How not to lose hair while losing weight
Jan, 09 2020 | By Dr. Sangay Bhutia (Hair Transplant Specialist in Delhi)
It's that time of the year when we make resolutions. And, a lot of people decide to get fitter, exercise more, eat healthy, lose weight, and pay more attention to their general well being. As important as being fit is, weight loss can sometimes come with side effects. We come across a lot of cases where patients complain of hair loss while losing weight. So how does one avoid that? Is that hair loss permanent? What can be done to reverse the damage? Does it always happen with weight loss? To answer these questions and more, let’s first understand the basics.
We all lose hair, it’s only natural. Even young, healthy people lose up to 50-100 strands in a day. However, some people experience more than normal hair loss, which can be attributed to a variety of reasons—lack of proper nutrition, crash dieting, illness, genetics, hormones, and lifestyle. Weight loss, especially if it is sudden, can cause hair loss as well.
Rapid weight loss in a short span of time can result in hair follicles going into the ‘resting phase’ sooner than they should, leading to excessive hair fall and shedding. The condition is referred to as Telogen Effluvium.
Here’s how it occurs: Hair growth happens in three cycles, namely Anagen or growth phase, Catagen or transitional phase, and Telogen or resting phase. Sudden weight loss can often shock and stress the normal workings of the body - which leads to hair loss in the process. In Telogen Effluvium, the Anagen phase shortens, and more hair moves into the next two phases. In a normal person, about 5-10% of the hair is in the Telogen phase at a given time. With Telogen effluvium, almost 30% of the hair is in the Telogen phase, which means that more hair falls.
A sudden increase in physical activity can also shock the body and cause stress, which is another trigger for Telogen Effluvium. A person’s body needs to be eased into a new exercise regimen. It cannot be sudden. Also, ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t apply to workouts, what works for a person of a certain weight, height, physical condition, stamina, is not necessarily suited for a person with different bodily attributes and characteristics. Blindly following a stringent exercise regimen for quick results can shock the body and cause trauma and stress, and therefore hair loss
Another important factor for hair loss while losing weight is nutrition. It is important to understand that a protein-rich diet, dietary supplements and iron are essential for the health of our hair. With rapid weight loss or excessive working out, the nutritional needs of our body also change. And if those nutritional needs are not met, the scalp suffers as does the rest of the body. Lack of nutrition leads to weakening of hair and eventually it falls.
So what do we do if we experience hair fall while losing weight? Here is what happens:
Do not assume that you are losing hair because of weight loss. There could be a variety of reasons. So the first thing you should do is consult an expert. Let them do the necessary examination and also understand your medical and genetic history. They will then be in a better position to give you informed advice.
Pay attention to your nutritional needs. While losing weight, it is important that you consume the required amount of essential nutrients. A protein-rich diet with green leafy vegetables is essential. If your body doesn’t get enough protein, it will use the available protein for other important bodily functions and send more hair into the resting phase, causing hair fall.
Your calorie intake should also be in keeping with the amount of calories you burn during a workout. Vital supplements, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, and Zinc not only build immunity but they are extremely important for hair growth as well.
Pace your weight loss over a period of time. Don’t shock and stress your system. Imagine you are 90 kilograms one day and within two-three months you are 75. It can seriously destabilise the workings of your body. Therefore it is important to plan and pace weight loss in consultation with an expert.
Most importantly, there are instances when hair loss due to sudden weight loss can be reversed and it is not permanent. Provided - the body is adequately nourished. So in case you are making a New Year's resolution to lose some weight, remember, it has to be done smartly and by eating healthy instead of crash dieting, and with carefully planned workouts which are best suited for your body type.