Do you need keto supplements or can you get all the nutrients you need from keto-friendly foods?
The short answer is that supplements can make your ketogenic diet significantly easier.
It can be challenging to obtain all your required nutrition while also focusing on getting the right amount of macros. This is where keto supplements come in.
- Why Supplements Are Important on Keto
- Top 6 Keto Supplements
- 4 Keto Supplements You Might Need
- 4 Whole Foods to Use as Keto Supplements
- Using Keto Supplements to Make Transition and Maintenance Easier
- Best Keto Supplements: The Ones You Want (and Ones You Can Skip)
- The best keto supplements
- Keto supplements you can skip
- Join over 1 million fans
- Do I Need to Take Supplements on a Keto Diet?
- How to Get All Your Required Nutrients Through Diet
- Supplements Worth Considering for a Keto Diet
- 6 Keto Supplements You Need on a Ketogenic Diet
- What Else Should You Consider
- 3 Essential Keto Supplements to Amp Up Your Diet
- Top 8 Keto Supplements and 5 Functional Foods
- Functional Foods
- Top 8 Keto Supplements
- 1. Perfect Keto
- 2. 7 Keto DHEA
- 3. Fish Oil
- 4. Creatine
- 5. MCT Oil
- 6. Electrolytes: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium
- 7. L-Glutamine
- 8. Vitamin D
- Choose the Best Keto Supplements
- Related Blog Posts
- The 10 Best Supplements for Keto Diet Success
- Similar articles
- Do you need electrolyte supplementation on a keto diet?
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What makes ketosis and the ketogenic diet healthy or not depends on the quality of macros and micronutrients you’re consuming.
To follow an optimal keto diet, you need to understand supplements.
Why Supplements Are Important on Keto
The ketogenic diet is unique because it transforms your metabolism. Your default energy source is glucose from carbs, but you take away this primary source of energy when you start a very low-carb diet.
Your body then switches gears and shifts to an alternate energy source: fat. When this happens, your body begins ketogenesis: fat stores are converted into ketones in your liver, providing an alternative energy fuel.
You shift from being a carb-fueled machine to being a fat-fueled machine. This change is huge, and like all changes, it will take some adjustment while your body settles. Keto supplements help you go through this change with little to no side effects.
While not always necessary on a keto diet, supplements can help in a few crucial ways:
Reduce Symptoms of the Keto Flu
The keto flu is often caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals during the transition to ketosis.
For example, as your cells use up all the glycogen stores in your body, you lose water and with it important electrolytes.
Having the right supplements, such as electrolytes, can help prevent nutrient deficiencies that cause the keto flu and can make your transition smoother.
Fill Any Nutritional Gaps in Your Keto Diet
Because the ketogenic diet doesn’t allow fruits or starchy veggies, you may not know where to get the vitamins and minerals you once got from those foods. You may also need a fiber supplement if you find that your digestion has changed and you need a little bit more bulk.
Keto supplements help ease the transition to keto because they can give you important vitamins and minerals as you adjust to getting them from keto foods like red meat, eggs, and low-carb vegetables.
For example, taking a greens supplement can be helpful if you don’t like eating a lot of fresh kale and other leafy greens.
Support Your Health Goals
Keto supplements can support the health goals that motivated you to start the ketogenic diet in the first place.
For example, fish oil can support better cognitive function, which is a benefit of the keto diet, while MCT oil can support your weight loss efforts.
Using supplements on keto helps you be at your best, and understanding how certain supplements work makes it easier to know if you need them.
Top 6 Keto Supplements
These are the top keto supplements to consider taking. Learn more about why they matter and the best way to incorporate them in your keto diet.
1. Electrolyte Supplements for Fluid Balance
While there are many health benefits of the keto diet, it’s possible to miss out on important minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium that come from non-ketogenic foods. These electrolytes control nerve and muscle function, among many other things.
The low-carb nature of the keto diet causes your kidneys to dump excess water, excreting sodium and other electrolytes that need to be replenished.
Low levels of these electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, can lead to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and constipation, also known as the keto flu.
By replenishing these important electrolytes through food or supplements, you reduce keto flu symptoms while protecting yourself from long-term deficiency on keto.
Below are the four electrolytes to be aware of when going keto.
A healthy balance of sodium in the body is necessary for nerve and muscle function. Sodium’s ability to retain water is also essential to keeping a balance of other electrolytes.
Most diets encourage less sodium, but you might need more on keto because sodium is lost with water loss, especially at the beginning of the keto diet.
How to Get Sodium
While you don’t need a sodium supplement, you’ll likely need to replenish any sodium lost on keto by:
- Adding salt to your food or drinks. Choose Himalayan sea salt.
- Drinking bone broth regularly.
- Eating more sodium-rich foods like red meats or eggs.
Note: Sodium has an impact on blood pressure. Monitor your intake if you’re concerned about or prone to hypertension. Many health organizations recommend sodium intake no more than 2300 mg a day (one teaspoon).
Being deficient in magnesium is fairly common, and even more so in people eating a low-carb diet. Blood testing is the best way to know for sure about your levels, but muscle cramps and fatigue are common signs of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium supplements help maintain normal heart rhythm, healthy immunity, and nerve and muscle function. It works with calcium to maintain healthy bones, and assists more than 300 bodily reactions including regulating sleep and maintaining proper testosterone levels.
How to Get Magnesium
You can get magnesium from magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, leafy green vegetables, and high-fat yogurts. But these foods contain carbs and it might be hard to consume enough to reach your magnesium needs without exceeding your carb macros.
As such, you might need a supplement. For women, 320mg is ideal while men need 420mg of magnesium per day.
Potassium helps the body keep normal blood pressure, fluid balance, and regular heart rate. It also helps break down and use carbs, and build proteins.
How to Get Potassium
Supplementing with potassium is often discouraged, as too much is toxic. It’s best to get it from whole food keto sources like nuts, leafy greens, avocados, salmon, and mushrooms.
Calcium has many roles in the body. Strong bones is just half of it. Calcium is also responsible for proper blood clotting and muscle contraction.
How to Get Calcium
Keto sources of calcium include fish, leafy greens like broccoli, dairy, and non-dairy milk (just make sure they’re unsweetened and zero-carb). You still might need to supplement with calcium to cover your bases. High-quality calcium supplements include vitamin D, which is needed for absorption.
Both men and women need around 1000 mg of calcium per day.
2. Vitamin D for Strength and Healthy Hormones
Vitamin D acts as both a nutrient and a hormone in your body. Many food products are fortified with vitamin D because it’s hard to get enough from food alone. You can get it from sun exposure, but only in places that are sunny enough. Plus, extended sun exposure puts you at risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. It’s also necessary for maintaining strength and muscle growth, bone density, healthy testosterone levels, and for supporting cardiovascular and immune system health.
Despite these crucial functions, about one-third of Americans are low in vitamin D. The restrictive nature of foods on the ketogenic diet might put you at a higher risk of deficiency.
How to Get It
You can get vitamin D from some types of mushrooms and fatty fish, but that’s about it on the keto diet unless you also eat fortified dairy products. Supplementation with 400IU per day is recommended.
3. MCT Oil for Fat Efficiency
MCTs stands for medium-chain triglycerides, and they’re a type of fat the body can use for energy right away instead of storing them as fat. MCTs help produce ketones in your body, which are necessary to enter and stay in ketosis, because they’re a more efficient energy source than glucose (which comes from carbs).
The immediate usage of MCTs for fuel makes them a great keto diet supplement for keeping you in a fat-burning energy state and meeting your daily macros for fat intake.
How to Use It
MCTs are found in coconut oil, butter, cheese, and yogurt. But the best way to get a concentrated dose your body can easily digest is by supplementing with MCT oil (in the form of soft gels or liquid MCT oil) or MCT oil powder.
Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder can sometimes be easier on the stomach than liquid MCTs and can be added to hot or cold drinks, smoothies, and shakes. Use at least a half or whole scoop serving per day.
4. Krill Oil for Heart and Brain Health
Your body needs three types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA.
Krill oil is an excellent bioavailable source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two omega-3 essential fatty acids that you must get from either diet or supplementation — your body can’t make it on its own.
The other type of omega-3, ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, is found in plant foods like walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.
Your body is able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is very low. That’s why it’s better to supplement with fish oil supplements or eat a lot of high-quality fatty fish.
While the keto diet can contain omega-3s naturally, a lot of keto foods are also high in omega-6s, which can cause inflammation in excess amounts.
Most people eat way too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s, so you should strive to achieve a ratio of 1:1.
Omega-3s are crucial for brain and heart health in many ways. Supplementing with omega-3s can help:
- Fight inflammation
- Ease depression symptoms
- Lower triglyceride levels in the blood (high triglycerides are linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk)
- Lower triglycerides more than a ketogenic diet alone, along with lowering total and LDL cholesterol, body fat, and BMI
Why krill oil? Krill oil supplements contain all of the omega-3s of fish oil, but with some added benefits. Krill oil also contains phospholipids and a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has neuroprotective properties that can reduce damage to your brain and central nervous system from oxidative stress.
Unless you’re eating wild, fatty, well-sourced fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel, plenty of leafy green vegetables each day, and emphasizing grass-fed beef, you likely need some additional omega-3s.
While the American Heart Association recommends 250-500 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per day, most studies of krill oil demonstrating health benefits use between 300 milligrams and 3 grams. That should provide approximately 45-450mg combined EPA and DHA per day.
Choose only high-quality krill oil supplements with strict testing in place to make sure it’s free from heavy metals and other contaminants. You might also want to check that the manufacturer practices sustainable sourcing techniques.
5. Exogenous Ketones for Ketosis
Exogenous ketones are an external form of the ketones your body makes in ketosis.
Taking exogenous ketones can raise your ketone levels and provide immediate additional energy, whether you’re in ketosis or not. They are an ideal supplement for a keto diet.
