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Can Intermittent Fasting Help Hair Growth?

If your hair isn’t as shiny or full as you’d like, you may find yourself turning to diet changes or other lifestyle changes to help stimulate hair growth.

Intermittent fasting has been touted as a way to stimulate hair growth, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, one study into intermittent fasting found that 4.2% of participants actually lost hair while on an intermittent fasting diet [1].

So, is there really a link between this restrictive eating practice and hair growth or does intermittent fasting cause hair loss? Take a look at what intermittent fasting does and how it can impact your hair health.

Table of Contents

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a relatively new trend that involves restricting your diet for certain periods of time then having a set amount of time (or eating window) where you can freely eat. Some of the most popular intermittent fasting plans are:

  • 5:2 diet — Where you eat normally for 5 days of the week, then restrict your calorie intake for 2 days.
  • 16:8 diet — Where you eat normally for 8 hours of the day and restrict your calorie intake for the remaining 16 hours.
  • Eat-stop-eat — Where you fast for a full 24-hour period once or twice a week, then eat normally for the rest of the week.

Calorie-restricted days normally involve eating no more than around 500-600 calories per day.

The health benefits of intermittent fasting are said to include sustainable weight loss,  muscle mass retention while losing excess weight, and even the prevention of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

However, while there are potentially positive effects on your general health and intermittent fasting has been linked with hair loss [2].

What is the link between intermittent fasting and hair growth?

It’s a well-known fact that a good diet is important for healthy hair. So it makes sense that fasting could affect your hair, too.

Like the rest of your body, your hair follicles need nutrients and energy to produce strong, healthy hair. They rely on you to eat a nutritious, balanced diet so they can fulfil the hair growth cycle of anagen (growth), catagen (transition from growth to resting), telogen (resting) and exogen (shedding).

hair growth cycle
A normal hair growth cycle

Major dietary changes can disrupt the hair growth cycle. Sudden changes in calorie intake and nutrition can cause telogen effluvium — a kind of shock that causes temporary hair loss due to a hormonal imbalance.

As a result, intermittent fasting is actually more likely to trigger hair loss than promote hair growth. Fortunately, this type of hair shedding is usually temporary.

If you’re concerned about your hair loss or you have noticed hair fall that lasts longer than eight weeks, you should speak to a trichologist who can help you find the right diet and lifestyle to regrow your hair.

Can intermittent fasting stimulate hair growth?

There is some evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting can induce autophagy in the body, which sometimes helps to stimulate hair growth.

Autophagy is your body’s way of using damaged proteins to provide energy to the rest of the body. Your cells take proteins that have become otherwise useless and use them as fuel for certain functions, including hair growth.

Intermittent fasting can induce autophagy. However, following periods of fasting, you need to eat plenty of protein to replace the protein that’s being used up in order to promote healthy hair growth.

It’s worth noting that stress can also induce autophagy, but this is unlikely to result in hair growth. Stress is also a big trigger for temporary hair loss, so you should do what you can to take care of your mental health as well as your diet.

How to do intermittent fasting without causing hair loss

When it comes to hair growth, what you eat is more important than when you eat it. So as long as you’re fasting safely and don’t have a nutrient deficiency, you shouldn’t experience dramatic hair loss. (Remember, it’s normal to shed around 50-100 hairs per day regardless of your diet or lifestyle).

If you’re experimenting with dietary changes to lose weight or improve your health, make sure you’re still getting the healthy hair nutrients you need. Protein, biotin, vitamin D and many other nutrients can help maintain your hair. Make sure you’re getting enough of each even on your restricted diet days. (See what the recommended daily allowance for each nutrient is according to the NHS.) 

Eating certain foods may make hair loss worse. And our vitamins for hair growth research analysis found there’s not enough evidence to confirm whether vitamin supplements actually reduce hair loss.

It’s important to note that you should also take care with supplements such as vitamin A, as these can actually cause hair loss if taken in excess.

The best thing to do is to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet that contains plenty of nutrient-dense foods.

What to do if you’re worried about hair loss

Diet is just one potential reason why your hair isn’t growing. There are many other causes of hair loss, damage, or slow hair growth.

Women’s hair loss is particularly hard to diagnose, which means finding the right hair loss treatment for women can be a challenge. So it’s important to find out what exactly is causing your hair problems by speaking to your GP, or a hair loss specialist.

If you’re trying to lead a healthier lifestyle through intermittent fasting, don’t let the risk of hair loss stop you. Speak to a hair loss specialist to find out the best way to maintain the strength of your hair while you diet.

Book a consultation with us today to learn more about how we can help improve the health of your hair.

Can Intermittent Fasting Help Hair Growth?, Wimpole Clinic

The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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