Active Low-Carber Forums
Atkins diet and low carb discussion provided free for information only, not as medical advice.
Home Plans Tips Recipes Tools Stories Studies Products
Active Low-Carber Forums
A sugar-free zone

Welcome to the Active Low-Carber Forums.
Support for Atkins diet, Protein Power, Neanderthin (Paleo Diet), CAD/CALP, Dr. Bernstein Diabetes Solution and any other healthy low-carb diet or plan, all are welcome in our lowcarb community. Forget starvation and fad diets -- join the healthy eating crowd! You may register by clicking here, it's free!

Go Back   Active Low-Carber Forums > Main Low-Carb Diets Forums & Support > Low-Carb Studies & Research / Media Watch > LC Research/Media
User Name
Register FAQ Members Calendar Mark Forums Read Search Gallery My P.L.A.N. Survey

Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 09:18
minnat3 minnat3 is offline
Registered Member
Posts: 77
Plan: no sugar/no flour/no tran
Stats: 172/145/140 Female 5' 7.5"
Progress: 84%
Location: Memphis, TN USA
Default Hair loss, protein intake and thyroid function

The IDEAL DIET Newsletter - April 2004

(I don't know how many subscribe to this newsletter but it's free and often has good insights. There are a couple more articles at this link.)

Hair Loss with Low Carb Diet

"I started doing Atkins about 2 weeks ago. Why is my hair starting to fall out?"

I received this question on the form at My initial response was that a lack of vitamins can cause hair loss.

Many people forget that Dr. Atkins recommends a variety of supplements to go along with his diet, because the vitamins you would normally get in fruits, vegetables and other foods are severely restricted. Whether you use the Atkins diet or not, I recommend a good multivitamin with minerals for everyone. An additional B-complex supplement can be helpful for the hair.

After posting this response I had some emails from a few people who disagree, and they bring up a good point. Here is what one person had to say:

"I strongly believe that low-carb (MEAT & FAT) is the way humans are designed to eat and would gladly eat nothing but protein with plenty of natural fat if it wouldn't slow my metabolism down. I have found in the past that eating unlimited amounts of protein tends to bring on hypothyroid symptoms. I think this is why many Atkins & Protein Power dieters complain of hair loss -- it's not because carbs are too low. Rather, it's because protein (unlimited) is too high.

Broda Barnes MD who also advocates low-carb for hypothyroids states in his book that he had to quadruple his own thyroid meds when eating unlimited amounts of protein (mostly veal, hence also likely too lean). He then adapted the diet to limit protein to no more than 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight. He also states that a study in the medical literature indicates that excessive amounts of protein use up thyroid hormone very quickly -- unfortunately, there was no foot-note reference. However, it's the only reasonable explanation for this hair-loss side-effect in connection with low-carbing that I've ever heard.

The notion that it's the stress of losing weight is silly unless someone has lost 100 pounds; the notion that it's a vitamin deficiency is also silly because it's happened to low-carbers who take copious amounts of vitamin supplements; the notion that it's because of ketosis is also silly because obese people have plenty of stored body fat to use for fuel. Therefore, I believe that Broda Barnes is onto something when he mentions the unlimited protein as potentially creating metabolic problems. Also, given that so much meat in the US is trimmed down and skinless chicken breasts abound, it is very easy to eat tons of protein without sufficient fat".

I have not seen any studies indicating that excess amounts of protein lower thyroid levels, but studies have shown that carbohydrate restriction does have this effect. Studies on dieters who stopped losing weight showed that a carbohydrate-free diet produced a 21 percent decline in RMR (resting metabolic rate), as well as a decrease in circulating T3 (the active thyroid hormone) and insulin. When carbohydrate was added, keeping the same caloric intake, RMR rose toward baseline, and weight loss continued. This was accompanied by a rise in serum T3, but not insulin.

