Why do people appear to lose hair when they go on a ketogenic diet

(Richard Morris) #1

It’s called telogen effluvium. That can happen with any diet where you go through transitory periods of caloric deficit. The way hair grows is that each follicle goes through 3 stages;


Anagen (Growth) where the hair uses a lot of energy to grow - this phase usually lasts 3-6 years

Catagen (Change) where the hair stops growing and lasts a few weeks and the root of the hair grows into a club that anchors the hair into the follicle but it’s not longer capable of growing.

Telogen (Rest) where the hair just sits there waiting for around 5-6 weeks until eventually it falls out.

And the cycle repeats.

Normally every hair on your body is randomly in one of these 3 phases, and you don’t notice hair fall because less than 100 hairs on your body every day are falling out.

So think about when you went on a ketogenic diet. Your cells had been used to abundant glucose all their lives, and suddenly you change the program to giving them mostly fatty acids to run on. They will adapt to become better at using fatty acids but that doesn’t happen over night it can take 2-6 weeks during which your available energy for optional tasks is limited and your cells miserly dole out energy just to critical tasks.

Optional uses of energy include growing hair, extending nails, replacing the proteins in your skin, making extra enzymes just in case, running your immune system at full strength, keeping your body temperature at 37.2C instead of at 36.1C … all of these are optional processes that can be furloughed until after a few weeks you have abundant energy again.

So what happens is when their is a drop in energy more hairs than usual will switch from anagen (growth) to catagen (change) to telogen (rest) and about 100 days after the change in energy availability you see more hair fall out every day than the 100 you normally see purely by random.

The good news is that all those hair follicles will enter the anagen phase at the same time and a few months down the road you might have thicker hair than you traditionally did.

(Karen) #2

Very interesting. I knew about the process but you put it forward really well, in an easy to understand way. Thank you … always good to remind yourself of these facts as I personally just went through the fall stage and it was just dropping out in clumps when I was washing it and that was after I had brushed it through beforehand whilst dry. I was thinking it was just because I had allowed it to become a bit dry with the heatwave we had recently. It is feeling soft and conditioned again now. Oh and I don’t use shampoo … been poo-free for a whole year.


When I started my carnivore plan I never had a calorie deficit. In fact I ate more kcals LOL When I did my low carb plans I never in a kcal deficit actually.

So talking kcal deficit thru glucose intake and making life all about protein/fat intake then yea I can ‘see the words used as kcal deficit’ in a way. Dump glucose kcals and replace by the good protein/fat kcals…ok it works!

So for me the ‘little bit of hair loss’ that I did see ----for me----was ALL about hormone change, body changes dumping from glucose burn to ketone burn only and ‘that was my personal thoughts’ plus my personal age…being older I put some of it to my age but being younger, I would put that to a person being ‘all about their changes’ as their bodies dump toxins, their bodies adapt to ketones and flips to fat adaption and more.

My gray hair in my roots (cause I color blond) are not ‘as gray anymore’ they are rooting in more ‘dirty blond’ darker and I friggin’ love that…shows me my more whitey type gray was more about health and now being carnivore my roots are coming in more dirty blond medium brown with some gray tones…but yea I am gonna still color LOL

Cool info tho


no poo…what are ya doing for it?

I color and use some mousse to help curls and a tad of hair spray on occasion so I need the poo still to wipe that out of my hair but what do you do?

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #5

Don’t get me started, please… :innocent:


hey on carnivore we almost are poo free in a way :partying_face:
well at least from those nasty poo issues :clown_face:
too funny!

(Karen) #7

I sometimes use a mask or a conditioner. I have some Wen product leftovers from when I used to subscribe. I have about third of a jar of their deep co dictionary left and use that occasionally. Stopped subscribing to Wen a few years ago, that shows how rare I actually use it. I also use Philip Kingsley Elasticiser. It is meant to be put on and rinsed out but I use only a small amount and leave it on like a leave in conditioner. I let my hair dry naturally for the most part only use the dryer/diffuser as and when I need it dried quickly to go out.

