When following a ketogenic diet, our bodies function differently. In the most simple terms, the transfer of burning carbs for fuel to fat can cause our body to be off-kilter as electrolytes become off balanced. One mineral the body cannot live without that gets depleted often on keto is sodium. It’s essential to consume more salt on Keto. In this post, you’ll find three reasons why you need to include more salt when following a keto lifestyle.
Salt on Keto Diet? 3 Reasons To Include More Salt In Our Diet
One of the trickier aspects of the Ketogenic diet, especially to newbies, is understanding the importance of increasing salt consumption. As our body transitions from being a sugar burner to a fat burner, it reduces the amount of sodium stored in the body thus requiring more salt in our diet. Since keto excludes most convenient processed foods that are high in sodium, the amount of sodium consumed is naturally decreased as well. As a result, sodium levels often drop causing unpleasant side effects that can be easily avoided.
If all of this is new to you and just getting started following a keto diet, this Guide to Getting Started on Keto is a fantastic resource that is easy to follow.
Sodium Isn’t the Enemy When in Nutritional Ketosis
For years we’ve been taught that salt is the enemy, especially in regards to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. While I am not a doctor, there is much research to the contrary. The video below with Dr. Kent Berry & Dr. DiNicolantonio is a fantastic resource that tackles the topic “is salt bad for you.”
What is Sodium’s Role in the Body
Sodium is an essential mineral that our body needs to regulate water retention and balance water in and around cells. Without the proper amount of sodium, we may experience a host of complications such as restlessness, brain fog, fatigue, muscle cramps, tummy troubles, and more. Sodium intake is even more important while following a ketogenic diet since the sodium levels are lower than usual. Sodium and potassium work together so when the level of sodium drops it directly affects potassium, which can make you feel worse.
Three Reasons Why It’s Important to Include More Salt on Keto
1. Low Sodium Levels can Lead to “Keto Flu.”
One of the less desirable effects of the ketogenic diet is the “Keto Flu.” This usually happens within the first three to five days of following a keto diet. Symptoms include feeling lethargic, run-down, irritable, unmotivated, etc. Our body doesn’t have access to the glucose it previously used for energy and hasn’t made the necessary metabolic changes to efficiently use fat for fuel yet.
Perhaps the biggest cause of the keto flu is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I recently posted a simple guide to electrolytes on keto that simplify and explains electrolytes. Thankfully, the keto flu is short lived on low carb diets. Staying hydrated and balancing your electrolytes is a simple process that can minimize both the duration and extent.
2. Low Sodium Levels can Lead to Tummy Troubles
3. Low Electrolyte Levels Can Increase the Risk for Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps, especially at night, typically indicate either mild dehydration or low electrolyte levels, or both. This can be a very common issue, especially in the early days when starting a ketogenic diet. Easy fixes for this include drinking a sugar-free electrolyte drink like Ultima Replenisher or Powerade Zero (if you follow a more lazy keto diet), drinking water, taking the appropriate supplements to balance electrolytes, and adding more salt on keto in your diet.
How to Get More Sodium in Your Diet
Increasing sodium is an easy fix. Simply add more salt to the foods you eat, drink bone broth, or enjoy salted nuts. Don’t forget the importance of potassium-rich foods such as leafy greens since potassium levels are generally depleted as well.
The vast majority of issues experienced when starting a Ketogenic diet can be easily alleviated by balancing electrolytes and staying hydrated. As your body transitions from burning glucose for fuel to fat make sure you supplement your diet with the necessary electrolytes to feel your best and achieve optimal weight loss.
Best Salt for the Keto Diet
- Pink Himalayan Salt (also called pink salt) – Is loaded with minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium to name a few. It’s a favorite choice among many on keto as it is more natural in form and less processed.
- Sea Salt – Sea salt is derived from evaporated sea water. With larger crystals, it is much saltier than regular table salt and also contains added minerals.
Disclaimer: While I feel confident offering suggestions for the Keto lifestyle, I’m not qualified to give medical advice. As always when it comes to your health, seek a doctor’s advice.
More Helpful Resources for the Keto Diet
- List of Healthy Fats on the Keto Diet
- 7 Changes You’ll Experience the First Month on the Keto Diet
- Top 5 Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
- Risks of Eating Low Carb: When Others Think Keto is Dangerous
- Best Keto Resources for Newbies
Don’t Miss New Keto Resources or Recipes
If you aren’t already following my Easy Keto/Low Carb Recipe Page on Facebook where I post all my new recipes, you can join here and follow me on Pinterest here. If you are just getting started following a keto diet and would like more information, there are tons of fantastic resources. Amazon has several excellent books you may want to check out here. It’s all about learning what works best for you and your family.