This study shows that you cannot discount the effect of carbohydrate restriction on thyroid function and weight loss plateau. I have noted this with many of my patients, and find that weight loss is more consistent when carbs are not eliminated from the diet. This is why I designed the Metabolic Switch diet, which uses carbs to "stimulate the metabolism" while still allowing the low-carb aspect of the diet to encourage fat burning. This carb intake apparently keeps the T3 levels from dropping.

My patients have not complained of hair loss or other symptoms consistent with low thyroid levels, and I did not realize it was a common complaint with the Atkins and Protein Power diets.

As for high protein intakes being responsible for decreased T3 levels, I have not seen any studies on this. The recommended intake of protein on a typical diet is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight (pounds divided by 2.2 equals kilograms). When using a low carb diet, the body converts some protein to glucose for its essential needs, so additional protein should be consumed to provide for this, in order to avoid losing muscle mass.

The chart in DIET TRUTHS REVEALED indicates the minimum daily protein intake based on weight in pounds, while using a low carb diet. In some weight ranges this will calculate at up to 1.2 grams per kilogram. In the IDEAL DIET I do not place a maximum limit on protein, so more than this amount can be consumed.

Based on Dr. Barnes' observations, if you are stalled in your weight loss you should calculate your protein intake and keep it in the range given in the chart for your corresponding weight. Remember that as you lose weight your protein needs will be less, so check the chart frequently during weight loss. Replacing excess protein in your diet with fat is reasonable.

It really is not silly that the metabolism would decrease while a person is in ketosis. Even when a lot of body fat remains for fuel, the body does not want to keep burning it. It is very common that persons on very low carb diets stop losing weight and even have trouble staying in ketosis because the metabolism decreases, probably due to decreased T3 levels. People who have lost weight and then regained it may have this occur quite rapidly when they diet again.

My recommendation to eat carbs does not mean that carbohydrate intake is necessary for humans. Carbs are not necessary but glucose is, and the body converts protein to glucose for its essential needs. However, this requires energy input, while carbs give the body easy and rapid fuel. The body's response to losing energy - both in weight loss and in converting protein to glucose - is to decrease its metabolic rate in order to save its fat stores.
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 09:42
Kristine's Avatar
Kristine Kristine is offline
Forum Moderator
Posts: 21,065
Plan: Primal
Stats: 171/155/155 Female 5'7"
Progress: 100%
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada

Interesting, but I strongly disagree that hair loss is common. At most, I'd say it's occasional. I wonder if this person inquired about the soy content in her patients' menus. Between protein shakes, Atkins bars, etc; it can add up really fast. Soy is a known thyroid "mucker-upper".
Reply With Quote
  #3   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 09:43
DianaO's Avatar
DianaO DianaO is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 1,589
Plan: Atkins 72 Version
Stats: 175.5/123.5/115 Female 5'3 I grew an Inch!
Progress: 86%
Location: Anderson, Indiana

I disagree about the hairloss though. This can happen with an drastic change in a diet, whether dropping calories or carbs.
Reply With Quote
  #4   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 09:51
magnamater magnamater is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 163
Plan: atkins, protein power
Stats: 230/137/130 Female 5'3"
Progress: 93%
Location: Houston,Texas

I go to a thyroid specialist, because I have autoimmune thyroiditis. Severe low thyroid, underdiagnosed for years.

He tells me carbohydrates are POISON to my disease.

Obviously, according to him, who is listed as a premier thyroid specialist nationwide, the diet does not cause low thyroid, but is a partial part of the remedy.