Potential benefits of using exogenous ketones include:
- Increased focus
- Higher energy levels
- More energy for better athletic performance
- Decreased inflammation
The best exogenous ketone product has no fillers, additives, sugars, or carbs and is made with high-quality beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
You can take Perfect Keto Base anytime you need additional support, such as before a workout, while fasting, in between meals, or after eating carbs. Plus, you have five delicious flavors to choose from (or you can opt for the unflavored capsules).
6. Keto Greens for Full Nutritional Support
Taking a bunch of individual vitamins and minerals supplements can be unrealistic, and most multivitamins won’t give you the right combination for keto. A high-quality greens powder is a good way to cover all your nutritional bases.
Perfect Keto Micronutrients Greens Powder contains four different blends for maximum antioxidant and nutritional support on a ketogenic diet:
- A greens blend (4000mg)
- An antioxidant blend (950mg)
- A berry blend (500mg)
- An absorption blend (300mg)
Use one scoop in your favorite beverage up to three times per day.
4 Keto Supplements You Might Need
Although these supplements aren’t as crucial as the ones above, they can help make your transition to ketosis easier and continue to support your keto diet.
1. Keto Pre-Workout
Eating low-carb can sometimes make exercise more of a challenge, at least until your body becomes keto-adapted. A keto-friendly pre-workout can help power you up when you need the extra energy, whether it’s for a workout, staying up later than usual, or just getting through the day.
Look for a pre-workout free of junk that will support your fitness on a keto diet. Perfect Keto Perform was created for this exact reason and includes the following recommended supplements:
- Caffeine from green tea for increased focus and mental acuity
- BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) to support muscle building and maintenance on a moderate-protein keto diet
- Creatine monohydrate, a sports supplement with extensive research showing its positive impact on muscle mass, strength and exercise performance
- Beta-alanine to prevent feelings of burnout while exercising on a keto diet
It also includes BHB ketones, MCT oil powder, and calcium and magnesium. Take one scoop in your favorite drink or plain water before or workout or whenever you need extra energy.
The low-carb nature of the keto diet cuts down on fruit and vegetable consumption, which are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for fighting toxic free radicals that form in the body.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that also acts as an antioxidant, so supplementing with it can provide additional support for fighting cellular damage.
It’s also a great choice for anyone who does intense exercise, which can naturally reduce glutamine stores. Supplementing can help build them back up after each workout to protect the body and support better recovery time.
L-glutamine is available in capsule or powder form and typically taken in 500-1000 mg doses before each workout.
Also known as 7-keto, 7-oxo-DHEA is an oxygenated metabolite (a product of a metabolic reaction) of DHEA. Research shows it may enhance the weight loss effect of the keto diet.
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that 7-oxo-DHEA, combined with moderate exercise and a reduced-calorie diet, significantly reduced body weight and body fat compared with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet alone.
In other words, it might boost your metabolism and weight loss efforts.
Current research suggests that it’s effective and safe to take 200-400 mg daily in two divided doses of 100-200mg.
4. Grass-Fed Collagen
Collagen makes up 30% of the total protein in your body, yet it’s the one most people are deficient in. That’s why supplementation is important.
Collagen can help your hair, nails, and skin grow and become healthy, and can even heal leaky gut.
The problem is, taking a regular collagen supplement can kick you out of ketosis, so keto-friendly collagen is the way to go.
Keto collagen is essentially a blend of collagen and MCT oil powder. The MCT oil powder slows down the absorption of collagen in the body, so it can be used for healing and recovering instead of quickly turning into glucose.
That’s why Perfect Keto created Keto Collagen. It’s a blend of grass-fed collagen (the best kind of collagen) and MCT oil powder from coconut oil (the most effective source).
One scoop of Keto Collagen provides 10 grams of pure collagen, an effective dose that many studies recommend. You can take it daily mixed in a meal or drink like soup, coffee, smoothies, or raw energy balls.
4 Whole Foods to Use as Keto Supplements
There are some functional whole food options for supplementing your keto diet. Consider adding these to your daily routine.
1. Spirulina for Lower Cholesterol
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains all the amino acids your body needs, making it a complete protein. It also contains potassium, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients. Spirulina has antioxidant properties as well.
Daily intake of spirulina has also shown positive results on blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Spirulina can be taken in capsule or powdered form and mixed into a smoothie or just plain water. Take 4.5 grams (or almost one teaspoon) per day. Spirulina is also included in Perfect Keto Micronutrient Greens.
2. Chlorella for Fighting Fatigue
Like spirulina, chlorella is another green algae superfood.
Chlorella is especially helpful in the beginning stages of keto if you experience fatigue. It contains Chlorella Growth Factor, a nutrient containing RNA and DNA that can help increase energy transport between cells.
Chlorella comes in capsule, tablet, or powder forms. Make sure it’s been tested for heavy metal contamination. It can be mixed in a smoothie, water or other drink daily. Chlorella is also included in Perfect Keto Micronutrient Greens Powder.
3. Dandelion Root for Fat Absorption
The sharp increase in fat intake on a keto diet can initially cause digestive upset for some people. Dandelion helps stimulate bile production in the gallbladder, which supports better digestion and absorption of fats, your main source of energy on the ketogenic diet.
Dandelion can be purchased in tea bags or in bulk to be consumed as needed as a tea. If using in bulk, take 9-12 grams (2-3 teaspoons) per day. Dandelion is also in the Keto Micro Greens Powder.
4. Turmeric to Combat Inflammation
Some lower-quality animal products can be inflammatory. If you aren’t able to splurge on higher-quality meats and dairy products are much as you’d like, taking extra anti-inflammatory measures is a good idea.
Besides fish oil, turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory food. It contains curcumin, which helps counteract inflammatory foods.
Cook with turmeric or combine it with ghee or full-fat coconut milk, coconut oil, and cinnamon to make turmeric tea. You could also add a bit of black pepper, which can enhance curcumin absorption. Use 2-4 grams (0.5-1 teaspoons) daily.
Using Keto Supplements to Make Transition and Maintenance Easier
Although it may be possible to get all the nutrition you need on a keto diet, most people can’t be perfect eaters all the time.
The supplementation options in this guide should help you fill in the gaps and even boost your performance while eating a keto diet and living a healthy lifestyle.
Best Keto Supplements: The Ones You Want (and Ones You Can Skip)
- When you’re on a ketogenic diet, your body has different needs. Certain keto supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet.
- Electrolytes, ketone supplements, specific vitamins and mitochondrial enhancers can all help you feel even better when you’re in ketosis.
- However, some keto supplements don’t really deliver on their promises.
- Find out which keto supplements work — and which you can skip.
The ketogenic diet is a powerful tool burn fat, optimize brain power and curb cravings. You get these benefits because your body runs differently on keto. Because you’re burning fat instead of carbs for energy, you may have different nutritional needs. Supplements can help fill in the gaps in your diet. Here are the best keto supplements to try, plus two you can skip.
Download: What to Eat on Keto: Your Complete Keto Food List
The best keto supplements
These four supplements are particularly valuable when you’re on any type of keto diet, whether it’s standard keto, cyclical keto (also called carb cycling) or targeted keto. Talk to your doctor before you add any new supplements to your routine.
MCT oil for keto
“MCT” stands for “medium-chain triglyceride.” MCT oil is a quality fat made from coconuts. And as far as keto supplements go, MCT oil is one of the best ways to get even deeper into ketosis.
It only takes a few steps for your body to turn MCTs into ketone energy for your cells. On the keto diet, you want to maintain ketone levels to stay in a fat-burning state and reap all those keto benefits, like fewer cravings and amplified brain power. And if you want better results at the gym, research shows that MCT oil may even give you a boost before an intense workout.
You want to start with just 1 teaspoon when you begin using MCT oil — it’s powerful! Once you get used to it, you can add it to foods throughout the day. Try it in Bulletproof Coffee in the morning, salad dressing at lunch and drizzled over steak for dinner.
Look for an MCT oil that is 100% pure caprylic acid (C8), like Brain Octane MCT oil, for the all-around best MCT for ketogenic energy. Or try a blend of pure C8 and C10 (capric acid), like Bulletproof XCT oil. It takes a little longer to convert to ketones, but it’s more budget-friendly.
The graph below shows how much more Brain Octane oil increases ketone levels, compared to generic MCT oil and coconut oil:
Not all MCT oils are the same. Some products contain oils and additives that won’t give you the same ketone boost, or they mostly consist of coconut oil, which your body doesn’t even treat like an MCT. Get the details on different types of MCTs here.
The bottom line: MCT oil is great for keto, but not all MCTs are the same. Look for pure C8 (caprylic acid) MCT oil like Brain Octane oil. It’s the all-around best MCT oil for ketogenic energy because your body quickly converts it into ketones.
Related: How does Bulletproof make superior MCT oils?
Electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, and potassium
When you’re on a high-carb diet, your body stores sugar in the form of glycogen. Your glycogen stores are energy reserves. When you do something particularly taxing or go a few hours without eating, you’ll start to burn your glycogen stores for fuel.
Things are different when you’re on a keto diet. You aren’t eating carbs or sugar, which means you get really low on glycogen stores. So when you need extra energy, you burn through body fat.
Your body needs a lot of water to store glycogen, which is why you lose several pounds of water weight in your first few days on keto. You’re emptying your glycogen stores and getting rid of the water that goes with them. As you lose water, your kidneys excrete electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, and potassium) to keep your system in balance. Once you’re in ketosis, you continue to excrete electrolytes. That can lead to deficiencies down the line, as well as muscle cramps and headaches.
To prevent these keto side effects, make sure you get plenty of electrolytes when you’re in ketosis. While it’s best to get your nutrition from whole foods, electrolyte supplements can also help you hit daily recommended ranges.
Magnesium: 400 mg/day, taken in the morning or before bed
Best form: Magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate
Potassium: 2000 mg/day, dissolved in water and taken throughout the day. Don’t drink it all at once or it’ll upset your stomach.
Best form: Potassium chloride powder
Sodium: 1,500-2,300 mg/day, dissolved in water or on food
Best form: Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
The bottom line: To help maintain your electrolyte balance on the keto diet, get enough sodium, magnesium and potassium in your diet.
Related: How to Choose the Best Magnesium Supplement for Your Body
Folate for keto
Folate is an essential building block for your brain and for DNA synthesis. Low folate levels correlate with cognitive dysfunction, depression and fatigue, as well as higher risk of dementia, stroke and heart disease. Vegetables and complex starches are the best sources of folate, but it can be tough to eat enough of them when you’re limiting your carbs on a keto diet.
Vitamin B6 works alongside folate as a cofactor. The two deplete each other, so you want to make sure you have plenty of both. Fortunately, pork, beef and eggs are all high in vitamin B6, so as long as you’re eating meat on keto, you probably have enough B6.
When you’re looking for a folate supplement, opt for methyl folate, not folic acid. If you have a MTHFR gene mutation (many people do), you won’t use folic acid properly.
Folate: 400 mcg/day
Best form: Methyl folate
The bottom line: You need folate, but may not be getting enough of it on the keto diet. To keep your brain function and DNA synthesis functioning correctly, take methyl folate daily. Pair it with vitamin B6 if you’re not eating meat.
KetoPrime contains oxaloacetate, the last product of the Krebs Cycle (remember this from high school health?). The Kerbs Cycle is the sequence of reactions that generate energy within every cell of your body.
When your cells are fed oxaloacetate, this molecule causes the cell to mimic a calorie-restricted state that supercharges mitochondrial energy production. Supercharged mitochondria have more energy so you feel better throughout the day.
Oxaloacetate is also great for refilling the small amount of glycogen stores you have on keto, which your body can use to avoid crashing at the gym or during a fast. Learn more about how KetoPrime powers up your mitochondria.
The bottom line: Take one KetoPrime lozenge up to five times a day to supercharge the cycle of energy production in every cell of your body.
Related: How to Do Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Keto supplements you can skip
There are a few keto supplements that aren’t particularly useful. Some have slick marketing without the science to back them up. You’re better off passing on these two keto supplements:
Ketone salts (exogenous ketones)
Ketone salts like sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) seem impressive on the surface, especially if you measure your blood ketone levels. Ketone salts boost your blood ketones in a short amount of time, making them appear to put you in deep ketosis.
However, just because you have ketones in your blood doesn’t mean you’re actually using them. The issue with ketone salts is that they’re a racemic mixture. That means they’re a 50-50 mix of molecules (called the D form and the L form) that are mirror images of each other. Humans only absorb the D form of ketone salts. The L form shows up in the blood as a ketone, but you don’t actually use it.
In an episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast, Dr. Richard Veech, one of the leading ketosis biochemists in the world, explains the issue with ketone salts. “The only ketone that’s effective is the D-form,” Veech says. “The L-form is completely different. It’s metabolized in beta-oxidation, which actually makes it harmful. It’s dumb, convenience manufacturing. It’s cheaper to use the racemic salt, but the effects are not only inaccurate, but could be harmful.”
You’re best off avoiding ketone salts. Take Brain Octane oil instead — your body breaks it down into ketones that you can actually use.
Related: Keto Diet for Beginners: Your Complete Guide
Emulsified MCT oil
Emulsified MCT oil is weaker than normal MCT oil. It’s also a good example of clever marketing without any substance behind it. As the graph above showed, most MCT oils (except C8 and C10) won’t increase your ketones by a meaningful amount, especially if the MCT oil contains lauric acid.
Sometimes called keto coffee creamers, emulsified MCT oil contains an emulsifier that allows it to mix easily into liquids. While that’s convenient, it means you aren’t getting as many MCTs per serving. You also have to double-check the ingredients list to see what else is in your bottle. What type of MCT is it made with? Are there any other additives, like syrups or flavorings, that might kick you out of ketosis?
If you want the biggest keto benefits, pass on emulsified MCT oil and get Brain Octane oil instead.
Keto is a great way to enhance your performance, and these keto supplements can help you feel your absolute best. If you’re new to keto, check out this complete beginner’s guide to the ketogenic diet for everything you want to know about ketosis.
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Do I Need to Take Supplements on a Keto Diet?
If you’re wondering whether you need to take supplements while starting or maintaining a keto lifestyle, we have good news. The ketogenic diet is actually very nutrient-dense when done correctly. Almost all nutritional needs can easily be met through what you eat. Still, sometimes supplements help or are even required, depending on your circumstances. Read on to learn everything you need to know about whether you need to take supplements on your keto diet.
How to Get All Your Required Nutrients Through Diet
As we said above, you can get most of the nutrients you need from a keto diet, if done correctly. What does “correctly” mean? Simply put, it’s a clean, mostly whole-foods diet focused on healthy fats and proteins and low-carb vegetables.
Healthy Fats and Proteins
Healthy fats, which are the foundation of a keto diet, contain fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and are extremely nutrient dense. They often come in the form of animal-based foods (think meat, fish, dairy, all of which also contain protein). But not all animal fats are ideal. When choosing animal or even plant-based ingredients, it’s important to pay attention to food quality and reach for organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised products. For example, grass-fed and pasture-raised animals and fatty wild-caught salmon are not just void of hormones, antibiotics, and other undesirable factory-farming elements, they’re also higher in healthy essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which in turn fuel the body with high-quality nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important because they help keep the body in an un-inflamed state. Other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, oysters, sardines, anchovies, flaxseed, chia seed, and walnuts. Seaweed and algae are also important sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially for people on vegetarian or vegan diets*. Seaweed and algae are among the few plant groups that contain both DHA and EPA (types of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and risk for chronic diseases). The more nutrients you can get from the foods you’re eating the better, especially because it’s best to get your omega-3 fatty acids through food, rather than taking an isolated supplement. (Nutrients work in a synergistic way, meaning, they work together. So taking an isolated supplement is less effective than getting nutrients from whole food.)
*Due to the lack of healthy animal fats on a vegetarian diet, it’s hard to get all the fatty acids you need as a keto vegetarian, and it’s significantly harder for keto vegans. If you’re vegan and keto and want to ensure optimal health, you may need to take an animal-based supplement, such as fish oil. We know, it’s far from ideal, but science shows that there’s no better way to ensure you get enough Omega 3s.
The keto diet also allows for lots of wholesome, low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, eggplant, cauliflower, green beans, and peppers. (Get a complete list of keto-friendly fruits and vegetables here.) Many of these vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, and important minerals, so it’s important to include vegetables in your ketogenic diet to ensure you are getting adequate minerals. Again with vegetables, quality matters. Choose organic vegetables if possible, in order to avoid pesticides and herbicides, which can block nutrient absorption and increase the need for supplements. For a guide to produce with the most and least amounts of pesticides, check out EWG’s 2019 Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen.
Supplements Worth Considering for a Keto Diet
Although we recommend getting most of your nutrients from a healthy whole food keto diet, there are some specific supplements that are helpful (and a couple that may even be necessary). Here are our top supplement suggestions when following a keto diet and why you might need them:
Salt: A Keto Essential
Just as we have spent years wrongly demonizing fat while we loaded up with sugar, salt has also long been a scapegoat. Meanwhile, salt is a very important electrolyte that helps with nerve conduction and maintaining balance in fluids surrounding your cells. On a keto diet it’s especially important because the keto diet is naturally diuretic and thus, salt is easily depleted, along with hydration. (“Keto flu” symptoms are often a result of salt/hydration depletion.)
Why does keto cause water and sodium loss? When you are on a keto diet the kidneys naturally produce less insulin. Insulin is needed for processing carbohydrates. However, very low carb equals less insulin production, and less insulin means the kidneys release more water, thus causing more trips to the restroom and the flushing out of electrolytes. With lower insulin, we run the risk of lower sodium (salt), and the undesirable, subsequent effects, including headaches, drowsiness, low energy levels, irritability, muscle cramps, and even nausea and constipation.
The good news is it’s easy to combat low sodium. Just be sure to drink lots of water and add a pinch of Himalayan salt or sea salt to your food and water. (These salts generally don’t contain anti-caking agents that can include chemical compounds, some of which are known toxins.)
Magnesium: Because Everyone Needs More
Another mineral that most people can benefit from is magnesium. Magnesium is known as the “calming mineral”, and it’s responsible for over 300 enzymatic functions within the body, including the beating of our heart and flexing of our muscles! Ideally magnesium should be consumed from foods. Oysters, mussels, pumpkin seeds, and avocados are great, keto-friendly sources of magnesium, as are leafy green vegetables, all of which are allowed on a keto diet.
However, due to modern farming practices, our soils, and thus vegetables, are becoming more and more depleted of this important mineral. There are many forms of magnesium out on the market, magnesium glycine, magnesium citrate, and topical magnesium, to name a few, and sometimes it takes trial and error to find the form that you respond best to based on your bio-individual needs. Magnesium glycinate is magnesium bound with glycine, which makes it more easily digested (less digestive distress). Magnesium citrate comes in powder form and is taken mixed in water. Some people respond well to this form, others may experience digestive issues (bloating, gas). Topical magnesium is massaged into the skin, bypassing the need for digestion altogether.
Trace Minerals: Cover All Grounds
We’ve already talked about how embarking on a keto journey can throw electrolytes out of balance, especially early on in your keto transition. But there’s more to know here. It’s called trace minerals. Ideally these various minerals should come from your food first and foremost. But to be sure, it doesn’t hurt to take a trace mineral supplement, which typically contains a blend of over 72 trace minerals, including sodium, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium. Trace mineral drops trace mineral drops can be added to water to help boost our mineral consumption while keeping the body properly hydrated. Minerals can also be obtained in a pill form. Trace minerals can be especially helpful for ketogenic athletes who quickly burn through minerals due to high-volume activity.
Prebiotics and Probiotics For Healthy Digestion
When following a keto lifestyle, people tend to cut way down on vegetables in order to keep carbs low. However, vegetables contain prebiotic fiber, and prebiotics help to feed our beneficial gut bacteria (probiotics). Probiotics keep your gut in a healthy balance, which helps to ease digestion.
