Ask Our Keto Nutritionist: Hair Loss/Thinning, Weight Loss, & Pee Sticks
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Got questions for a nutritionist who “gets” keto?
We’ve partnered with a tried and true keto nutritionist who’s dedicated to helping people live their best lives through the ketogenic diet. Please note that we’re not doctors, so if you have any specific questions regarding your own health, please consult with your trusted medical partner.
Why is my hair falling out and thinning? Will it stop?
Usually, at about 3-6 months into a keto diet, some people report a temporary thinning of hair. This is typically short-lived and may be the result of the dramatic change in diet, switching your fuel source from sugar to fat is quite a big change. Any type of stress (including good stress) on the body can result in the hair strands entering the “resting” phase all at the same time, rather than falling out unsynchronized, which is typical.
That said, hair growth is a “luxury” function, meaning, your body will preserve calories and nutrition for more important survival functions (like a beating heart) before it will spare any extra for hair growth. What does this mean? A poor diet, keto or not, may result in hair loss. Here are some potential nutritional causes of hair thinning:
- Restricting too many calories at the same time as starting a keto diet—large calorie deficits can result in significant stress and insufficient nutrition for hair growth.
- Restricting too much protein—remember keto is normal protein (about 3-6 ounces per meal) not a low, or high protein diet.
- Inadequate vitamin and mineral intake. Are you restricting non-starchy vegetables? I consider non-starchy veggies free carbs for optimal nutrition. Consider a multivitamin/mineral supplement, B-Complex vitamin, and/or Biotin if your diet is lacking these nutrients.
- Are you consuming too many convenient, and highly processed foods? Keto or not, this is not good nutrition. These types of foods are typically lower in nutrients and increase inflammation throughout the body, including the gut, potentially resulting in poor absorption of nutrients. Aim for minimally processed, whole, fresh foods as much as possible.
If you know you’re eating a healthy keto diet (adequate calories and protein, good quality fats, and optimal vitamin and minerals from vegetables and some fruits) then the hair thinning is likely temporary and a result of changing your fuel source. Remember, good or bad stress can cause temporary hair thinning, regardless of nutrition, but make sure you are eating a well-formulated keto diet, as a poor diet can also be the culprit.
Stress (good or bad) and significant changes in lifestyle (including diet and weight loss), may cause a temporary thinning of hair. Hair growth goes through three different cycles, one of which is a “resting” phase. Stress or dietary changes may sometimes cause all the hair strands to go through the “resting” phase at the same time. The end result is an increased rate of hair loss at about 3-6 months from when the stress, or in this case, keto, began. Hair thinning is usually temporary and most people report healthier, shinier hair in the long run.
Remember, side-effects are road bumps, not roadblocks, telling you to slow down and take a closer look. The key to making a healthy diet sustainable is the ability to be flexible and allow for some adjustments to make it your own. Be cautious with alcohol, and double check your diet if you experience some hair thinning, otherwise, you’re doing great, so keep going!
If I’m not losing pounds, am I losing weight? How can I tell?
You’ve been eating properly, exercising, and logging your macros… and you’re STILL not losing!
Weight loss stalls can be so frustrating, especially when you’re pretty sure you’re doing everything the right way and following your keto diet to the letter! There are multiple possible reasons for a weight loss stall. Big ones I often see are:
- Grazing between meals
- Carb creep – too many hidden or unaccounted carbs entering the diet
- Over-doing protein
- Needing to cut back on the fat a bit
My advice? Ditch the scale, which does not differentiate between muscle or lean body mass to fat mass. Go by waist size or how your pants fit instead.
If you’re truly stalled (no inches or weight loss), Intermittent Fasting is a great way to bust through that stall.
Do you recommend pee sticks for measuring ketosis?
Urine ketone testing is the cheapest method of measuring, but it’s also the least accurate.
In the beginning, this is a good place to start as you can tell within a couple of days if you are on the right track. However, urine ketones (acetoacetate) is the excess ketosis not being used as fuel. After you’ve become adapted to living keto, you’ll find urine ketones start to fade. This is often misinterpreted as being out of ketosis, when in fact this may be a sign that your body is efficiently using your ketones for fuel rather than peeing them out. For me, my blood ketones (beta-hydroxybutyrate) are high, but I register almost nothing on the urine strip.
Got questions you’d like to ask a keto nutritionist? Let us know!
Tara Finnerty RDN, CSP, CD—is a ketogenic specialist and fat-fueled enthusiast. Tara is a registered dietitian in Utah and owner of Sugar House Nutrition LLC. Her aim is to provide nutrition support for people wanting to reap the many health benefits of the ketogenic (keto) diet. Her expertise in the keto diet was initially working with children who have uncontrolled epilepsy. Tara supports nutrition diversity and works toward helping people find an individualized approach to make healthy eating sustainable.