If you are getting started with a ketogenic diet you may have read somewhere about the importance of electrolytes on keto. This article aims to help you understand why electrolytes are important, especially on a ketogenic diet, and the best ways to supplement. If you have ever suffered from any of the keto flu symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue or muscle cramps then read on because you don’t need to suffer anymore.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals found in your body fluids such as blood, sweat and urine. They are essential in many of the functions of our bodies, including nerve and muscle function, as well as ensuring we are adequately hydrated.
The electrolytes in human bodies include;
In relation to a ketogenic diet, we will mainly be looking at the three most common electrolytes, sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Why are electrolytes important on a keto diet?
When you transition from a standard diet, which is usually high in carbohydrates, to a very low carb ketogenic diet it is common to lose a lot of fluid. You may notice in the first week or two that you drop a lot of weight quickly and this is usually excess fluid you have been carrying.
When you reduce your carbohydrate intake significantly your body holds onto less fluid, and when you lose all that fluid you also lose a lot of electrolytes. That is why it can be important to supplement with electrolytes when you initially reduce your carb intake. By ensuring your electrolyte intake is sufficient you can minimise the ‘keto flu’ type symptoms that can be experienced when first starting a ketogenic diet due to electrolyte imbalance.
Some of the symptoms you may experience if your electrolytes are low or are imbalanced are;
- General fatigue
- Muscle cramps or fatigue
- Irregular heartbeat
If you are experiencing any of these keto flu-type symptoms, we would encourage you to focus on supplementing your keto diet with electrolytes. This can be done by increasing your intake of foods that are high in electrolytes or taking an electrolyte supplement.
Electrolytes in food
Ideally, it would be great to obtain the additional electrolytes you need through eating a healthy and nutrient-dense low carb diet. By incorporating dark leafy greens, seeds, good quality salt and dark chocolate into your low carb diet you can assist your body in balancing its electrolytes.
Here are some great low carb food options that contain sodium, potassium & magnesium –
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
However, even with a healthy nutrient-dense low carb diet, you may still require electrolyte supplement, particularly if you also practise fasting as we do. As part of our ketogenic lifestyle, we supplement with electrolytes daily and take additional when we are fasting for over 24 hour periods.
It is important when looking for an electrolyte supplement that it contains sodium, potassium and magnesium. To ensure it is keto-friendly we also look for an electrolyte supplement that is sugar-free or unflavoured. Also, because we use an electrolyte supplement when fasting we like to choose one that is zero-calorie.
Here are some examples of keto-friendly electrolyte supplements –
How do we supplement our electrolytes?
We definitely like to try and supplement with foods as much as we can. We have a healthy dose of dark chocolate, avocados, mushrooms in our regular keto diet. We also are not afraid to salt our food. Erika uses salt a lot when cooking as it adds flavour and assists with our sodium intake.
We have also started including bone broth into our diet daily, even when fasting. If you are looking for a good quality bone broth check out the options below:
- Make your own bone broth
- A.M Cleanse bone broth concentrate
- Bone Broth powder
- Good bones to go organic beef bone broth
For magnesium we take a daily magnesium supplement. We like this Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium
We then also take a electrolyte powder every morning. We like the Ultima electrolytes raspberry flavour.
We have found that when we are fasting we need to increase our electrolytes even further. Any time we fast for more than 24 hours, we would increase our electrolytes by having a second dose of the electrolyte powder in the evening before bed.
We hope you have found this article useful and you now understand the importance of electrolytes on a ketogenic diet.
Let us know in the comments below your favourite electrolyte supplement.