How important are Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

The Importance of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

Great write up from Jeremy Partl over at Ketogenic.com.

Many people who start a ketogenic diet often experience the dreaded “keto-flu”, which is the name for the experience of one or a combination of the following symptoms:

Keto flu symptoms

Even if you are following a well-formulated ketogenic diet, with a low amount of carbohydrate, moderate amount of protein, and high amount of fat as suggested, it is likely that you may still experience some of these symptoms.

The reason being while your macronutrients may be in line, there is another important factor to consider, ensuring you keep your body properly nourished and functioning well. That key factor is the balance of electrolytes in the body.

In this article, we will cover the importance of electrolytes on a ketogenic diet.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that are the electrical signaling molecules used for maintaining functions within the body such as regulating your heartbeat and allowing muscles to contract for functional movement.

The most relevant electrolytes in this context are sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium.

Why Monitoring Your Electrolytes is Important

When you shift to a ketogenic diet, your body tends to release more water as opposed to storing it.

The reason being that there is less insulin produced as a result of the composition of the diet. This leads to hormonal signals via the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system, signaling your kidneys to excrete MORE water and retain LESS.

Along with increased excretion of water, the minerals found in that water are lost at a higher rate . In the end, you can quickly become depleted of the key electrolytes that your body needs to function properly.

As a result, you can experience some of the negative symptoms associated with the “keto flu”.

Getting The Right Amount of Each Electrolyte

Sodium

More than likely, you have probably heard that you should avoid adding sodium to your diet.

For most of the population, especially those who are metabolically unhealthy, high sodium intake typically comes along with a high calorie, high carbohydrate diet, which over the long term, has resulted in increasing rates of obesity and hypertension .

However, for individuals on a low carbohydrate diet or athletes that are training hard, the truth is that your body actually needs extra sodium.

Potassium is another electrolyte of concern on a ketogenic diet. Just as with sodium, potassium is excreted at a greater rate with a low carbohydrate intake.

When you say the word potassium, most people would probably tend to think first of bananas and potatoes. Not exactly keto-friendly, right?

Luckily, there are ways to get more potassium in your diet while remaining ketogenic:

Potassium on a Ketogenic Diet
Potassium on a Ketogenic Diet

Magnesium

In general, magnesium deficiency is becoming a more common nutrition deficiency for the whole U.S. population.

Some of the best keto friendly ways to bump up your magnesium intake are:

Magnesium on a ketogenic diet

Don’t Forget The Water

While you need to make it a priority to keep your electrolyte intake escalated, it is also important to increase your water intake as well.

With the switch to a ketogenic diet, you will probably experience increased urination during the first couple of days. Additionally, as mentioned before, your body does not retain water as well. Thus, it is important to keep your water intake high to ensure proper hydration.

An easy and convenient way to determine hydration status is to check the color of your urine. If it is a pale yellow or clear color, like lemonade, then the odds are that you are well hydrated.

The darker it is, more like the color of apple juice, the more you may need to drink up.

Summary of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet

Whether you are preparing to embark on a ketogenic diet, or are suffering from any of the mentioned symptoms, make sure you are conscious of your electrolytes and not just the macronutrients of the foods you are consuming.

Keto Conclusions

  • Proper micronutrient intake is just as important as a well-formulated macronutrient intake.
  • Electrolytes become depleted on a ketogenic diet due to increased water excretion and decreased water retention.
  • Important electrolytes to focus on during a ketogenic diet are: sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Increasing your water intake is important on a ketogenic diet to maintain hydration.

To see Jeremy’s original blog post visit HERE.

Some recommended products to help manage your electrolyte levels on a ketogenic diet, click each image below:

keto flu support supplementmulti mineral complexketogenic multivitamin

Best form of potassium for a ketogenic diet

Best form of potassium for a ketogenic diet

Potassium Chloride vs Potassium Citrate for the ketogenic diet

Did you know that an electrolyte imbalance is common when eating keto? In addition to sodium (which seems to be the most important mineral to take when on a ketogenic diet)  Potassium is a mineral needed by the body which often runs low on a keto diet.

According to WebMD, symptoms of low potassium include:

  • Weakness, tiredness, and cramping in arm or leg muscles, sometimes severe enough to cause inability to move arms or legs due to weakness (much like a paralysis)
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping, bloating
  • Constipation
  • Palpitations (feeling your heart beat irregularly)
  • Passing large amounts of urine or feeling very thirsty most of the time
  • Fainting due to low blood pressure
  • Abnormal psychological behavior –  depression, psychosis, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations.

A lot of electrolyte products contain the wrong form of potassium which could cause serious problems for the ketogenic dieter. The form of potassium that many products contain is potassium citrate, probably because it is very inexpensive but it is not the best form to take for a ketogenic diet.

Potassium citrate is a potassium salt of citric acid. Many ketogenic dieters report that citric acid prevents them from entering ketosis.  There was a study, examining very-low-calorie diets and found that the consumption of citric acid inhibited ketosis and increased appetite in many individuals.

Potassium citrate is an alkalizing agent. It is used when your urine is too acidic, Potassium citrate is used in the treatment of kidney stones.

One of the preferred forms of potassium for a ketogenic diet would be Potassium CHLORIDE. Potassium chloride is a form of potassium for people who have low levels of potassium which is the preferred form to use on a ketogenic diet. The best electrolyte products use potassium chloride. This is why we formulated our Keto-Lytes product to contain the preferred form of potassium, potassium chloride.

Click the image below to learn more:

keto flu support supplement