In this article I am going to go over why electrolytes are important to be aware of while living the Keto lifestyle. I have skimmed this topic in a couple of my articles but haven’t really gone into too much detail, that is what I intend to do here. A deficiency in any of our electrolytes can cause all sorts of health problems but nothing that you can’t be aware of and treat accordingly. There are many websites that will tell you, you need to take supplements but you really do not. All you need to do is to eat Keto friendly foods that are high in the nutrients we need.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals and nutrients the body needs to function properly such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate. When you can, its best to get in natural sources of electrolytes.
Electrolytes play an important role in your body and its important to keep normal levels. Some of what electrolytes do, are to clot blood when needed, help to build new tissue, helps muscle contractions. Your heart is a muscle, so yes your heart too. Electrolytes regulate the pH balance in your body and also balances the fluid levels in your blood plasma and in your body. They also maintain a normal body temperature and help with bladder control.
How Keto affects your electrolytes
Electrolytes on the keto diet sometimes get low because we do not retain as much fluid. This is why its so important to stay hydrated, as we excrete a fair amount of fluid and with that we void electrolytes too. So drink plenty of water and when you’ve think you’ve drank enough, add a couple more glasses.
The three main electrolytes you need to be aware of on the keto diet are:
This is no reason to be deterred from living a ketogenic life. There are many signs that you have an electrolyte imbalance and if you are concerned you can always get your Doctor to check your levels.
Some symptoms of mineral or electrolyte deficiency are as follows:
- headaches or migraines
- muscle cramps like a charlie horse
- heart racing or palpitating
- feeling dizzy or weak
- bloating or constipation
Electrolyte My Life!
Sodium intake should be between 3000 – 5000 mg per day
I personally like to use Himalayan sea salt as my main sodium source. On the standard American diet we are warned to limit our intake of sodium, but this is far from the standard American diet. In my opinion this diet or way of life as I like to call it supersedes the standard American diet 100 fold.
Because we drink and void so much water on the keto diet a lot of sodium goes with it. Sodium is important for muscle and nerve function. It also helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels, if your levels get too low it can result in a condition known as hyponatremia. This happens when the balance between water and sodium are out of balance. If your sodium levels are too low you may not have any symptoms but if you do it would materialize in the form of a headache, weakness, fatigue, nausea, irritability, confusion and even muscle cramps like a charlie horse.
Another way to replenish your sodium is to drink one cup of bone broth daily. You can get bone broth in many grocery stores or keto shops online. Bone broth is also good for the elasticity in your skin, among many other benefits.
Potassium intake should be 3000 mg per day.
Potassium helps regulate your heart rate as well as balancing proper fluid in the body. Potassium also helps maintain healthy blood pressure and helps muscle contraction. Too much potassium however can also be dangerous, this is called hyperkalemia. Living a keto lifestyle it would be more likely to have low potassium and some symptoms of low potassium are: abdominal cramping and bloating, constipation, heart palpitaions, muscle cramps or weakness and nausea. As mentioned earlier there are healthy keto foods that are plentiful in potassium and its always best to get a natural source first. Here are some natural food sources of potassium: salmon, avocado, leafy greens, nuts and mushrooms.
My Fiance has severe muscle cramping or charlie horses because of the work he does and he swears by pickle juice, mustard and hot sauce. Not a very tasty concoction but it does seem to ease his cramping nonetheless. I personally use a salt substitute called no salt that I have included below as a reference for you, you can click on the picture to learn more about it.
Calcium intake should be 1000 mg per day
Calcium as we’ve always been taught helps to build strong bones, including our teeth. It also helps to clot the blood when needed. Calcium also helps to regulate nerve function which in turn helps with muscle contraction. Some symptoms of low calcium include numbness, tingling fingers, poor appetite, weak or brittle fingernails and feeling faint.
Even if you don’t drink cows milk, as most do not on the Ketogenic diet there are plenty of natural sources you can attain calcium from. Some of which include: unsweetened almond or coconut milk, eggs, leafy greens, cheeses, fish, broccoli, bok choy and kale.
I was not aware that there are so many natural food sources that contain everything we need without supplements, before I started this way of life.
If you still feel as though your not getting enough calcium there are supplements you can take as well.
Magnesium intake should be 500 mg per day
Magnesium also helps toward maintaining proper nerve and muscle function. It helps us keep a healthy immune system, regulate heart rhythm and also helps build healthy and strong bones.
Symptoms of low magnesium include: muscle twitches, mood instability, asthma, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat and osteoporosis.
Some natural sources for magnesium are your leafy greens such as spinach, all sorts of lettuce and cabbage, avocado, broccoli, green beans, asparagus and nuts also give us some of the magnesium we need. Salmon, mackerel and tuna are also good sources of magnesium.
You can also get magnesium supplements if you do not think your getting enough in your diet.
One product I always have a supply of is called “no salt“. Its is a sodium supplement but gives you 640 mg of potassium per 1/4 tsp.
There are plenty of other keto products out there that cover any of your keto needs. Below is just one source for you: