Official KetoGenics® recommended supplements to take on a ketogenic diet
Supplements are just that, to supplement above and beyond an already balanced diet. The problem is and especially on a ketogenic diet, not all needed nutrients are consumed with the available foods choices that make up a ketogenic diet.
In addition to the potential lack of certain nutrients on a low carb diet, even if you are able to eat the foods you need to get all the nutrients your body requires for optimal health, your efforts often fall short because of the low quality food on the market as well as nutrient depleted soils the crops are raised in contain. In addition, the overuse of pesticides and chemicals that are used in the treatment of crops greatly reduces their level of nutrients. Animals who are fed these crops are growing with less than optimal nutrient levels and thus is reflected in the meat that comes from them.
To get deeper into this nutrient depletion topic check out the blog post here: Is a multivitamin needed on a ketogenic diet?
This list below serves to describe some needed supplements as well as supplements that go above and beyond “need” but more so help achieve optimal health and performance which may or may not be optimal for some. It all depends on your goals.
Without a doubt, the most important class of nutrients needed on a low carb and ketogenic diet are electrolytes, especially sodium, potassium and magnesium; chloride and calcium also play an important role.
On a ketogenic your body excretes more water than it stores and with this water loss the minerals found in that water are excreted as well. It becomes hard for your body to function properly when it is depleted of these key electrolytes. Here is some further reading and in depth blog post looks at the Importance of Electrolytes on a Ketogenic Diet
The easiest way to up your sodium intake is to liberally salt all your foods. Choose salty foods such as bacon and fish and bacon…did we say bacon? 😉 An even tastier way is to have some warm bouillon broth in water a few times a day.
Bouillon can be found here. Herb-Ox Bouillon
The preferred form of potassium for a ketogenic dieter is potassium chloride. Some foods choices to up your potassium intake are avocados, nuts, dark leafy green vegetables. A popular seasoning many use to up their potassium intake is No Salt.
No Salt (potassium chloride) can be found here: No Salt
A good all-in-one Electrolyte Supplement that is super popular among ketogenic dieters is Keto-Lytes, found at this link: Keto-Lytes Electrolyte Support
Some good food sources of magnesium would be leafy green vegetates, cacao/ dark chocolate, certain nuts, pumpkin seeds, fatty fish like halibut, salmon and mackerel.
A good supplement form of magnesium would be Magnesium Glycinate. A typical dosage is 400mg taken at night before bed.
Kal Brand magnesium glycinate is very popular among ketogenic dieters, found here: Magnesium Glycinate
Since a ketogenic diet is naturally appetite suppressing, many people find it a struggle to hit the required protein amounts for the day. Supplementing with protein powder, especially whey and/or micellar casein protein is ideal to get in all your protein. Whey protein is top chouce and the 3 types of whey recommended are Hydrolyzed Whey Protein, Whey Protein Isolate Cold-Filtration and Whey Protein Isolate Microfiltration
Our recommend whey protein brands:
TrueNutrition.com – make/flavor your own protein blends.
The above brands also make their own micellar casein which is another good quality protein source.
For those with dairy issues or vegans, Pea Protein Isolate is a good option and can be found at True Nutrition Pea Protein
A lot of keto and low carb dieters like to use Isopure no carb protein powder but this is a very poor choice and we do NOT recommend it. Isopure 1990’s Ion-exchange technology. Ion exchange heats the protein during the manufacturing process, when you heat protein, the peptides and amino’s break apart, which makes it tougher to absorb.
Stick with cold filtered whey or hydro-whey as outlined in the above choices.
Omega Fatty Acids
We can’t say enough about the great benefits of Omega 3’s and fish oils in general. Our recommendations are:
Plant sources of Omega 3’s:
Hemp Protein Fiber – comes with the added benefit of additional protein from the hemp seeds.
Constipation and Fiber supplements
Even though there is plenty of meat and adequate vegetables, some ketogenic dieters find themselves constipated on the diet, here are a few things that can help:
Magnesium Citrate (more of a laxative effect)
Flax meal, Chia Meal, Hemp Protein fiber – all previously mentioned above are great sources of fiber and are VERY helpful in keeping things “moving” 🙂
Cascara sagrada (more of a laxative effect)
There are various reasons why some people have sleep issues on a ketogenic diet, we get into more detail here at this blog post: Insomnia on a ketogenic diet
Some helpful remedies include:
SnoozeControl™ – all in one Ketogenic sleep aid.
