Does Crash Dieting Lead to Hair Loss?

crash dietingHair loss is a lesser known side effect of crash dieting that can affect just about anyone, regardless of age. Inadequate nutrition and hitting the gym too hard can initiate unexpected or unexplained hair loss. Crash dieting can also exacerbate hair loss for patients currently coping with androgenic alopecia – a hereditary hair loss condition commonly known as male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

In today’s society, quick fixes to lose weight are all too common. With the summer season quickly approaching, consider how undereating and overexercising in an effort to lose weight hinders hair growth: 

Follicles Need Nutrition

Unless you suffer from a genetic or hormonal hair loss condition, a balanced diet is the secret to full and shiny locks. Proteins, irons, vitamins and minerals have a direct impact on your hair’s strength, appearance and feel. Just like your fingernails and toenails, hair strands are made up of protein fibers. If you lack the proper protein intake to build new hairs, more follicles enter the resting phase. That’s when hair loss surpasses normal shedding of 50 to 100 per day and becomes noticeable to the naked eye.

In addition to protein, iron and vitamin E drive healthy hair growth. Meats like pork, beef and fish are go-to’s, but vegetarians can opt for white beans, lentils, spinach and soybeans to up their iron consumption. If you think your diet restrictions or allergies may contribute to hair loss, get an iron test to determine where your levels currently fall and consider food alternatives to round out your diet.

Research shows that vitamin D may also play a role in hair growth, but that doesn’t mean you should lay out in the sun for hours and increase your risk of melanoma. Milk, orange juice and some cereals contain enough vitamin D to maintain everyday functions like hair growth.

Restricting calories through crash dieting may help you shed pounds fast, but going too far can negatively alter your hair’s texture and volume. Once you cut calories from your diet, you run the risk of neglecting said macro and micronutrients. The best diet is one discussed and approved by your doctor to ensure you’re burning more calories than you consume without abandoning sensible nourishment. With today’s technology, you can download calorie-tracking apps to keep tabs on calories and fundamental nutrients.

Heavy Exercise, Stress and Fuel

Many people underestimate the strong relationship between physical and emotional well-being. While moderate exercise alleviates stress, excessive physical activity makes it worse. Stress-induced hair loss is also called telogen effluvium (TE) and commonly occurs after serious emotional trauma, such as a death in the family or job loss. Chronic, ongoing stress is another leading origin for TE. With TE, hair follicles prematurely enter the resting phase and shed when they are supposed to grow.

Athletes are also at a higher risk for anemia, a condition associated with iron deficiency. Since iron supports hair growth, any undersupply can trigger unexpected or additional loss. Your body uses nutrients when you exercise, which is why athletes require more calories, vitamins and minerals compared to the average person. Most crash diets pair heavy workouts with an inadequate food regimen. This malnourishment cycle motivates hair loss – whether intentional or not.

The Hair Transplant Institute of Miami invites all hair loss patients to find out if they are a candidate for hair loss treatment. In addition to hair replacement surgery, we offer at-home laser caps, stem cell hair growth, topical solutions, prescription medications, mesotherapy and more. Call us directly at 305-925-0222 to learn more about our top-rated physicians and hair loss treatments in Miami.