Very Low-Calorie Diets and the Link to Hair Loss

Updated on July 21, 2017
Kimberleyclarke profile image

Kimberley's mind sparks with ideas. She has published two books; Spring Heeled Jack & Kiss of Death: My Smoking Phobia

Losing weight.
Losing weight. | Source

Most people reach a point in their live where they would like to lose weight. For people who are camera shy, there is no way of escaping the dreaded lens. Mobile phones, tablets and computers can all capture our image. Whether we want them to or not!

Some people take extreme measures to lose weight. Yo-yo dieting, where a person will starve, then binge, can result in further increased weight gain over time.

A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best route for long term weight management. However, no one wants to hear that. Everyone wants a quick fix; to lose weight, and to lose weight fast.


A calorie is a unit of energy. For each calorie we consume, we are provided with energy to survive. Our body uses calorific energy to enable us to think, to walk, to talk—to digest our food and to keep our heart beating. Energy is vital.

The guideline daily amount of calories for a man is 2,500 calories, and for a women is 2,000 calories. These calorie guidelines are provided to ensure that we fuel our bodies adequately in order to maintain overall health, as well as our weight.

Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) are diets where calorie consumption is severely restricted. As part of a VLCD, the daily calorie intake is suggested at 1000cal, or less.

When embarking on a VLCD, people may turn to bespoke plans with ready meals and shakes to make the dieting process convenient. People do get weight loss results, and fast. However, one of the side effects may not be welcome!

Warning About Very Low Calorie Diets

The UK's National Health Service warns that these diets should only be followed under medical supervision for a maximum of 12 weeks continuously, or intermittently with a low-calorie diet—for example, for two to four days a week.

Hair Loss

For many people, their hair is their crowning glory. Your hair can also tell a lot about your general health.

Hair is mostly made from protein, and protein is a vital component of our diet. Hair grows from microscopic follicles in your skin. People can lose their hair for any number of reasons – stress, pregnancy, illness; even weight loss.

Hair loss, while on a VLCD, is one of the cosequences of losing weight – it is how your body copes with the change. The follicles go into shock, and they can stop functioning correctly. The hair loss from dieting presents as a general thinning of the hair – hair won’t come out in large localised patches, like alopecia. A large amount of hair shedding would equate to losing more than 100 strands of hair per day.

This form of hair loss, known medically as Telogen Effluvium, causes the hair to stop growing. The hair then enters a resting phase, and after three months, the hair will fall out. The first you will know about your hair loss is when your hair starts to fall out. However, the ‘dying off’ phase has been taking place in your follicles for around three months before your hair will start to fall out.

Make sure you eat plenty of protein to ensure a healthy head of hair.
Make sure you eat plenty of protein to ensure a healthy head of hair. | Source

Preventing Hair Shedding While on a Very Low-Calorie Diet

If you happen to experience the symptoms of telogen effluvium as a result of weight loss, your hair will start to fall out after three months of dieting. If you decide to go on a Very Low Calorie Diet, make sure that you only do so for a short amount of time.

Make sure that you are getting sufficient vitamins and minerals by using dietary supplements, or increasing your nutritional intake of protein. Hair is composed of protein, therefore protein is necessary for healthy hair. You can find protein in white meat, fish, dairy products, pulses and nuts.


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    • Kimberleyclarke profile image

      Kimberley Clarke 2 years ago from England

      Hello there Jake,

      Thank you for your message. The recommended calorie intake for men is 2500 per day, for women 2000 per day.

      Eating just over 1000 calories per day does not sound very healthy to me - for weight loss, a man could take 2300 calories per day, a woman 1800 calories per day.

      Not all calories are bad! Your body needs them to do all of the things you want it to, like think clearly and live safely. No amount of biotin or minoxidil will help you to be safe while eating around 1000 calories per day. Hair loss will be the least of your worries if your vital organs don't get the nutrients that they need.

      Thank you for stopping by Jake - please take care and be healthy and safe.

    • profile image

      jake 2 years ago

      hi i was wondering i am taking biotin pills and minoxidil my calories are roughly low but over 1000 but i have a high protein intake and eat a lot of veggies will my hair fallout

    • Kimberleyclarke profile image

      Kimberley Clarke 3 years ago from England

      Delighted to hear that your hair loss symptoms were temporary. Also, thank you for sharing your experience - that increasing your protein intake was key to reversing your hair thinning. Thank you for stopping by!

    • momsdoworkathome profile image

      Katina Davenport 3 years ago from Michigan

      Something like this happened to me when I was juicing and eating very low calories. It is important to have enough protein in your diet even when dieting. You can get them from beans or legumes if you are not eating much meat. Also fish such as salmon is a great source of protein. Eventually I went back to eating more meat and that fixed my hair loss. Great hub.

    • Kimberleyclarke profile image

      Kimberley Clarke 3 years ago from England

      You're right Mohamed - no one wants to lose their hair. Not many people realise that taking up a Very Low Calorie Diet can have that outcome. Hence, I hope this information is useful to people. Thanks for stopping by!

    • mohamed oukrich profile image

      mohamed oukrich 3 years ago from morocco

      Why hair means? No one wants to lose his hair