The best way to get beneficial prebiotics in your diet is to get your daily carbs through vegetable sources and eat these vegetables raw. Probiotics can also be found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi, which are fermented cabbage (typically found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store). Fermented vegetables do contain carbs that you will want to include in your macros, so be sure to read labels and factor those carbs into your daily plan. Also, keep in mind that a small amount of fermented vegetables still contains billions of prebiotics and probiotics. You only need a fork full of kimchi on the side of your meal, or a shot glass of kombucha.
Taking a prebiotic and probiotic supplement may be helpful as well, especially if you don’t have the palate for fermented vegetables. There are many types on the market (both in liquid and pill form). Some brands contain both a prebiotic and a probiotic together, making for one less supplement to take. Be sure to read labels. Some forms of probiotics contain added sugars.
Digestive Enzymes to Help Adjust the Body to Processing Fats
Although we are perfectly designed to digest and assimilate copious amounts of fat, many people transitioning into a keto diet are not used to digesting fat. The Standard American Diet, which is high in processed carbohydrates and low in quality fats, tends to make our bile (produced by the gallbladder) thick and sludgy. This can make it more difficult to digest and assimilate fats and to get all the nutrients we need from them into the body. Ideally, we want our bile thin and flowing, making it easier to process fats.
Taking digestive enzymes such as Digest Gold by Enzymedica can help break down healthy fats and ease digestion, so the body can adjust to a higher fat diet. There are also many brands of digestive enzymes designed especially for those who follow a keto lifestyle. These are typically capsules taken before meals. Eventually, through consuming healthy fats, such as grass-fed ghee, grass-fed beef, wild fish, avocados, and coconut oil, fat digestion will occur more naturally and the body will be able to process these fats easier.
Supplements for Vegetarians and Vegans
Studies show that vegans are not capable of getting proper omega-3 fatty acids through their diet and that vegetarians can, but are often deficient. It’s recommended that vegans and vegetarians incorporate a fish oil supplement and vitamin K2 and B12, derived from animal rather than plant resources, to enhance the Omega 6:3 ratio. Apps like Chronometer can help you assess your nutrient intake. You can learn more about these apps here.
Here at Keto-Mojo, we believe in getting as much of your nutrients from quality, whole foods as you can. But sometimes you need a little help, and the above supplements are a great place to start. Combine them with a quality, keto diet and you will not only look and feel better, you’ll also discover just how delicious a quality, healthy life can be!
6 Keto Supplements You Need on a Ketogenic Diet
2. MCT Oil
MCT Oil is a unique type of clear and tasteless oil containing pure Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are fats that your body uses more easily than other fats. Manufacturers extract MCTs from either coconut or palm kernel oil and doctors prescribe them to treat digestive system disorders, seizures, and many other illnesses.
In the keto world, however, MCT oils are sold as supplements with the following benefits:
- Greater Ketone Production
- Greater Weight Loss
- Quick Supply of Energy
- Appetite Control
These benefits come from the fact that your body prefers using MCTs for energy and ketone production rather than fat storage. MCTs don’t require digestive enzymes or bile. Instead, they go directly to the liver from your small intestine where they’re used to provide immediate energy in the form of either free fatty acids or ketones.
Studies on MCTs show that they’re a powerful weight loss tool . They reduce body fat by down-regulating genes that control fat storage as well as hormone receptors that influence fat metabolism . When taken moderately, MCTs also reduce blood glucose and LDL cholesterol. They also improve insulin sensitivity.
How to take MCTs
Being flavorless and odorless, MCTs are easy to incorporate in a wide range of dishes.
You can add it to your morning coffee or blend it with your smoothie. Use it for making salad dressings, add it to keto muffins, and mix it with yogurt.
You can use it at any time of the day. However, taking them in the morning and before a workout is the best strategy. Make sure to keep your intake within the limits recommended by the manufacturer. Also, start gradually with MCTs as everyone needs time to adjust to them.
3 Collagen Peptides
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, making up to 30% of your body’s total protein content. It builds your skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, and all other connective tissues. Your body has many types of collagen, but the most abundant ones are types I, II and III.
While your body can make all types of collagen on its own from protein foods, you can also take it in the form of collagen peptides. These peptides are the hydrolyzed form of collagen. The process of hydrolysis breaks down collagen into small molecules which your body can then digest and use.
Benefits of collagen peptides include:
- Youthful skin
- Stronger and bigger muscles
- Healthy joints
- Stronger bones
- Lower levels of inflammation
- Easier post-workout recovery
However, the main reason why you should add collagen peptides to your keto diet is that it can make your diet easier. Collagen peptides are easily-digestible types of protein that are the least likely to kick you out of ketosis. It is also a highly satiating type of protein, so you won’t need to take too much of it .
How to take collagen peptides
First, make sure you are getting collagen peptides from a reliable source. Look for clean products without fillers or artificial ingredients. And, of course, make sure they don’t contain caloric sweeteners. Also take note that the best sources of collagen peptides are grass-fed cows, pig, and fish.
With all that out of the way, use collagen peptides like you would any other protein supplement: add it to your smoothies, tea, coffee, cakes, muffins, pancakes, etc. Or you can simply add a scoop or two to a glass of water and drink as is. Collagen peptides have a fairly mild taste, so you won’t even notice it’s there.
As for when you should take it, you can take it freely as you will. Take it half an hour before a workout or even shortly after a workout. Add it to your morning coffee for increased energy and appetite control. You can also add it to your lunch to stay full. Just don’t go over the recommended limit as should be the case with any other supplement.
In the first week of a keto diet, you will likely be losing lots of fluids through frequent urination. And with that fluid, you’ll lose electrolytes. In fact, electrolyte loss is the main reason why we get the infamous keto flu. This is why supplementing your diet with electrolytes is important on keto, especially in the first week – it eases keto flu symptoms.
As far as the definition of electrolytes goes: electrolytes are simply another way of referring to essential minerals. There are many types of electrolytes but the most important on keto include the following 5:
You get most of your sodium in the form of sodium chloride (table salt.) Sodium controls the amount of water in your body and supports muscle and nerve function. Not enough sodium leads to headaches, fatigue, muscle spasms, and confusion.
Where to get it:
Table salt, bouillon cube, soy sauce, and other salty condiments can all replenish your sodium levels. Studies show that your body absorbs sodium better when taken with a bit of bicarbonate and a tiny amount of carbohydrates . You can also replenish sodium levels with bone broth.
This mineral is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body where it controls over 300 biochemical reactions. It controls heart rate, blood sugar, and muscle and nerve functioning. Deficiencies lead to fatigue, muscle spasms, and numbness.
Leafy greens, nuts, and some brands of mineral water contain magnesium. If taking it in supplement form, look for magnesium citrate instead of oxide as your body better absorbs the former .
Together with sodium, potassium regulates fluid balance. It also regulates the electrical activity of your heart and muscles. It is found mainly inside your cells (whereas sodium is found outside the cells) and is important for communication between nerves. Low levels cause tiredness, muscle weakness, and constipation.
Keto foods that are high in potassium include avocados, fish, and spinach. To boost potassium absorption and use, it’s best to take it together with magnesium-rich foods or supplements.
Chloride is the second most abundant mineral in your body’s fluids, the first one being sodium. It serves the same roles as sodium, but it also balances out your body’s acidity. Deficiencies lead to appetite loss, weakness, lethargy, and dehydration.
You can get chloride together with sodium from plain old table salt and salt-containing condiments. Make sure to keep your intake of both at the recommended daily levels. That’s 2.3 grams per day of chloride and 1.5 grams per day of sodium.
The most abundant mineral in your body is calcium. Your body uses calcium to maintain and grow bones and teeth. It’s also important for muscle and nerve functioning, cell communication, and normal blood clotting. A sudden drop in calcium levels can lead to numbness, muscle spasms, and seizures. However, this is rare as your body is able to borrow calcium from bones.
Over time, low levels of calcium can cause frail bones, so it is important to get enough calcium while on a keto diet. Good sources are dairy products, eggs, and leafy greens. Many mineral supplements also contain calcium.
While getting electrolytes from food and drink is the best way to keep imbalances at bay, electrolyte supplements are more effective and convenient. Our Exogenous Ketones With Electrolytes – Lemon Lime, for example, offers a two-in-one solution to help you combat the keto flu and ease your way into ketosis.
Being an extremely low-carb diet, keto is also low in this indigestible form of carb that you need to maintain health. A lack of fiber in your diet can leave you feeling bloated and constipated. The higher fat intake can also be tough on your digestive system early in your keto journey when you may experience fat malabsorption. To counteract all of this, it’s important to take fiber supplements.
Great options to consider include:
- Psyllium Husk – You can find psyllium at any pharmacy or supplements store. It’s a popular soluble dietary fiber used to treat both constipation and diarrhea. Studies also show that it lowers blood cholesterol and glucose .
- Acacia Fiber – Acacia is a form of soluble fiber, meaning that it dissolves in water. It’s great for both diarrhea and constipation and works well in treating IBS and high cholesterol. Bacteria in the gut are able to ferment acacia fibers which produces short-chain fatty acids.
- Ground Flaxseed – Flaxseed contains both soluble and insoluble fibers. Insoluble fibers give stool bulk and make it easier for you to pass stool. However, you need to grind them first to get the benefit of both fibers. Flaxseed is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, thiamin, and folate.
- Chia Seeds – Chia seeds contain mostly insoluble fiber and a little bit of soluble fiber. They’re the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and also provide plenty of calcium. They’re low in net carbs but high in fat, making them the perfect keto source of dietary fiber.
Other good keto sources of fiber are nut flours, especially coconut flour, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. However, for best results and convenience, getting fiber in supplement form is probably your best bet.
6. Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means that your body can’t make them on its own but needs to get them from food. Your body needs omega-3s to make cell membranes and signaling molecules and to produce energy. Omega-3s also keep inflammation at bay and protect the brain.
