If you have undertaken the low-carb, high-fat diet known as keto, you undoubtably know the benefits that come with this diet. Ketogenic diets can help alleviate the effects of such illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer to name but a few. Those who really benefit from a ketogenic diet not only commit to the low-carb, high-fat eating plan, but also take some key supplements to make the diet more effective.
Why Take Supplements on a Keto Diet
While it is good to get as many of your nutrients from your diet as possible, keto diet followers supplement the nutrition they get from food. This is because the keto diet asks you to cut out many food options, which will be discussed in more detail below.
Supplementing allows you to pick up some vital nutrients that your body needs. It also gives you a bit of a nutritional safety net: This can be especially important when you first go on the keto diet. You won’t always yet know the proper way to eat with this new lifestyle. Taking supplements helps you to fill in the nutritional gaps that your keto diet may initially cause.
Additionally, some supplements, like certain oils, actually help your body transition into a state of ketosis faster than it would without them. Basically, ketosis is a metabolic state that allows your body to start burning fat instead of sugar for energy. The faster you can enter a state of ketosis, the faster your weight loss and other health benefits will come.
The body can’t function without proper amounts of magnesium. This mineral plays a vital role in muscle, immune system, and nerve regulation. It also allows the body to build stronger bones and maintain proper blood sugar levels.
The problem is that many foods, like beans, bananas, and whole grains don’t really fit the low-carb, high-fat requirements of a truly keto diet. Magnesium supplements can make up the magnesium shortfall caused by your keto diet. It is recommended that each person on a keto diet gets about 310 to 320 mg of the mineral each day.
That isn’t to say that you can’t get some magnesium from your diet. Some keto-friendly sources of magnesium include broccoli and spinach, as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Be sure to add these food sources to your diet to prevent a nutrient shortfall and to add variety to your plate.
The keto diet affects how your body metabolizes sugar and causes increased kidney activity. Your body will lose water when you adhere to a keto diet. This in turn means that you’ll lose some vital minerals, like sodium and potassium, as well as magnesium.
So, how do you know if your losing your electrolytes faster than you are replacing them? Chances are good that you will develop what’s known as the “keto flu.” This term describes the flu-like symptoms (headaches, fatigue, nausea) that come on if you don’t have enough electrolytes.
An electrolyte supplement will take care of this condition. Just be sure to check the label on the electrolyte supplement bottle. Some electrolyte supplements have added carbs, which can negate the good effects of your keto diet.
While many people decide to follow a keto diet because they want to lose weight, many also love the diet due to its anti-inflammatory benefits. If you fall into this category, taking turmeric can compound the many anti-inflammatory benefits of the keto diet.
Many modern ailments stem from a body that’s inflamed. This includes conditions like cancer, heart disease, and strokes. To really tackle an inflammation problem, consider taking up to 10 grams of turmeric a day.
Omega-3s, nutrients that you can get from taking krill or fish oil supplements, are filled with the vital omega-3s that your body needs. Like turmeric, omega-3s offer you an excellent way to reduce inflammation and the disease that come with it. They’ve also been shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular health.
When you go on a keto diet, taking omega-3 will help balance out the omega-6s in your body. People who take omega-3s while they’re on a ketogenic diet enjoy lower levels of insulin and triglycerides than those who don’t supplement with their omega-3s.
The best omega-3 supplements combine 500 mg of both DHA and EPA.
One note, however. If you take blood thinners, be sure to consult your doctor before supplementing with omega-3s. This supplement can cause further blood thinning in some instances.
Because ketogenic diets don’t really allow for many of your favorite dairy and milk foods and beverages, you run the risk of being low on calcium if you adhere to this kind of diet. Foods like flavored yogurts and other dairy options just have too many carbs to make them very keto-friendly. Given that many people get their calcium from these food sources, a serious calcium deficiency can develop on a keto plan, unless you supplement.
Your body needs calcium in order to have excellent muscle and bone health. It also plays a role in hormone regulation and muscle and nerve cell health. As well, your heart cannot function without calcium in your system, so be sure to get enough of it.
It is recommended that women take between 1,000 and 1,300 mg of calcium each day. If you’d also like to try and get some of your calcium from your food each day, be sure to include keto-friendly foods, like salmon, sardines, kale, spinach, and broccoli to name but a few.
6. MCT Oils
Medium-chain triglycerides come from foods like coconut oil. This oil supplement counts as a favorite among keto dieters, due to its ability to help the body move into and maintain ketosis. MCT oils also boost immunity, balance blood sugar, and support brain health.
Additionally, with this supplement comes an energy boost, something that many new keto dieters will appreciate. The first days on a keto diet can be marked by a lack of energy as the body transitions from using sugar as an energy source to using the body’s fat as an energy source instead.
An easy and delicious way to get more MCT oils in your diet is to add coconut oil to your coffee or tea. For a delicious cup of coffee in the morning, try adding two tablespoons of unsalted butter and one tablespoon of coconut oil to your cuppa Joe for some bulletproof coffee. It’s a ketogentic way to start the day that gives you a quick burst of energy, due to the coffee’s caffeine and MCT oil contents. Further reading: 7 Best MCT Oils & Powders ( Buyer’s Guide)
7. Vitamin D
Many people get their vitamin D from sources, like milk or orange juice, items that don’t go very well with the keto lifestyle. While it’s true that you can get vitamin D from being out in the sun – hence, its nickname “the sunshine vitamin” – it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from most diets in general.
If you’re on a keto diet, you want to be doubly sure to take a vitamin D supplement as it aids in the absorption of calcium. Additionally, your immune system, your bones, and your cells in general benefit from having proper amounts of vitamin D.
Additionally, since it is hard to measure a lack of vitamin D, people who go on keto diets should consider taking a trek to their local doctor to have their D-levels checked. This ensures that they are not lacking in this important mineral.
Final Thoughts of Keto Supplements
If you’re on the keto diet or are considering it, the previous list represents the seven must-have supplements that will help you be more successful on your keto journey. These supplements help you get a good dose of some vital minerals, like magnesium and calcium. They also help you acquire proper levels of oils like omega-3s and MCTs.
Supplementing on the keto diet is important because the diet removes many food sources, like milk and dairy, as well as fruits like bananas from your diet. While your overall health may benefit from being in a state of ketosis, your body still needs the vitamins, minerals, and oils that many “forbidden” foods can provide. Taking supplements counts as one way to ensure that you’re not lacking any nutrients you need.
Additionally, any diet/ lifestyle plan that requires you to make significant changes to your life has a learning curve that comes with it. Due to this, it is common to miss many nutrients that you might otherwise get as you transition into your new keto diet. Taking supplements will help you fill in the nutritional gap as you learn how to eat right on your new keto diet plan.
Finally, many people who undertake the keto diet will feel a bit fatigued as they go from a diet filled with carbs to one without. The supplements on this list help you stay on your diet, while giving your body an extra energy boost, which makes getting through the first couple of weeks on keto a bit easier.