Q&a: Salt Intake, Weight-loss Plateaus And How Much Protein Should You Eat?
How much salt is too much when on a low-carb diet? How do you handle weight loss plateaus? And how much protein should you eat? Here are the answers: How Much Salt Is Too Much on LCHF? Hi Andreas, I have been ketogenic for 6+ months. With too little salt I don’t feel well at all. I understand that an LCHF/ketogenic diet means your body passes salt rather than holding on to it. Every morning I have 2 g salt in 0.5 l (17 fl. oz) of water, I do the same in the evening. However, this weekend before a 6 hour-25 degree cycle I had 5 g salt in 1 l (34 fl. oz) water before I went, 3 l (101 fl. oz) water while out. I had another 5 g salt that afternoon/evening with 2-3 l (68–101 fl.oz.) water. I had the best ride I have had for a over a year, so powerful and I did not experience and restless leg syndrome when i went to bed and i slept really well, which i don’t normally do after a big effort. My concern is 10-12 g of salt in a day sounds a lot. Are there any short or long term issues taking this much salt whilst ketogenic? Many thanks, Glover Hi Glover! I suspect you lost a lot of salt sweating on that bike ride. I doubt this intake is a significant problem, as long as your blood pressure is normal. Best, Andreas Weight-loss plateau Dear Dr. I hope you’re doing fine ? I just have a small concern. I have been on and LCHF for almost 6 months now, the first 5 months were amazing I’ve lost around 20 kg (44 lbs.) so a good average of 4 kg (9 lbs.) a month and I feel proud of it and thankful to you and to your website. Now for the past one month I have lost 0 kg, I weigh 125 kg (275 lbs.) now. 1. Is this a normal plateau or my body got used to the diet? 2. My eating habits are the same. Do you think I should start controlling my portions maybe, and counting the proteins? 3. Continue reading >>
Salt: The Prize Jewel Of Keto
Salt is a topic we ketonians discuss quite frequently. It’s important to understand why we always go on so much about salt here in Ketovangelist Land. Up until now, everything you have been eating on a Standard Western Diet has been salted out of existence. Did you eat takeaway food? Salted. Did you eat sweet cereal? Salted. How about chips/crisps? Salted. Did you live on energy drinks or sodas? Salted. You’ve had so much salt up til now, your body has been saltier than the Dead Sea. (**not science) After being told for so many years by the non-keto world that we need to reduce our salt intake, to be careful how much salt we use, and being scared out of our minds by advertising and doctors about the role of salt in heart disease, kidney failure and other horrible sounding things, we need to readjust the way we think about and consume salt. If we were still eating all the carbage and fortified food, junk that is deliberately stuffed full of salt and a bunch of other minerals and vitamins, then consuming too much salt can become an issue. High carbohydrate consumption causes the body to retain water and salt. Even if you’ve been eating “clean”, if you’ve been eating higher carbs- and that means any kind of carbs- your body has held onto any salt that has come in and it has stuck. Now that you’re Living Ketogenically, NONE of your food is salted, and because you are eating very few carbs and no fortified foods, your body is expelling electrolytes like mad. You must replace all the salt which companies have been adding to the food you’d previously eaten in order to avoid electrolyte deficiencies, which can be very dangerous. What all those doctors and experts forget to do while they’re telling us to cut down on salt, is tell us that salt is vitally importa Continue reading >>
"keto-flu" And Sufficient Intake Of Electrolytes
People often ask me about potassium deficiency (or any other mineral deficiency) on a low-carb, ketogenic diet. I decided to summarise which minerals you should be aware of and what the adequate intake is... To pin or bookmark an easy to follow guide to keto-flu remedies, have a look at this post! What is "Keto-Flu"? Electrolytes (sodium, magnesium and potassium) are often underestimated on low-carb diets. As low-carb expert and scientific researcher Dr. Volek suggests, mineral and electrolyte management is the key to avoiding side effects typically associated with low carb dieting. When entering the induction phase of a Ketogenic Diet (50 grams or less of total carbs - about 20-30 grams of net carbs), most people experience "keto-flu”. This often scares them off and they start to think that low-carb is not right for their body. The "flu" is nothing else than a result of starving your body of carbohydrates. Stay strong! You can easily counteract these effects by replenishing electrolytes. Make sure you include foods rich in electrolytes in your everyday diet and take food supplements (if needed). Firstly, I would like to share my own experience with electrolyte deficiency. I have been really tired recently. It was actually so bad that I couldn't open my eyes and could barely get up even after 7-9 hours of sleep. Also, my energy levels at gym were very low. I woke up in the middle of the night and experienced heart palpitations (weird feeling that could be described as "heart beating too fast"). I knew what was going on: I was magnesium / potassium deficient. I have been on a low-carb diet for more than a year and always made sure I include food rich in these minerals in my diet. The truth is, I have been so busy recently that I didn't pay enough attention to my diet. Continue reading >>
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How Much Salt Should I Eat On A Low-carb Ketogenic Diet?
Your going to be using your sodium regardless of whether your on low carb or not. People in the general population have been anaylized and it was found they have a high salt intake, probably because of all the processed foods. It's been said that a high salt intake can lead to hyoertension and potential contribute to cardiovascular diseases, this is all up for debate though if you had a look at the studies these were based on. There's been groups of people in history living off very high salt intakes and having optimal health. Your eating healthy real foods though so you definately need to introduce salt into most meals you eat. Salt compliments vegetables, which are bitter tasting. Me personally I go for 3-5grams a day. I've gone through various articles, peer reviewed journals and other sources and come up with that number. If however it's a hot summers day and im sweating profusley then I'll up my sodiu/potassium (electrolytes). This just hammers the point home that you should experiment with your own body and see what works for you because everyones different. I have a lot of lean muscle that needs proper nerve conduction and higher salt to prevent cramps, all these factors come into play. You’re correct about the salt. From my understanding from Volek and Phinney’s book your kidneys shed sodium. McMaster University in Canada did a huge study on salt and found that there is a range for optimum health benefits. The range was 3 to 6 grams per day. So, considering that 5 grams is in the high end of that range, then that would be a good target. Apparently salt is another of those things where the conventional wisdom got overly distorted. According to the people at McMaster most people don’t consume too much sodium. You should eat as much as you need. How much that Continue reading >>
The Role Of Salt In A Ketogenic-diet. ‘keto-flu’ Explained!
I was keen to understand why all the low-carb diet resources tell you to eat more salt. I therefore decided to look into this in greater detail. The problem I encountered was that nothing actually states the reasoning behind it; sources merely allude to the requirements, then make recommendations on how to achieve them. What I was keen to understand in particular, is the role of insulin in causing the kidneys to retain salt. The below is what I’ve managed to piece together. As always, I must state that I have no medical or dietary training; all I can do is try and present the results of my own reading in as clear and jargon-free way as possible. If readers’ comments can help guide my understanding, then all feedback will be gratefully received! So here goes… Salt! When you switch over to a ketogenic diet, you’re effectively changing the way your body creates and burns energy. On a glucose-based metabolism, the energy-form ‘glycogen’ is produced in the liver. This energy is water-soluble and transported around the body in your blood. The blood-stream is therefore our ‘road-network’ for distributing energy to all the cells and muscles that need it. Glycogen is also stored in the muscles, so the blood-motorway serves to ‘top up’ these stores when required. Because glycogen is transported in liquid & is water-soluble; it’s unsurprising that glycogen itself contains a lot of water. In fact, it’s stored in liquid form; three to four parts water to one part glycogen (sources state 3-4g water to 1g glycogen). When you restrict carbohydrate, you stop consuming glucose, the raw-material from which glycogen is made (see Fuel versus Energy for more details). Your stores of glycogen therefore deplete as your body burns energy, and because glycogen carries 3-4 Continue reading >>
Eat Meat. Drink Water.
Should salt be included in a Zero Carb diet? The subject of salt is a bit complex. On the one hand, Owsley “The Bear” Stanley – who ate a Zero Carb diet for over 50 years – felt that salt should be avoided. Here are some of his comments regarding salt that he posted on a now-defunct low carbhydrate internet forum he participated in during 2006: “I don’t use salt.” “Salt is not good for a fat burner.” “Salt is not good in your food, it is a chemical and will damage your skin and your kidneys over time. It also interferes with fat metabolism.” “When I was a dancer, I used no salt in anything. I drank huge amounts of plain water during class and never had a bit of problem, whereas the other dancers scarfed salt tablets like candy and still had problems.” “I sometimes sweat so proficiently that I need to drink 3 or four liters of water in less than an hour. I have no effects of low salt, and my sweat is never salty. I used to watch the other kids in ballet class scarfing slat tabs, while I just drank water. My shirt was very wet, but dried out normal, while theirs were rimed with a heavy white salt crust – indicating that the massive excess of alt was simply being dumped. If they did not eat the salt tabs when drinking water, they fainted.” “Adding salt to food is not good. If you eat nothing but steaks you will never have any deficiencies.” “It only takes about one ounce of any meat/day to supply all the sodium your body requires for normal saline balance.” “Salt is an addiction. It is culturally induced by the need to add some salt for flavor in vegetables.” “When I gave up salt, the only food that I ate which seemed to need salt was eggs, but after a few years this passed. Unsalted butter made the difference – without that Continue reading >>
5 Most Common Low-carb Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them)
A few months ago, I read a book called The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living. The authors are two of the world's leading researchers on low-carb diets. Dr. Jeff S. Volek is a Registered Dietitian and Dr. Stephen D. Phinney is a medical doctor. These guys have performed many studies and have treated thousands of patients with a low-carb diet. According to them, there are many stumbling blocks that people tend to run into, which can lead to adverse effects and suboptimal results. To get into full-blown ketosis and reap all the metabolic benefits of low-carb, merely cutting back on the carbs isn't enough. If you haven't gotten the results you expected on a low-carb diet, then perhaps you were doing one of these 5 common mistakes. There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a "low carb diet." Some would call anything under 100-150 grams per day low-carb, which is definitely a lot less than the standard Western diet. A lot of people could get awesome results within this carbohydrate range, as long as they ate real, unprocessed foods. But if you want to get into ketosis, with plenty of ketoness flooding your bloodstream to supply your brain with an efficient source of energy, then this level of intake may be excessive. It could take some self experimentation to figure out your optimal range as this depends on a lot of things, but most people will need to go under 50 grams per day to get into full-blown ketosis. This doesn't leave you with many carb options except vegetables and small amounts of berries. If you want to get into ketosis and reap the full metabolic benefits of low-carb, going under 50 grams of carbs per day may be required. Protein is a very important macronutrient, which most people aren't getting enough of. It can improve satiety and incr Continue reading >>
The Importance Of Electrolytes On A Ketogenic Diet
Many people who start a ketogenic diet often experience the dreaded “keto-flu”, which is the name for the experience of one or a combination of the following symptoms: Even if you are following a well-formulated ketogenic diet, with a low amount of carbohydrate, moderate amount of protein, and high amount of fat as suggested, it is likely that you may still experience some of these symptoms. The reason being while your macronutrients may be in line, there is another important factor to consider, ensuring you keep your body properly nourished and functioning well. That key factor is the balance of electrolytes in the body. In this article, we will cover the importance of electrolytes on a ketogenic diet. What Are Electrolytes? Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that are the electrical signaling molecules used for maintaining functions within the body such as regulating your heartbeat and allowing muscles to contract for functional movement. The most relevant electrolytes in this context are sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium. Why Monitoring Your Electrolytes is Important. When you shift to a ketogenic diet, your body tends to release more water as opposed to storing it. The reason being 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, signaling your kidneys to excrete MORE water and retain LESS. Along with increased excretion of water, the minerals found in that water are lost at a higher rate (1,2). In the end, you can quickly become depleted of the key electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. As a result, you can experience some of the negative symptoms associated with the “keto flu”. Getting The Right Amount o Continue reading >>
Keto Tip: Eat More Salt On A Ketogenic Diet!
