On the Keto Diet, electrolytes are an essential for our bodies, as they are vital for the normal use of the human body. We all need them and if we don’t have them, the repercussions can be painful and even deadly if gone uncorrected for too long. When starting or caring for a diet regimen it is highly important that we listen to our bodies. Our bodies will tell us everything we need to know about a deficiency, we just really need to listen and know what to look for. This is one of the things you hear most from people who have just started Keto, they complain about leg cramps and headaches, not knowing that they may not be retaining enough of their essential Electrolytes needed. We will cover the three Electrolytes that people on Keto and Low Carb need to be aware of.
First things first. What even is an Electrolyte? Well, put in laymen’s terms, it’s a substance that conducts electricity when it dissolves in water. The Electrolytes interact with the cells in our body to provide us with the proper electric currents that our bodies need to function normally and properly.
What do Electrolytes do and why do I need them? Well…. Hydration is one of the key jobs they help with. Sure, you don’t need Electrolytes to be well hydrated, however those who play sports and do high-intensity activities will tell you that the sports drinks make a world of difference to them. They also balance blood acidity and help rebuild damaged tissues. One of the biggest things they do is regulate nerve and muscle functions. People who do Keto and Low-Carb are at risk of these issues because of the certain Electrolytes that Keto depletes.
Why these three? Potassium. Magnesium. Sodium.
These three Electrolytes are depleted easily when on a Ketogenic Diet because of what and where they are stored in the body. The first thing that happens on a Keto Diet is the initial flush of excess water. The Keto Diet is indeed an anti-inflammatory diet, what causes inflammation? Salt is one of the biggest contributing factors to inflammation. Salt works on your kidneys to make it hold more water. Stored water in excess can raise your blood pressure and put a strain on your organs like the kidneys, heart and even brain. So, making sure that you are replenishing the sodium to normal levels is a very important aspect, as it is a much-needed element to your normal functioning body. This is an easy electrolyte to restore to normal levels.
The next electrolyte to be covered is Potassium, which is vital for your body, so you don’t experience possible side effects like your muscles not working properly and irregular heartbeats. Among one of the most important electrolytes, Potassium helps regular the fluid balance in your body. It also plays a vital role in signaling nerves and muscle contractions. Taking Potassium can help fight against things like stroke, osteoporosis, kidney stones and again inflammation. Not having enough Potassium in your body can cause Hypokalemia. Some signs of low Potassium levels are weak and crampy muscles, twitches in the legs and arm muscles, and abnormal heart rhythms may occur as well. This is an easy electrolyte to restore to normal levels.
Any time that we think of our health, the thoughts typically include our Cardiovascular health. Magnesium regulates all the muscle functions throughout our body, including the heart. It helps maintain the healthy rhythm needed to function at its peak and most healthy. Along with Potassium and Sodium, Magnesium also helps to regular blood pressure, but Magnesium helps with cholesterol as well. A magnesium deficiency is called Hypomagnesemia and can cause asthma, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, fatigue and muscle weakness just to name a few side effects of lower Magnesium levels. This is also an easy electrolyte to restore to normal levels.
Where can you get these Electrolytes? You can obviously take supplements, they are all sold over the counter. Purchasing the over-the-counter option can be almost overwhelming, you may spend several minutes in the vitamin isle trying to locate the best option and still have no idea if what you’re spending your money on, is the right option for you. There are also vitamin drink mixtures you can purchase, either online or in the store, just if you’re on a Ketogenic Diet, please be aware of the carbohydrate levels of these packets. The best way I suggest is just eating natural, rich foods that provide these vitamins and minerals. If you choose this option, know that this is the option with the best absorption rate for the body.
What foods can you eat that are rich in these three electrolytes?
Your requirements are 5,000 – 7,000 mg sodium, 300 – 500 mg magnesium, and 1,000 – 3,500 mg potassium achieved throughout the day.
Add Himalayan pink salt or sea salt to your coffee, water or other Keto friendly beverages. You can also drink pickle juice, eat olives, pickles or just simply add the salt to your meals.
List of veggies to consume for Potassium:
Leafy greens; Kale, Collards, Mustard Greens, ect.
List of foods to consume for Magnesium:
Dark Chocolate (the higher Cacao percentage, the better)
Nuts (keep in mind, certain nuts are higher in carbs)
Pumpkin Seeds and Flax-seed
Please just remember to do your research on any diet that you choose to follow, any new way of life changes can sometimes cause more damage that good if we are not following the proper protocols that are required from our body. Be safe, caution and always remain curious enough to research. I applaud you for your dedication to a new way of life and commend you for your ability to make a positive change for the better. As always I would love to hear from any of you!