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Jul 05, 2024

You’ve done all the work and your hair isn’t happy. Here’s why.

Girl, you did it! You've finally shed those pounds, whether you wanted to or not. Your jeans are feeling a little looser, your confidence is on the rise, and you're ready to conquer the world with your newfound glow. But as you revel in your weight loss victory, there's one unexpected (and unwelcome) side effect that's got you scratching your head—literally. Yep, we're talking about that pesky hair loss that seems to have hitched a ride on your weight loss journey. It's like, seriously? We can't catch a break, right?


Now, here's the thing—the human body is a curious creature, prone to all sorts of fluctuations. But what's fascinating is how these changes manifest differently from one person to another. Some may notice weight loss first in their face, while others might see it in their midsection or thighs). And guess what? The same goes for weight gain—your body has its own unique way of showing that it’s working hard. But hey, we're not here to get stuck into the nitty-gritty of weight fluctuations (seriously, the internet has enough trash-talking about weight topics). Nope, we're here to get to the bottom of your hair dilemmas.


Because let's face it, when it comes to weight loss and hair loss, there's a lot more going on beneath the surface than meets the eye. And that's exactly what we're here to unpack. 


Let’s get to the bottom of this hair loss trouble (before and after weight loss) and find the true reason behind it because all we hope for you is healthier, happier hair and a heap of confidence to rock that post weight loss glow.


Understanding weight loss and hair loss

Alright, hold onto your hair ties because we're about to get down and dirty with the weight loss and hair loss debate—where every strand fallen and every pound lost comes with its own set of surprises.


So, imagine this—you've been putting in the work, hitting the gym, saying "cya" to those midnight snacks, and maybe even experimenting with a green juice diet (rather you than us). And hey, it's paying off—you're feeling lighter, leaner, and ready to take on the world. But lost in all the high-fives and celebratory Insta selfies, there's one thing that's got you feeling a little less than fabulous—your hair.


Yep, it's like your mane decided to throw a tantrum just when you thought you had everything under control. But before you start pulling your hair out in frustration (literally), let's take a closer look at what's really going on behind the scenes.


You see, when you start on a weight loss journey, your body goes through a series of changes, both inside and out. And while shedding those extra pounds is undoubtedly a cause for celebration, it can also trigger a ripple of hormonal shifts, nutritional deficiencies, and stressors—all of which can take a toll on your appearance. 


Here's the kicker: hair loss after weight loss isn't just about vanity or aesthetics. No, it's often a sign that something's going on with your body. It could be a lack of essential nutrients, a disruption in hormone levels, or simply the stress of rapid weight loss—either way, your hair is trying to tell you something. 


Roll up your sleeves girl, because you deserve healthier, happier hair to match that feeling after shedding a few extra pounds. Together, we're going to make it happen.


The connection between hair loss and weight loss 

Your body is a finely tuned machine, with every system working in harmony to keep you ticking along as it should. But when you throw weight loss into the mix, it's like tossing a wrench into the gears—things start to shift, and not always in the direction you'd expect. It’s all sent to test us, right? Let’s have a look and uncover the physiological mechanisms that underpin this complex relationship between weight loss and hair loss.


Recent research has shed light on the role of hormonal changes, particularly fluctuations in insulin and thyroid hormones, in driving hair loss after weight loss. Additionally, studies have highlighted the impact of nutritional deficiencies, such as inadequate intake of protein, iron, and essential vitamins, on hair health during periods of caloric restriction. By understanding these underlying issues, we can better grasp why some individuals experience hair loss post-weight loss and tailor our approach to prevent this *horror* from happening.


Temporary vs. permanent hair loss—there’s a difference 

Did you know? Not all hair loss is the same, and distinguishing between temporary and permanent shedding is needed in implementing effective interventions (AKA remedies). Telogen effluvium, characterized by a temporary disruption in the hair growth cycle, is a common occurrence following significant weight loss. During this phase, hair follicles enter a resting state, leading to increased shedding that typically resolves within a few months—hallelujah. 


On the other hand, permanent hair loss, driven by factors such as hormonal imbalances and genetic predisposition, presents a more nasty challenge. Research suggests that rapid weight loss can exacerbate genetic hair loss in susceptible individuals, highlighting the need for personalized interventions to address underlying hormonal imbalances and promote hair regrowth.


Caloric deficiency and weight loss—a big no no 

Ah, caloric restriction—the cornerstone of many weight loss endeavors. While trimming excess calories may lead to a slimmer waistline, it can also inadvertently disrupt the delicate balance of your hair growth cycle. Science indicates that severe caloric restriction can induce a state of nutritional deficiency, depriving your hair follicles of essential nutrients needed for optimal growth.


Along with this, caloric restriction has been shown to trigger hormonal changes that directly impact hair health—boo, as if it wasn’t hard enough to cut those Kcals! Raised levels of cortisol, the body's primary stress hormone, can disrupt the hair growth cycle and contribute to increased shedding. Additionally, fluctuations in insulin levels may alter androgen metabolism, further exacerbating hair loss in those who have hair loss in their family.


By understanding the intricate interplay between caloric restriction, hormonal fluctuations, and nutrient deficiencies, we can develop holistic strategies to support hair health during periods of weight loss. From targeted nutritional supplementation to stress management techniques, there are many approaches you can take—and we’ll walk you through as many as we can.


Factors contributing to before and after weight loss hair loss

Now that we've uncovered the basics, let's zoom in on the key factors that play a role in that frustrating hair loss saga. Each of these elements can wreak havoc on your hair health, especially when you're shedding those pounds quickly. 


Nutritional deficiencies

When you're in weight loss mode, it’s tempting to cut corners with your diet. But, girl, your hair doesn't appreciate it! Your strands need a balanced diet as much as your body does. Key nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamins (think biotin and vitamin D) are essential for healthy hair growth. When these nutrients are missing, your hair’s growth cycle can take a hit, leading to thinner, weaker locks.


We know we mentioned it when you drop the calories, but studies have also shown that iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional causes of hair loss in general. This mineral is super important for producing hemoglobin, which helps deliver oxygen to your hair follicles. Without enough iron, your hair can enter the resting phase too soon, leading to the dreaded strands falling out quicker. Similarly, protein is the building block of hair, so a lack of it can result in weaker hair structure and more breakage. So eat your eggs in the morning, your hair will thank you. 


Hormonal changes

Weight loss isn't just a physical transformation—it's a hormonal disaster…like we needed more things to worry about? Your body's hormones are like tiny messengers, telling your systems how to function. When you lose weight, especially rapidly, you might experience shifts in hormones like cortisol and thyroid hormones.


Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, can spike during weight loss due to the physical and emotional strain. High levels of cortisol can disrupt the hair growth cycle, pushing hair into the shedding phase prematurely. Thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism, also play a significant role in everything—just like our behavior. An imbalance, particularly hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), can lead to thinning hair and hair loss.


Stress and emotional factors

Weight loss journeys can be an emotional rollercoaster. From the highs of seeing progress to the lows of hitting plateaus, the stress is real. And guess what? Your hair feels it too. Emotional stress can trigger telogen effluvium (again?), a temporary form of hair loss where more hair than usual enters the shedding phase.


Along with that added stress, the psychological pressure to meet weight goals can supercharge this stress—creating a vicious cycle. Chronic stress affects the hair follicles’ ability to grow strong, healthy hair. 


Learning the ins and outs of these factors gives you the power to tackle hair loss head-on like the girl boss you are. Ensuring a balanced diet, managing stress, and keeping an eye on hormonal health are very, very important steps to maintaining luscious locks even while losing weight. Let's get those nutrients back in check, keep the stress at bay, and ensure your hair stays fabulous through every stage of your transformation, shall we?


How to combat hair loss during weight loss

Alright, girl, we’ve decoded the ‘why’ behind the hair drama. Now, let’s dive into the solutions that’ll help you keep your strands strong and healthy while you’re shedding those pounds. Here are some science-backed tips and tricks to help you navigate this journey without compromising on your hair goals.


1. Balanced diet

First things first—your diet needs to be on point. Ensure you’re getting a well-rounded intake of essential nutrients. Focus on including:


– Protein: Incorporate lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, and legumes. Your hair is made of keratin, a type of protein, so it’s crucial to keep those protein levels up.

– Iron: Load up on spinach, lentils, red meat, and fortified cereals. Iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen to your hair follicles, promoting healthy growth.

– Vitamins: Don't skip out on fruits and veggies. Vitamins A, C, D, and E, along with biotin and folic acid, play significant roles in hair health. Think leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, and seeds.


2. Consider supplements

Sometimes, diet alone might not cut it (sorry bank balance). Talk to your healthcare provider about taking supplements—as Biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamin D are popular choices for promoting hair health. Just remember to consult with a pro before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it’s tailored to your needs.


3. Stress management

We get it, stress is a part of life—but managing it is key to preventing hair loss. Here are a few strategies to keep your stress levels in check:


– Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and boost your mood. Yoga, pilates, or even a brisk walk can make a big difference.

– Mindfulness practices: Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and journaling can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety.

– Self-care: Treat yourself to a spa day, indulge in a hobby, or simply take time to relax and unwind. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.


4. Gentle hair care routine

Your hair care routine matters more than you think. Treat your locks with love by following these tips:


– Avoid over-washing: Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of natural oils. Stick to 2-3 times a week, trust us—your hair will thank you. 

– Use a mild shampoo: Choose shampoos free from harsh sulfates and chemicals that can dry out your hair.

– Condition regularly: A good conditioner is the VIP of any routine and can help keep your hair hydrated and reduce breakage.

– Minimize heat styling: Put those curlers down! Heat can weaken your hair, making it more prone to breakage. Go for air-drying or use heat styling tools on the lowest setting.


5. Seek professional help:

If your hair loss is significant (sorry), it might be time to consult with a dermatologist or trichologist. They can provide personalized treatment plans and might recommend therapies like:


– Minoxidil: A topical treatment known to stimulate hair growth and slow down hair loss.

– Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy: This involves injecting your own platelet-rich plasma into the scalp to promote hair growth.

– Low-level laser therapy: A non-invasive treatment that uses red light to stimulate hair follicles and encourage growth.


Stay true to yourself and nourish your hair from the inside 

And voilà, you’ve got yourself a treasure trove of hair-loving habits to weave into your daily routine, whilst you drop those pounds. By incorporating these delightful tips, you’re laying down the groundwork for your hair to flourish and thrive in every situation. From soothing scalp massages to staying hydrated like a hydration queen and catching those quality Z’s, you’re going to be giving yourself a hair revival like no other. 


Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a luscious mane. As you continue to weave these hair-loving habits into your daily routine, don't forget to stay true to yourself and prioritize what feels right for you, not what society dictates. After all, true beauty comes from within, nurtured by self-love and authenticity. While you're on this journey of self-improvement, remember to nourish your insides first. That's what matters at the end of the day.