ZocdocAnswersDid my diet cause hair loss? If I change it back, will it regrow?

Question

Did my diet cause hair loss? If I change it back, will it regrow?

I weighed 220 lbs in the beginning of July and I crash dieted. I cut off all junk food and everything that had any sort of fat or high calories. My diet went from eating a bag of cheetos every day and 3 to 4 meals to eating a healthy lunch with either salmon or chicken and a bowl of cereal every day. I also exercised 1 hour almost every day, a mix of cardio and weight lifting. In two months I lost 45 lbs. I weighed 175 at the beginning of September. I am now noticing a change in my hair. It is falling out in large amounts! I'm even scared to scratch my head because every time I do, 5 to 10 hairs fall out! If it was my diet, do I go back to what I used to eat and just exercise to maintain my weight? I do not want to be bald! I just turned 22 a week ago!

Answer

First of all, congratulations on changing your lifestyle - the diet that you are currently following sounds much better and healthier than your previous diet. That being said, a large amount of weight loss is a stress to your body as it breaks down all that fat, so I recommend getting checked out by your doctor. Normally your hair follicles cycle at different times and you shed a constant, low-level amount of hair. However, when the body undergoes stress - which can be due to weight loss, emotional stresses, surgeries - sometimes the hair follicles all sync up and die at the same time, causing more diffuse hair loss. For most people this is temporary and the hair eventually grows back and enters a more normal growth cycle. That being said, I would still go see your doctor to get checked out, for several reasons. One, while it's clear that you made some pretty big dietary changes, it's important to make sure that there isn't an underlying cause of both your weight loss and your hair loss. Second, assuming that all of this is related to your diet, I would discuss your current diet with your doctor to make sure that you're eating a balanced diet and not deficient in any important nutrients or vitamins.

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