I said last week that most issues with the Ketogenic Diet can be fixed by doing one of three things; drink more water, eat more salt, or eat more fat. Last week we talked about water, now let’s talk about salt. Of all the things that were difficult for me to start to do once I started eating on a Ketogenic diet, it was probably upping my salt intake that really messed with me the most. All my life I have had high blood pressure and of course, the first thing the Docs tell you to do is cut your salt intake. You may have heard of the DASH diet that consists primarily of veggies, lean protein, low fat dairy, fruits and whole grains and no added sodium. Well guess what that diet also happens to be low in? That’s right, our old friend sugar. And according to a 2010 University of Louisiana study, reducing your dietary sugar has a much bigger impact on your BP than added salt. Why is that? Here are 3 reasons. Hydrophilic Effects of Sugar One reason is that sugar is hydrophilic, in other words it tends to absorb water. So if you have high levels of blood sugar it will tend to absorb water creating a larger volume of fluid in your veins and arteries. This increased volume raises blood pressure. Insulin Resistance Blocks Magnesium Insulin helps your body store magnesium but if you are insulin resistant (and if you are obese, you are by definition insulin resistant) your cells wont take up the insulin or the magnesium that come along with it. Magnesium stored in cells relaxes your muscles and without it, the blood vessels become more rigid which increases blood pressure. On a personal note, once I started taking these Magnesium supplements I saw a huge drop in my overall BP as well as an easier time sleeping through the night. Fructose Elevates Uric Acid The metabolization of Continue reading >>
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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. Video of the Day 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. 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. 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 Continue reading >>
Why Sodium Is So Important On A Ketogenic Diet
Why Sodium Is so Important on a Ketogenic Diet When insulin levels are kept low (in the case of following a LCHF lifestyle), the kidneys excrete sodium at a higher rate. This combined with adequate sodium consumption, lots of water consumption and coffee (which is a natural diuretic) can cause a slight case of hyponatremia (which is the technical term for low sodium levels in the blood stream). This can cause slight nausea/headaches, dizziness, loss of energy/fatigue, muscle weakness and muscle spasms/cramps. This causes another problem! Potassium wasting. Your body will use up its potassium stores to conserve the little bit of sodium you do have remaining. However this problem is easily fixed. Just add salt to all of your meals. Dr Stephen Phinney, who has been researching ketogenic diets for decades recommends approximately 3–5 g of sodium daily (one teaspoon of salt roughly equals 2g of sodium). This means the we have be having at least 1 teaspoon of salt throughout the day, ideally 2. These values have been used in research by Dr Phinney and have found to effectively maintain optimal circulatory reserve. I personally carry a grinder of Himalayan rock salt in my backpack at all times. So if I forgot to salt my packed lunched or buy lunch out somewhere I can add plenty of salt. Salt is an essential electrolyte which can cause muscle weakness and cramps if levels are too low (as previously discussed). This is also why I have a glass of water with some salt added before doing any fasted exercise in the morning. Bonus tip: Making bone broth can also be a great source of sodium if you include plenty when you make it, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals (including potassium). Continue reading >>
Using Supplements To Maximize Your Ketogenic Diet
Science shows that the ketogenic diet is an effective way to lower blood sugar in diabetes, control insulin resistance, and optimize cholesterol. One of the most common questions we get from people is how to utilize supplements to further reap the benefits of a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Below we outline some science-backed supplements and reasons you might want to use them in order to optimize your carbohydrate-restricted diet. About 145 million Americans use nutritional supplements each year—that’s almost one-half of the population.  Fight Triglycerides with Fish Oil Supplements According to Nutrition Business Journal, Americans spend over 1.2 billion dollars on fish oil supplements per year. But what are they exactly and can they benefit your health? Fish oil supplements are capsules that contain various oils derived from the liver and skin of fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. They are rich on a special kind molecule called omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat which helps protect against heart disease and potentially a variety of other health conditions. Omega-3 fatty acids come in one of three varieties. The first one is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in foods like canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts, and chia seeds. The other two, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are only found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential food; this means that it isn’t naturally produced by the body and you must obtain it through dietary means. Unfortunately, many American don’t get enough of any of these three types of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. Recent research suggests that fish oil supplements may lower levels of triglycerides, fat molecules found in the blood Continue reading >>
Thinking Of Going Ketogenic? You’ll Need Extra Salt.
