Why am I losing more hair than weight? (Stop starving yourself!)

“I’m not hungry for more than xxxx calories a day”

Or

“I’m only eating xxxx calories a day and I’m stalled. I don’t get it.”

I see these posts in the various Facebook Groups all day. I’ve been seeing them 10 times a day for the last year. That is 3,650 posts about the same issue. 🙂

Here is why you are losing more hair than weight doing keto!

I have yet to find a person alive that doesn’t have a base metabolic rate of at least 1300 cals. That person is a 90 lb sedentary woman.

A 200 lb man has a base metabolic rate (BMR) of 1875 cals. That means this is the amount of calories that are required to keep him alive. Not to allow him to move. Just to keep him alive. If he slept 24 hours a day and didn’t speak, blink or play with his fidget spinner. Any other movement requires more energy.

How long do we think we can keep eating 1300-1500 cals a day and moving around, working, exercising and basically just doing life when we need 1875 cals just to exist?

Do we think it’s possible to drive our car 1000 miles on 800 miles worth of gas?

Yeah I know, “we can use our fat sores and lose mad weight.”

Yeah for a time. Our fat is emergency fuel not full time fuel. It is there to protect us overnight or for a short time until we find food. Not as a permanent fuel tank. It’s the reserve not the main and the body is not about to let it run dry and risk having to use lean mass or organs for fuel.

This is starvation mode.

When we give our body a budget it will try to work with it. Guess what it will start sacrificing first? Non vital things like hair and finger nails.

Anyone’s hair falling out and have brittle nails? I bet there are a bunch. How many cals a day you eating?

This way of eating is not about calories. It’s about hormone control. If you control insulin you lose weight regardless of caloric intake. The difference is, if you starve yourself your body will start releasing cortisol. This spikes insulin. This reduces hunger. This raises blood sugar.

You cannot starve yourself. If you are you may as well do a low fat diet or join weight watchers. It’s the same thing.

Keto On,

Coach Jack

66 Replies to “Why am I losing more hair than weight? (Stop starving yourself!)”

  1. Thank You So So Much For This Info, I Must Admit I WAS One Of Those People!
    It All Makes Sense Now!

    1. It’s an easy place to fall into and it is not intentional. It is just an unfortunate side effect of Keto that most people see as a benefit. Misguided ideas born of a myth about our need to cut calories to be healthy.

      1. i was just going through facebook and saw this- I started noticing a couple days ago that my hair is really thinning more than usual. before i had a chance to go to a keto site and check it out – I came across this. my biggest problem is that I don’t want to eat if i am not hungry – but doing that limits the calorie intake – sometimes i feel like I am caught up in spider web!

        1. This is completely normal and it is hormonal and correctable. You just have to start eating at normal times and adequate calories per meal and get your circadian rythem back in check. Your hunger will return.

      2. I’m 5’9″ 222 pounds, female. (was 280) Can you tell me how many calories I should be eating? I have diabetes. I’ve been on Keto for 9 months. I keep going between 1200 and 1500. 19 g carbs, 56 protein and 133 fats. Please help.

        1. Start with this:

          20g total carbs MAX
          50g protein
          200g fat MINIMUM

          This is about 2100 cals.

    2. My God that’s me! My hair is falling out and my nails are brittle as crap! I always has good nails , Now they are peeling and snapping off. Can u tell me how many calories I’m suppose to have? I’m 68 , 5- 1, And 219 pds. How many protein and fats do I need please. I know carbs don’t go over 20 thanks

        1. I’m super confused, I did my tdee calculations, and it’s suggesting I eat 124grams of carbs, but I thought keto was low carb. Keto calculator told me 20grams for my height and weight…. I mean keto did wonders the first month 17ibs, but month 2 on the other hand I lost one ibs, a patch of hair and all my nails….. It seems tdee and keto are whoa different but it’s posted on the keto page…..help clarify for me please and thank you

  2. The calorie restriction diet increases lifespan, so yes, you can drive a car 1,000 miles on a 800 miles of gas.

    What you seem to not understand, is that everyone is walking around with 100,000 miles of gas, that their own body has saved up, yet they are unable to access it. (that’s a huge problem) That when you become fat adapted, your body doesn’t care if it gets it’s energy from it’s own stored up supply, or what you eat. Are you seriously suggesting that people with already faulty insulin processes, not only continue to eat carbs, but not go into a calorie deficit? Goodness. Look up the calorie restriction diet. It’s hard to believe that someone thinks that a person walking around with 100 extra pounds that they are unable to use would be unhealthy unlocking it and using it. That this situation would be even close to the comparison of driving 1,000 miles on 800 miles of gas.