Epidemiological studies show that people in Western countries don’t eat enough omega-3s . This isn’t surprising given that the typical Western diet is poor in these important fatty acids. In fact, a lack of omega-3s is thought to be a major cause of the rise in chronic disease in the Western world.
The best way to boost your omega-3s intake is by eating:
- Fatty fish and Other Seafood
- Omega-3 Eggs
- Flaxseed and Chia Seeds
However, to keep things simple and foolproof, consider adding omega-3 supplements, also known as fish oil supplements, to your keto diet.
Not only will fish oil supplements protect your health, but they also help you get into and stay in ketosis. It will also improve your health on a high-fat diet. The reason? Most foods are higher in omega-6 fatty acids. Although these fatty acids are also essential, studies show that they cause inflammation . Omega-3s help counteract this effect.
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What Else Should You Consider
Besides all the above-listed supplements, you may also benefit from taking the following keto supplements to enhance your workout or to support overall health and well-being.
BCAAs is short for bran branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine which account for 35% of proteins in muscle tissue . Supplementing with BCAAs while on a keto diet helps boost muscle growth during workouts and it also prevents fatigue.
Another reason they’re great during workouts is that the amino acids in these supplements work in synergy to maximize performance. Leucine promotes muscle growth while isoleucine enhances glucose uptake for greater energy. Valine also provides energy and mental vigor .
Besides that, when you exercise, blood levels of BCAAs drop and this increases serotonin production which leads to fatigue. Taking BCAAs prevents a sharp drop in blood BCAA levels for greater workout energy.
Creatine is another amino acid found abundantly in the muscles and brain. You can get creatine naturally from fish and red meat, but it is also available as a supplement. Your body converts creatine to phosphocreatine which it stores in muscle tissue to use as energy.
Creatine supplements are naturally and popular among keto dieters who want to boost their workout. Studies on creatine show that supplementing with it increases phosphocreatine storage and promotes faster energy recovery between high-intensity workouts .
Regarding the safety of creatine, the International Society of Sports Nutrition clearly states that creatine is completely safe as most research evidence points toward this . Not only is it safe, but it’s also beneficial for athletes and highly active people.
Health & Wellness Supplements
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae considered one of the oldest forms of life on Earth. Spirulina is up to 70% protein by dry weight and contains 8 out of 9 essential amino acids . It’s also a great source of vitamin B12, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. For all these and many other reasons, spirulina is classified as a superfood that can contribute to your keto diet.
We’re not talking about bone broth supplements here but actual bone broth you use to make soups. Having some stock available at all times is a great way to replenish your electrolytes and stay hydrated. Bone broth from chicken reduces inflammation by inhibiting neutrophils – white cells that trigger inflammation . Bone broths made with a bit of fatty meat also boosts your fat intake which you need on a keto diet.
Herbs like cinnamon, oregano, parsley, basil, green tea, and turmeric are low in carbs which makes them a suitable addition to your keto diet. These herbs and spices are scientifically-proven to be one of the most powerful sources of antioxidant. Add them to your meals to stay healthy on a keto diet.
Taking keto supplements can ease your way into ketosis, help you stay there, and boost your workouts on a keto diet. Some of these supplements were exclusively designed to complement or replace the ketogenic diet while others make a perfect addition to the keto lifestyle.
From exogenous ketones and collagen peptides to fish oil and antioxidant-rich herbs, there are many healthful ways to upgrade your keto diet. These keto supplements are all natural, safe, and scientifically-proven to be effective.
Make sure to read our list of the top 6 keto supplements and consider our reasons for including them. Keep in mind that not all keto supplements are created equal, though. You need to consider quality and reputation when making purchases.
3 Essential Keto Supplements to Amp Up Your Diet
by Trevor Hiltbrand | Reviewed by Advisory Board
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL WITH THE KETO DIET?
The ketogenic diet has become all the rage in recent years and has since piqued the interest of the fitness junkie and the workout newbie alike. It is a fairly restrictive diet incorporating very little carbohydrates and a large amount of dietary fat, leaving room for a moderate amount of protein intake.
Unlike most other low-carb diets, the majority of your food intake consists of fat from sources other than meat. This means eating a lot of things like nuts, olive oil, and broccoli in place of things like bread and pasta.
Proponents of the keto diet enjoy the wide range of health benefits it can bring when done correctly, including rapid weight loss, mental clarity, lower blood pressure, decreased hunger cravings, and more.
WHAT’S HAPPENING DURING KETOSIS?
When you stop eating these foods, your body stops using carbs to convert into glucose. When your body recognizes it can no longer use glucose for energy, it starts burning fat instead. This means the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketones, which are then used for energy.
Fat loss occurs as the body uses up the previously stored fat. Although it may sound smarter to cut out fats to lose weight, researchers have found that eating a low-carb diet helps you lose significantly more weight than eating a diet low in fat.
The Keto diet can be a difficult diet to stay on top of, as it is so unlike what most people are used to. But research shows that following a ketogenic diet can have significant long-term benefits:
- Reduced body weight and BMI
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Decreased LDL cholesterol
- Decreased blood glucose
DO I NEED TO TAKE SUPPLEMENTS WITH A KETO DIET?
Honestly, there’s no hard and fast rule that says you must take supplements when following the ketogenic diet. However, supplements are just that—additions to your diet that can help take care of any deficiencies you might have. Deficiencies are especially common when your diet consists of extreme ratios of macronutrients, as is the case with the ketogenic diet (65 percent fat, 30 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs).
When you’re strictly following a diet, it is extremely crucial to get a daily fill of all necessary supplements so your body can perform at its fullest potential. The right supplements will check all of your daily nutrient boxes and give you the energy to power through your workouts so you can see results faster. Remember: all supplements work best when taken in conjunction with healthy eating and proper fitness.
WHAT ARE THE BEST KETO SUPPLEMENTS TO TAKE?
To get the most out of your keto diet, we recommend taking, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, and collagen. These three supplements help you get and stay in ketosis so you can look and feel your best.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a ketone naturally-produced by the body when it is using fat for energy (instead of carbs). When using ketones (instead of glucose), the body enters a state known as ketosis.
It is incredibly easy to have your body kicked out of ketosis. One wrong snack, and the process is interrupted. However, BHB can help keep your body in that metabolic state better than your diet alone.
When found externally, BHB is referred to as an exogenous ketone. Exogenous ketones help support ketosis but aren’t magic compounds. No amount of BHB will put your body into a state of ketosis if your body is already full of carbs and sugars.
In one 2018 study, researchers found that exogenous ketone esters, the purest form of ketones, functioned as an appetite suppressant and lowered perceived hunger. Additionally, ketone esters also proved to lower ghrelin, the peptide hormone responsible for hunger.
Understandably, as lowered ghrelin causes hunger levels to decrease, the amount of food consumed is lessened, leading to weight loss.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fatty acids naturally present in coconut and some other plant oils like palm kernel. They are known to regulate blood sugar and promote ketone production.
All fats consist of atom chains of different lengths, with the length being determined by the number of carbon atoms it possesses. The most common type is a long-chain triglyceride. The body uses short-, long-, and medium-chain triglycerides all differently. Specifically, research shows medium-chain triglycerides are processed more efficiently because they end up right at the liver.
MCT oil is clear and flavorless and packed with medium-chain triglycerides. As a supplement, it helps with ketone production, energy supply, appetite control, and weight loss.
When trying to lose weight, people tend to lean towards oils they consider healthier such as olive oil. However, MCT oil has been proven to be a better option for weight loss. One study compared the effects of MCT oil and olive oil when taken as a part of a weight-loss program. After a 16-week evaluation, the subjects who consumed MCT oil had lower body weight and reduced fat mass than those who consumed olive oil.
Since the body tends to use it for ketone and energy production, MCT oil has found its primary purpose as a weight loss supplement and quick energy source. This is primarily because it:
- is not usually stored as fat
- contains fewer calories than most other fats
- helps you burn calories faster
- helps with appetite control
Bottom line: if your goal is to burn fat for energy (i.e. enter ketosis)—and if it isn’t, the keto diet may not be for you—you should always have this power oil nearby.
As a supplement, the protein is referred to as collagen peptides, hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen hydrolysate and has many different uses. In addition to reducing fine lines and wrinkles in the skin, collagen also provides numerous benefits to the body’s connective tissue. Collagen is an abundant protein found naturally in our bodies but can be supplemented with either the powder or pill forms.
As mentioned before, to get in and stay in ketosis, your diet needs to consist of the following percentages of macronutrients: 65 percent fat, 30 percent protein, and 5 percent carbs. Remember to use our Calorie and Macro calculator to optimize your macronutrient intake for your lifestyle.
Since protein is such a significant part of the diet, it’s important to hit this number if you want to stay in ketosis and lose weight safely—the primary reason most people follow the keto diet. With proper intake, protein is great on keto because it helps you shed fat and build muscle fast:
- It’s packed with a ton of nutrients that help build healthy muscle and tissue
- It’s more filling than fat—so you’ll be less likely to overeat
- Consuming less protein than you should often leads to overeating in other areas.
Collagen is unique in its ability to help you hit your daily protein numbers without spiking your insulin levels, which is a common occurrence in users of whey protein. If your goal is weight loss, you’ll want to keep your insulin levels lower to avoid gaining fat like crazy. When you eat foods high in sugar and starch, your pancreas releases insulin to tell your body to absorb the sugar, and it is later stored as fat in fat cells.
With continued collagen intake, gut health improves (thanks to L-Glutamine, an amino acid present in collagen), leading to better nutrient absorption. The more diverse the bacteria in your gut are, the easier it is to keep your weight at a healthy level.
Studies suggest that athletes and other active individuals can take collagen supplements to support their active lifestyle. In a 24-week study, athletes treated with hydrolyzed collagen had a reduction in activity-related joint pain when tested against the following five conditions: walking, standing, at rest, carrying objects, and lifting.
It should be a known fact that weight loss on the keto diet (or any other diet) is most effective when paired with physical activity. But the harder you burn the fat, the harder you work your body.