Some individual ingredients that are common sleep aids:
Magnesium Glycinate – 400mg at night before bed, not really a sleep aid but does help relax you.
Melatonin – a hormone found naturally in the body that helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm.
Glycine – functions as a calming neurotransmitter in the brain.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) – helps promote relaxation and ease nervous tension.
Pre Workouts powders
These are more luxury non-essential items but are useful and have a huge following in the fitness community.
It seems the #1 ingredient in an effective pre-workout is caffeine or a similar stimulant. It is cheap and it is effective. Other ingredients that are rather popular are the various “pump” type ingredients such as creatine, citrulline, glycerol, arginine, taurine, agmatine, betaine and a few others.
Some good all-in-one pre workouts we recommend are below:
Nutra Brio PRE – Would be our #1 choice for this category.
This category is more of the specialty category and not considered must have supplements. While fat burners do “work” it only accounts for a small % of the weight loss in those who are dieting and following a calorie reduced diet.
ECA stack – the most effect and researched “far burning stack”; Caffeine Ephedrine and Aspirin. Typically taken 15-20 minutes on an empty stomach prior to meals. Since Ephedrine is a gray area of legality, we won’t go into much detail. There are plenty of resources on Google for the “ECA Stack”
Other notable mentions are any sort of “fat burner” or supplement that raises your heart rate and increases Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s) in the bloodstream, others focus on BAT – (Brown Adipose Tissue thermogenesis), PPAR and AMPK activation and increase metabolic rate.
Green Tea Extract – has good antioxidant properties and can have some beneficial effects on increasing resting metabolism and increase rates of fat oxidation (or fat burning)
Green Coffee Bean Extract – has good antioxidant properties, glucose disposal properties and involved in fatty-acid transport and oxidation.
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate – helps shuttle fatty acids across cell membranes to be oxidized by mitochondria. This can be useful on a ketogenic diet to help shuttle dietary fats can’t get into the mitochondria and be burned for fuel
A recent study with 40 healthy adults examining the effects of either 2 mg capsaicinoids from 100 mg of Capsimax or placebo on resting energy expenditure, heart rate and blood pressure showed that supplementing with this low dose of Capsimax increased metabolic rate which calculated to an equivalent to burning an extra 116 calories per day. Moreover, though resting energy expenditure varies with each individual, this increase would yield almost 1 lb. of fat lost over 30 days.
With the low availability of Capsimax, most people buy Cayenne Pepper Extract instead.
We believe the real benefits of these “fat burning” ingredients would be used pre-fasted cardio. Take them 15 – 20 minutes prior to cardiovascular activity. Many of these ingredients help release Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s) into the blood stream to be used during the cardiovascular exercise.
If not taken prior to cardio, then take 15-20 minutes prior to a meal should suffice.
Other notable supplement mentions:
Science has really evolved regarding healthy gut bacteria and optimal healthy. Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac says it beautifully here:
“Research over the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall health, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In fact, many researchers (including myself) believe that supporting intestinal health and restoring the integrity of the gut barrier will be one of the most important goals of medicine in the 21st century.”
If you were to remove all supplements and only allowed to take one for the rest of your life it would be wise to choose a probiotic as that one supplement.
Learn more about our favorite probiotic here: KetoBIOTIC
Most commonly used are Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAA’s) which are really not worth it especially if you are consuming adequate protein on a daily basis but with the availability of Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) which have a complete amino acid profile that also includes BCAA’s, it makes a standalone BCCA product worthless. If you feel you must have some extra amino’s then get the right ones, EAA’s.
PEScience Amino IV is good product.
Vitamin D – may or may not be lowered on a ketogenic diet but a rather good supplement to look into.
Alpha Lipoic Acid – a very potent antioxidant which can also increase insulin sensitivity resulting in lower insulin levels, higher glucagon and a faster entry into deeper ketosis from speeding up liver glycogen depletion. Can also opt for the more expensive R-Ala or Na-R-ala forms of Alpha Lipoic Acid.
Curcumin – tons of benefits and most commonly used to ease inflammation.
While there are plenty of other vitamins and supplements one could take on their question for optimal health., tried to keep this list simple and of course cost effective for the average keto dieter. Remember you can’t out supplement a bad diet. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet that involves exercise and use supplements as needed.