Very low-calorie diets (VLCD’s) are one of the most popular ways to lose weight quickly. But, like many diets that tend to restrict certain nutrients, they have their side effects. In addition to potentially losing muscle and energy, low-calorie diets could also cause you to lose hair.
So, what is the link between low-calorie diets and hair loss?
What Is a Low-Calorie Diet?
Most scientists agree that the daily calorie intake to maintain weight should be around 2.500 calories for men or 2.000 per day for women. These calories should come from a healthy, balanced diet, rich in useful macro and micronutrients. However, depending on your age, weight, and activity levels, you may need more or fewer calories per day.
A very low-calorie diet (also known as a “crash diet”) restrict your daily calorie intake to around 1.200 calories, usually resulting in rapid weight loss.
Low-Calorie Diets and Hair Loss
Hair loss from VLCDs usually comes as a result of nutrient deficiency. Our bodies need several nutrients to keep our hair healthy and thick. For example, research shows a strong connection between hair loss and iron deficiency. The same can be said for zinc and niacin, whose deficiency can cause pellagra – a disease characterized by inflamed skin, diarrhea, and hair loss.
Another link between low-calorie diets and hair loss is the sudden weight loss that accompanies these diets. It’s possible for our hair follicles to go into shock and stop working correctly as a means of coping with the weight change.
The connection between low-calorie diets and hair loss comes from the restrictive nature of these diets. Before deciding to reduce your daily calorie intake significantly, contact your doctor.