Dieting can have a negative effect on hair growth. From my experience it seems that if dieting stresses your body it can cause hair loss. It’s more likely that the stress itself will cause the hair loss than the reduction in nutrient intake. However if you start an extreme diet the reduction in nutrients could also have a detrimental effect on your hair.
The silly thing is, it’s easy to get all the nutrients your hair needs, while also following a weight loss program. Keep reading to find out how.
Areas of dieting you should avoid to prevent hair loss
Crash dieting is the worst thing you can do for your hair. If you’re going to diet for weight loss reasons, steadily transition from your current diet to your new weight loss diet. If you suddenly make a massive change to your diet and then just as suddenly change again (and so forth), you could have a negative impact on your hair growth. However the effects on your hair might not show for months after you have changed your diet, because the dieting is more likely to slow your hair growth and even turn some hairs dormant – so only once the hairs have naturally shed will you notice your hair looking thinner.
Dieting is only likely to cause immediate hair loss as a result of stress caused by an extreme dietary transition.
Diets that don’t include a full range of nutrients
If you follow a silly fad diet like ‘the apple diet’ or other diets that advise you to eat only a few different foods you may become deficient in vital nutrients required for hair growth. Nutrient deficiency is fairly rare in the West, where food is readily available, but if you follow an extreme diet and you experience increased stress as a result, you might become deficient in some key nutrients.
Diets that include too much of one nutrient
Be careful about eating too much of one thing. For example Brazil nuts are sometimes cited as beneficial for the hair because they contain a mineral called ‘selenium’. Selenium can inhibit DHT, which will help prevent hair loss. However eating too many Brazil nuts could result in a selenium overdose, which in turn may cause a condition called ‘selenosis’ (cite). One of the symptoms of selenosis is hair loss.
Some key factors to consider when dieting
Don’t do anything extreme. Avoid extreme changes in your diet. Don’t take a variety of supplements in the hope you’re getting lots of great nutrients for your hair – different vitamins, minerals and fats interact with each other. You might be taking one supplement that contains a mineral that binds with a vitamin in another supplement you’re taking, making it indigestible. Try to keep supplements down to as few as possible unless you know what you’re doing – otherwise you’re chucking lots of different pills down your throat that could be doing more harm than good.
How to safely diet for weight loss while keeping your hair healthy
Providing you don’t stress your system by crash dieting and you consume a good range of nutrients in good proportions you can easily follow a weight loss diet without harming your hair. Follow these tips to keep your hair healthy while dieting:
Reduce portion sizes while maintaining a good balance
If you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, eat at the same times and the same foods you would usually eat but just reduce the portion sizes. Don’t cut out carbohydrates for the sake of reducing calories. You need complex carbohydrates for energy. If you reduce the fuel you’ll reduce your energy, which might make you need to snack, which will not help your weight loss attempts. If you reduce your fuel intake and avoid snacks, the increased stress might have an adverse effect on your hair. The answer is to reduce your portion sizes while maintaining a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein.
Exercise is possibly the most important factor in weight loss. If you can increase the amount of exercise you’re doing while maintaining your current food consumption levels you will achieve weight loss without needing to change your diet. Exercise also benefits stress levels and circulation.
Don’t miss meals
Eating regularly is important. By missing meals you’re telling your body that food is scarce so it needs to store fat reserves – as a result you won’t lose weight; you could even put weight on. It’s better to eat smaller meals, more regularly, if you find you get hungry regularly. Cut down on sugars and simple carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar levels. Choose complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and sweet potatoes that will provide slow release energy.
Cleanse your digestive system
By avoiding meats and fats in the morning and eating foods that are high in fiber you give your digestive system a break allowing it to cleanse. Try to keep meat eating down to a minimum while dieting. Try to only eat meat every other day or even just once or twice a week. Avoid beef and pork. Go for chicken and turkey. Don’t eat for two hours before you go to bed to let your body wind down. Never eat before bed because your body cleanses at night. Eating prevents cleansing and food eaten before bed will be stored as fat.
Use a hair loss supplement
Although I don’t generally advise the use of hair loss supplements (as I don’t feel they’re necessary – if you follow the instructions in my hair loss eBook you won’t need to take any hair supplements), if you worry that your hair isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, a supplement can put your mind at rest. Take a look at my hair loss treatments page for advice on different supplementation for men and women.
Get the best advice on food for hair growth
If you want to know what foods you should eat to maximize nutrients required for hair growth download my eBook today. I dedicate a chapter to showing you how to eat for hair growth. I give you easy to follow tips that don’t require eating disgusting foods or following extreme dietary practices. I lay down all the best foods that provide maximum nutrients for hair growth in simple to follow tables, charts and lists. I also show you how to cleanse your digestive system and increase the flow of nutrients to the scalp by increasing blood flow to the scalp. In the food chapter I also show you how you can use food to normalize your hormone levels and inhibit DHT levels.