Electrolyte: it’s not just a song by R.E.M. The electrolytes in your body are minerals that aid in many vital processes, including fluid balance, muscle contractions, and your blood’s chemical pH levels. After a sweaty workout, it’s important to replenish your electrolytes, and they’re a valuable asset on the ketogenic diet too. Read on to find out what electrolyte supplements for keto can do to help you along in your journey towards ketosis.
Electrolytes are electricity conductors when they’re dissolved in water, and electrolyte supplements are meant to boost or replenish the electrolyte content in your bloodstream. You need electrolytes for:
Some of the most common electrolytes are potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. Electrolyte supplementation can come in the form of capsules, tablets, powders, and electrolyte-infused water or sports drinks like Gatorade.
The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet designed to ween the body off of relying on glucose (sugar) for energy and instead focus it on burning fat for fuel (ketone bodies). Focusing on electrolytes, especially when first beginning a ketogenic diet, is one of the best ways to ameliorate the worst symptoms of keto flu like fatigue, brain fog, and keto headache.
We often get many of our essential electrolytes from the foods we eat, but since the keto diet by definition is a radical change-over of your entire diet, those first few days or weeks may find you wildly out of balance on these nutrients and more.
Transitioning to keto often results in increased fluid loss, causing our levels of potassium, magnesium, and sodium to go down. That leads to muscle cramps and fatigue, especially for athletes attempting to switch to keto as they continue training and working out.
For some, simply adding more sodium (salt) to their diet is sufficient, either through dashing pink Himalayan sea salt into their smoothies or by flavoring their keto meals with bouillon cubes. However, sodium isn’t the end-all, be-all of electrolytes, and foods high in magnesium and potassium like avocados, nuts, seeds, and dark, leafy greens are important too.
If you’re worried your diet isn’t quite up to par as you start on your keto journey, you may want to supplement with a full host of electrolyte support to stop keto flu symptoms before they start.
To get a better understanding of what some of the main electrolytes do and where they come from, here’s an in-depth look at the top three contenders: sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Sodium is more than just the table salt next to your pepper shaker, it’s also one of the most important electrolytes in your body, vital for the activation and contraction of muscle movements. While eating copious amounts of salt is bad for you (elevating your blood pressure and possibly leading to dangerous dehydration), moderation is the key, because if you don’t have enough sodium in your cells, you’ve got problems there too. Sodium works to:
The signs of sodium deficiency can include:
Sodium, as you might have guessed, comes from salt, but salt is in all kinds of foods in the Western diet, from cured and smoked meats, seafood like anchovies, caviar, and sardines, plus it’s tossed in to flavor just about everything from breads, canned foods (beans, soups, meats), and prepackaged foods like frozen pizzas. When you switch over to a healthy keto lifestyle, you may be cutting a lot of processed junk food out of your diet, and in so doing you may notice some adverse side effects related to a drastic reduction in sodium intake.
Himalayan sea salt is a great natural source of sodium. While high sodium intake has been scientifically linked to cases of high blood pressure and heart disease, low sodium intake is also associated with ill health, including an increased risk of mortality.
Potassium levels frequently come to mind in connection with muscle cramps. Many people are aware that having a banana might help keep cramps away, but that is not all that potassium can do. Potassium works to:
It’s recommended that we get up to 3,500 milligrams of potassium per day, but many of us in the modern world are not meeting that threshold. Symptoms of potassium deficiency include:
Food sources of potassium include foods like avocado, spinach, bananas, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, artichokes, salmon, and almonds. If you’re eating a high-fat, low-carb diet like keto, all of those foods can be comfortably included in your shopping list, but it still might not be enough. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps on keto, potassium supplements may be the way to go.
Magnesium is among the top five most abundant minerals in the body, and it is responsible for:
The symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:
Magnesium comes in small doses, but can be found in keto-friendly foods like dark chocolate, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, artichokes, and pine nuts. If you want to know for sure you’re getting enough magnesium on keto, a magnesium supplement can bypass the guesswork.
Whether you’re on keto for the sake of your weight-loss goals, blood sugar control, or both, you naturally want the smoothest transition possible. In addition to supplementing with exogenous ketones (ketones from healthy fat sources outside the body like coconut oil or its derivative MCT oil), your electrolyte balance is another important factor to account for. That is why some supplements are specifically designed with electrolyte content. Here are some of the top formulas.
This powerful electrolyte supplement is packaged in easy-to-swallow capsules (no need to mix or taste powder), with a blend of magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, chloride, boron, and Bioperine® (included for enhanced bioavailability). Tasteless, this product has no sugars and no carbs whatsoever.
Good for workout recovery and rehydration, the capsules are easy and convenient to transport and include with your daily vitamins.
Perfect Keto’s electrolyte formula comes with a precise 4:2:1:1 ratio of sodium chloride to potassium chloride to magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. Again contained in portable capsules, there are no added flavors, food dyes, or sugars.
If you don’t mind a tasty powder, our own BHB oil powder comes in chocolate, coffee, watermelon, strawberry kiwi, and grape flavors. It provides not only electrolyte support but also the energy-boosting exogenous ketone content of BHB (β-hydroxybutyrate). The coffee flavor is especially convenient for those doing intermittent fasting who make keto coffee in the morning instead of sitting down to breakfast, and the fruit flavors make for easy inclusion in smoothie recipes.
There’s even an offer to get an assortment of three or all six flavors for a deeply discounted price, plus a free copy of our Keto Recipe eCookbook. Dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, non-GMO, grain-free, soy-free, and caffeine-free, these products are as clean as they come.
Another powder option in raspberry-lemon flavor and sweetened with Stevia, Dr. Berg’s dissolvable powder has no sugar or maltodextrin (an industrial thickener) added. It has a particularly high amount of potassium (1000 milligrams per serving), which is the potassium equivalent of eating up to 7-10 cups of vegetables per day.
Finally we have a tablet option (neither powder nor capsule) that’s specifically designed to have a certified vegan formula with no sugar, sucrose, or artificial sweetener. With vegetable cellulose and more than 72 ionic minerals found in seawater, you can take up to 6 tablets per day (with plenty of water).
When looking for a dietary supplement to help keep up your electrolyte levels, you have options. Capsules, tablets, and powders that can be made into electrolyte drinks and smoothies are easily had. First-time keto dieters may be perplexed by the levels of cramping and brain fog associated with reaching ketosis, and the danger there is that it may discourage some from continuing the journey. However, if you’re getting enough electrolytes, you can keep calm and keto on knowing that the symptoms of keto flu are temporary, but the health benefits from quitting junk food and losing excess body fat could last a lifetime.