When I first started eating a Ketogenic Diet, I researched as much as I could. For some reason, I think I thought that the more knowledge I had, the more successful I would be. Honestly, I don’t know if that is the case. But I do know, that I gained a ridiculous amount of Keto knowledge in a relatively short period of time. I gathered information from books, from internet articles and from Social Media. You know what I found? Everyone had a different answer for everything!
But the one thing I found that every self-proclaimed Keto expert (and I’m joining in now) agreed upon, was vitamins & supplements. The Ketogenic Diet is a great diet. I love it. I plan on following this way of eating forever. That being said, the shortcoming with the Ketogenic Diet, is that it is very hard to get all the vitamins and electrolytes that your body needs strictly through diet alone. Yes, it can be done. But the amount of planning and calculating that would need to go into getting your micronutrients aligned with your macronutrients would drive a person bat shit crazy.
So enter the world of supplements! And while most Keto’ers agree that you need to supplement vitamins and electrolytes, there isn’t much agreement on what or how or how much. So, with this blog post, I thought I would go over important elements that should possibly be included into your Ketogenic Diet. I will do my best to give some explanations as to why you need certain things, what kinds of side effects you might feel if you are lacking certain things and how to go about adding it to you diet. In addition, I’ll share a little about my supplement routine and how and why I came up with it! I don’t plan on getting science-y. I’ll keep it pretty basic and make the headings easy to see. So feel free to read all the way through or just browse certain sections that might apply to you!
When your body enters ketosis, your kidneys undergo a natural diuresis. This means all that pesky water weight goes (Yay! You’ll definitely notice it on the scale and feel less bloated). But that also means that essential electrolytes like Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium can be flushed out of the body as well.
Low electrolyte levels can bring on symptoms similar to the Keto Flu. If your not familiar with what the Keto Flu is then click here to read my post about the dreaded Keto Flu! Things like lightheadedness, headaches, lack of focus and fatigue are the most common symptoms caused by imbalanced electrolytes.
Sodium is an electrolyte that is easy to add to our diet without the need for purchasing additional supplements. Simply using table salt and adding additional salt to your food often will do the trick. But other tasty ways to get your Sodium are through bone broth and bullion cubes. Just watch out for carbs, some brands of bullion have some hidden fillers!
Magnesium plays important roles in muscle contraction, protein synthesis and energy production. Low Magnesium levels can often cause muscle cramping, if you experience cramping, try upping your Magnesium to alleviate symptoms! Magnesium also plays a role in digestive health. If you are experiencing any changes in frequency in your #2’s, upping your Magnesium will definitely help. You can up your Magnesium intake by adding dark leafy greens and Keto friendly nuts and seeds to your Keto meal plan.
Potassium is another mineral we need and often find lacking in the Ketogenic Diet. Potassium can easily be supplemented, but be wary of how much you take. At high levels, Potassium can be dangerous. So, find a supplement with a moderate amount in comparison to the Daily Recommended Value. Keto friendly foods high in Potassium are mushrooms, leafy greens, avocados, nuts and salmon. All are great choices to help boost your Potassium.
Calcium plays a huge role in our bone health along with cardiovascular and endocrine systems. We need it to function. The best source of calcium is dairy. However, dairy can be high in carb and therefor, not part of your Keto Diet. You can find other dietary sources of Calcium such as canned fish, hard cheeses, leafy greens and broccoli. You can also take a Calcium supplement, if needed.
Personally, I try to do my best in getting my electrolytes from dietary sources, but I usually fall short. I can tell when my electrolytes run low, I start to get episodes of dizziness or lightheadedness. Often it happens after exercise, but it can hit me anytime. See my personal routine below to see how I get my electrolytes in daily in one shot!
Fish oil contains Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are important in all of the things named above. I am lucky enough to have a family doctor who agrees with the Hubby and I doing the Keto Diet. Her biggest recommendation for us was to add Fish Oil to our daily diets! So we obliged. Anything to help burn fat and keep our hearts healthy!
While it would be great to get all our vitamins and nutrients from our food, it would be extremely difficult. It is especially difficult on a Ketogenic Diet, since we are unable to eat many fruits. Adding a simple multi-vitamin to your routine can keep you from experiencing any type of vitamin deficiencies that might lead to fatigue, lethargy and other Keto Flu like symptoms! Another benefit of vitamins is that it helps fight food cravings. Often when you are craving specific foods, it is because you are lacking certain nutrients. When you take a multi-vitamin, you are ensuring that you are getting all the micronutrients you need and helping to stop cravings before they start!
Collagen is a protein that is found in our bodies. Think of it as a building block. It is found in bones, muscles, tendons, skin, hair, nails, and so many other places. We need it for a host of reasons and as we age, collagen levels in our body go down. As we age, this lack of collagen can lead to brittle hair and nails and loss of skin elasticity. These are the main reasons that I take a collagen supplement. I have been suffering lately from Keto-induced hair loss. I’m not sure exactly why, but I do know that since starting a collagen supplement, my hair loss has completely stopped. I’ve also noticed the loose skin around my midsection caused by my weight loss has started to firm up! My husband was actually the one to point this out to me, so I know it isn’t just wishful thinking!
I was one of those people that thought I could get away without any supplements in the beginning, when I first started a Keto Diet. This resulted in low energy levels and hair loss. I don’t recommend it. (I want to note that not everyone experiences hair loss. I had this issue before I started Keto, it just got worse with the Keto Diet). It took me about 6 months to find the right supplementation that worked for me. Give it time and experiment and you’ll find what works for you. It just takes a little trial and error.
I will also note that I don’t spend an arm & a leg on Collagen. Collagen can cost a bundle. This particular brand is from GNC and cost me about $14 for a month’s supply and it works great!
I start every morning with coffee. Sometimes Bulletproof Coffee, sometimes just coffee with Heavy Whipping Cream. But I always have a cup of coffee. So, I add my scoop of collagen to my coffee. Since I always drink my coffee, this ensures that I also get my daily dose of collagen everyday!
About an hour after that, I mix up a glass of Ultima Replenisher (you can find it on amazon). This is an electrolyte replacement that I’ve found which allows me to get everything I need in one glass and it works really well for me! In one shot, I get Vitamin C, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Chloride, Sodium and Potassium. Do I need all this stuff? I have no idea! But I do know that when I take it, I feel more energetic. I don’t get the muscle cramps, fatigue and lightheadedness I had before I started taking it!
With my glass of Ultima, I take a basic multi-vitamin. I know they make special vitamins for people who follow a Keto Diet, but I’ve found that a basic store brand Women’s Multi-vitamin has worked just fine! Along with that I take 2000 mg of Fish Oil. I don’t notice any specific difference in my health with the Fish Oil. But, I take it at the recommendation from my Doctor because of the added cardiovascular benefits. So I don’t really expect to notice any benefits. I guess that fact that I have not developed any heart related illnesses is my benefit!
*I want to finish this blog post by stating that I am not a Doctor. If you have any medical concerns or conditions, you really should always consult your Doctor before making any changes in lifestyle, including adding supplements. Some things can interfere with medications or exacerbate medical conditions, so always double check with your Doctor if you have any concerns!