    1. The evidence of the calorie restricted diet increasing lifespan is in animal models only. You would have to have people on it long enough to actually tell and this kind of study would take more than 100 years to complete. This data does not exist. In addition, the benefits of this seem to come more from reduction of mTOR signalling due to restricted protein intake and not at all to do with the lack of calories. Calories arent a real thing.

      I have spoken to people following this calorie restricted diet. They are the most sickly and miserable people I have ever set my eyes upon. This is not maintainable and certainly will lead them to huge issues of malnourishment. This is not even something that isnt provable. Try to get your daily allotment of vital minerals and nutrients on 1,000 cals a day. Not happening. Nope.

      If yo think the body is interested in using up its protective layer of fat as a primary fuel source you are sorely mistaken. Metabolic slow down is real, documented, and irrefutable. Why is it you think every single person on the planet that has done a calorically restricted diet sees dramatic losses immediately followed by less and less and less losses until the weight loss stops? What is happening there? Often these people still have a great deal of weight to lose. Why does this happen if the body is all happy to just let you use your 100,000 miles of fuel?

      You unfortunately have a 100,000 foot understanding of weight and metabolism. You see the big picture but miss the minutia.

      Also, I don’t ever recall suggesting anyone eat carbs. I run a ketogenic diet page and do ketogenic nutritional counselling as my full time job. I absolutely do not suggest a caloric deficit. The opposite actually. I have helped hundreds of people lose weight not doing a deficit actually. I’ve also helped Type 2 diabetic people get off their medications. Have you? Unlikely.

      1. Wow. This is so interesting. As I said in my last post , my nails are so brittle and I’m losing my hair. Been on keto for 3 1/2 months now and lost 20 pds, was doing 8-16 fasts. Can’t seem to get past that , was mostly in the first couple of weeks. Help!

          1. No.

            BPC does not give you any form of signal that you have gotten any nutrients. Only protein or carbs can do that.

            When you don’t eat protein or carbs the body thinks it is still running on bodyfat and starts the starvation protocols. HUnger is reduced, this is why you find you aren’t hungry, in order to keep the mind sharp for getting food. Not eating a proper breakfast really deranges the leptin process and without properly functioning leptin signals you cannot lose weight effectively.

      2. Wow you sure told him! For all my life I’ve been on diets. Nothing worked in the long run, eating a 1000 calories or less a day. I even subjected my body to the HGC DIET . Sure , dummy that I am, paid all that money, stuck myself in the stomach every day and was on a 500 calorie diet. I lost 30 pounds in 40 days. Thinking like everyone else that was on it ,it was the shots. WRONG! it was because you were starving yourself! I love the keto diet . People tell me I’m going to have a heart attack eating bacon and fried foods, but this has been the best diet or way of eating so far. I’ve turned many people on to it. Only thing is when I’m on it strict like now my hair, especially my nails are snapping off. Think I’m eating enough but I guess I’m not , could you please tell me the correct amount . 69 yrs old 5”1 female now 232 pounds.

        1. I would have you start with something like this:

          20g total carbs
          50-60g protein
          200-225g of fat

          Load the majority of protein in the morning and taper off the protein to the smallest amount at dinner. Lowest fat amount at breakfast with equal amounts at lunch and dinner.

      3. I was wondering this exact thing this morning! When I started keto 10 weeks ago I was eating based on my baseline calories, 1645. In five weeks I lost 17 lbs. in the next two weeks I lost 4 pounds. Since then I have lost nothing and have noticed my abdomen getting a little fuller. I have been eating fewer calories because the app I’m using showed if I drop my calories to 1100 a day I can drop 4 pounds in a month. So why is it that I have dropped nothing? Everyone on the keto sites say to reduce your calories, reduce your fat, increase your protein, do intermittent fasting…. I can only intermittent fast for 14 to 15 hours and then I’m ravenous. I eat my macros at lunch and eat very healthy but I’m hungry four hours later. This is very interesting to me. I haven’t Inc. exercise back into my life style yet because I still don’t feel like I have enough energy to do that. If I add more calories with my healthy keto foods, should I be able to lose more weight steadily?

        1. This is the problem with caloric restriction. You can only restrict so much before your body is at a point of minimum intake.

          As you reduce caloric intake your body slows metabolism to match intake. Once it reaches the level of your intake weight stops coming off. You can only go so low in calories before the body starts fighting back and holding onto every bit of food you eat as fat. On top of that if you aren’t eating adequate protein in enough doses that allow for maximum protein synthesis you will start losing muscle. This slows metabolism even more and you start putting on weight despite not eating.

