re probably thinking that I have lost my mind because I was just saying how bad calorie restriction is! But there is a key difference here.
Low calorie for longer life – wait, what?
Long term calorie restriction and periodic calorie restriction are not the same thing. Long term calorie restriction is what we do in orthodox diet and weight loss programs. This “keep going until you get there” approach is extremely damaging to practically all your body’s systems.
Periodic calorie restriction, like the type we practice in the Protein Priority Diet, is the type of calorie restriction that works for longevity and health.
If you have been dieting for a long time, chances are you have done some metabolic damage which is affecting your hair growth. When you restrict the amount of calories your body has to work with, it will stop all non essential processes like menstrual cycle and hair growth.
To fix this issue, if you suspect that this is why your hair isn’t regrowing, you need to practice reverse dieting. Eating more, raising your metabolism and giving your body all of the calories it needs to produce new hair and improve the health of your existing follicles.
Not enough nutrition
You can be eating enough calories to lose weight and maintain your metabolism. But what about the nutrition that is in those calories? This is an internet argument I often find myself wading into because it’s criminally wrong.
A calorie is not a calorie. It does matter where it comes from. Carbs, fats and proteins are digested differently, contain different nutrients and are handled differently in our bodies. We cannot compare them.
It’s like saying all fruit is the same. If you’ve ever tried to eat a crabapple, you will know that they are nothing like normal apples. Even despite the fact that they are both apples.
- If you are eating a low carb diet full of replacement food. Protein shakes, protein bars, low carb desserts and replacement foods are not giving you whole nutrition.
- When you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, you are not getting whole nutrition.
- If you are eating a standard western diet, you are not getting whole nutrition.
- You have had bariatric surgery. Unless you are following a specific, nutritionally dense regime, you are not getting whole nutrition.
Nutrition deficiency hair loss after weight loss
If you aren’t getting enough nutrients, your body has to prioritise where it is going to use the nutrients you do have. But just like calorie restriction, if you are not getting enough nutrients, your hair growth will pause. For women, menstruation will stop or become erratic and your body temperature will also be affected You will feel cold more often.
To fix hair your loss after weight loss, caused by insufficient nutrition, eat whole foods first. Whole foods that are either chewing grass in a field, growing on a tree or a bush or swimming in water. Try to eat natural whole foods that made in nature like cheese, yoghurt and honey. If the majority of your calories come from these foods, you’re pretty much guaranteed that you are getting good nutrition.
Not enough protein
This one is probably the most important. I have experienced this myself after a year or so on a lower protein keto diet. I switched to high protein, moderate fat and low carb to fix my hair loss. It worked and it worked quickly.
You are literally protein, it’s what you are made of. Protein needs protein to regenerate meaning that you need to eat enough good quality protein (animal protein mainly) to stay in optimum health.
This can be hard on a weight loss diet because you are restricting calories for periods. So you have to prioritise protein.
Start the day off with a high protein breakfast (read why breakfast is important here) with eggs, milk (if you can tolerate it), meat, cheese or other protein.
Add some easy to digest carbs to help with hormone balance like squash, carrot, or other mid level carb vegetables. I recommend eating meals that are high in protein, moderate in fat and low in carbs, up to a maximum of 90g of carbs.
I know that it might surprise you that 40g of carbs is considered low. But this is in comparison to 300g+ per day, that people eat, on a standard western diet. You don’t need to be in ketosis to lose weight, by the way, so if you have experienced hair loss, thyroid issues or are feeling cold all of the time, it might not be the best thing to be in ketosis anyway.
What else can help?
Supplements can make a difference both in the short and long term. I wouldn’t recommend you rely on them as your main source of nutrients. Supplements can be powerful aids. However, it’s much better to get your nutrition from whole food sources.
This is because we still don’t understand the whole picture of nutrition. Isolating a vitamin or a mineral might seem like a good idea on the surface. But what we are missing is the interaction between different vitamins and minerals when taken together as part of a whole food diet.
This is what that interaction looks like:
I recommend to all my private clients that they take a good quality collagen supplement like bovine or marine collagen. Collagen is a protein that makes up 25% to 35% of your whole body. When you take collagen supplements, you are giving your body whole proteins. It can use these without too much effort to digest them.
Protein takes a lot of energy to digest. When you eat protein, your body uses 25% of the calories you have eaten from the protein to digest the food. That is hard work. So giving your body a boost of easy to digest protein will help with healing and regeneration. This is especially so after long term chronic calorie restriction.
Even now, despite being on a high protein diet for many years, I still take collagen every day. Are you curious to learn more about how the Protein Priority Diet works for weight loss? Or how to use reverse dieting to protect your metabolism? If so, reach out to me, let’s chat!