Electrolytes

One of the most important things to keep in mind with the ketogenic diet is your body’s need for electrolytes.   Electrolytes are magnesium, potassium and sodium.  These are extremely important on the ketogenic diet, and are what help muscles to function properly.

From the article, “Salt: The Prize Jewel of Keto” at Ketovangelist.com:

High carbohydrate consumption causes the body to retain water and salt. Even if you’ve been eating “clean”, if you’ve been eating higher carbs- and that means any kind of carbs- your body has held onto any salt that has come in and it has stuck.

Now that you’re living ketogenically, NONE of your food is salted, and because you are eating very few carbs and no fortified foods, your body is expelling electrolytes like mad. You must replace all the salt which companies have been adding to the food you’d previously eaten in order to avoid electrolyte deficiencies, which can be very dangerous.

Symptoms of low electrolytes include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea with or without vomiting, shakiness, muscle aches, spasms, twitches and weakness, thirst, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats, to list a few.  If you experience any of these, you need to take care of it right away by replenishing your electrolytes.  I’ve included two recipes below which are keto friendly and will help keep your electrolytes balanced.

When you begin any low-carb diet and are transitioning away from carbs, your body will go through a period of adjustment fondly known as the ‘keto flu’.  This is normal, and can last anywhere from a day or two to a couple of weeks.  It’s characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Sleepiness, fatigue
  • Upset stomach, nausea
  • Brain fog

Carbs are addicting, and this is basically a detox as your body is screaming for carbs because it hasn’t yet transitioned to burning fat as its main fuel.  It’s important not to cave in and eat any unhealthy carbs as this will prolong the keto flu and keep your body from transitioning to fat burning.

There are things you can do to make this period of keto flu shorter and easier to handle:

  • Drink water.  Lots of it!   As a general rule, I drink 16 ounces of water in the morning before I go to work, have some during the day, and drink at least one more 16-ounce bottle of water after I get home from work.
  • Make sure you’re getting enough electrolytes.  What are electrolytes?  Salt, magnesium and potassium.  How can you be sure you’re getting enough?   You can take supplements (covered in the next bullet point), but it’s easier to do by drinking bone broth, adding salt to your water, or using the electrolyte replacement drink recipe that’s included in the next section.  Whatever you do, do NOT drink anything like Gatorade, which is definitely NOT keto.
  • Take a magnesium supplement, which is not only an electrolyte but also helps with leg cramps and constipation.  It’s also best taken at night before going to bed because it also helps with getting better sleep.
  • Instead of taking a potassium supplement, mix a salt substitute such as LoSalt, Lite Salt, etc., into your water.  These are made with potassium and are generally safe.  Be sure to read the warning labels on these salt substitutes to be sure.
  • Eat a LOT of fat.  Go overboard!  This is extremely important during this time of transition as it provides the fat your body will begin to burn for fuel, and it also helps you get past the mental hurdle about eating too much fat.

I tried this brand of electrolyte supplement while at KetoCon 2018 and loved it!  I highly recommend it (affiliate link, your purchase through my affiliate link helps me pay for this website and is greatly appreciated!)

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