The Ketogenic Diet And Potassium Explained
While not necessarily new, the ketogenic diet, usually known as keto for short, has risen in popularity over the years. While reaching ketosis can seem difficult, the general gist of the dietary trend is to avoid eating carbs to force the body to burn fat for energy. But what many people are unaware of is the fact that the diet does require getting enough specific electrolytes to aid in maintaining ketosis.
Why potassium is important for ketosis
Because a keto diet can be restrictive, especially for beginners, side effects are possible. One of the biggest side effects first-time keto dieters experience is fatigue. And often, fatigue can be the first sign that a person is beginning to shift into ketosis and that the diet is working. However, fatigue is also linked to a drop in potassium. The loss of potassium often occurs when people cut out foods such as bananas. While bananas are an excellent source of potassium, the fruit is not allowed for people that are strictly following a keto diet.
How much potassium is needed daily?
Research has shown that when following a keto diet, people should strive to get roughly 4,700mg of potassium a day. Because the amount is so large, people are encouraged to get the daily recommended amount of potassium through food. However, some of the foods that are richest in the nutrient are not allowed because of the diet. Potassium-rich foods include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat flour
Why dietary potassium is preferable
Typically, experts recommend that people get nutrients, minerals, and vitamins from a healthy diet as opposed to supplements. The main reason being that supplements aren’t allowed to contain more than 99mg of potassium in a serving. But along with the low potassium levels, supplements are often linked with side effects. While usually not severe in most people, side effects often include gastrointestinal discomforts and, in extreme cases, cause hypokalemia, a condition that can negatively impact the kidneys.
The best potassium-rich foods for a keto diet
While many fruits, legumes, and rice are not allowed in a keto diet, other foods are keto-approved that are rich in potassium. Great options include avocados, Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, squash, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, fatty fish, pork chops, and clams. Thankfully, plenty of keto-friendly recipes that can give people new and exciting ways to cook up the foods to keep meal plans fresh.
Tips for picking a potassium supplement
For people that have decided to use a potassium supplement, note that the mineral is usually offered as a potassium salt. Keep in mind that most potassium supplements offer the electrolyte in a range from 80-90mg per serving. However, people that opt for supplements should be mindful that side effects are possible.
Staying healthy while being in ketosis
For people that are beginning a keto diet, remember that reaching ketosis can take as much as a month. During that time, side effects are common such as lethargy, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. But the important note to remember is that people who are attempting a keto diet should stick with the plan and add potassium-rich foods to combat fatigue and increase the chances of continuing the diet and reaching success. For individuals thinking of adding a supplement, consider speaking with a physician or dietitian first to determine a good supplement and the right potassium amounts to supplement daily needs.