          In order to continue with weight loss you have to fix your metabolism and this requires raising calories. How much and how fast depends on your body and wha macros you use.

          Typically you should be doing 3 meals a day with 15 to 20g protein max, 20g carbs max and the rest fat.

          You have to go as high in calories as you can to increase metabolism and stay there for a good long time to allow adequate reversal of the slowed metabolism. How long is hard to say and if you lose or gain is hard to say.

          This is a long process that could take a year or more. Once you have a proper metabolism you can do cycles of calorie restriction again followed by going back up again.

          As weight loss slows you have to reverse again and repeat.

  3. 2 months into Keto. This was very informative. I’ve heard the opposite…but yours actually makes sense. Thank you.

    1. I try to look at this from every angle and use not just studies but real people and their experience. Working with and studying type 1 diabetics has been my most eye opening experience. So much to learn from them. Terrible affliction but it is very telling from a metabolic standpoint.

  4. The only time I ever lost my hair, was when I was fasting two days a week. I now do keto, and 16:8. So Far so good, preparing food, or thunking about it is a pain, and all the fat is difficult but Imhave lost three kgs in three weeks, and cholesterol is Down, so I am happy.

    1. Yes I am sure you feel fine now. None of this is immediate. Your body can deal with lots of distress for a period of time. If you are not eating adequate amounts of energy and nutrients you will slow in weight loss, stall and start going int he other direction. 100% of the time. Then you will have a much harder time getting back to a place where you can actually lose weight again. This is the result of every diet done using too few calories. Every time. I read 50 posts a day in the facebook groups saying the same thing.

      1. I have tried calorie restrictive diets and lost weight many times in my youth. It was very unhealthy. I was close to anorexic. Now that I am in my late 40’s, I have put on almost 40lbs. I tried keto for 6 months and only lost 9lbs. I am worried that I damaged my metabolism by my past dieting that keto will not work for me. My boyfriend that ate exactly like me and lost 35lbs. I loved the other benefits of the keto woe. I had increased energy and felt great. I do however still need to lose at least 30 lbs to be in a healthy range. I don’t know what to do.

        1. YOu have to spend the time it takes to get your metabolic rate back to a normal level. This means eating enough calories to raise the rate. It also means doing the best things possible to enhance metabolism. This means eating a big breakfast, smaller lunch and even smaller dinner.

          You may gain weight initially but you will be better off in the end for it.

  5. I’ve gained and lost 50lbs several times in my life. I have had a hard time getting 900cals a day since starting Keto 6 months ago. My weight loss stalled at 20 lbs, hair has thinned, I’ve had no energy to exercise. I’m jumping in, Jack’s information makes sense. I hope I haven’t damaged my metabolism beyond repair.

    1. It is unlikely it is beyond repair. It may take time to get it back to a manageable level but I have yet to see someone who is beyond repair.

  6. Oh boy, I haven’t done this much math in ages! May I please have you check my assumptions below? I want to be sure I’m on the right track, since I am losing hair and stalled after following a modified keto woe since June 1. It feels so counterintuitive to reduce protein and increase fat to these levels??? Mahalo! ; )

    TDEE 1638 calories
    143lbs CW (183lbs SW)
    5’2″, medium frame
    118lbs ideal weight
    118/2.2 = 54kg
    54kg x 0.8 (non-active) = 43g ideal protein

    20g C = 20×4 = 80 cals
    43g P = 43×4 = 172 cals
    154g F = 154×9 = 1386 cals

    1. Looks pretty much right but I have never nor will I ever have anyone eating less than 1800 cals a day.

      I would suggest:

      20g carbs total not net
      50g protein
      180g fat

      1. Perfect…I can do that and will reset my app! The first couple of days after switching to the new TDEE maintenance macros caused a slight gain, but I will give it a couple weeks and see if I start to lose again…thanks very much!!!

      2. The Pinned post on the site gave me a calorie range from which to calculate the macros…. my low end was 1356…. high end 1890… are you saying to always calculate the macro % based on at least 1800 cal? I’m confused now.

      3. Wow I guess I’ve been so conditioned my whole life that calories in has to be less than calories out. If what you say is true than for 68 yrs I’m doing this all wrong. Damn ! I’m small framed and short 5- ft 1 “ This is my last chance to do something right and God knows this is the first time a diet felt good to me. Now your telling me it’s wrong, what to do please

        1. Zero carb works fine for some and terrible for others. I have not seen any success with it and have not had any success really with my clients. Although most of my clients are very low carb. Usually 10-15g total.

          There actually really is no such thing as zero carb because everything has cars. Even Meat. Most people mean zero plant foods rather than zero carbs.

