Bad breath? Check. Weird rash? Check. Flu-like symptoms? Check, check, check. Sure, the keto diet may be great for weight loss, but it does cause a whole slew of side effects. Including something not-so-fab (but thankfully temporary): hair loss.
First though, a refresher on what this eating regime actually entails.
The keto diet involves lots of fat, moderate amounts of protein and very little carbohydrates (20-30 grams per day.) As a result, our blood sugar levels drop and, instead of sugar, the body begins breaking down fat to use as its primary fuel source. This leads to a build-up of acids called ‘ketones’ in the bloodstream - a process known as ‘ketosis.’=
“Weight loss, less brain fog, stable blood sugar levels and better moods are a few of the reasons the keto diet has become so popular,” accredited practising dietician Natalie Von Bertouch tells Women’s Health. “But unfortunately, these benefits aren’t always sustainable in the long run.”
Reason being, limiting your carb and protein intake can cut out many nutritious foods from the diet (e.g. whole grains, legumes, fruit, dairy and starchy veg.)
“This can put a person at risk of developing certain deficiencies and can lead to malnutrition over time,” Von Bertouch explains.
And one of the most common symptoms of malnutrition? You guessed it: hair loss, although it’s not the only plausible trigger: Intermittent fasting can cause disruptions to the metabolism and hormonal processes, which can put the body under significant stress. This can impact the thyroid, your adrenals and can even provoke an autoimmune response – all of which can also contribute to thinning tresses.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be permanent. In fact, by making a few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle (i.e. addressing any deficiencies and eliminating any additional stressors in your life) you can totally counteract this.
That said, if you notice hair loss in conjunction with any of the below symptoms while following the keto diet, it’s worth getting in touch with your doctor:
- Thirstiness or dry mouth
- Frequent urination
- Dry or flushed skin
- Trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain