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 .
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.
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:
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 for your general health, intermittent fasting has been linked with hair loss .
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).
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.
As a result, intermittent fasting is actually more likely to cause hair loss than hair growth. Fortunately, this is usually temporary.
If you’re concerned about your hair loss, you should speak to a trichologist who can help you find the right diet and lifestyle to regrow your hair.
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.
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 getting all the nutrients you need, you shouldn’t experience dramatic hair loss. (Remember, it’s normal to lose 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.
Diet is just one potential reason why your hair isn’t growing. There are many other causes of hair loss, damage, or lack of 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.
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