For athletes and individuals with similarly high activity levels, collagen supplements are necessary to rebuild and strengthen the structure that is so easily worn down with activity. Since high-performing athletes often have limited time to recover due to training and competitions, incorporating collagen into their diet is essential for their best performance, one study suggests.
But the benefits of hydrolyzed collagen are not lost on the average Joe just looking to amp up his gym training. For individuals with average activity levels, collagen still provides the support needed to perform well during workouts and recover quicker after workouts.
GIVE YOURSELF A KETO BOOST
Living a normal lifestyle on a not-so-normal diet can get tricky. If you’re not careful, you can cause harm to your body. The keto diet requires dedication and awareness of all the food you consume. It’s easy to slip up and even easier to give up, but the benefits of having such a diet start to outweigh the sacrifices when you see amazing results.
These results can be achieved with the help of three key supplements: BHB, MCT oil, and collagen. Incorporating all three of these supplements into your keto diet will help you reach and remain in a state of ketosis, curb cravings, burn fat, pack on muscle, and avoid keto-related side effects so you can reach your goal weight sooner.
Now that you know the importance of taking the best keto supplements, you have no reason to not do so. Supplements are not an integral part of the keto diet (by definition they are an added boost to enhance your experience and help you live healthier and more comfortably). You can see your body transform with or without them, but the best keto supplements will help give you a much better experience. Taking these supplements will help support a keto diet and lifestyle. You will experience faster weight loss, more energy, clarity of mind, and improved well-being. And who wouldn’t want that?
Trevor Hiltbrand is one of the owners/co-founders of Transparent Labs and head of content creation. He got his start with supplement research back in 2013 when he began researching cognitive enhancement. With the help of the Transparent Labs Expert Panel and Advisory Board, we aim to bring our evidence based nutrition and exercise research to the world.
Top 8 Keto Supplements and 5 Functional Foods
So you’ve decided to go keto and you’ve done all of your research on which foods you’ll be eating on the ketogenic diet. But before you do your next big grocery run, you may want to consider these keto supplements too.
While supplements aren’t 100 percent necessary on the keto diet, certain keto supplements can maximize your results by accelerating weight and fat loss and boosting your energy levels.
Some keto supplements are also helpful for reducing symptoms of the dreaded keto flu, and can help make the transition to a high-fat and low-carb diet much easier, especially in the early stages when you may want to give up.
In addition to dietary supplements, we’ll also let you know which superfoods — or “functional foods” as we call them — can be helpful. These foods are concentrated in essential nutrients and can further improve how you feel on the keto diet.
Let’s take a look at five keto-approved functional foods and the eight most popular keto supplements you may want to try, based on your individual needs.
1. Bone Broth
We consider bone broth a functional food because it’s concentrated in so many beneficial nutrients, such as collagen, gelatin, glycine, and potassium. Since the bones used to make bone broth have such a long simmer time (24–48 hours), the nutrients become highly bioavailable, and easy for your body to use and absorb straight away.
Best of all, both varieties of Kettle and Fire Bone Broth fit into the keto diet macros nicely.
Kettle and Fire Chicken Bone Broth contains: 10 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 0 carbs per serving.
Kettle and Fire Beef Bone Broth contains: 6 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs per serving.
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae that many people take for energy, which can help increase your energy levels if you become fatigued in the early stages of going keto.
This is because chlorella contains a nutrient called Chlorella Growth Factor, which contains the nucleic acids RNA and DNA. These nucleic acids help with cellular repair and regeneration, which allows for more efficient energy transport between your cells (1). Read: healthy cells = more energy.
Chlorella can be found in supplement form (tablets, powders, capsules, or granules) at most health food stores. A high quality chlorella supplement will be made from pulverized chlorella and batch tested for heavy metal contamination.
3. Green Tea
Studies suggest green tea helps boost fat metabolism (2). Green tea also contains the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps prevent cellular damage (3).
Green tea is keto friendly, especially when you add a spoonful of MCT oil to it.
Ah, turmeric: the famous anti-inflammatory spice, and one of the latest food trends. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is said to be the reason for its health benefits, which also include improved digestion and antioxidation (4). The main benefit of adding turmeric to your keto recipes is its anti-inflammatory role, which can help counteract the effects of pro-inflammatory foods on the keto diet, such as dairy and non-organic animal products.
You can make a keto curry using turmeric, or try Golden Milk, a keto-friendly turmeric drink recipe. To make Golden Milk, all you need is full fat coconut milk, ginger, coconut oil, cinnamon, turmeric, and a zero calorie natural sweetener, such as stevia. A sprinkle of black pepper is also said to help with turmeric absorption.
Check out Wellness Mama’s Golden Milk recipe. Just be sure to substitute the honey for stevia if you use a sweetener.
5. Dandelion Root
Dandelion has properties that stimulate the gallbladder to produce more bile, which helps you digest and absorb fatty acids (5). If you experience digestive symptoms after eating fats, having a mug of dandelion root tea first thing in the morning can help you digest your meals better throughout the day.
Roasted dandelion isn’t the most delicious herb on the planet, but adding a squeeze of lemon can help neutralize the bitter taste and further promote digestion.
You can find dandelion tea at any natural health food store in bulk or in tea bags.
Top 8 Keto Supplements
1. Perfect Keto
Perfect Keto is a powdered drink mix and keto supplement that provides your body with exogenous ketones (whereas your body produces endogenous ketones). Taking exogenous ketones provides ketone bodies for you to burn as fuel right away, whether or not you’re in ketosis. This is why some people who aren’t living a keto lifestyle will still take ketone supplements for energy.
Being made from exogenous ketones, Perfect Keto provides the same benefits that endogenous ketones naturally offer your body: long-lasting energy, improved cognitive function, athletic performance, mental focus, fat burning, and accelerated weight loss.
To be clear, exogenous ketones aren’t a replacement for the keto diet. While exogenous ketone supplements will raise the ketone bodies in your blood, they’re simply providing your body with a fuel source, rather than putting you in the metabolic state of ketosis where the “fat burning magic” takes place.
That being said, Perfect Keto can still be helpful for getting you back into ketosis when you’ve been following the keto diet and have exceeded your carb limit.
Main Benefits of Taking Perfect Keto on the Keto Diet:
Energy, focus, concentration, cognitive function, improved athletic performance, accelerated weight loss, can help you stay in ketosis.
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2. 7 Keto DHEA
With a name like “7 Keto DHEA,” you’d automatically think it’s a keto diet supplement. And it is. But it’s also produced by your body naturally.
7 Keto DHEA is a metabolite of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which is produced by your brain and adrenal glands (6). It acts as a growth hormone and can help stimulate the production of other hormones that play a role in burning body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, such as the thyroid hormone (7).
Some studies also suggest 7 Keto DHEA can help increase the activity of thermogenic liver enzymes, which means your liver cells are burning fatty acids more efficiently (8). This suggests 7 Keto DHEA may help you burn fat and lose weight on the keto diet.
Main Benefits of Taking 7 Keto DHEA on the Keto Diet:
Natural metabolism booster, weight and fat loss.
Many different brands make 7 DHEA and most health food stores will have it on their supplement aisle shelves. You can also order 7 Keto DHEA through online retailers like Amazon.
3. Fish Oil
Not only are fatty fish one of the best foods to eat to stay in ketosis, but they’re rich in omega–3 fatty acids, which help reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer (9).
One of the cautions when following the keto diet is that some fatty foods (especially dairy) are rich in omega–6s, which we need in small amounts, but can become pro-inflammatory when we consume too many of them (10).
When we consume too many omega–6s and not enough omega–3s, this can promote systemic inflammation, which may play a role in the onset of many chronic illnesses and diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and arthritis (11).
Not all omega–6s are pro-inflammatory (for example, GLA is an omega–6 fatty acid found in evening primrose oil and has been shown to reduce inflammation)(12).
The pro-inflammatory omega–6s are primarily found in high oleic vegetable oils (soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower), and dairy products such as butter, cream, milk, ghee, and non-organic meat and poultry.
Now, we do recommend avoiding highly processed vegetable oils and dairy products whenever possible. If you do eat dairy, opt for small amounts of full-fat organic or grass-fed dairy.
Taking a fish oil supplement on the keto diet is an easy way to maintain a healthy omega–3 to omega–6 ratio.
Main Benefits of Taking Fish Oil on the Keto Diet:
Natural anti-inflammatory properties, contributes to keto diet high fat intake requirements.
Any health food store will carry fish oil in capsules or liquid form.
Creatine is an amino acid that plays an important role in energy production and muscle contractions (13). It’s favored by athletes, bodybuilders, and keto dieters who are looking to increase endurance during high intensity activity and build lean muscle mass (14).
Our bodies naturally produce creatine, but as we age our creatine production declines. Taking a creatine supplement can provide you with a concentrated dose of this amino acid so you can keep crushing your workouts, on and off the keto diet.
Main Benefits of Taking Creatine on the Keto Diet:
Weight loss, building lean muscle mass, strength, athletic performance.
Most health food stores carry creatine supplements in powdered form, and you can order creatine from online retailers such as Amazon.
5. MCT Oil
MCTs, or medium chain triglycerides, are a type of fat molecule found in coconut oil, palm oil, cheese, butter, and yogurt. The cool thing about MCTs that sets them apart from other fatty acids is that your body can use them for energy right away.
With a shorter chain length than fatty acids, they take a much “quicker” pathway (think of it as a shortcut) when they’re metabolized, which allows them to be converted to ketones and used for fuel, rather than being stored as fat (15).
In other words, MCTs are extremely beneficial on the keto diet for energy and staying in a fat burning state.
Coconut oil is by far the richest natural source of MCTs — however, taking a fractionated MCT supplement, such as MCT oil or MCT Oil Powder, offers a more concentrated dose of MCTs.
The benefit of taking an MCT oil supplement over plain coconut oil is that the fatty acids have been separated from the rest of the nutrients in coconut or palm oil. This means your body has far less work to do when it comes to digestion, and results in an even quicker conversion of energy.
