Keto Tip: Eat More Salt on a Ketogenic Diet!

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Keto Tip: Eat More Salt on a Ketogenic Diet!

You've been told all of your life to eat LESS salt. Well, if you're on a Ketogenic Diet the opposite is true and here's why.

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 Fructose produces uric acid which blocks nitric oxide in your blood vessels.  Nitric oxide increases your blood vessels elasticity so anything that inhibits nitric acid will increase blood pressure.

Just by way of a personal story, I reduced my salt intake for years and never really had any success in lowering my bp but after I cut out the sugar I saw an almost immediate 20 point drop in my bp and after I started taking Magnesium supplements, I saw another 15 point drop.  Granted, my bp was WAAAAAYYYY high at 200/160 but it has gotten progressively better on a ketogenic diet.

So that’s why you should avoid sugar if you have high BP but what about eating more salt?  It turns out salt is not only beneficial but absolutely necessary on a ketogenic diet.

Here is the primary reason:

Salt and Other Minerals are Not Stored as Much on a Ketogenic Diet

When you start cutting out the carbs, you also start reducing the amount of Glycogen your body stores since glucose is required to make glycogen.  Glycogen is stored in a roughly 1:4 mix with water in your muscles so as glycogen levels drop, you also start shedding a large amount of stored water.  This is why weight loss is so rapid in the first few weeks of a LCHF diet, most of what you are losing is that stored water and along with the stored water you are also losing salt and other trace minerals as they are flushed out with the water.  Replacing that water and salt is crucial, especially in those first few weeks.  In fact, the dehydration that can occur if you don’t up your salt and water intake is why many people have the “keto flu” or a miserable feeling while their body is switching over to being fat adapted.  It is crucial, not only in those early days but for however long you stay on the ketogenic diet, that you always take special care to drink enough water and add enough salt to your diet, as much as 3500-5000 mg of sodium per day.

Of course, no dietary changes should be undertaken without a doctor’s supervision but I am amazed at the massive improvement I’ve seen in my health since cutting out the sugar and carbs and upping my salt intake to go along with it.

Have you had similar experiences?  I would love to hear about them, just leave a comment below to join the conversation!

You've been told all of your life to eat LESS salt. Well, if you're on a Ketogenic Diet the opposite is true and here's why.

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13 Comments

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  • Patti

    January 11, 2017

    I am on week two of keto. I am eating 140 grams of protein, 83 grams of fat and 23 grams of carbs. I’ve increased my electrolytes but not feel bloated. Will the bloated feeling go away eventually?

    Thank you,
    Patti

    Reply
  • Jr Goad

    March 8, 2017

    Hello. I’m on my 3rd week now and I still experience heavy fogginess but I have no problem physically i.e. same lifts/strength at the gym and at work. I work construction and go to the gym roughly 4 times a week (mainly lifting). I consume roughly 3,500 calories a day (roughly Fats: 311 Protein: 175 Carbs: 30-40). I’ve been monitoring my Potassium and Magnesium. I’m also taking in roughly 4000 mg of salt. Would this probably be the problem? I fell in love with Keto and really don’t want to give it up. Please let me know what you think I might be wrong. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Aarn Farmer

      March 8, 2017

      Drs Phinney and Volek recommend consuming 3-5 g of sodium a day on keto so you are right where you need to be on that. Also with the lifting you do, your protein intake is probably right about where you want it if I’m reading those numbers correctly. If I had to guess, I bet you aren’t fully fat adapted yet and are in that “in-between” phase because you are only 3 weeks in. I would give it another 1-3 weeks and see if the fogginess lifts. If not, I would look at the amount and quality of your sleep and possibly stress levels. Check back in early next month and let me know how you feel.

      Reply
      • Jr Goad

        March 10, 2017

        Thank you so much! I will definitely check back.

        Reply
      • Jr Goad

        March 23, 2017

        Hello Aarn. It’s been two weeks since I posted about the issue that I was having. I’m getting more frustrated everyday as I am still experiencing the same symptoms. I’ve increased my sodium to 5-6g. My potassium and magnesium intake is on point. All in all, everything is on point. On a side note, I am also taking a course online to become a firefighter and since I have started this “diet” I have failed to study the materials due to my inability to focus. Again, my body functions well but my mind just seems to be elsewhere. I am still able to go to the gym 3-4 times a week and my body feels fine at work (construction). I am still waiting for that sharp focus (the reason why I started this “diet”) that everyone talks about and it seems like it will never come.

        Reply
        • Aarn Farmer

          March 23, 2017

          Have you considered that there might be something else going on? I’m not sure what it could be but the possibilities are endless, ranging from a food allergy or sensitivity, allergic reaction, sensitivity to medication, sensitivity to artificial sweeteners, vitamin D or B12 deficiency, to something else. You can try sending to Keto Talk and see if they have a better answer. http://ketotalk.com/

          Reply
        • Jason

          April 2, 2017

          Do you take any other supplements? Glutathione is excellent at getting rid of brain fog, there could be extra free radicals causing interference between you brain and the rest of you body.. Have you had any brain trauma, or head injuries, if so you may have too much glutamate floating on the outside of mitochondria in your brain..Bulletproof makes a supplement called KetoPrime, this will help rid your brain of the excess glutamate. How is your folate intake? Do you eat plenty to leafy greens everyday..if not you may want to supplement with methylfolate please stay away from Folic Acid its basically poison. Soy lecithin can also cause brain fog as due Gluten and Dairy. Those are my suggestions..its never easy, and you are the only one who really knows your body. Godspeed

          Reply
          • Aarn Farmer

            April 2, 2017

            Not really. I have taken a multivitamin and a Magnesium supplement in the past but I concentrate on eating whole foods and getting my nutrients from that. We eat a small spinach salad every night before dinner. I eat dairy though in cheese and HWC. Thanks for reaching out!

  • amoyn

    June 27, 2017

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    Reply

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