If you have been following my posts of late, you would have read me banging on about electrolytes and Keto and the possibility of not consuming enough of these minerals, due to the fact that the diet can be restrictive of the amounts and types of fruit and veg that are acceptable to avoid consuming too many carbs.
This realization has caused me to try and educate myself more about electrolytes, their function in the body and why they are so important.
So What Are They??
Electrolytes are minerals that form electrically charged particles known as ions. Many bodily functions rely on these ions, such as maintaining the body’s pH levels, regulating nerve and muscle function and maintain a healthy water balance.
Thinking of them in terms of an engine, they are not the “fuel” that runs the engine, but more the oil to help the engine run smoother. Electrolytes are vital for many of your bodies systems to function properly, including digestive, cardiac and nervous systems.
Below are some of the main electrolytes and their function:
Sodium (salt): Regulates the body’s water supply
Potassium: Nerve and muscle function, including regulation of heartbeat
Bicarbonate: Maintain acidity in blood (pH levels)
Magnesium: Nerve function and muscle contraction
Iron: Essential for blood production and oxygen transportation in the blood
Zinc: Regulates immune system
Copper: Maintain healthy metabolism, blood and bones
Calcium: Strengthen bones and teeth, fluid balance and muscle contraction
You can see that maintaining adequate electrolytes is very important in everyday life, but is particularly important during the first few weeks of being on the Keto diet. This is due to the elimination of carbohydrates, which means water loss.
Water loss leads to a loss of essential electrolytes, in particular sodium, and is cause to some of the symptoms associated with Keto Flu, such as headaches and fatigue.
How To Replenish
Whilst their are many supplements out their that can help to replenish electrolytes quickly, it is usually best to try and consume them in your daily food intake, but still keep some supplements close by, in case you feel like you are not getting adequate amounts.
The recommended sodium intake on a Keto diet is 3000-5000mg. This equates to 0.6-1.0 teaspoons of salt. This can be difficult to track, as salt is a common additive in many foods, but you should not be scared to add a little extra salt to your meals.
Many people tend to lean toward sea salts rather than table salts as table salts are more refined and do not have some of the trace elements that are found in natural sea salts, however, the trace amounts are minimal and their is debate over whether this is enough to make much of a difference.
For potassium, 3000-4000mg should be the daily goal. Avocado, spinach and kale are great sources of potassium, as well as some fish such as Sea bream, Cod and Monkfish.
Muscle cramps can be a good way to determine if your magnesium levels are low, but to avoid this you should try to consume around 300-500mg of magnesium. The best sources are hemp and pumpkin seeds, but other great sources include Swiss chard, spinach, Brazil nuts and some fish.
Magnesium is very important in the diet, but it can be difficult to consume enough in your food alone. It is common for many on Keto to take a supplement for this.
Milk is commonly seen as good source of calcium but due the amount of carbs in milk, it is not recommended on the Keto diet. You would need to drink at least 750mls of milk to get your daily calcium dose from most full cream milks, which would mean around 40 carbs.
Sardines and salmon are a great source of calcium as well as bok choy, broccoli, kale, almonds and some hard cheeses and the recommended dose is 1000-2000mg.
Lack of iron can be common, not just with people on the Keto diet but is essential for human body growth as it boosts hemoglobin, which is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
The recommended iron intake is 18mg and can be found in foods such as red meat, shellfish, liver and spinach.
Bicarbonate is a naturally occurring by-product of your metabolism and is a form of carbon dioxide waste. It is an electrolyte that helps to maintain the correct pH level in your body and helps to keep you hydrated.
At this point, I am unable to find any sources that lead me to believe that this is something that needs to be “topped up” with any foods, but it can be common to be tested for this in your blood in certain circumstances.
Only a small amount of zinc is required for an adequate amount but it is very important for a healthy immune system among other things. 11mg is the recommended dose and can easily be found in red meat, shellfish, seeds, nuts and dairy. Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc.
Importance Of Electrolytes
It’s clear to see that adequate electrolyte intake is extremely important as it can upset the natural balances of your internal system and cause some unpleasant side effects.
Try to be conscious of exactly what you are eating and the amount of electrolytes you are consuming, whether you are on Keto or not. If you have recently begun Keto and you have not been feeling too great, then chances are you have expelled a lot of electrolytes recently and should try to replenish them as best you can.
14 Replies to “Electrolytes And Keto – What You Should Know”
Wow, I have to admit that this post is so educational and eye opening, I have learned so much from reading your post here, in fact I had never even heard of electrolytes I was also unaware of the fact that we needed copper in our diet, I have been having problems with my health lately which could actually be down to my diet especially if I am getting an inadequate supply of these essential ingredients, I will most certainly be taking your recommendations seriously from now on, thank you for sharing this educational and informative post.
I’m glad that you got something from this article. The main reason I decided to share this info and write this article is because you arn’t alone in not knowing what an electrolyte is.
I’m sure most people know what Gatorade is and the electrolytes from that, but not actually know what they do exactly.
My research into to this has opened my eyes a lot and has prompted me to look more in depth into the topic.
Hopefully you can change your diet a bit to include more electrolytes and it helps with some of the health problems that you may be having.
All the best
This is really amazing. A lot of people eat different kind of food as they like without paying proper and Prompt attention on the excesses and insufficiency of food classes. This is why I am happy I’m reading and learning from this value adding review. I have once heard about electrolytes and how its excess can endanger the body system and cause upset. This review has thought me on how to measure and mix food kinds. It has also made me know the proper consumption of food and how it’s excess can be detrimental.
You are not wrong. There is a lot to know and I am still learning about this myself.
I did not realize how important electrolytes are until recently, which is why I wanted to share what I have learnt.