As a fatty acid supplement, MCT oil can also help you meet your daily fat requirements for staying in ketosis. You can add MCT oil to your favorite shakes and smoothies, and your keto beverages such as coffee and herbal tea.
Main Benefits of Taking MCT Oil on the Keto Diet:
Long-lasting energy, high fat content.
MCT oil can be found on Amazon.
Note: Some people may experience digestive symptoms from MCT oil. If this happens, you can try an MCT powder which is easier to digest, such as Perfect Keto’s MCT Powder.
6. Electrolytes: Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium
One of the biggest concerns with drastically reducing your carb consumption is not getting enough electrolytes. This is because you’re cutting out the best whole food sources of electrolytes, which are starchy fruits and vegetables.
Low electrolytes are a primary cause of the keto flu, which some people experience when transitioning to a low carb diet. Symptoms of the keto flu linked to low electrolytes include fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches, and nausea. Since these symptoms will make you want to throw in the keto towel altogether, an easy way to stay on track is to take electrolytes daily, especially if you’re active.
It’s also worth mentioning that calcium and magnesium are known as the “calming” electrolytes, which help reduce stress and anxiety (16). If the low carb transition is stressing you out, it couldn’t hurt to add a few extra naturally calming nutrients to your diet.
Main Benefits of Taking Electrolyte Supplements on the Keto Diet:
Avoid symptoms of the keto flu, healthy muscle function.
Any health food store or grocery store will carry electrolyte supplements. Try to find a blend that contains calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
To stay in ketosis, it’s important to make sure your electrolyte supplement doesn’t contain added sweeteners (meaning most electrolyte sports drinks are out of the question). Since most sports drinks contain high fructose corn syrup or sucrose, even a few sips could throw you out of a fat burning state.
We recommend Ultima Replenisher, which contains no sugar or artificial ingredients, and zero calories.
And let’s not forget: You can also get electrolytes from bone broth, and mineral salts such as himalayan rock salt.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that acts as an antioxidant. It’s recommended on the keto diet for those who are extremely active because intense exercise has been shown to deplete your natural stores of glutamine, and can produce free radicals (toxins) (17, 18). Cutting carbs means you may not be eating as many antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, so supplementing with a powerful antioxidant like glutamine may help prevent cellular damage (19).
Glutamine also helps boost immunity and muscle recovery time between workouts (20).
Prevents free radical damage from intense physical activity, boosts immunity, reduces recovery time between workouts.
Glutamine can be found in the supplements aisle of any health food store, or purchased through online retailers such as Amazon.
8. Vitamin D
Vitamin D doesn’t play a role in ketone levels, but it does have a huge impact on your overall health — from immunity to electrolyte absorption — so it’s worth mentioning here.
It’s estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin is not only recommended as a keto supplement, but a supplement for most people to take, especially those who live in colder climates or don’t spend much time outdoors (21).
You need vitamin D for calcium absorption, muscle function, and immunity. It’s found in a few keto food sources — such as egg yolks, fatty fish (including fish oil), and mushrooms — but the most powerful way to get vitamin D is to allow your body to produce it from the sun.
If you don’t spend much time outdoors, taking a vitamin D3 supplement each day will help you meet your daily vitamin D requirements.
Main Benefits of Taking Vitamin D on the Keto Diet:
Electrolyte absorption (calcium), immune system support.
You can buy liquid vitamin D3 (the form that’s best absorbed by your body) at any health food store in liquid or capsule form.
Choose the Best Keto Supplements
As you can see, keto supplements aren’t 100 percent necessary, but they can add a boost of energy, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory health benefits if you do choose to add them to your routine.
If we had to choose only three keto supplements and functional foods, we’d go for exogenous ketones (such as Perfect Keto), MCT oil, and of course, Kettle and Fire Bone Broth.
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It is well known that whole foods should be emphasized over dietary supplements because essential vitamins and minerals found in foods are usually better absorbed than those found in supplements (Lichtenstein, 2005). By nature, the ketogenic diet is best comprised mostly of whole, unprocessed foods that meet most of, if not all your nutritional needs. Thus, if you make the right food choices and eat an appropriate number of calories, you will be at a low risk of nutrient deficiencies.
As for others, here are a few nutrients that deserve attention to ensure you are adequately consuming them (Volek, 2012):
- Sodium: Unless a person has high blood pressure requiring continued medication, it is recommended to start right out consuming 4-5 grams per day to prevent symptoms of “keto flu”, and then continue this sodium intake as long as you are following a ketogenic diet. You can easily increase your sodium intake by salting your food and drinking 1-2 cups of broth or bouillon.
- Magnesium: An important mineral for nerve and muscle function that is found in meats, leafy greens and nuts. If you experience any muscle cramps, fatigue, and possibly an abnormal heart rhythm it may be time to add in a magnesium supplement.
- Potassium: An important mineral that is also an electrolyte, potassium has several functions including maintenance of blood pressure, fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve function. While potassium is notably found in bananas it is also found in meat, non-starchy vegetables, and avocados! Just be sure to keep the broth/drippings from your meat and to steam veggies rather than boil because potassium (and magnesium) can leach out into the liquid while cooking.
- Omega-3 Fat: This is an essential fatty acid that is required for normal well-being and function. Cold-water fish like salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines are great sources of omega-3s, as are omega-3 rich eggs. It is generally recommended to consume fish 3 times a week or 2 omega-3 rich eggs daily. If you do not regularly eat fish or purchase these specialty eggs you may want to consider taking a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement.
Dr. Phinney on supplements and vitamins on a ketogenic diet
The 10 Best Supplements for Keto Diet Success
Liz Lotts May 1, 2019 Nutrition , Supplements Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook
This post was most recently updated on May 17th, 2019
You’re past the point of learning how to start a ketogenic diet. You’re following a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carbohydrate eating plan and even have a keto recipe book at the ready. But what you probably haven’t considered is a supplement routine.
While a daily multivitamin is a great start, there’s a lot more you can do to support your weight loss or fitness performance – not to mention, your overall health. Taking certain supplements on the keto diet can actually help you achieve ketosis, support digestion and fill in any nutritional gaps along the way.
Still not convinced? Below are the 10 best supplements for keto diet success and why you might need them. Of course, you may not need – or even want – to take all of these nutrients. Each and every body is different, which is why you should consult your primary healthcare professional before following a new diet or nutrition program.
If you’ve been keto for a little while now, this would be a good time to assess your nutrient levels. Based on the results of a simple blood test, you can determine the right way to supplement your keto diet.
To make it easy, we’ve broken down the best supplements based on how they support your body on the ketogenic diet. Whether you want help reaching ketosis or need to increase your nutrient intake, these are the supplements to consider.
To achieve ketosis…
Exogenous ketones are ketones sourced outside the body (exo = outside). Put another way, these are the supplemental form of ketones. They can help stimulate ketosis for someone already following a strict ketogenic diet.†
Typically, exogenous ketones are formulated from beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB. You can find these supplements in powder or capsule form. Some BHB capsules have caffeine, making them a great pre-workout supplement. Others, are a flavored powder that punches up plain water. Exogenous ketones in powder form can also be used 30 minutes before you exercise or during a fasting period in place of your first meal.
MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are often derived from coconuts. For years, there’s been talk of how coconut oil benefits athletes’ performance and how it may aid in weight loss. These proposed benefits are due to coconut oil’s concentration of medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs.
MCTs are a type of healthy fat, just like the long-chain fatty acids you get from olive oil. What makes MCTs so unique is the fact that they are quickly metabolized by the body and used for energy. A study from the University of British Columbia suggests that the energy produced by MCTs comes in the form of ketone bodies. Therefore, supplementing with MCT oil can raise your level of ketone bodies and kickstart ketosis.
Whether you’re at the start of your keto diet or already several months in, it might be worthwhile to try a spoonful of liquid MCT oil. Many people swallow it straight, but you can always add it to your morning coffee or smoothie for a nice boost at the beginning of your day. If the hint of coconut doesn’t appeal to you, MCT oil capsules are an odorless, flavorless alternative.
To support digestion…
At the beginning of your keto diet journey, you’ll experience several signs of ketosis. Some of these are welcomed changes, such as weight loss. But it’s also common to have an upset stomach. Consuming high amounts of fat can be taxing on your digestive system, especially at the onset. Enter: digestive enzymes.
In fact, digestive enzymes are some of the best supplements for keto diet followers. As long as you’re following this high-fat eating plan, you’ll want to take a fat-targeted digestive enzyme. That means look for a formula that features lipase, the enzyme that breaks down dietary fat into fatty acids that can be absorbed and used by the body.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system. (Yes, there are distinct differences between digestive enzymes vs. probiotics). These “friendly” microorganisms do a good job of regulating themselves. However, there are times when your gut goes out of whack. This usually happens when you’re experiencing a lot of stress, but your microbiome can also fluctuate due to changes in your diet – even if they are healthy changes.
As your body adapts to the high-fat, low-carb keto diet, taking a probiotic supplement can help support digestion and a healthy immune response. Just be sure your supplement offers a wide range of bacterial strains to help maintain a good mix of microflora.†
It may be a stinky subject, but one of fiber’s greatest functions is its ability to add bulk to your stool. This allows for healthy and regular bowel movements, which is as good for your colon as it is your skinny jeans. The only problem is that many people have a hard time getting the recommended 25-to-38 grams of fiber every day. This is especially true if you restrict whole grains and fiber-rich fruits from your diet.
Luckily, there are some keto-friendly fiber foods, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Of course, you can’t survive on cruciferous vegetables forever. So you’ll probably want to add a fiber supplement to the mix. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you choose a multi-fiber complex, featuring both soluble and insoluble fiber.
To help with nutrient balance…
Magnesium is a mineral that takes part in more than 300 biochemical processes in the human body. From muscle contraction to healthy blood pressure, magnesium is a critically important nutrient.† Yet, somehow, 50% of Americans do not meet the recommended magnesium intake levels. For keto dieters, magnesium can be especially difficult to get from food alone. The best food sources are green leafy vegetables and whole grains. By limiting grains in your diet, you may also be limiting your magnesium consumption.