My experience would say this report is not true.
Reply With Quote
  #5   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 10:00
adkpam's Avatar
adkpam adkpam is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 2,320
Plan: Atkins
Stats: 185/151/145 Female 67 inches
Progress: 85%
Location: Adirondack Mountains, NY

My mother and I experienced the opposite with Atkins...our hair grew in thicker than ever, especially my mom, who had gotten worried about her thinning hair. Of course, she was eating like 600 calories a day in an effort to control her weight, so in her case the extra protein was really needed.
Reply With Quote
  #6   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 10:08
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
Posts: 25,433
Plan: Paleo 99.5%
Stats: 210/170/160 Female 67.5"
Progress: 80%
Location: San Diego, CA

Total disagreement here. Any diet can lead to hair loss. Used to hear about it all the time from Jenny Craig folks, Nutrisystem Folks and others. Seems to have more to do with sudden weight loss than anything.
Reply With Quote
  #7   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 18:32
DebPenny's Avatar
DebPenny DebPenny is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 1,514
Plan: TSP/PPLP/low-cal/My own
Stats: 250/209/150 Female 63.5 inches
Progress: 41%
Location: Sacramento, CA

My hair thinned out a little at the beginning and has come back even thicker than when I started. I think it's more a "shock to the system" that happens whenever you change your life so drastically. I went from eating copious amounts of rice, pasta and potatoes one day to low-carbing the next. No wonder my system showed an outward reaction (not to mention the weight loss ).
Reply With Quote
  #8   ^
Old Thu, Apr-15-04, 18:53
Grimalkin's Avatar
Grimalkin Grimalkin is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 741
Plan: PP
Stats: 160/149/125 Female 66 in.
Progress: 31%

2 weeks after starting Atkins seems kind of soon, most people don't shed hair until about 3 months after a trauma. This has to do with the basic biology of the hair growing cycle, so in this case I would wonder if something happened to the new dieter about 2 months or so earlier than Atkins to cause that.

I shed hair for a few months too, in my case I think ketosis was indeed the trigger. I can eliminate most of the other possible causes for myself. However, I think what a body percieves as a stressful event can be very individual, ranging from emotional to physical (including changing a diet). I have also been under the impression that LC can be beneficial to the thyroid in cases where low thyroid function is from imbalanced hormones and poor lifestyle and diet. At any rate my body temp has risen somewhat with LC, which would not be the case if I had become hypothyroid.
Reply With Quote
  #9   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 17:01
deeski516's Avatar
deeski516 deeski516 is offline
Registered Member
Posts: 50
Plan: atkins
Stats: 196/189.4/160 Female 5' 6"
Progress: 18%
Location: Long Island, New York

I am no expert in this area, but was glad to see what magnamater posted. I have had hard to control thyroid problems for over 15 years. (also undiagnosed for the first few). This is my first time trying lc and within days I felt like a new women. Most of my thyroid symptoms are better if not gone, praise the Lord! As for my hair, this is the first time it has stopped falling out and both my hair and nails seem to be growing very quickly. Never had that in my life. Magna......I wish I heard that years ago!
Reply With Quote
  #10   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 17:24
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
Posts: 25,433
Plan: Paleo 99.5%
Stats: 210/170/160 Female 67.5"
Progress: 80%
Location: San Diego, CA

Hair loss is a common side effect on any diet. I remember back in my Nutri-system days it was an issue they had to deal with. I think it is the body's reaction to quick weight loss.

I don't lose weight quickly and my hair also doesn't fall out.

Oh pooh, this is an old thread and I am repeating myself!
Reply With Quote
  #11   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 17:26
Josiemk's Avatar
Josiemk Josiemk is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 2,195
Plan: Mod Atkins
Stats: 170/162/110 Female 5 ft
Progress: 13%
Location: Marion, Texas

My hair didn't fall out either but I only lost 20. My hair & skin seemed to be more healthier. Plus I agree about 2 weeks being to soon. When I had some sort of trauma it took a few months for my hair to start falling out.
Reply With Quote
  #12   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 17:44
jodinicole's Avatar
jodinicole jodinicole is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 436
Plan: CKD
Stats: 250/176/150 Female 5ft7in
Progress: 74%
Location: Washington

I always thought low carb was good for thryoid. When I started doing phase 1 of south beach my TSH levels went from 2.29 in the beginning to 1.62 in a matter of a couple of weeks. That is huge!! I also have more energy than I have in so so so long.

