Keeping a close eye on maintaining adequate hydration and replenishing vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes is essential to support optimal health—especially on a ketogenic diet.
Our bodies release more fluid, minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes when we eliminate sugar and carbs from our meal plan, as is the case when working toward fat adaptation.
With electrolytes necessary for survival and responsible for providing electrical current, our bodies need to perform many tasks; keeping levels topped up is crucial.
Our bodies are marvelous and complex. And electrolytes present in the body interact with various tissues, muscles, and nerves to maintain a balanced body.
Several mechanical processes in the body rely on a small electrical charge to function, and electrolytes provide the needed energy source!
Fortunately, electrolytes are abundant in food sources like coconut water, fruits, and vegetables, and you can tailor your meal plan to focus on generous consumption to support overall health.
Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are essential for the functioning of the human body.
Learning of the critical nature of electrolytes may feel like just another element touted as a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. However, with electrolytes, it's not hyperbole: an imbalance can cause weakness, twitching, heart rhythm disturbances, and seizures!
What are Electrolytes, and How do they Work?
Electrolytes are chemicals that manage electricity in the body when mixed with water.
Plus, they hydrate the body, help regenerate damaged tissue, regulate neurons and muscle function, and balance blood acidity and pressure.
Muscles within the body rely on electrolytes to release or contract appropriately, and imbalances can lead to muscle constriction, along with the other adverse issues mentioned above.
You may have noticed an emphasis on staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes within the keto community: it's a standard best practice, and so for a good reason.
Our body releases more electrolytes from the body when in a ketotic state and water weight, leading to a loss of crucial sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate.
Plus, you'll release more significant amounts of body fluids and electrolytes if you exercise regularly. So, be especially mindful of replenishing levels frequently if you’re very physically active.
Also, keep a specific eye on maintaining potassium and sodium levels as they naturally tend to be lacking in most people—again, more so if living in a state of ketosis.
Signs of Imbalance
Again, we need electrolytes to function, and imbalances can have significant consequences on our health and well-being.
If you notice some of the following symptoms in concert, it may be an indication of an electrolyte deficiency:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fast heart rate
- Convulsions or seizures
- Diarrhea or constipation
Plus, a lack of electrolytes can even impair functions like appropriate blood clotting, body fluid regulation, the ability of muscles to contract correctly, and significantly affects the body's acid balance.
We can experience a mineral imbalance for various reasons, and the following are some common culprits:
- Inadequate diet and too few minerals and vitamins from food
- We often experience a significant loss of body fluids from prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, sweating, or high fever.
- Malabsorption: Your body may be unable to absorb these electrolytes due to a variety of stomach disorders, medications, or possibly the ways you consume food.
- Hormonal or endocrine disorders
- Kidney disease
- A complication of chemotherapy is tumor lysis syndrome. Said complications occur when your body breaks down tumor cells rapidly after chemotherapy, causing a low blood calcium level, high blood potassium levels, and other electrolyte irregularities and cause erratic electrolyte levels
Plus, some medications can cause an electrolyte imbalance, like:
- Chemotherapy drugs (cisplatin)
- Diuretics (furosemide [Lasix] or bumetanide [Bumex])
- Antibiotics (amphotericin B)
- Corticosteroids (hydrocortisone)
Most severe imbalances may require the aid of medical intervention. However, many people can regulate their electrolytes and achieve consistently healthy levels through diet.
Fortunately, there are so many electrolyte-rich foods to enjoy on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Here are some of our favorite picks:
Nuts: We can acquire healthy fat and nutrients from various low-carb nuts—an especially great addition if you've opted to eat a vegetarian or vegan keto diet.
Fortunately, almonds provide loads of magnesium and potassium and can work well if eaten on a keto diet.
Also, opt for salted nuts for a portion of much-needed sodium, an electrolyte most often depleted on a ketogenic diet.
Toss a handful of nuts atop a salad, nosh on some creamy nut butter with a snack, or blend up the nut butter of your choice into a nutrient-rich smoothie bowl for a boost of electrolytes your body will love.
Here's a shortlist of the best nuts to enjoy on a keto diet:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pili Nuts
- Pine Nuts
Seeds: Chia, hemp, and flax are among this category's shining stars, and they are all excellent ingredients to incorporate into your weekly low-carb meal plan.
Soak some chia seeds, prepare overnight puddings to enjoy throughout the week with berries, or toss a heaping tablespoon of hemp or flax into a morning smoothie for a fast boost of electrolytes to jumpstart the day.
Here's a shortlist of the best seeds to enjoy on a keto diet:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Flax seeds
Fatty Fish: Delicious seafood options like salmon are rich in healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, an excellent staple for any keto diet.
Fortunately, there are several fatty fish options to shape into cakes or toss it into some savory soup that is all free of carbs:
- Herring (Kippers)
Dark Leafy Greens and Other Low GI Veggies: Loading up on greens is an excellent way to provide your body with the micronutrients needed to thrive.
Spinach or kale is an excellent ingredient to add to smoothies or sauteed as a side for a meal any time of day. Plus, many other dark leafy greens add to meals to increase flavor and health benefits.
Here's a shortlist of our favorite low-carb greens:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
Bone Broth: From its unmistakably soothing effects to its collagen-rich consistency, bone broth is a fantastic beverage to work into your recipes or sip solo for a quick boost of electrolytes and joint-soothing collagen.