  7. I found this to be very true. The first time my weight plateaued, I spoke to a friend who’s a nutritionist and also on keto.
    She suggested that I increase my calories, and that did the trick.

    In talks with friends who aren’t on keto but do embrace calorie restrictions, they often say to me that what I’m doing can’t be sustainable even though I’ve exceeded my weight loss goals and now have maintained my weight loss for 5 months. I think they just can’t get past these notions about dieting we grew up with (i.e., restrict calories, avoid fats).

    1. Well it has been sustainable for me for 13 years so far. I don’t know what their yard stick would be for sustainability but I would like to see them stay in restriction for 13 years straight. 🙂

  8. Jack thank you for all you do

    In regards to eating my TDEE I’m 32 years old 6’’3 255 had weight loss surgery and down 175 lbs in last 2 years. There is no doubt in my mind I’ve hit a stall the last couple months because of the CICO theory. Problem I have with eating my 2996 calories a day with my post opp stomach is not exatctky easy then add in the IF protocol to eat that in 6-8 hr window next to impossible. I’m trying to be more active with HIIT cardio strength training and more active through the day to add lean muscle mass but struggle with energy to perform any suggestions?

    1. Stop doing such a small window. The benefit you will see over doing a 10 hour window will be so marginal it is not worth the difficulty getting in your food in that time.

      Just do 3 meals equally spaced apart 4-5 hours apart. Make breakfast large,lunch smaller and dinner the smallest. We are most insulin sensitive in the morning and least insulin sensitive at night.

  9. HUGE problem for me too :-((((( i dont know what to do anymore… i was thnking about regain-minoxidil but its a chemical thing i’ll have to use for life and i am still trying to heal myself…. i take collagen and biotin and b vitamins… and i eat my tdee!! but you can now see my scalp… i am honestly having a minor heart attack everytime i get out the shower… 🙁 please help….

  10. Hi Jack,
    I have been doing Keto for a year now. I see started at 250.7, I have lost 85 lbs so far. I used the macros suggested by ruled me calculations. I have lost a lot of hair over the year. I have gained muscle and am pretty ok for energy for working out. I started reading all of your information and am leaning towards changing my macros to meet your way. I have to admit I am nervous and having a bit of anxiety adding calories. I truly want to be and have the best body I can. I am stalled at 165.6 and have been here for over a month. I guess I just need reassurance that the weight that has left this body will not come back….

    1. You may or may not initially gain a bit of weight as you eat more and your body adjusts but it will slow and stop just as it does in the other direction when you are restricting. YOu lose fast then it slows then it stops. Well when doing this, sometimes it just works and you lose but sometimes you gain a bit then it slows then stops then you start to lose.

      Either way it will get your metabolism back to where it should be and you will stop losing hair and many women who have lost their cycles get them back. I even have women that thought they were menopausal have started having their cycle again. It is truly facinating.

      Here are a couple more articles on the subject:

      What is TDEE

      Gaining Weight on TDEE

  11. I have been doing Keto for 2 weeks now. I run everyday but I’m so tired and get sick. I was told I should consume 1200 calories to lose weight. So after reading this I’m assuming this is not right at all?! I’m trying not to give up on this but I just can’t seem to get the calories I need, fat, protein and carbs right. Any help is very much appreciated.

    1. Keto is not about cutting calories. It is about cutting insulin. You need to eat enough food to get your nutrients in or of course you will feel sick and tired. You need all your micro nutrients and vitamins or your body will simply give up.

  12. I am 65 year old female. 5ft 3ins
    I currently weigh 136 lb, have been doing my own version of Keto since last June. Have lost 24lb.
    The calculator told me
    1557 cal for maintenance
    If I have worked it out correctly that’s 20g carb 80 cal
    47g protein 188cal
    The rest of my calories should come from fat so that’s 1289 cal
    I always go over on calories for the day, find it almost impossible.
    Carbs are not a problem always under 20, and I am working on getting the protein down. I read here that you tell people no less than 1800 calories, is that for women too. That would be so much better for me. My hair has been thinking in the last few months but I have never eaten less than 1600 cal a day, so not starving myself.

    1. I’ve never recommended less than 1800. So long as you keep protein moderate, 40-50g for a woman is plenty, and carbs around 20g and the rest comes from fat you can definitely hit 1800 no problem. YOu should never need to be hungry. If you are, add more fat.

  13. 7 months HCLF Banting, RMR VS 1 by Prof Noakes. IF 1,23. . Lost 14kgs, now stuck at 95kg. Down 3 sizes. Past month my hair is starting to fall out and nailsj breaking. Calculated my TDEE at 2050. I’m 72 and 170cm tall. Walk 3kms on beach 5 days. Feeling good but also constipated on elkaar basis now. Thanks for any help. New to your group.