My hair is naturally curly/wavy/kinky and I have a few odd straight hairs lol so quite the combo. Hate my hair lol. Haven’t coloured it for nearly 2 years as 8 wanted to see how grey it was but like you my greys have become more light brown/blonde since going carnivore. In fact my hair looks as though I have had highlights put through it! I am considering going back to colouring it as I always used to dye it Black. I have just ordered Hairstory which is not a shampoo as I couldn’t bear to use shampoo ever again. Will let you know how I get on with it. I go days without washing my hair and it feels fine… no itchy scalp since day one of not shampooing and at times I could have sctached my scalp off when I shampooed used to drive me insane!


My sister went from paleo to nearly carnivore (ketovore) a few months ago. She has areas of her hair, which are grey, where the new growth is starting to come in dark (her hair was naturally dark brown before going grey).

(Richard Morris) #9

There is a difference between calories that you put in you mouth and calories of ATP available for hair growth. Firstly there are no calories in food. Calories are a unit of energy - food is just potential energy, fuel if you will. You need to digest molecules of fuel, you need to get them transported through your circulation, you need to get them across the plasma membrane of your cell, get them in and out of buffer storage, get them across the mitochondrial membranes, into your mitochondrial matrix converted into the generic fuel (acetyl-CoA) and then turned into protons in the inner mitochondrial space which finally makes molecules of ATP.

The problem is all that requires new machinery to be spun up as you switch between different fuel sources. So when you first go keto despite apparently eating a lot of “calories” of fat, you just don’t use it that well and it takes adaptation before the rate you can run this process can be fuel efficient.


ok, cool but when I read caloric deficit and it is in reference to changes in diet, mostly it means eating less food, taking in less as in CICO in any dieting world chat. My mind jumped to that instantly.

but I get ya on what you are implying now.

(Wendy) #14

Love the information. Gives me hope. Have been ZC carnivore for going on 3 solid months. Having my thyroid panel run. Have been on .75mg levothyroxine for many yrs. My hair is horrible! And I’ve been a hairdresser for 47yrs!! Really hard to be loosing hair Soo bad I had to cut 4" off. With the hope will look healthier. I have been through a lot of health changes. All for the good. Guess il just hang in there. :crossed_fingers:

(Robin) #15

Wendy, I experienced that too. Many of us have. Time should take care of it. But if I were you I would start taking collagen peptides powder. I have seen great improvements in hair, nails, age spots, wrinkles. It took several months to really notice significant change, but I tell every women I know to start taking it now. I wish I had started years ago.

(Wendy) #16

That’s what I was thinking too. So I just got some Mother natures organics Unflavored Collagen. It says to take it 1x a day. Do you take it more than once a day?? Hope it helps with the skin also. There’s a lot of things I wish I would have started yrs ago. But I guess it’s never too late!! Thank you for your suggestion!! :slight_smile:

(Edith) #17

Also, make sure what you are eating is as nutrient dense as possible, There are not a lot of nutrients in fat, so the amount of calories you are ingesting that contain vitamins and minerals via carbs and protein is very small. Hair is made from protein. Make sure you are getting enough.

(Wendy) #18

All I eat is Butter,beef tallow,eggs,beef,
Bacon. Elk, venison. I have started Collagen. 1x a day. I do take a BHT blocker from Advanced Trichology. It also has immune support. O- carbs.
Eating enough?? I’m not sure… I eat 2 x a day.

(Robin) #19

I put it in my coffee in the morning every day. I hope you have the same fabulous results I have. Just be patient.

(Wendy) #20

Just 1x a day?? I put it in hot water and butter. Then use my nutribullet. Super good!!!

(Robin) #21

Yes, just once a day. After about a year (I think) I reduced the dose by half. From 2 scoops to one. I always assume companies want you to reorder asap. I have NO problem with that when dealing with hair loss etc. go for it!
But after a year of maintenance, I’ve decided to cut back. So far, no difference.

(Wendy) #22

Okay, this particular brand says 1 scoop. A day. So I guess I will continue. :crossed_fingers: Thanks nice to get a woman’s opinion.


No comment from me.

Male pattern baldness will ensue, as will wisdom.