Electrolytes are key players in health and they are especially important when you’re following a ketogenic diet. Whether it’s the magnesium found in almonds or the potassium found in an avocado, whole foods offer the best source of these minerals. When whole foods are not available supplements offer an excellent alternative. No matter what source you choose it’s imperative to consume sufficient amounts of electrolytes to feel well while following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet.
According to Merriam-Webster electrolytes are, “Any of the ions (as of sodium or calcium) that in biological fluid regulate or affect most metabolic processes (such as the flow of nutrients into and waste products out of cells)”. These ions come from specific minerals that dissolve in body fluids. Examples include: sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, and bicarbonate. These substances are found throughout the human body in sweat, blood, and urine. They help regulate key body functions including fluid balance, blood pressure, pH balance, muscle contraction, and nerve conduction.
When you begin following a ketogenic diet your body secretes less insulin (due to carbohydrate reduction). This triggers your body to begin excreting more water and electrolytes. As a result it is necessary to increase your electrolyte intake to meet your body’s needs. Insufficient intake may lead to fatigue, headaches, weakness, muscle cramps or just feeling generally unwell. Once you have adapted to a ketogenic diet your electrolyte needs typically diminish.
Although many people naturally include high-calcium foods it is also important to actively choose these items if you are not doing so already. We highly encourage non-dairy sources of calcium, such as leafy greens (spinach, collard, bok choy), broccoli, chia seeds, sesame seeds, tahini, and canned salmon or sardines with bones. We also recommend choosing whole foods as your primary sources of electrolytes! From spinach to artichokes to pumpkin seeds there are many foods that offer an excellent source of these key minerals.
When it comes to the use of salt and there are many options to choose from. Keep in mind that additional salt does not contribute to high blood pressure when you are following a ketogenic diet. It simply replaces the sodium you are losing by reducing your carbohydrate intake (enables you to maintain a normal sodium level). Here are our top two recommended sources of salt:
-Redmond Real Salt: Unrefined salt from an ancient seabed found in Utah. Contains more than 60 natural trace minerals.
-Himalayan salt: Mined from Pakistan and the mountains. Receives its pink color from trace amounts of iron oxide. Also contains the trace minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Here are some quick and easy ways to help you get in your electrolytes and feel great as you follow your ketogenic eating plan:
-Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt to your foods. Be generous and remember that salt alone does not contribute to high blood pressure.
-Drink 1 to 2 cups of vegetable, chicken, or beef broth during the day. If you like hot beverages this is a great way to easily obtain more sodium!
-Add almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, chia seeds, or hemp seeds to a salad. The crunch and healthy fat will create a satisfying and long-lasting meal!
-Add avocado to omelets, salads, cooked meals, or soups. The creaminess adds richness and creates a filling dish.
-Snack on almonds seeds or pumpkin seeds when you are on-the-go!
With a little bit of strategy you can easily meet your electrolyte needs when transitioning into a ketogenic eating plan. Whether its adding avocado to an omelet or remembering to include Redmond Real salt in your recipe you can get the electrolytes you need and find the benefits you are seeking in your new eating plan!