With any diet, there is a risk of experiencing mineral deficiencies, no matter whether it’s a standard American diet or low carb diet. Yes, there are countless health benefits to going on a low carb diet (just check out the Body Reboot book to see why the keto diet is working for so many people), but sometimes there still be a few bumps in the road. Be aware of what deficiencies can happen while on any diet and plan ahead of time what supplements or foods should be eaten to prevent deficiencies from taking place. In particular, here are a few minerals you may become deficient in on the ketogenic diet. But don’t worry — if you follow these tips you shouldn’t become deficient in them if you eat the right foods.
Dr. Bubbs says that sodium is something easy to become deficient in while on the keto diet. It’s great that you’re losing water weight, but just make sure you have enough sodium in your body. It may seem strange to need extra sodium, but when a body doesn't have enough sodium, you’re going to need more to stay energized.
One of the biggest health and nutrition “myths” is that you should avoid salt. 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, and as your sweat rate increases, your sodium and blood volume will decline. Not a good recipe for optimal energy and performance.
On the flip side, if you’re overweight, out of shape or in poor health then your body is likely already holding on to too much sodium from high consumption of packaged and processed foods (i.e. sodium is used as the primary preservative) or from chronically elevated insulin levels. Therefore, a low-carb or keto approach is great way to restore healthy levels.
Symptoms of low sodium include fatigue, headaches, compromised ability to perform (especially outdoors in the heat) and in more serious cases you may pass out. Remember that most of the sodium in your body is found in your bloodstream, so if your body gets deficient, you don’t have many reserves to tap into.
In the first few weeks on a keto diet, only about half of your weight loss is from body-fat. The other half is from water and sodium loss. Therefore, getting enough sodium is crucial.
Aim for an extra 1,000-2,000mg of sodium daily via:
Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea salt (not standard table salt)
Broth or bouillon (1-2 cups per day)
Shellfish (i.e. oysters, mussels, crab, etc.)
Athletes should aim to take one gram 30 minutes before workouts to offset adverse effects of low sodium on performance.
Another mineral you very well could get deficient in is magnesium. VeryWell Fit discusses that magnesium is something that people usually don’t have enough of in their diet. On the keto diet, it becomes all the more challenging. Below are some foods you can eat to up your magnesium levels.
Magnesium is a mineral that a lot of people do not eat enough of—some estimate that 30-50% of Americans don't reach the 400 mg recommended by the FDA. Unfortunately, people on low-carb diets may fare even worse—in one study, 70% of those 8 weeks into the Atkins diet were not eating sufficient magnesium. Worse, people who respond to low-carb diets may need magnesium even more than others, since it is important in glucose metabolism and blood sugar control. Other functions of magnesium include participating in protein synthesis, bone development and maintenance, DNA synthesis, and cell function.
Low-Carb Sources of Magnesium
Pumpkin Seeds – 1 oz kernels, roasted – 156 mg magnesium, 2 gm net carb
Spinach (also chard), 1/2 cup cooked – 78 mg magnesium, 2 gm net carb
Soybeans (try black soybeans), 1/2 cup cooked – 74 mg magnesium, 3 gm net carb
Almonds, 1 oz – 77 mg magnesium, 3 gm net carb
Peanuts, 1 oz – 52 mg magnesium, 4 gm net carb
Flax seed, 1 tablespoon – 40 mg magnesium, scant carb
Also: legumes, fish, green vegetables, yogurt
Healthline also reveals why magnesium is essential and how to prevent magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium is a mineral that boosts energy, regulates blood sugar levels and supports your immune system.
Research suggests that due to magnesium-depleting medications, reliance on processed foods and other factors, a good portion of the population has or is at risk of developing a magnesium deficiency.
On a ketogenic diet, it may be even more difficult to meet your magnesium needs, as many magnesium-rich foods like beans and fruits are also high in carbs.
For these reasons, taking 200–400 mg of magnesium per day may be beneficial if you’re on a keto diet.
Supplementing with magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping and irritability — all symptoms commonly experienced by those transitioning to a ketogenic diet.
Some of the most absorbable forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, magnesium gluconate and magnesium citrate.
If you wish to increase your magnesium intake through keto-friendly foods, focus on incorporating these low-carb, magnesium-rich options:
Earlier we mentioned how important sodium is when you’re on the keto diet, and the same goes for potassium, which is another electrolyte. Perfect Keto reminds us to make sure we’re getting enough potassium in our diets, so we don’t feel sluggish and run down.
As you lose sodium from your body, you begin to get rid of potassium, another electrolyte, simultaneously.
Being deficient in potassium can lead to constipation, irritability, physical weakness, loss in muscle mass and skin problems. An extreme potassium deficiency can lead to an irregular heartbeat and in some cases heart failure.
You should aim for about 4,500 mg of potassium every day on a keto diet.
Other Important Vitamins:
Want to know a few other vital vitamins you should keep in mind while on the keto diet and really any diet. It turns out many people are deficient in vitamin D, E, and the list goes on. It’s important to pay attention to nutrition and along with that VeryWell Fit says you should be aware of what other nutrients your body could be missing.
These nutrients aren't specific to low-carb diets, but significant percentages of people do not get enough of these in their diets.
Lower-than-optimal blood levels of vitamin D is becoming more common. It is thought this may be due to the fact that people are spending less time outside (especially in winter and in areas far from the equator) and wearing more sunscreen. It is fairly difficult to get enough in the diet. Very important for our bones, but is turning up as a factor in many aspects of health. Low-carb sources include salmon, tuna, eggs, yogurt, and liver.
Up to 80% of people may not be eating the recommended intake of vitamin E. There are actually eight different forms, which is one of the reasons it's best to get vitamin E from foods, as supplements usually only contain one or two. Low-carb sources include most nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds are especially rich in vitamin E), greens, avocado, peppers, and shrimp
Our bodies use calcium in so many ways, it's hard to list them all. Of course, we know about bone health. It's also vital to the functioning of our muscles and nerves and maintaining the correct acid/base balance. Low-carb sources include dairy products, sardines, canned salmon, tofu, and (as in almost everything) greens.
Going on the keto diet is fantastic news, but with any significant health change (even if it’s for the better), you need to be aware of how your body may react and what nutrients you may need to eat more. You may not need to take the minerals we mentioned above in supplement form, but it’s still vital to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients. Learn more about the keto diet and which supplements you may want to take in the Body Reboot book. Help us cover the cost of shipping and visit this page today to snag your free copy!
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