On the ketogenic diet, food intake is high in fat and low in carbohydrates. Going keto helps put your body in the state of ketosis, where the body relies on fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. Salt is neither carbohydrate nor a fat. We are told that too much salt, in general, is bad, but we are also told that you should increase your electrolyte intake on keto. On keto, too much salt or too little salt is really a matter of need.
The Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet, or keto, is high in fat consumption and low in carbohydrate consumption. This is because the purpose of going on keto is to put your body in the state of ketosis. Ketosis means that your body runs on fat instead of carbohydrates.
Your body usually runs on carbohydrates for fuel. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose molecules which are used for energy. When the body uses up carbohydrates, it rarely relies on other sources of fuel, such as fat. When carbohydrates are low, they body starts to look for other sources of fuel to sustain itself. The body starts to run on fat. The liver creates ketone bodies, which the body uses for energy.
The ketogenic diet works differently on different people. However, there is a rule of thumb of carbohydrate consumption, which is around 20 to 50 grams a day. This will depend on your energy needs. People who are bigger and use more energy will have a higher daily carbohydrate allowance.
Going on a keto diet has many health benefits. The keto diet has been around for around 100 years, and has been used to treat epilepsy. The keto diet has also been used to treat autism, depression, hypercholesterolemia, migraines, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Keto can help you lose weight as well.
While there are many health benefits of going keto, you may experience side effects while transitioning to a ketogenic diet. Most of these side effects make up what people call “keto flu,” which refers to the feeling of being lethargic and weak for the first few days of getting used to the keto diet.
Some of the side effects of the ketogenic diet include the following:
- bad breath, which may taste fruity
- digestive issues, such as constipation and diarrhea
- dry mouth
- increased energy
- increased thirst
- increased urination
- insomnia or waking up at night
- reduced hunger
- short-term decreases in physical performance
- short-term fatigue
- weight loss
A Ketogenic Intake
A ketogenic diet usually has a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 fat to carbohydrates, however, smaller ratios have been able to bring ketosis as well. The ketogenic diet will change your intake a lot if you are used to eating plenty of carbohydrates. Keto can restrict you from making food choices you are used to making because of its low carbohydrate quota.
If you eat carbohydrates, make sure that your intake comes from healthy choices that can provide you with sufficient vitamins and minerals. If you have a hard time giving up carbohydrate-heavy foods, you can always eat them in smaller portions. You may also prepare your food with alternatives to the usual ingredients to lower the carbohydrate content. It’s up to you.
On keto, you can eat meat, poultry, and seafood, such as fish and shellfish. Eggs can be eaten as well. You can eat vegetables that are low in carbohydrates, such as dark green and leafy vegetables. You can eat fruits such as avocado, For dairy, you can consume cheese and yogurt. Nuts, seeds, and berries are all low in carbohydrates and may be eaten.
Salt and Keto Diet: Is There Such Thing as Too Much Salt for Keto?
Most people believe that salt is unhealthy, thus when they try out a diet like keto to be healthy, people might feel the need to restrict their salt intake. However, the body needs a certain amount of salt to function. Without an adequate amount of salt, most people who do keto may feel its negative side effects. The “keto flu” comes in full swing when there is not enough sodium. Salt intake can be inadequate when there is not enough salt consumed, and when the body excretes too much salt through sweat during exercise.
On the ketogenic diet, kidneys tend to excrete more sodium and water than usual. When carbohydrate intake is low, the body’s insulin levels are low, which makes kidneys want to excrete more sodium than it usually does. When sodium is flushed away, other electrolytes tend to be flushed away as well. Electrolyte imbalances may be the underlying cause of a keto flu. You may feel sluggish, weak, and “flu-like.” It may feel hard to concentrate. You may also feel fatigue and get more headaches.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary guidelines state that daily sodium intake of people 14 years old and above should be less than 2,300 milligrams. If you are on the keto diet, you should increase your sodium intake to 3,000 to 5,000 milligrams a day.
Your body will give you signs of it needing more sodium. Thankfully, there are many easy ways to increase your sodium intake. You can simply add more salt to your food. You can also boil bouillon cubes in water and drink this, as bouillon cubes contain a lot of sodium. You can try electrolyte drinks as well. To keep your electrolytes balanced, you can try electrolyte supplements which contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Can I do Keto?
While going keto is generally safe, the ketogenic diet is not for everybody. What can be helpful to some may harm others. To be on the safe side, do not go on the ketogenic diet unsupervised.
Consult a doctor or healthcare provider before trying the ketogenic diet if you are any of the following:
- you are pregnant
- you are breastfeeding
- you take medication for high blood pressure
- you take medication for diabetes