Sodium & Potassium and the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet eliminates carbohydrate-rich foods, replacing them with those high in fats and proteins. The absence of carbohydrates forces your body to burn fat for energy, converting some to ketones, which fuel your brain. The diet is commonly implemented by health-care professionals to help lessen the occurrence of epileptic seizures in patients and by individuals seeking weight loss. Ensuring sodium and potassium intake is sufficient during a ketogenic diet might help lessen negative effects on your body.

Sodium and potassium are required nutrients. (Image: michaklootwijk/iStock/Getty Images)

About the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet typically consists of meats, high-fat dairy, oils, low-carbohydrate fruits, eggs and vegetables. That excludes common foods such as potatoes, peas, corn, bread, crackers, milk, rice and sugar. The meals eaten on a ketogenic diet differ widely from what is considered normal by most individuals. To prevent deficiencies, including sodium and potassium, nutritional supplements are usually incorporated in the ketogenic diet. By depriving your body of carbohydrates, its main energy source is forced to change. While this has the potential of decreasing physical performance, proper sodium and potassium intake combats this effect.

Dietary Role and Sources of Sodium

Sodium is a naturally occurring mineral that allows your body to regulate water retention. It facilitates the required electrical signals for your nervous system and brain cells to function properly. A sodium imbalance can be fatal, no matter if the levels are too high or too low. Nearly all foods contain levels of sodium; some of the best sources are allowed on the ketogenic diet, such as eggs and lean meats.

Dietary Role and Sources of Potassium

Potassium is a vital mineral required for normal bodily function. It plays important roles in metabolism maintenance and helps your body regulate its acid balance. Potassium is essential for all cells in your body to function properly and facilitates normal muscle and organ growth. In addition, potassium ensures the electrical communication required for your heart functions properly. Foods high in potassium include fish, milk, yogurt, broccoli, peas, potatoes, kiwi, bananas and nearly all meats.

Sodium and Potassium Supplements

If your ketogenic diet does not supply adequate sodium and potassium levels, supplements can provide what your body is missing. A portioned serving of bouillon can work as a sodium supplement, taken apart from general meals. However, maintaining levels of sodium is not as difficult in the ketogenic diet as maintaining potassium intake. While sources of potassium include meats and fish, the cooking process eliminates much of the potassium content. Potassium bicarbonate supplements, taken daily, amend lack of potassium.

Warning

Before increasing sodium or potassium intake in a ketogenic diet, consult a health-care professional for testing. He can determine what nutrients your body lacks through urine and blood samples, and how to fix the imbalances. In addition, never plan a ketogenic diet without the aid of a certified nutritional specialist. She can help you find the proper balance of foods to best supply your body with nutrients. Ask for advice on proper dietary supplements to keep your body functioning at its full potential and to avoid causing harm. Check with your health-care professional before engaging in rigorous exercise on the ketogenic diet to ensure your body can endure the stress.

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