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How To Balance Electrolytes

Electrolytes are not optional with a well formulated ketogenic or low carb diet. Especially when eating healthy whole foods that don’t come with any sodium. But don’t add just one electrolyte and ignore the others.

If you do not get enough sodium, you can not absorb magnesium. So balancing electrolytes is essential!

Getting your electrolyte balance right will help eliminate the keto flu symptoms of headaches, low energy, muscle cramps, or low moods.

WHY YOU NEED ELECTROLYTES WHEN KETO

Adding in electrolytes is important when you begin the ketogenic diet because it will help you combat low energy, low moods, constipation and headaches. Instead of adding in carbs for energy, you must think about your diet and energy differently.

Within the first two to four days of lowering your carb intake to below 20 grams a day, you will start showing elevated blood ketones, which marks the start of your body utilizing nutritional ketosis (and lipolysis) and shifting its primary fuel source to fat. However, you might have issues with energy, moods, headaches, or other common “keto flu” symptoms. To combat the symptoms  of keto flu, you first must make sure to keep your water and electrolytes up. When becoming keto-adapted, your kidneys release much of the salt (and associated water) that they hold onto with  higher-carb diets. You need to add more water and electrolytes to ensure that you don’t get dehydrated. You also might want to reduce your workouts and activity levels during the first couple weeks.

ELECTROLYTES

A well-formulated ketogenic  diet requires getting enough electrolytes and water. It is an important part of becoming keto-adapted, especially in the first few weeks after making the switch to keto. If you do a carb-up, that will make  you retain water (carbohydrates make you retain water) but won’t fix the problem of electrolyte imbalance.  CLICK HERE for more on carb ups. Let’s take a deeper look at electrolytes and their benefits.

Sodium

Even if adapting to a keto lifestyle doesn’t cause any obvious side effects, you need extra water and sodium. Eliminating packaged foods will likely deplete a lot of the sodium from your diet. The recommended foods for the keto diet don’t contain a lot of liquid, so you will want to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you suffer the fierce headaches that some people get when beginning a low-carb diet, add sodium.

We suggest throwing out your regular table salt and replacing  it with a quality mineral-rich sea salt like Redmond Real Salt. Redmond Real salt is essential for electrolyte balance and will give you energy. After a few months of using Redmond Real Salt salt, you will likely find that table salt has a chemical-like taste.
It’s not necessary to use these Celtic or Himalayan salts sparingly, either. Redmond salt is harvested from ancient sea  beds with a high mineral content. They contain about 70 percent of the sodium in regular salt (which has been refined, bleached, and processed until it is pretty much pure sodium chloride, often with anti-caking agents added).
The other 30 percent consists of minerals and micronutrients  (including iodine) found in mineral-rich seas. In terms of taste, we greatly prefer these salts to regular salt; they are well worth the extra cost. Do not make the mistake of using sea salt containing dextrose, which is added as an anti-caking agent and is a form of  sugar!
The chart below shows the relative risk for  cardiovascular events for different sodium intake levels. As you can see, the lowest point (lowest risk) is around 5 grams of sodium a  day, which is about 2 teaspoons of sea salt (salt is about 40 percent sodium by weight). As much as 8 grams of sodium is still less risky than only 1 gram. This is why we recommend a daily goal of 4 to 6  grams of sodium, or about 2 to 2½ teaspoons of salt. This amount includes what you put on your food.

MAGNESIUM

What mineral is needed by every cell in the body, yet odds are you don’t get enough of it? Hint: It’s not calcium.

Give up? Magnesium.

The reason you are not getting enough of it is because our ancestors use to get magnesium from the water. Our water supply now is completely devoid of magnesium and a lot of people now drink bottled water which is devoid of magnesium. That is why my whole family, even my children, take a quality magnesium supplement daily!

It gets little attention now, but rising evidence implies that magnesium benefits your heart and bones, plus it may help prevent diabetes and migraine headaches.

Deficiencies also cause muscle spasms and pain, insomnia and fatigue. Magnesium assists in maintaining muscle and nerve function, maintains heart beat, helps our immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium is also great for diabetics because it helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Magnesium is also being researched as a natural way to curb food cravings. It is found that as magnesium deficiencies increase so do food cravings. Supplementing with a therapeutic dose of 600milligrams of a magnesium supplement has been shown to significantly calm food cravings.

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include nausea, fatigue, or weakness. As magnesium deficiency gets worse, restless leg syndrome, numbness, muscle cramps, seizures, mood changes, or irregular heartbeats can occur.

Be careful when purchasing supplements, many have added ingredients. My hubby picked up magnesium glycinate for me and it had maltodexerin in it. My favorite magnesium glycinate and potassium can be found HERE. 

POTASSIUM

Most of my clients get enough potassium from their food if they eat enough beef, pork or fish.  Keeping your potassium levels up helps to safeguard your lean muscle mass during weight loss. Also, just as with sodium, adequate potassium prevents cramping and fatigue.

A deficiency in potassium causes low energy, heavy legs, salt cravings, dizziness and you may cry easily. Causes of low potassium would be dehydration from having diarrhea, sweating, and low carb diets that are not well formulated.

Heath Tip:  There are a couple of prescription medicines that you’ve got to be aware of if you significantly increase your potassium intake, so if you’re on blood pressure medicines, talk to your doctor before you to take potassium.

This chart gives good ranges for electrolytes for most people. Everyone is different in how much you need so adjust based on these ranges based on your symptoms.

If you are getting dehydration symptoms, up your electrolytes. If you are getting water retention or bloating, reduce them.

Our favorite electrolyte is LMNT. You can get it HERE.

Until April 14th you can get FREE LMNT sample! Click HERE to check it out! 

TESTIMONY OF THE DAY

“About 4 years ago I was the person in the pink. BMI of 35. I was Depressed and anxious on anxiety meds. And yet I was doctor telling patients to lose weight! Talk about hypocrisy!!

Now after 2.5 years on keto I’m off my anxiety meds. I’m healthier than ever. And I owe it all to keto!!! Craig and Maria Emmerich y’all do so many great things! Thanks for helping me get off meds I don’t need!!!” – Shin

Most people I consult are doing keto totally wrong. Get fast results with the my NEW Keto Packages!

Click HERE to check out my NEW Keto Packages!

Maria Emmerich

About Maria Emmerich

Maria is a wellness expert who has helped clients follow a Ketogenic lifestyle to heal and lose weight for over 20 years. She has helped thousands of clients get healthy, get off medications and heal their bodies; losing weight is just a bonus. She is the international best selling author of several books including "Keto: The Complete Guide to Success on the Ketogenic Diet.".

19 Comments

  • gjeanieg says:

    Hi, Maria, thank you for doing this. I wanted some electrolyte supplementation that had no Stevia, so I did my research. I already have LMNT, but thought the Redmond Real Salt version has a better ingredients list. It actually lines up with your chart at the top of this blog page better. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you!

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      They are a good option too. I prefer LMNT as we state in the chart, if you are prioritizing protein you are getting a lot of potassium so don’t need as much in your electrolyte. 😉

      • Janel Setter says:

        If the LMNT is 200 for sodium, how much do you supplement with just salt, and how do you do it? I think I read that you use SOLE water, but how much? Sorry- for all the questions but I’m new.I’ve always failed at Keto, and can’t get it right.. pretty sure it’s Partly because of imbalances from electrolytes. Just ordered the LMNT.

        • Maria Emmerich says:

          LMNT is 1000mg sodium and 200mg potassium with a little magnesium. A good way to start out is just put 2 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt in a dish in the morning and use on food and in water and make sure it is used up by the end of the day. That is about 4,500mg sodium.

  • Shannon says:

    But Maria I can’t afford these supplements I on disability income. For a brain tumor, think it’s gone, but I am not sure though. My boyfriend and I have to Omaha, NE for MRI’S every 6 months we live in the states, health care insurance is expensive here. I had my tumor resection before I found the keto diet, I love a lot weight as did my boyfriend. But he had was having heart trouble from all of the saturated fats, so we had to stop the diet because he was having heart trouble. Is there any thing I more affordable supplements I can take besides these supplements? 😞

  • Sandra says:

    How do you get 2 tsp of salt a day? I add it to my water and sip throughout the day but get tired of sipping salty water

  • Victoria says:

    Can you add salt to your water before you break your fast or should you wait til after?

  • Heather says:

    Maria,
    What is your suggestion to trying to get the iodine in our diets, supplements?
    Thank you

  • Shannon says:

    You’re welcome.🙃

  • Shannon says:

    I don’t necessarily want to do keto, but I’m supposed to be doing low carb and I have trouble doing that. Any suggestions for a low carb not necessarily keto diet? Oh and I read on another article that Vanicream has estrosl and estrogens in it, I’ve been using that stuff on my skin for years kind of wigs me out is there any other affordable suggestions for skin care Maria 😱😬 I’m supposed to avoid soy at all costs and cruciferous vegetables I can have them they have to be cooked.

    • Maria Emmerich says:

      Why don’t you want to do keto? If is perfectly health (probably the healthiest) way to live. 🙂

      Yes, any cream like that I would avoid.

      • Shannon says:

        My boyfriend and I did well on keto, but after a while we were running back and forth for appointments for my mri’s and medical issues which is a 2 hour round trip 4 times a year. Also multiple times to visit our family and friends who live between 4- 8 hours away from where we are living at right now. Do we began relying on heavily processed keto friendly foods. So his BP and and unhealthy saturated fats shut up and he could hear his blood pressure he was on extreme keto and I was on moderate keto, but he wanted to get off because he could hear his heart pounding at night, he was feeling sluggish and less energetic, but I was fine. But he is the one who cooks and I am the one who cleans. He’s a much better at cooking than I am. My mom was also do the diet with us, but when we stopped she stopped as well. So low carb for me I guess for now.