You can try to make up for it with spinach salads and pumpkin seed snack bars. But if you’re really concerned about your levels, take a magnesium supplement after your first meal of the day. The average adult needs 310 to 420 milligrams of magnesium per day, so look for a formula that can help you meet those Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).
In addition to magnesium, your body may benefit from a full range of electrolytes. Other electrolytes found in your blood, sweat and urine include calcium, chloride, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. These minerals carry a positive or negative electric charge, which affects your body in a number of ways. Getting the right sources of electrolytes – and the right mix – influences your body’s water level, blood pH, muscle contraction and nervous system function, to name a few.
You know now that keto dieters can struggle with magnesium intake, but that’s not the only electrolyte affected by your new eating habits. Studies suggest that when insulin is low (such as when you’re consuming very few carbs), your kidneys absorb less sodium, which allows more of the nutrient to escape through the urine. This creates a domino effect. As your body loses sodium, your kidneys scamper to excrete more potassium to maintain a healthy balance.
To keep up with demand, you can add salt when you’re sautéing veggies or sip on keto-friendly beef bone broth. For more comprehensive support, consider an electrolyte supplement. Irwin Naturals Coconut Oil MCT Energy & Electrolytes supplies magnesium, chloride, sodium and potassium all in one easy-to-take softgel.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for bone formation, calcium absorption and maintaining healthy levels of phosphorous (an important electrolyte). The body makes more vitamin D when skin is exposed to direct sunlight, though you can also get a sufficient supply through certain food sources. Some of the most vitamin D-concentrated foods include fatty fish, whole milk and fortified cereals or orange juice.†
Clearly, OJ and cereal are off-limits for keto dieters. But if you have a fish allergy or prefer a more plant-based keto diet meal plan, you’d be wise to supplement. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the same form of vitamin D that your body produces when exposed to UV sunlight. So when it comes to supporting your nutrient levels, stick with a vitamin D3 supplement.
To support overall well-being…
There are several keto diet benefits. One of the more recent discoveries published online noted that “the ketogenic diet performs anti-inflammatory activity.” However, some people are still predisposed to inflammation throughout the body. In these cases, supporting your body with turmeric may help. After all, turmeric is known to help maintain a healthy inflammatory response.
The active ingredient in turmeric that’s responsible for its great health properties is curcumin. Curcumin is composed of powerful phytonutrients known as curcuminoids. You can enjoy curcumin as a spice sprinkled on your food, dried and steeped as tea or in supplement form. When choosing a turmeric supplement, look for a standardized formula, so you know you’re getting the active ingredient.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It can help the body adapt during difficult times. The patented KSM-66® ashwagandha root extract, for instance, has been shown to support a sense of calm and well-being. As you can imagine, these health-promoting properties can be especially useful when you’re making sudden and extreme changes to your diet.†
With regards to supplementing, ashwagandha is usually found in its root extract form. Its active compounds include alkaloids and lactones, which are among a class called withanolides. Like turmeric, you want your ashwagandha supplement to be standardized to the active compounds. This will ensure you get a consistent formula in each serving.
†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Liz Lotts is a NASM-certified personal trainer, Orangetheory Fitness franchisee and second-degree student. She spent 7 years as an amateur triathlete, finishing two half-iron distances, two full marathons and several short-distance triathlons. But after baring witness to too many under-nourished and over-trained endurance athletes, Liz decided to become a dietitian and credible resource for nutrition. When she’s not training or studying, Liz is writing about health, food, fitness, personal finance and much more.
Liz Lotts is a NASM-certified personal trainer, Orangetheory Fitness franchisee and second-degree student. She spent 7 years as an amateur triathlete, finishing two half-iron distances, two full marathons and several short-distance triathlons. But after baring witness to too many under-nourished and over-trained endurance athletes, Liz decided to become a dietitian and credible resource for nutrition. When she’s not training or studying, Liz is writing about health, food, fitness, personal finance and much more.
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Do you need electrolyte supplementation on a keto diet?
According to many health organizations, most of us should be cutting back on sodium in order to prevent high blood pressure and other health problems. For example, The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 2.3 grams and ideally no more than 1.5 grams of sodium per day.
For people with hypertension who eat high-carb diets, this advice might be warranted. However, some of the supporting trial evidence shows a small blood pressure lowering effect without clear evidence of improved overall health.10 And many observational studies suggest that the optimal sodium intake is between 3 and 6 grams per day.11 In addition, on a keto diet, your sodium needs may actually increase, due to increased losses via the kidneys.12 Therefore, on a keto diet we are usually more concerned with too little sodium rather than too much.
Reasons for possible deficiency
When carb intake is dramatically reduced, blood insulin levels decrease, leading to a loss of salt in the urine.13 If sodium isn’t replaced, you may experience a variety of symptoms.
- Difficulty concentrating14
Daily need: Most people on a low-carb diet will feel best with 3–7 grams of sodium (7–17 grams of salt, or about 1-3 teaspoons) per day.15
However, if you have certain medical conditions — such as hypertension, kidney disease, or congestive heart failure — you may need to be more cautious about sodium. Read our complete guide on salt to learn why optimal intake varies from person to person.
Note that salt and sodium are not quite same thing, when you calculate your daily intake. Salt contains only 40% sodium, and the remainder is another mineral, chloride. So although you increase your sodium intake by eating more salt, it’s important to remember that eating one teaspoon (6 grams) of salt provides you with only 2.4 grams of actual sodium.
Add salt to your diet
Most people get at least 2 grams of sodium from the foods they eat. You can add a teaspoon of salt to a liter of water and drink it over the course of the day. Another strategy is to drink broth or bouillon, which contains about 1 gram of sodium per cup.
If you do physical exercise, adding sodium prior to a workout may improve your performance. Drs. Phinney and Volek recommend taking one-half teaspoon of salt within the half hour prior to exercising in their book The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance16
Note: If you have high blood pressure, heart failure, or kidney disease, be sure to speak with your doctor before increasing your sodium intake.
When sodium is lost during ketosis, the kidneys may respond by reabsorbing more sodium while excreting more potassium into the urine, in an attempt to maintain biochemical balance.17
Symptoms of deficiency
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle twitching
- Heart palpitations/Increased awareness of heartbeat18
Daily need: 3,000–4,700 mg (3–4.7 g) of potassium
Although most foods contain only low to moderate amounts of potassium, there are several low-carb sources that can help you meet your daily requirement.
To get more potassium into your diet, you could take potassium supplements. Or, why not try adding an avocado or a couple of servings of other keto-friendly high-potassium foods to your diet on a daily basis?
- Avocado 1,000 mg per medium avocado (200 grams)
- Swiss chard, cooked 950 mg per cup (175 grams)
- Spinach, cooked 840 mg per cup (180 grams)
- Mushrooms, cooked 550 mg per cup (150 grams)
- Brussels sprouts: 500 mg per cup (160 grams)
- Broccoli, cooked 460 mg per cup (160 grams)
- Salmon 430–500 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Meat 400–500 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Flounder 400 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Artichoke 345 mg per medium artichoke (121 grams)
- Hemp seeds 335 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Almonds 200 mg per ounce (30 grams)
If you’re very active or don’t consume enough potassium-rich food on a regular basis, it might make sense to take supplemental potassium on an as-needed basis.
Potassium supplements are typically available as 99 mg tablets.19 Note that although the front label on a potassium supplement may list 595 mg as the dosage, each tablet only contains 99 mg of pure potassium, which can be verified on the detailed “Supplement Facts” label on the back of the container.
Your blood potassium levels need to remain within a narrow range, and taking too much in concentrated form can be dangerous, especially if you take certain medications or have kidney disease. For this reason, it’s best to get your potassium through food intake whenever possible.
If you do decide to take potassium supplements, here are some good options on Amazon:20
NOW potassium supplements >
Solaray potassium supplements >
Note: If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or are taking medications for any other condition, be sure to speak with your doctor before you take a potassium supplement.
Although magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, many people don’t get enough from diet alone. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 50 percent of the US population does not meet the daily dietary requirement for magnesium.21
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include muscle twitching or cramping at night or after exercising. Although muscle cramps can also occur with inadequate potassium, sodium, or fluid intake, getting too little magnesium is a very common cause.22
Daily need: 400 mg magnesium
Most foods don’t provide much magnesium, but there are a few good sources that can be included on a keto diet. What’s more, many of them are high in potassium as well. Eating Swiss chard and other cooked greens on a regular basis is a great strategy for helping to meet your magnesium needs.
- Hemp seeds 195 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Swiss chard, cooked 150 mg per cup (175 grams)
- Pumpkin seeds, dried 150 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Mackerel 105 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Chia seeds 95 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Dark chocolate (70–85% cacao) 70–90 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Almonds 75 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Spinach, cooked 75 mg per cup (180 grams)
- Pine nuts 70 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Avocado 60 mg per medium avocado (200 grams)
- Artichoke 50 mg per medium artichoke (120 grams)
Taking up to 400 mg of magnesium per day in supplement form is safe for most people with healthy kidneys. Some forms of magnesium can cause digestive issues, however, especially when taken alone. For this reason, it’s best to take a magnesium supplement with a meal.
Forms that are well absorbed include magnesium citrate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium glycinate (also known as magnesium bisglycinate or diglycinate).23 Additionally, magnesium glycinate and Slow-Mag (a slow-digesting form of magnesium chloride) seem least likely to cause loose stools or other digestive issues.24
If you decide to take magnesium supplements, here are some good options on Amazon:25
NOW Magnesium citrate supplements >
Slow-Mag (magnesium chloride) >
Solaray magnesium glycinate supplements >
Note: If you have kidney disease, you may not be able to handle a large amount of magnesium. In addition, certain medications may interact negatively with magnesium supplements. Speak with your doctor before taking a magnesium supplement if any of these apply to you.
The keto flu, other keto side effects, and how to cure them >
How to get into ketosis >