Can Weight Loss Cause Hair Problems?

Losing weight is almost always a positive decision for your health and appearance. Most people look attractive when they are at a healthy weight for their height, and there’s no quicker way to shut up your doctor than to get your BMI down.

However, there are times when weight loss can have negative temporary effects, especially on our hair.

When Does Weight Loss Cause Hair Loss?

Healthy and sustainable weight loss – that which is due to a healthy restriction of calories under the direction of your physician – is the only safe way to lose weight while still maintaining your overall health.

However, if you restrict your calories too much or fail to focus on nutrition, you can deal with many side effects including hair loss.

In most cases of severe caloric restriction, hair loss does not happen right away. Telogen effluvium usually begins three months after the stress or lack of nutrients. This can be confusing to people as they may never connect the hair loss with the factor that causes it. This delay is due to the way the hair cycle operates.

Hair goes through several phases. When hair stops growing, in the telogen or resting phase, it takes about three months before it begins to shed.

Once hair begins to shed, this can last for several months, even if the person has resumed a diet with enough nutrition to support hair growth.

Within a year, most people have regrown their lost hair and have a normal healthy appearance again. Most people never go completely bald from this disorder, although they may have noticeably thinner hair for several months.

When we are under stress or not getting enough nutrients (including times when we’re “dieting”) our bodies respond by shutting down unnecessary functions, including hair growth.

There are several deficiencies that have been found to be especially likely to contribute to anorexia hair loss. Protein and calorie malnutrition both commonly cause hair loss in women, but these deficiencies are rare in the modern developed world.

When a person’s body is malnourished, such as during an eating disorder, the protein stores in their body become depleted. When this occurs, the body has to make sure that it takes care of essential functions (such as organ function and retaining muscle tissue) above all else.

Our hair, which is made up of a protein called keratin, is not as essential to our body’s functioning. So, hair growth stops so the body can focus on keeping that person alive.

Additionally, many people suffer from deficiencies of trace nutrients such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, and certain amino acids. Many researchers believe that these deficiencies are a major cause of telogen effluvium in the modern world.