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Salt Your Keto!

By: Jonnathan Zin Truong

Many who have been practicing the keto lifestyle have already learned the importance of adding sodium to their new way of eating. Why is sodium important while in ketosis? Well, the ketogenic diet causes the body to flush water and salt out of your body. As sodium levels fall, so do your potassium levels. Simply put, the keto way of eating causes your body to treat the new way of eating as a diuretic, flushing out water and lowering your overall level of electrolytes. As your sodium and potassium depletes, you naturally start feeling unwell because these essential minerals are vital to life. People have referred to this not-so-good feeling as the “keto flu.” Those symptoms can easily be alleviated through introduction of additional salt, potassium, and magnesium into your diet. Nonetheless, those symptoms you are feeling are typically temporary and will leave once you include additional sodium and potassium to your supplement. If those symptoms persist, please see a physician.

Sodium

A standard health and nutrition myth that most believe is that we should avoid salt. In an article written by Dr. Dubbs’ website, it states: “If you’re fit, healthy, and following a keto diet you’ll lose water and sodium in the first few weeks. For athletes, this problem can be compounded because you also lose sodium through your sweat. As your sweat rate increases, your sodium and blood volume will decline. This is not a good recipe for optimal energy and performance.”

As a guy who grew up in a restaurant and convenience stores, I was consuming a diet rich in sodium, high in carbohydrates, drenched in fat, and filled with sugar. Before the keto diet, I was very overweight, out of shape and bloated holding onto too much sodium. The sodium I was ingesting was also lacking all the essential minerals found in celtic salt, sea salt and himalayan salt.

Maintaining the proper proportions of sodium in your body is not only essential for those practicing the keto lifestyle, but it is essential for life. Did you know that most of the sodium in your body is found in your bloodstream? Meaning, if our bodies become deficient in sodium, we do not have any reserves to tap into. Symptoms of low sodium include fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness and in serious cases, it may cause a person to pass out.

Most people who start the keto lifestyle lose a lot of weight the first two to three weeks, however, I’m sorry to inform you that about half of the weight loss at that time, is typically from the loss of water and sodium. Therefore it is vital that you start incorporating additional sodium into your diet within the first week of following the keto lifestyle. It is recommended by nutritionists and health professionals that a person on keto add an extra 1,000-2,000 milligrams of sodium per day. My advice, so you do not shock your system with the influx of sodium, is that you do not do it all at one time. Rather, you ingest the amount over the course of a few hours. Also, it is recommended that a person who is about to have an increase of physical activity, such as working out, swimming, or working outside, ingest one gram of sodium 30 minutes before the activity, especially if they tend to perspire. Reminder, do not use common table salt. The salts that are best to help your body replenish this important electrolyte are celtic salt, sea salt, or himalayan salt. These options provide essential minerals that your body will need.

Potassium

One side effect of losing sodium is the loss of potassium which is another essential electrolyte for healthy living. Common symptoms of hypokalemia (medical term for potassium deficiency) include weakness, muscular cramps, constipation, irritability, skin problems, heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats, respiratory distress, and even heart failure with serious deficiency.

Here is a list of my potassium rich keto friendly foods:

  • Salmon (3 oz) – 326mg
  • Beef (3 oz) – 315mg
  • Spinach (2 cups) – 330mg
  • Broccoli (1/2 cup) – 230mg
  • Chicken breast – 330mg
  • Asparagus (1/2 cup) – 202mg
  • Avocado (1/2 medium) – 320mg

Magnesium

Another essential electrolyte is magnesium. Magnesium is called the body’s “calming” mineral, keeping your brain, heart and muscles relaxed. If you experience muscle cramps and charlie horses, chances are, like most people you are deficient.

Here is a list of my magnesium rich keto friendly foods:

  • Spinach (1 cup cooked) – 157mg
  • Swiss Chard (1 cup cooked) – 154mg
  • Oysters (3 oz.) – 80mg
  • Avocado (1/2 medium)– 30mg

If you’re like me and have been practicing the keto lifestyle for sometime, or you’re just starting, increasing your electrolytes is essential to successful keto living. Think of it as a “ketorade.”

Here’s a great recipe for ketorade, to refresh you and replenish you of your electrolytes: