Thursday, 15 April 2010

DIARY + REVIEW: The Dreaded Hair Loss

The very lovely people over at LighterLife HQ featured the Lady Gluttony blog on their Facebook page yesterday, how exciting! So hello to all the LighterLife fans who have made their way over to LG. I noticed a lot of people questioned the hair loss topic I raised earlier in my blog, so I thought I'd delve a little into the whats and whys of hair loss on very low calorie diets such as LighterLife.

My hair began falling out after I reintroduced conventional food into my diet after 19 weeks of full abstinence from food on LighterLife. It was very slight at first but continued to get worse until I was having to unblock the plug in the shower every day. I was devastated! I dug out a photo from September 09, 3 months after the LighterLife programme, along with a photo from March '10. I can definitely see the difference!

During a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD - less than 800cals per day) your body remains in a constant state of ketosis - this basically means your body is being fuelled via your fat stores (yippee!) as opposed to the energy stores you usually use from your liver which are known as glycogen. Whilst you are in ketosis your body uses what little energy you have available to power your vital organs. As there's not much energy going spare, it stops doing other less important tasks such as hair shedding, hair regrowth, nail growth and keeping you warm (I was forever freezing whilst on LighterLife).

This little holiday your body takes from completing these tasks has to be accounted for somewhere, meaning that when you reintroduce food and increase your calorie intake you begin to shed the hair you should have been regularly losing which is around 50 to 100 strands per day. Obviously the swift loss of 19 weeks worth of hair is going to be a considerable and alarming amount, but it doesn't mean you're going bald! The new hair grows back through just as quickly as you lose it which is brilliant, but meant I had a mini afro for several months following my abstinence from food, such a good look for me…not!

A nutrition deficiency could also account for the hair loss on some diets. Although I know LighterLife is 100% nutritionally complete, some diets lack vitamin B12 and Zinc which are essential for luscious locks so perhaps a deficiency in these nutrients could cause the hair to take a little break from growing.

I was so upset about losing my hair though. I had no one to reassure me, so I had no idea whether it was going to grow back! I did have slight bald patches around my hairline which of course in my head translated to "Oh my god, I'm actually bald, I need to invest in a toupee!". Always the drama queen. I was willing to try anything to speed the regrowth of my hair. I consulted my lovely hairdresser, Jolie, who recommended the L'Oreal product Aminexil. I purchased a 6 week course of the product costing around £90 (steep, I know - but I was desperate!). I had to apply the solution to my scalp daily for six weeks, massaging it into towel dried hair. Now, according to the boffins over at L'Oreal, Aminexil is a nutritional programme that has been scientifically proven to combat hair thinning using Omega-6 nutricomplex. Now who knows, this may have been a load of rubbish, but my hair did seem to grow back exceptionally quickly. It's not really a fair test as I've no way of knowing how quickly my hair would have grown back without the Aminexil, but it did make me feel like I was actively trying to encourage my hair growth. It's all in the psychology I say!

Overall, the amount of hair I lost was a teeny price to pay for the amount of weight and dress sizes I dropped. It's very easy to say but don't worry too much about hair loss - some people go through it and some people don't. As it happens, my hair is much thicker than it previously was which is a bonus. Its a small price to pay to be healthy and happier.

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