While on the ketogenic diet especially when first starting your micronutrients and electrolytes, which include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium tend to drop and that can cause symptoms of the keto flu.
This decrease in electrolytes happens due to increased water, glycogen and electrolyte excretion as insulin levels naturally drop in the absence of carbohydrates.
Insulin is responsible for much more than just controlling the glucose level in your body as you can see from its effect on water and electrolytes.
(Side note: If you have type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes taking insulin medication your bodies response is affected by how much insulin you are taking in addition to water and micronutrient consumption)
Keto Electrolytes Imbalance
This is a great feeling and can be good motivation early on especially as you see the scale move in addition to feeling less bloated. But keep in mind you are also losing key micronutrients and electrolytes that our bodies need.
These micronutrients are critical in small quantities for our survival. Electrolytes like sodium and potassium are charged substances required to maintain standard bodily functions.
What Are Electrolytes And Why Are They Important?
So to keep it simple we refer to electrolytes as minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge that hydrate the body, control nerve and muscle function, balance blood pressure and acidity, and help rebuild damaged tissue.
You lose electrolytes when you sweat or urinate so you must replace them by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain electrolytes. Important to note water alone does not contain electrolytes.
Essential Electrolytes And The Effect Of A Keto Diet
Sodium is an essential electrolyte for humans that helps the body regulate blood pressure, water levels and pH balance. As noted above when you decrease your carb intake your insulin levels drop which leads to excretion of both water and sodium. You need to consume a minimum of 500mg per day for your body to function properly.
If you feel lightheaded, it can be a sign of low blood pressure, and it’s possible that you may need to increase your sodium intake. Please note: If you experience this often it might be a good idea to have your blood pressure checked by a doctor.
Potassium is a crucial mineral that assists the body to maintain proper pH balance, build proteins, regulate the electrical activity of the heart and support healthy growth. Much like sodium, potassium levels can drop due to water excretion while on keto. Meat and vegetables serve as a good source of potassium. Bananas are thought of as a great source of potassium, but since we can’t eat bananas on keto you will need to find other more ketogenic friendly foods to make sure you are getting enough potassium in your diet.
Magnesium serves many functions in our bodies like regulating blood glucose levels, helping energy generation, encouraging a healthy immune system, regular heart rate, in addition to normal muscle and nerve functions. Magnesium deficiencies are common even when not following a ketogenic diet, but may also need to be supplemented due to the excretion of crucial minerals from low insulin levels in the absence of high carbs.
You can buy a magnesium supplement or eat more healthy avocados, spices, leafy green vegetables, low carb nuts like almonds, pumpkin seeds, and Hazelnuts and even coffee or tea.
Calcium is essential to cardiovascular health, transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Calcium deficiency is usually not an issue for those following a ketogenic lifestyle since we get lots of calcium from the healthy whole foods we eat like cheese, fish, broccoli, almonds, sardines, and greens.
How To Replenish Electrolytes
Keto Electrolyte Supplements
You can get all of these nutrients from the food you eat, but there are a few supplements you can check out if you prefer the ease and measured amounts of micronutrients in a powder or vitamin supplement form.Click Here to see our recommended keto supplement options
Drink Lots Of Water to Avoid Keto Dehydration
Avoid Electrolyte Imbalances And Stay Hydrated
A quick recap of suggestions to deal with keto electrolyte imbalances, the keto flu and drinking enough water:
- Insulin production decreases and glycogen is depleted
- Water and key electrolytes are excreted in water loss
- Electrolytes are important and help maintain a healthy body
- Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium need to be replenished
- Healthy whole foods and or supplements help balance electrolytes
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration