You step on the scale and see you’ve lost a few pounds! Or you finally fit into a smaller size pair of jeans! But then you also notice clumps of hair falling out while washing your hair. Is this normal? Can weight loss cause hair loss?
Weight Loss and Hair Loss
Hair loss from weight loss is a normal occurrence, especially when weight loss is rapid and significant.
Finding the right balance between dieting and proper nutrition can be tricky for some. And inadequate protein, iron, and other nutrients contribute to hair fall associated with weight loss.
Hair is basically made up of protein so when your diet is low in protein, your body will allocate whatever protein it gets to parts of the body that play crucial functions and are needed for survival. Because the hair is neither, it will only get whatever protein is left over.
A highly calorie-restricted diet can also cause hair loss because it puts the body under physical stress. And any kind of stress usually leads to telogen effluvium, wherein hair enters the telogen or resting stage. The result is the thinning of hair. Mental stress, especially chronic stress, is also associated with both weight loss and hair loss.
What Can You Do to Prevent or Minimize Hair Loss?
Hair loss as a result of weight loss (from a weight-loss program) is only temporary. It will stop when you stop losing weight; if sustained weight loss is your goal, then does this mean you will simply have to live with continued hair loss, as well?
Excessive hair loss is common among individuals who lose a lot of weight, such as those who were previously overweight or obese. In fact, the greater the weight loss, the greater the hair loss. Hair can fall out by the handful, especially during washing, and it also becomes finer. As the weight eventually balances out, hair loss also gradually improves. And there are steps you can take to minimize the fallout, pun intended, and help normalize hair growth.
- Keep track of your protein intake. Make sure you get at least 46 grams a day, which is the average recommended daily intake.
- Alternatively, use an online food calculator to find out your specific protein needs per day based on your weight and physical activity level.
- Supplement your diet with zinc from natural sources, such as broccoli, spinach, fig, avocado, and eggs. Zinc is essential to hair growth.
- Even on a calorie-restricted diet, make sure are not eating too small an amount every day that your body can’t even support healthy hair growth. You should consider increasing your calorie intake if you notice excessive hair loss.
- Eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to add more iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E to your diet. These contribute to healthy hair growth.
- Ask your doctor about taking a zinc supplement or a biotin supplement.
- Start taking a multivitamin to supplement your RDA for vitamins and minerals.
- Aim for no more than 2 pounds of weight loss per week. The more weight you lose per week, the higher the likelihood that you will suffer from hair loss.
Weight Loss and Hair Loss – The Bottomline
Hair loss is a normal side effect of weight loss, especially when the latter is significant and happens over a relatively short period of time. When dieting leads to improper nutrition, the lack of certain nutrients, such as protein and iron, often leads to too much hair fall. The physical stress that the body experiences as it loses weight also forces the hair to enter its inactive stage, or the telogen stage, which not only causes hair to fall out but also halts the growth of new hair.
When following any weight-loss program, it is important to make sure that the body still receives adequate amounts of all essential nutrients, even calories and especially protein and zinc. You can take a zinc supplement and other dietary supplements, if necessary. But as long as your diet includes the right balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean meats, you can expect your hair to become healthy again sooner rather than later.
Lastly, you should aim for slow but steady weight loss instead of a rapid and significant one. Not only will this minimize or even prevent excessive hair fall altogether; it will also ensure sustained weight loss long-term.
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