Fortunately, it's easy to find store-bought broth options in most stores now. But honestly, it's super simple to save bones or buy them to make broth at home. Plus, making broth yourself is much more cost-efficient.
Cacao Powder and Dark Chocolate: Once seen as a cheat treat, dark chocolate is now known for its antioxidants and other health benefits. Be sure to select sugar-free or low sugar versions for keto friendly options.
Enjoy tasty recipes like a few of our absolute top picks:
Avocado: Don't limit your scope of avocado to guacamole, although it's one of our favorite applications! You can incorporate this delicious fatty fruit equally well in sweet or savory recipes!
Meats: Many of us include meat into our meal plan for added fat and protein, but several types of meat provide needed electrolytes, as well.
Here are some low-carb, electrolyte-rich meats to consider:
- Pork chop
- Turkey breast
- Liver (or other organ meats)
Dairy: Cream and cheese are delicious, but in addition to elevating recipes, they also provide a vital source of naturally occurring sodium. Here are a few dairy options to consider working into your recipes:
- Heavy cream
- Clotted cream
- Feta cheese
- Goat cheese
- Blue cheese
- Cheddar cheese
Himalayan Salt & Sea Salt: Once bulked in with iodized table salt and thought to harm health, mineral-rich sea salts are now getting their just due.
Incorporate selections abundant in an array of vital minerals, nutrients, and electrolytes, needed to support optimal function into your daily meals.
Here are some premium salt options to include in your keto diet:
- Celtic salt
- Indian (Kala Namak) black salt
- Redmond's Real Salt
- Himalayan pink sea salt
- Sea salt
We are fans of simple recipes that are as easy to make as they are enjoyable to eat. Here are a few of our favorite electrolyte-rich recipes to consider adding to your rotation:
- Ultimate Strawberry Cheesecake Keto Shake: If you have 60-seconds, you can make a nutritious and mineral-rich breakfast in a flash! Plus, it’s as decadent as a dessert without weighing you down.
Keto Cajun Parmesan Salmon: Keto meals can be fuss-free, fast, and super nutritious! Take this simple yet satisfying seafood option sure to satisfy any day of the week.
Lay a seared fillet of salmon atop a bed of potassium-rich watercress or arugula with an alkaline dressing for a mineral-rich dish loaded with essential electrolytes.
- Creamy Keto Pumpkin Soup: This silky and luscious soup is rich in potassium which helps balance blood pressure, among other benefits.
- Avocado Keto Pudding: This recipe is the perfect stealth way to introduce the lovely and luscious avocado to kids and other picky eaters. Pair avocado and dark chocolate, and you have an extra-potent source of electrolytes—in this case, masked as a decadent treat!
- Keto Broccoli Cheese Soup: The coupling of broccoli and cheese is a perfect pairing. It's comforting, savory, and broccoli provides a healthy serving of electrolytes, too!
- Konscious Keto Strawberry Green Goddess Smoothie: This powerhouse smoothie is abundant in many electrolytes thanks to its inclusion of spinach, avocado, and potassium-rich strawberries.
- Keto Ridiculously-loaded Radishes: Many of the foods we've mentioned are abundant in potassium, but radishes may be the granddaddy of them all, and they shine front and center in this craving-crushing comfort food dish.
- The Dippin' Keto Strawberries: This sweet and refreshing treat marries the antioxidant and electrolyte-rich benefits of dark chocolate and ripe strawberries to create a nutritious and delicious snack.
- Yummy Avocado Keto Buns: Have fun with your food; try slicing an avocado and swapping it in place of a bread bun with your next savory sandwich.
Electrolytes and Warding off the Keto Flu
If you're inquiring about the ketogenic diet and considering giving it a go, you may wonder if you'll experience a challenging transition from your body running on glucose (sugar) to fat and ketones; you may have heard of the keto flu.
The aches, brain fog, and headaches that some experience aren't the best selling point for the protocol, but most agree that the benefits after this transitionary period are well worth the growing pangs.
Plus, there's no need to brave the journey of fat adaptation without some handy tools and best practices. There are choices you can make to improve your introduction to the low-carb lifestyle, and it's as simple as what we choose to eat or drink each day.
We advocate staying hydrated to replenish levels as you limit carbs and sugars constantly. There are a number of ways to consume extra electrolytes, including:
- Electrolyte-infused waters
- Electrolyte tablets
- Electrolyte powders
- Bone broths
Eating a diet filled with electrolyte-rich foods and beverages is an ideal overall approach. However, you can stack the deck of wellness in your favor with the aid of supplements like a high-quality electrolyte tablet.
Plus, dehydration can sometimes present as hunger which may lead to overeating. Check-in with your fluid and electrolyte intake throughout the day to stay well-replenished and avoid crossing thirst and hunger signals.
Also, you may want to increase hydration if you notice any of the following:
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Dry skin
- Muscle weakness
- Dark urine
Micronutrients, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals play an essential role in our well-being. And while we may not have control over every aspect of our health, nutrition is an area where we can be the masters of our universe.
While monitoring carbs is the premiere goal on a ketogenic diet, eating a meal plan overflowing with mineral-rich, nutrient-dense foods is a top-tier goal always to keep front and center, as well.
The great news is that eating a diet filled with healthy fat and proteins and their subsequent electrolyte-rich fare is relatively hassle-free on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Fortunately, many foods commonly found within keto meal plans provide tons of taste and mineral-rich nutrition to support every area of optimal health.
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