One of the most common side effect of being on a keto diet is ‘Electrolytic imbalance’. A condition which is very easily detected and controlled, lest you know about it.
With all the benefits, that KETOSIS can provide, there are some aspects which need care and vigilance to be handled, so that you are at a no risk position. So, you need to know, about electrolytic balance too!
Editor’s note: – If you are interested in ketosis, and following ketogenic diet plans, we recommend The Essential Keto Cookbook, a great way to kickstart your Keto journey
Electrolyte balance is crucial for many body functions. The primary electrolytes in the body are calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium, and are actually considered macrominerals.
Electrolytes are important because they help
- Balance the amount of water in your body
- Balance your body’s acid/base (pH) level
- Move nutrients into your cells
- Move wastes out of your cells
- Make sure that your nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge.
With these ions being intrinsic, or a part of the internal body’s system. How can their balance be disturbed?
You ought to be surprised to know, that we could lose them due to any waste flushing mechanism which works in the body.
Excretion of ions can occur mainly through the kidneys (via urination), with lesser amounts lost in sweat and in feces.
For eg: excessive perspiration can lead to a substantial reduction, particularly of sodium and chloride.
Severe vomiting or diarrhoea will cause a reduction of chloride and bicarbonate ions. The regulatory mechanism for the ionic equilibrium, operates via different hormones and kidney functions.
Some examples of what can happen from an electrolyte imbalance are:
- Elevated potassium levels which could lead to cardiac arrhythmia
- A decrease in extracellular potassium can cause paralysis
- Excessive extracellular sodium causes fluid retention
- Decreased calcium can lead to muscle spasms
The key to electrolytic balance:
Muscle tissue is made up of over 70% water and it is very important to cellular activity, so you should make sure you consume plenty of water throughout the day.
The more protein you eat in your diet, the more water you will need to help clear the waste products such as ammonia and urea. Sweating from a gruelling workout will cause you to lose more water as well.
Most imp electrolytes: Na, K, Mg. (During ketosis)
Why are they important?
SODIUM & POTASSIUM:
Because of sodium’s impact on your blood pressure, a boost in your daily potassium intake can help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure or lower it to healthy levels.
However, you cannot rely entirely on sodium and potassium to lower your blood pressure. In addition to obtaining regular exercise, your intake of fats, salt, cholesterol, protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium can also impact your blood pressure.
Potassium is particularly important for the ability of your skeletal and smooth muscles to contract. Because of this, an adequate intake of potassium is important for regular digestive and muscular functioning. Potassium is also vital to the health of your heart, as a normal heart rhythm arises from optimal muscular functioning.
Nerve, Muscle Function
Ions of sodium, potassium and chloride trigger muscle contractions and nerve impulses when they shift places across cell membranes. When stimulated, potassium ions rush out of the cell as sodium ions rush in, creating an electrical signal or nerve impulse. A similar scenario occurs during the contraction of muscles.
Sodium also works in synergy with potassium to maintain normal water balance in the body. Each of the minerals chemically attracts water to itself, thus assuring that optimal levels of hydration are maintained both inside human cells and outside the cells, in the extracellular spaces that surround them.
Closely related to sodium’s role in the maintenance of normal fluid levels is the part it plays in controlling your body’s blood volume and thus blood pressure.
Without magnesium we couldn’t create energy, our muscles are in a permanent state of regeneration, and we couldn’t adjust the degree of cholesterol produced and released into the blood stream.
Magnesium ions regulate over 300 biochemical reactions in the body through their role as enzyme co-factors. They also play a vital role in the reactions that generate and use ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within the body’s cells.
Magnesium is one of the most common co-factors in the body. Its presence is crucial to:
- Glucose and fat breakdown
- Production of proteins, enzymes and antioxidants such as glutathione
- Creation of DNA and RNA
- Regulation of cholesterol production
Why is there a risk for electrolytic imbalance during ketosis?
The reason is that there is less insulin produced as a result of the composition of the diet. This leads to hormonal signals via the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system, signalling your kidneys to excrete MORE water and retain LESS.
Your kidneys shift from keeping sodium and water to dumping both at a faster speed!
Because of homeostasis, our bodies will attempt to keep sodium blood concentration within its normal range, which will only occur if blood volume shrinks. This shrinkage is what causes all of the ugly symptoms: nausea, brain fog, headaches, bad moods,
In response to the reduced sodium level, your kidneys will also begin dumping potassium to keep a decent sodium-potassium equilibrium.
As a result, you can experience some of the negative symptoms associated with the “keto flu”.
Ways to get the right amount of each electrolyte?
Foods that contain them:
Potassium is the electrolyte which is most commonly deficient in diets. It can be difficult to consume enough potassium since many foods that are rich in potassium often don’t fit into a low-carb diet. However, there are some foods that are both low in carbohydrates and high in potassium, such as: avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens, and salmon.
Being in ketosis will make your body wash out sodium faster. This is because as your insulin levels drop, the rate at which your kidneys extract sodium also drops. It’s easy to increase your sodium intake by adding salt to your meals and drinking bouillon or broth.
Nuts, spinach, artichokes and dark chocolate are all rich in magnesium. Whilst a magnesium deficiency is less common than potassium or sodium deficiencies on a low-carb diet, if you are suffering from cramps and dizziness then you may need to increase your magnesium intake.
Do I need to worry? How do I know, that I am moving towards an imbalance?
The most obvious indication your electrolyte/mineral equilibrium is being influenced is an increase in urination. On a low-carb diet, insulin levels fall that promotes the secretion of sodium from the urine. Sodium pulls more water to the urinary system that then is excreted also.
Additionally, as your body burns through glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, excess water is discharged into the urinary system.
Whilst getting rid of this additional water is useful in releasing toxins in the body, you need to ensure that you are taking in extra fluids, electrolytes, and minerals to prevent other related side effects.
Constipation is an integral indication that you’re not maintaining electrolyte/mineral equilibrium during keto adaptation. The consistency of somebody’s stool, and for that reason the ability to manoeuver that feces, is heavily influenced by its content. The water content of your stool is similarly influenced by your general hydration levels.
What precautions to take?
The more protein you eat in your diet, the more water you will need to help clear the waste products such as ammonia and urea.
Sweating from a gruelling workout will cause you to lose more water as well.
The key factor, here is to Stay hydrated!
You can also use, keto supplements that will help you keep all dangers at bay.
Can supplements help?
On a low-carb diet it can be tricky to give your body with all the electrolytes it requires. On a diet of less than 50g of net carbs a day that your body is very likely to enter ketosis, meaning your body will use fat for fuel, as opposed to glucose, that is the most important energy source of high carb diets. Because your body retains less water whilst on a ketogenic low-carb diet, a lot of electrolytes will be flushed from your system.
Beginners to a low-carb diet may often neglect the need to replenish the electrolytes that they are washed out of their body.
Any sort of imbalance of electrolytes can cause fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, dizziness and muscle cramping – often known as ‘keto-flu’.
Do not be scared you away from a low-carb diet, it is easy to counteract these problems by supplementing your diet with extra electrolyte sources.
IMPORTANT: If you’re physically active that is, involved in any sort of exercises, sports etc, as well as are following a low carb keto diet, you necessarily need supplements. Since, only dietary sources cannot provide you the right amount of electrolytes that you lose every day.