I'm 24 and have hypothyroidism and for 2 years I struggled to get it all done, I struggled to have enough energy to play with my little girl and now I have enough energy to do it all and then some- that is HUGE!

I have to admit that hearing about how protien changes the t3 levels have me a little worried and I'm not real sure what to do with that information. Maybe add another serving of fruit??
Reply With Quote
  #13   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 17:59
Laydebleu's Avatar
Laydebleu Laydebleu is offline
Senior Member
Posts: 2,476
Plan: Atkin's
Stats: 315/231.4/150 Female 5'3
Progress: 51%

I began low carbing in June 05, my hair has been falling out since the end of October and my doctor did thryoid levels to see if that was the cause and it was not. She told me that the hair loss would probably end in 3-6 months. I have begun taking biotin and cod liver oil in addition to my other supplements. I will see the doctor next month and if the hair loss continues I will have her run a battery of labs to see if I am deficent in something.
Reply With Quote
  #14   ^
Old Tue, Mar-07-06, 21:38
ItsTheWooo's Avatar
ItsTheWooo ItsTheWooo is offline
Registered Member
Posts: 4,815
Plan: My Own
Stats: 280/118/117.5 Female 5ft 5.25 in
Progress: 100%

I am recently trying an experiment where I keep carbs lower and eat higher ("unlimited") amounts of meat and fat.

This is my fourth day, and you know what? All evidence shows I am hypermetabolic if any change at all. First of all, the first day of my experiment I ate copious amounts of fatty salmon. Calories were the same or slightly higher. First day I kept peeing and drinking water; next morning I was down 2.5 lbs. It couldn't have been liver glycocgen from cutting carbs alone, because my carbs were not all that much reduced to lose THAT much weight. Plus I could tell my lower body was a lot less bloated. In the minesotta starvation study when the guys were food restricted and then given more protein this also happened, they lots lots of water and became hypermetabolic. If the weight was all glycogen, then surely it was a simultenous increase in anabolism (putting greater demand on glycogen stores) also responsible, not just simple carb reduction. My carbs are not THAT low, nor are they relatively that reduced.

Already my body composition has already changed more favorably, in that my body looks more shapely and my waist and thighs have decreased in size. I look a lot healthier and slimmer (as in less fatty and bloated). My mood is extremely higher. My skin quality is much better and the eczema on my hands is clearing up. After eating my body feels like a heat furnace (especially after the salmon and egg foods)

This is not about calories only, but protein and fat. It's about energy and materials to build stuff with, and carbs are a crappy source of both for me and lots of other people. I tried increasing calories without specifically increasing fat and protein and decreasing carbs. It was a disaster. I gain a lot of fat, become bloated, eventually feel worse, and metabolism does not increase that much.

Maybe in deep ketosis there could be problems; I have not been in deep ketosis for 2 years now and when I was I don't remember feeling good. For me, though, more protein and fat is just what my body needs and it is the only thing that has really raised my metabolism.
Reply With Quote
  #15   ^
Old Wed, Mar-08-06, 07:52
VALEWIS's Avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 2,440
Plan: low cal, low carb
Stats: 196/145/140 Female 5'6.5
Progress: 91%
Location: Coolum Beach, Australia

Woo, out of interest, what calories (approx.) are you consuming on average, and how many/what carbs? What would a typical day's menu look like? I managed to get another 20 odd pounds off by reducing calories, but my metabolism has slowed way down. Also, how would you see body composition changes in just 4 days?
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Fallen and can't get up ? Wendye Countdowns, Buddies & Challenges 1054 Thu, Dec-29-05 05:37
Good essay VALEWIS LC Research/Media 4 Mon, Feb-23-04 10:03
Soy-Thyroid connection TBoneMitch LC Research/Media 4 Tue, Feb-03-04 11:58
Current and Potential Drugs for Treatment of Obesity-Endocrine Reviews Voyajer LC Research/Media 0 Mon, Jul-15-02 18:57

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 18:10.

Copyright © 2000-2020 Active Low-Carber Forums @
Powered by: vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.