The ketogenic diet is growing in popularity these days, due to perceived benefits of weight loss, nutrient density and mental clarity. Commonly overlooked with this diet, however, is the resulting need for increased sodium consumption. As we have discussed many times before, the body’s hydration system operates on a ratio basis; not on a basis of absolute intake quantities. Thus, when it comes to something like blood pressure, the total amount of sodium you consume matters less than the amount of sodium relative to potassium. As SaltStick CEO Jonathan Toker, Ph.D. wrote about in a recent slowtwitch.com article, in attempts to lower blood pressure, it is often as effective to increase dietary potassium as it is to reduce sodium, because it is the balance that matters more. This same ratio-based lens is necessary when analyzing the effects of a ketogenic diet on the body. In this blog post, we discuss the ways a ketogenic diet affects electrolyte levels, as well as steps you can take to avoid hampering your success with the diet if you decide this is the nutritional path for you. What is the ketogenic diet? Put simply, the ketogenic diet involves extreme restriction of carbohydrates and protein, so that the majority of calories consumed come from fats. Adherents are fond of coconut oil, fatty cuts of meat, avocadoes, nuts, and other fat-heavy plant sources such as olive oil. The end goal is to force the body to fuel itself with fat instead of glucose as a way to promote an efficient fat-burning metabolism. Normally, the body prefers to run on glucose broken down from carbohydrates, sugars and starches, as it is more easily processed by the cells. However, when glucose is not available, the body will resort to other sources of energy. In some instances, fat cells are bro Continue reading >>
Top-3 Mineral Deficiencies On A Ketogenic Diet (and How To Fix It)
A common question I get asked after clients start a ketogenic diet is “why do I feel lousy?” Like them, you’re probably thinking going keto will provide an immediate mental and physical boost. For some, it will. For others, you may experience adverse symptoms, also known as the “keto flu”. When you start a very low-carb ketogenic diet, you’ll flush water and sodium out of your body in the first few weeks. As your sodium levels fall, so too will potassium levels. This can leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and wondering what you got yourself into. Fear not, it’s only temporary. Here are some suggestions for avoiding key mineral deficiencies when jumping into a ketogenic diet. Sodium One of the biggest health and nutrition “myths” is that you should avoid salt. If you’re fit, healthy, and following a keto diet you’ll lose water and sodium in the first few weeks. For athletes, this problem can be compounded because you also lose sodium through your sweat, and as your sweat rate increases, your sodium and blood volume will decline. Not a good recipe for optimal energy and performance. On the flip side, if you’re overweight, out of shape or in poor health then your body is likely already holding on to too much sodium from high consumption of packaged and processed foods (i.e. sodium is used as the primary preservative) or from chronically elevated insulin levels. Therefore, a low-carb or keto approach is great way to restore healthy levels. Symptoms of low sodium include fatigue, headaches, compromised ability to perform (especially outdoors in the heat) and in more serious cases you may pass out. Remember that most of the sodium in your body is found in your bloodstream, so if your body gets deficient, you don’t have many reserves to tap into. In t Continue reading >>
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