Within the first couple of weeks of starting a low carb diet, some people may experience the ‘keto flu,’ which a body’s natural reaction to entering ketosis and switching from burning glucose to burning fat. When first starting the diet the initial symptoms of the keto flu may begin which include brain fog, irritability, sugar cravings, and more. However, even though the keto flu can be a bummer and strip a body of its electrolytes, the Body Reboot book discusses many of the diet’s benefits and why you shouldn’t give up. Plus, if you know what type of foods to eat ahead of time to counteract the electrolyte imbalance and water loss that happens on keto, then you should be able to kick the keto flu to the curb. In case you’re wondering why the sudden loss of water weight when switching to a low-carb diet you’re eliminating the majority of processed foods, which are full of added salt and sugar. The additives explain why your body will lose a lot of water weight, which means body inflammation will decrease as well.
Now that you have a good idea how the keto diet works and what causes the keto flu let’s take a look at what foods you can eat that are high in electrolytes. Also, below the Keto Diet App blog discusses how sodium relates to the amount of water in your body and what type of vitamins and foods you should eat to make up the loss of electrolytes.
Sodium directly relates to the regulation of water balance in the body through the kidneys. Less salt in the diet means that the kidneys will release more water from the diet. Coupled with this, a reduction in carbohydrates brings a lowering of the hormone insulin, which also plays a role in sodium-balance in the kidneys.
The reduction in salt intake and the release of extra water from the kidneys means that key electrolytes will also be flushed out. The electrolytes that generally become imbalanced, causing the effects of the keto flu, are magnesium, potassium and sodium.
The recommended daily values are:
Magnesium – 300–400 mg/d
Potassium – Europe: Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) is 3.5 g/d (3,500 mg/d) for Europe; America: Adequate Intake (AI) is 4.7 g/d (4,700 mg/d) and Estimated Minimum Requirement (EMR) is 2,000 mg/d
Sodium – 2,400 mg/d (equivalent to 6 g of salt/d) – in the first few weeks of a low carb diet the recommended intake is at 3,000-5,000 mg/d
Even though the common assumption is that sodium is bad, on the keto diet you need more of it since your body is going to be losing a lot of sodium as we discussed above. You’ll be getting rid of the processed foods, which is what Mind Body Green equates to the reason why most people who are not the keto diet have too much sodium in their system. However, keto dieters need more salt! As your body adjusts to keto and you begin implementing exercise, it’s especially important to make sure you have enough sodium so that you don’t get dehydrated and possibly get the keto flu again.
Given the excess of sodium-laden processed foods in the average Western diet, it should come as no surprise that most of us are not at risk of sodium deprivation. While too much sodium is associated with an increased risk of hypertension and stroke, a normal level of sodium is imperative for health. Sodium contributes to the regulation of blood volume, blood pressure, pH, osmotic equilibrium between cells, and the maintenance of water balance in the body. Sodium is also important for neurons, proper muscle function, energy metabolism, and cardiovascular function. Beware: You may be at risk for low levels of sodium after prolonged exercise. (This is also known as exercise-associated hyponatremia.) It happens when people overhydrate without proper electrolyte replacement and can lead to nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches, and even seizures.
Be sure to keep your levels at that sweet spot by avoiding more than 600 milligrams of sodium per meal and seeking out a good electrolyte replacement for long workouts.
Runner’s World mentions which foods have a lot of magnesium, such as vegetables and nuts. Keep in mind that whole grains and lentils should be avoided on keto since they’re higher in carbs.
Along with calcium, magnesium aids muscle contraction, nerve function, enzyme activation, and bone development. To replenish stores of the mineral after exercise, Clark suggests chowing down on leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, and lentils as often as possible. The added benefit: Magnesium helps fight fatigue. When you’re low on the mineral, your body demands more oxygen—and energy—during physical activity, and therefore you tire more quickly, according to researchers at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.
Another healthy food item that’s also keto friendly are cucumbers, which are excellent to put on salads or even dip in ranch. The Health Beat mentions the nutritional value of cucumbers and why they’re excellent at helping to replenish electrolytes.
1 medium cucumber
Nutrition Bonus: Cucumbers are 95% water, supplies B1, B5 and B7, a good source of magnesium and calcium, a good veggie source of potassium, apigenin and have a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They contain a unique flavonol called fisetin that may protect brain cells. Cucumbers also contain phytonutrients and anti-cancer polyphenols (lignans) that interact with our gut bacteria to protect against breast, ovarian, prostate and uterine cancers.
Choose lacto-fermented pickles to also get some salt and probiotics after a hard workout.
Similarly, The Health Beat also mentions celery as a good food selection if you desire to increase or replace the loss of electrolytes in your body.
1 stalk of celery
Nutrition Bonus: Celery contains nitrates, apigenin, and luteolin. Nitrates in certain green vegetables have been found to reduce blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation, improve endothelial dysfunction and enhance exercise performance in healthy individuals and patients with peripheral arterial disease.
Apigenin is an aromatase inhibitor, helping prevent estrogen positive breast cancer in women and increase testosterone in males. Luteolin was found to locate triple-negative cancer cells and stop them from metastasizing.
Eating leafy greens is another way to balance the electrolytes in your body. More specifically, spinach comes highly recommended, and Vitalyte Sports Nutrition tells us why:
Without a doubt, spinach is one of the healthiest foods available. Low in calories and high in nutrients, a handful of spinach is an incredibly effective way to fuel your body. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein, and this leafy green is an excellent source of magnesium, calcium, and potassium, as well as vitamin A, folate, and iron. In fact, spinach even surpasses the banana’s potassium content, with one cup of spinach containing 839 milligrams, as opposed to the banana’s 539 milligrams.
It is important to include plenty of iron in your diet, especially if you are an athlete, as iron directly affects how your body uses energy. Doctors often tell people with high blood pressure to eat more spinach because the potassium effectively reduces blood pressure levels. Spinach also contains vitamin K and calcium, which are both essential for maintaining bone density. The fiber in spinach promotes a healthy digestive tract, and the vitamin A helps to keep your skin and hair healthy. The chlorophyll in spinach and other leafy greens may also help to reduce your cancer risk.
Vitalyte also explains why salmon is something you should have in your diet to replace electrolytes and, it also happens to be a great option to eat while on the keto diet!
Salmon is a delicious fish that is packed with nutrients and electrolytes such as phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Salmon is also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, iron, and zinc. It is a high-quality protein that contains vitamins A, D, B6, B, and E. Many experts recommend eating salmon and other fish at least twice per week. Salmon also goes great with other foods that have electrolytes such as brown rice and spinach, so enjoy a delicious and healthy meal tonight.
Foods for Better Health recommends peanut butter or almond butter, but be aware that the carbs can quickly add up when eating this tasty butter. Nuts are another excellent source of magnesium and hence electrolytes, but again, be mindful about the number of carbohydrates in each serving.
Replace table salt with healthy snack foods like peanut butter or almond butter to increase sodium intake. Deficiency of sodium could lead to improper enzyme operation, muscle spasms, headaches, and fatigue.
Along with sodium, peanut butter or almond butter will also provide a good amount of protein and healthy fats. These foods with electrolytes may not be a good option to include in your daily diet, mainly because of their fat content.
Nuts like almonds are great sources of magnesium. A cup of almonds contains magnesium (64% DV), calcium (25% DV), potassium (19% DV), and sodium (one percent DV). These foods with electrolytes have other nutritional benefits too. They are rich in folate and good fats.
Most of these foods with electrolytes can be made a part of your diet in some form or the other. In addition to their electrolytic content, they nourish your body in several ways.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!