The Benefits of Keto Electrolytes
The goal of the keto diet is to shift your metabolism into a state of ketosis: instead of burning carbohydrates for fuel, you switch to fat as your main energy source.
When you’re in ketosis, your body changes in a variety of ways. As you transition into keto, you burn through stored carbs in your liver and muscle tissue. Carbs take a lot of water to store, which is why many people lose several pounds of water weight during their first week on keto.
But as you lose that water, you also lose electrolytes—minerals that keep you hydrated and regulate your body’s muscle function, nerve function, pH level, and more[*].
In addition, you release less insulin a low-carb diet, causing your kidneys to excrete electrolytes at a higher rate[*].
If you don’t increase your electrolyte intake on keto, you may run into symptoms of keto flu, including brain fog, muscle cramps, dehydration, and fatigue.
Here are the benefits of increasing your electrolyte levels on keto, as well as a good option for a sugar-free electrolyte supplement.
Benefits of Electrolytes
Your body needs four major electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
If you experience side effects on keto, there’s a good chance that you have an electrolyte imbalance. Replenishing your electrolytes will improve your performance in several ways.
1. Better Brain Function
Electrolytes play an essential role in hydration. You want to have enough electrolytes in your system to maintain fluid balance—the right level of minerals in the water that surrounds and fills your cells.
Dehydration causes your brain to shrink temporarily and interferes with your cognitive function[*]. If you’re a keto dieter, you retain less water (and fewer electrolytes) than you would otherwise.
Keeping your electrolyte levels high will clear out brain fog so you stay mentally sharp throughout the day.
2. Increased Physical Performance
Electrolytes are also a fundamental part of muscle function.
Magnesium and calcium tell your muscles when to contract and when to relax[*]. But if your electrolyte balance is off, you’re prone to muscle cramps and weaker muscle contractions[*], which will affect your performance in the gym.
A 2019 study found that drinking electrolyte-enhanced water improved hydration and muscle torque in dehydrated athletes.
3. Deeper Sleep
Magnesium is an important electrolyte for sleep. Research shows that taking a magnesium supplement before bed improves overall sleep quality and onset latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep) and decreases early morning awakening[*]. Magnesium also reduces cortisol, which relieves stress and improves sleep[*][*].
4. No Keto Flu
When you first transition into ketosis, you may experience the keto flu. Symptoms of the keto flu include headaches, daytime fatigue, trouble sleeping, and muscle cramping.
The keto flu happens because your body is switching its primary energy source from carbs to fat. During that transition, you burn through your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates in your muscles and liver), as well as the water and electrolytes that were used to store that glycogen.
As a result, you end up dehydrated and low in energy—but a keto-friendly electrolyte drink can keep your electrolytes balanced, preventing most or all of the symptoms of keto flu.
5. Cardiovascular Function
Taking electrolytes may also help you maintain a strong cardiovascular system.
A recent national study found that 97% of Americans are deficient in potassium[*]. Even if you eat a lot of leafy greens and other potassium-rich foods, it’s very difficult to get the potassium your body needs (for reference, you would need to eat 5-6 whole avocados a day to get your recommended daily value of potassium).
That can be a problem when it comes to long-term cardiovascular health. Potassium and sodium work closely together to regulate your blood pressure and heart function.
In fact, taking a potassium supplement lowers blood pressure more than reducing your sodium intake.
Low potassium is also a common cause of heart palpitations. Taking a potassium chloride supplement can improve long-term heart health by regulating heart contractions