    1. Stop the 23/1 immediately. You cannot possibly get all the nutrition you need in 1 meal a day.

      Eat to your TDEE of 2050 cals spread into 3 meals. Breakfast should be the largest meal with the most carbs and protein. You are most insulin sensitive at this time of day and eating at this time epresses genes for better metabolism and better insulin sensitivity. It will also reset your hunger hormones.

      You also might want to consider taking the following.

      Desiccated liver: Desiccated Liver

      B-Complex: B-Complex

  14. Will this approach work even if I am already within ideal weight? I am a 6 feet tall woman, current weight 150 lbs, but I still want to lose at least 15 lbs.

    1. Depends on how long you do it for and if you get enough energy intake in your feeding window.

  15. Hi again Jack,
    So if I’m working out late morning, should I have my large breakfast before or after working out? I tend to drink my BPC and then workout and then eat but I want to maximize my efforts and results as I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, forever in this woe!

    1. If you work out within an hour of waking eat after workout. If you have at least 2 hours before your workout, eat 1 hour before workout. It can be alighter meal but make sure it has protein.

  16. I am new to keto (7 days in) and it’s hard to know what’s correct. I’ve been eating 20g carbs max, 72g protein, and 118g fat. I’m 204lb female. Is that correct? I could use some help, I definitely want to educate myself and do this right.

    1. You need way more fat and less protein.

      Start with this:

      20g total carbs MAX
      50g protein MAX
      200g fat MINIMUM

  17. Hey Jack!

    Thanks for this! My question is simple, how do I lose weight on this diet? I’ve been on it for 7wks and am shifting the same 10lbs back and forth.
    What’s good:
    I don’t cheat.
    This diet makes me feel good.
    I can successfully fast up to 18hrs.
    My ketone/glucose ratio is always under 3.
    I’ve cut out fake sugar and most dairy.

    What’s bad:
    I have been on diets since age 5.
    I’ve lost over 100lbs 5x in my life. Mostly by starvation.
    I don’t even know how to eat like a regular person.
    Food is a drug to me.
    Surgery a couple years ago threw my hormones out of whack and I lost 40lbs in a month then gained 60lbs in 2 months.
    At any given moment I can gain 10lbs in my stomach and my ears will ring. I’m guessing inflammation?
    I don’t exercise.

    I’ve given up so much to be healthy (alcohol, cigarettes, sugar) and I have been extremely patient but I fear I killed my metabolism 😫

    Thanks for your consideration!

    1. You are a classic example of the damage that starvation does to people. The more times you starve/lose/regain you teach your body how to stop it from happening again. You have essentially taught your body how to stop losing weight.

      The only way to do it now is to increase your metabolism. The only way to do that is to eat very high calories. The only way to do that without gaining massive amounts of weight is eat primarily fat.

      Find your TDEE and eat to it.

      TDEE

      Don’t freak out if you gain weight. It isn’t fat.

      If you gain a bit don’t freak out

      If you still need more help I do personal coaching:

      Personal coaching

  18. I started keto in January and fell into the “I’m not hungry trap” so I was at about 1,200 calories per day and of course my hair started falling out at the 2-month mark. I struggled with keto for a month with travel, and I finally went back on in April, but even then I wasn’t doing it quite right because I was still only between 1,600-1,800, and my hair has continued to fall out. I finally found CSK and have increased to TDEE of 1,800-2,000 a day, but a few weeks in and my hair is still falling out (and I’ve gained a teeny bit). Question is: about how long does it take of eating at TDEE for your body to recover so you stop losing your hair? It’s going on 3 months and I’m starting to panic. And for history, I’ve been dieting since I was a preteen so my metabolism is shot.

    1. What are your macros, age, height and weight and what are you taking for supplements? It can take a long time for ti to reverse but typically hair stops falling out in 6-8 weeks. There can be some other deficiencies in the diet that may still cause hair loss but it is usually reversed with adequate calories. As far as weight loss it can happen immediately for many but somepeople take a long time. It all depends on how long you have been calorie restricting and how many times you have lost weight and gained it back.

      1. My macros are 2008 cals with 20c/50p/192f, at 39 years old, 5’6, 170 pounds right now, sedentary lifestyle (office job, no exercise at all). For supplements I take MSM, selenium, biotin, and a 2:1 cal:mag. I also take /1/2 tsp of LoSalt for potassium in apple cider vinegar and lemon juice diluted in water.

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