Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 13, 2021

Many of my clients are eager to fast-forward their weight loss journey with a strict diet, strenuous exercise regime, and diet pills.

However, having heard some worrying stories on the Internet and from friends, some women are concerned about whether fat burners can cause hair loss.

Here’s the truth: To help burn fat, diet pills often boost your metabolism and cause hormonal changes, which is stressful to your body and may lead to receding hairline.

We’ve consulted the experts to determine why it happens, whether it’s permanent, how to prevent and treat it.

Is Hair Loss the Side Effect of Fat Burners?

pills inside different bowls

Even though it’s not quite common, excessive hair thinning and loss might be one of the side effects of taking a fat burner supplement.

Some ingredients in fat burner supplements may significantly increase the level of the hormone cortisol in your body.

It naturally leads to anxiety and stress that can result in hair loss.

Fat burners may increase the level of a male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body.

DHT is a derivative of testosterone that has been linked to miniaturizing hair follicles that causes androgenetic alopecia, a.k.a. female or male pattern baldness. [1]

However, in most situations, the ingredients of high-quality fat burners are not to be blamed for hair loss.

Many other possible underlying causes of losing hair aren’t directly related to taking products like fat burners.

They’re more a result of a rapid weight loss (over 1–2 lbs or 0.45–0.9 kg per week) due to poor dieting and nutrient deficiencies.

Besides androgenic alopecia, a condition called telogen effluvium (TE) is one of the most common causes of losing hair on the scalp.

It’s associated with sudden weight loss, decreased protein intake, and nutrient deficiencies resulting from restrictive diets that are stressful to the body and speed up the hair growth cycle. [2]

Related Posts:

Why Weight Loss May Cause Hair Loss

man with a hair loss patch combing his hair

The main reasons why hair loss can occur during or after weight loss include:

1. Restrictive Diets

Restrictive keto and other extreme low-calorie diets cut out particular food groups, which triggers stress and nutrient deficiency that result in losing hair. [3] [4]

Deficiencies in vital nutrients such as: 

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Protein
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Biotin
  • Folic acid and
  • Magnesium

2. Extremely Low Amount of Proteins

different types of protein food in black and white

Again, poor nutrition with an insufficient amount of protein in your diet sometimes results in losing hair because the building blocks of protein - amino acids like leucine, cysteine, valine, and histidine - are essential for keratin production and hair regrowth. [8]

When your body doesn’t get enough proteins, it prioritizes essential bodily functions like tissue repair, hormone production, regulating pH and fluid balance, digestion, transporting and storing oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients to the tissues instead of growing hair as it’s not vital.

Weight Loss Surgery

Science says that losing hair is a common side effect of gastric sleeve surgery and various bariatric and other types of weight-loss surgeries patients undergo to treat obesity. [9]

These surgical procedures cause rapid weight loss and malabsorption of nutrients, resulting in protein, vitamins, and minerals deficiencies (especially Zinc, Iron, and Vitamin B12). [10] [11] [12]

“The good news is that hair loss as a result of a bad diet or deficiency will correct itself once the underlying cause is put right. The same goes for hair loss following stress, pregnancy, or illness. These are termed ‘temporary.’ The hair follicle is still active and has not been damaged.” Lisa Caddy, Certified Trichologist

How Can I Prevent Hair Loss While Dieting?

man eating healthy while reading news

Here’s how you can prevent hair loss while dieting to lose weight:

  • Strive to lose weight in a healthy, slow way following a balanced diet and sustainable workout plan
  • Avoid restrictive, crash, or other fad diets
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods to give your body all it needs
  • Take the recommended supplements before and after undergoing any surgical or non-surgical weight loss treatment
  • Identify the cause of your problem and facilitate hair regrowth with the help of a qualified doctor who might even prescribe FDA-approved medicines like Minoxidil or finasteride.

FAQs

When Does Hair Loss Stop After Weight Loss?

Hair loss may stop six or more months after rapid weight loss, depending on the type of hair loss and a specific acute or chronic condition that caused it.

Will Hair Loss From Weight Loss Grow Back?

Yes, hair loss from weight loss will typically grow back after a while if you ensure to get all the necessary nutrients and perhaps a hair regrowth treatment prescribed by one of the hair loss specialists after a consultation and diagnosis.

How Much Hair Falling Out Is Normal?

The American Academy of Dermatologists claims that normal hair fall is when you shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair per day. [13]

Increased hair shedding may occur more commonly in people with longer hair strands, especially women often due to frequent heat styling, coloring, imbalanced hormones, or other health problems, and individuals who have experienced stress such as sudden significant weight loss and from various other reasons.

Can Weight Loss Pills Cause Hair Loss?

Some weight-loss products used to speed up the fat-burning process might contribute to hair loss directly by causing sudden metabolic changes and fluctuations of hormones (DHT, cortisol, and others) that may starve off your hair follicles and cause stress.

However, hair shedding is more often triggered by numerous other underlying factors related to fast weight loss, such as nutrient deficiencies due to faddy eating and a low daily protein and overall calorie intake.

So, pick trustworthy fat burner supplements, avoid stressful restrictive diets, and take the other suggested steps to prevent losing hair, and you should be fine. And don’t forget to share your experience with us!


References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/68082
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606321/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6820992/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5397031/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23159185/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/946869/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596642/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30062467/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24887725/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32762597/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4709370/
  13. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/insider/shedding

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