Many health problems can arise from deficiencies in the diet and can be rectified quite easily from eating the proper foods.
If only our bodies weren’t so complicated!
Wow, this is my first Time reading about electrolytes and it feels like I’ve known a whole lot about it be for now, thanks to this article. Its really interesting and educating at the same time. I now know that electrolytes are essential for the body and it serves as fluid that helps the body engine run smoothly. Please does it have side effects if its taken too much into the body system and what are they? I’ve learnt a lot from this article, I’ll like to say health is wealth and healthy feeding is healthy living. Thanks.
That’s a good question. I am still trying to learn a more about electrolytes and yes, of course too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. Even drinking too much water can be harmful as it can essentially dilute your system and cause some electrolytes to be less effective.
From what I can gather so far, the body is much better at getting dispelling excessive amounts of minerals via the liver and kidneys, than it is dealing with a deficiency of them.
I will certainly put some more time into getting some answers on this.
Thanks for the question
Excellent article,It is very expedient to take note of what someone eats and learn to eat the foods that supplies adequate nutrients for the body,I’ve learnt greatly from this very post; to be very conscious of exactly what am eating and the amount of electrolytes am consuming, whether am on Keto or not,and I equally got that magnesium is very important in the diet, but it can be difficult to consume enough in your food alone,what is the precaution of excess intake of magnesium,thank you for sharing this write-up.
I will just mention that I am not a medical professional and the info that I share is from various researched sources, but what I have found is if you are healthy and your kidneys are working well, your body should be able to expel the excess magnesium through your urine.
Issues may arise if your kidneys are not functioning properly, you may end up overdosing on magnesium and you can have symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoa, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, cardiac arrest.
These symptoms are very rare unless your kidney function is not too good, but if you find that you are not feeling well from taking a magnesium supplement, then probably go and see your doctor. You may have an issue with your kidneys.
Thanks for this informative article, in my opinion The decision to take mineral supplements should be based on how you feel and whether or not you experience any symptoms. If you already feel good on a keto diet, the chances are you do not need to worry about electrolytes although you may feel you want to try out increasing your intake of them to see if you feel even better.
That’s not a bad idea. I found that I was getting some cramps and dry lips and was getting a bit fatigued on some days. That is part of the reason that I started to look more into electrolytes.
I started to take some supplements and eat more foods that contained a lot of these trace elements and I found that these symptoms went away and I felt better since.
I was on Keto for over 2 months before I realized this, but I’m glad that I have recognized the issues now and can address them.
Great information, thank you for sharing! I think it is important for people to understand the purpose of electrolytes and other necessary vitamins and minerals in the body, especially if they choose to use the Keto diet or some other strict dietary guideline.
In my studies I have found that most people are getting plenty of calcium in the foods they eat, especially if they are eating greens and vegetables in proper amounts. Some people however do not ingest the proper amounts of the trace minerals the body will need to properly assimilate and utilize it. In that case, calcium will either build up in areas of the body such as within the arteries or in the form of bone spurs etc. or will travel through the systems and back out through the bowels.
Thanks again for putting a spotlight on these special ions and minerals that are so important within our bodies!
You’re not wrong about not getting enough electrolytes on Keto. I was a couple of months into Keto before I realised how important they are. I was aware of them, but really didn’t have much of a clue how much I should be consuming or what to look out for, which is why I decided to do some more research.
I wasn’t aware of how calcium can build up, like you said, and cause issues because of a lack of other minerals. That’s very interesting.
Our bodies are ridiculously complex machines, I wish there was an easy manual that we could just follow to make sure that we are operating them correctly!
Thanks for the comment.
It would be very helpful, if you could get a chart, showing daily requirements of electrolytes, in everyday terms,eg 1 teaspoon, or 1 tablespoon,or whatever it is. I was interested to know that the muscle cramps that I sometimes get are caused by a deficiency,of Magnesium which I can counteract with spinach,or fish,pumpkin seeds,or Swiss chard.
Sodium or salt is an easy one as most households have a good supply on hand and half to one teaspoon a day is no problem to get. Potassium 3000-4000 mg per day(what is that in ordinary measurements 1 cup ?) of avocado spinach,should not be a problem.
Bicarbonate (of soda ?) is something I consume every day,as I have a stomach problem,and a half teaspoon in water before I go to bed ensures,I have a good night’s sleep. Calcium via milk would have been easy,but 1000- 2000 mg of sardines is alright,( is that one tin or half a tin per day?) .
Iron is a little difficult, as we are not big meat eaters,but I expect we could get iron tablets, as a supplement. 11 mg of zinc is again a problem as we don’t eat shellfish,but we could get hold of nuts and seeds alright.
It’s probably not a bad idea to have some sort of chart that is easier to follow, if I can source something like that.
The amount that one needs to consume can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle. If you are very active and sweat a lot, you will lose more electrolytes, so you will need to replenish them more so than someone who is not that active.
3000-4000mg of potassium is actually around 0.6-0.8 of a teaspoon. Sweet potato or watermelon are also good sources of potassium, if you are not doing Keto.
With your calcium, you’d probably need to eat about 3 tins of sardines (300 grams) to get the right amount, that’s a lot of sardines, but you could also have hard cheeses, almonds, seeds and even spinach has calcium.
For iron, if you are not much of a meat eater, spinach again will help you with this. Spinach and kale are awesome for electrolytes and other micronutrients. Also, broccoli and some dark chocolate contain iron.
Nobody is perfect when it comes to getting the right amount of electrolytes, (myself included) it is good to be aware of what can happen when we don’t have enough though, such as cramping, so that we can rectify the issues before they get worse.
Thanks for the comment