Keto Tip: 5 Reasons You Need To Drink More Water on a Ketogenic Diet!

Keto Tip: 5 Reasons You Need To Drink More Water on a Ketogenic Diet!

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It’s often been said that most problems you run in to on a ketogenic diet can be solved by doing one of three things; drink more water, eat more salt, or eat more fat.  Over the years as I’ve done this, I’ve found this adage to be fairly accurate as most of the “tweaks” I’ve done to get over a plateau or speed up my weight loss has been some variation of these 3 things.

Probably the most powerful part of that truth is to drink more water.  I’ve seen over and over again how upping my water intake leads to faster weight loss and a healthier overall feeling as I continue on this little weight loss journey of mine.

Here are 5 reasons you should be drinking more water on a Ketogenic Diet

Replaces Lost Water

This is something I just didn’t know when I started cutting out the carbs and wasn’t prepared to deal with in those early days.   Your body stores glycogen in water in your muscles.  As your body burns through that stored glycogen and you don’t replace it because you aren’t eating carbs, your body’s water stores get depleted as well.  This is why you tend to lose up to 10 lbs in the first week on keto and also what causes the “keto flu” or the miserable feeling that happens just before you switch over to being fat adapted.  That feeling is caused by mild dehydration and can be shorten tremendously just by drinking more water.  Like I said, that would have been awesome to know in those early days.

Suppresses Appetite and Curbs Cravings

This is another one of those things that I really wish I had known early on but every time you have a hunger pang or a sugar craving, just drink some water and they go away fairly quickly.  In fact, even though I’m almost 2 years into this journey of mine, it is still the ever present glass of water on my computer desk that keeps me on the dietary straight and narrow more than anything else.  It took a while but I eventually trained myself to drink water first when I’m hungry before reaching for a snack.

Puts Less Stress on the Kidneys

Your kidneys do yeoman’s work to filter all the junk out of your blood so make their life easier by drinking more water.  Think of the water as a lubricant that keeps your kidneys working smoothly.

UPDATE:  A helpful reader left the following comment.

Ketones are acidic, so some of your ketone bodies are flushed out rather than burned for energy to make sure they don’t accumulate. Your kidneys concentrate the ketone bodies and urea (also acidic) into urine, so the continued health of your kidneys depends on having lots of water so the concentration of these acids doesn’t become high enough to harm the kidneys.

I’ve followed the work of nephrologist Jason Fung very closely over the last few years and I’ve yet to see him say anything that would suggest a ketogenic state can be harmful to the kidneys under any circumstances so I’m not sure how much I would ever be worried about “acid build up” in my kidneys but having said that, better safe than sorry.  I also know that ketone levels in the urine fall over time as the body as the body becomes fat adapted.  (This is why urine ketone strips become less accurate over time.)  So given that, I’m not sure how worried I would be in the long term about kidney damage.  Either way, drink water folks!

Improves “Keto Breath”

Sometimes as you slip into ketosis, the breath ketone acetate can cause bad breath.  More water helps reduce the effect of acetate on your breath and keeps your breath minty fresh.

You Metabolize Fat Faster

I’m going to be honest here and say I don’t really understand the science behind this.  Everything I’ve read throws this out as fact and never bothers to explain exactly why drinking more water would help your body break down and use fatty acids more efficiently.  All I can tell you is that when my weight loss slows down, the culprit is almost always the fact that I haven’t had enough water.  Once I bump up my water intake, the weight comes off again.

Update: A helpful reader left the following comment.

Burning fat costs one water molecule per two carbon atoms in a fatty acid molecule. The repeated process of pulling two carbons at a time from fatty acids is called “beta oxidation” or the “fatty acid spiral.” You can see here that H2O is invested in the second step. http://chemistry.elmhurst.edu/vchembook/621fattyacidrx.html

Carbohydrates are the opposite. “Hydrate” is in the name so they bring a little of their own water to the party, about one water molecule per glucose molecule as they’re burned. Burning carbs, fats, or proteins eventually gives back water at the very end of the process, but burning fat costs more water during the process compared to carbs, and more overall.

Thank you so much for explaining the science here.  So water is needed for the process by which we break down fatty acids for energy.  Makes total sense and explains why drinking more water helps speed up my fat burning.

So drinking water is great for your health but how about some tricks to help you drink more water.  We got that too!

Keep Water Close

It’s a lot easier to drink water if the water is always around.  Keep a water glass near you and full at all times. You will be surprised at how quickly you will power through a gallon or more a day just by always having it around.

Flavor Your Water

Stay away from anything with sugar obviously but try cutting a few lemons or limes and putting it in the water and see if it tastes good to you.  About a month ago I started drinking water with a little Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in it because there is some evidence that it speeds up weight loss and found I liked the taste.

Salt Your Water

A little salt in your water will make it taste better and help your body retain more of it.  Just a pinch is all you will need.

I hope these tips help you drink more water and lose weight faster!

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30 Replies to “Keto Tip: 5 Reasons You Need To Drink More Water on a Ketogenic Diet!”

  1. According to what I have read, the reason you need more water on a fat-burning diet is that the body needs 1 molecule of water to break 1 molecule of fat down into energy for the body. So it follows that if you don’t drink your water, your weight loss will stall.

      1. Hi Aarn, I’m a biochemistry student reading into ketosis for a project. Thought I’d chime in.

        Burning fat costs one water molecule per two carbon atoms in a fatty acid molecule. The repeated process of pulling two carbons at a time from fatty acids is called “beta oxidation” or the “fatty acid spiral.” You can see here that H2O is invested in the second step. http://chemistry.elmhurst.edu/vchembook/621fattyacidrx.html

        Carbohydrates are the opposite. “Hydrate” is in the name so they bring a little of their own water to the party, about one water molecule per glucose molecule as they’re burned. Burning carbs, fats, or proteins eventually gives back water at the very end of the process, but burning fat costs more water during the process compared to carbs, and more overall.

        Another reason you need water on a fat based diet:

        Ketones are acidic, so some of your ketone bodies are flushed out rather than burned for energy to make sure they don’t accumulate. Your kidneys concentrate the ketone bodies and urea (also acidic) into urine, so the continued health of your kidneys depends on having lots of water so the concentration of these acids doesn’t become high enough to harm the kidneys.

    1. I don’t know that there is any benefit for men to do this. Some women report having more success with a small carb up the week before their cycle begins but I haven’t sen anything clinical on this.

    1. There is an idea that floats around from time to time that drinking anything with food dilutes stomach acid, slowing down digestion. Everything I’ve read on the subject says that stomach acid is so acidic that a little water with your meals won’t affect anything. I guess if it bothers you to drink something with a meal, don’t do it but I think it’s fine for most people.

  2. I am having trouble finding any solid information on my issue, so I was wondering if you might know.
    I started weighing out sodium to make sure I was getting enough, but I have been experiencing Edema in my ankles for two days. I am not sure if I need more water or more salt to correct the problem.

    I have been keto for over a year, but had my second child two months ago.
    Water: 64-128 oz
    Potassium: 1000mg
    Salt: 5000mg
    Magnesium: 300mg

  3. Hello,

    I’ve been on the keto diet for about a week. I lost about 7 lbs in 5 days then I completely stalled. I’m keeping my carbs under 25 grams a day. How do I know how much fat I need to eat? Does constipation play a role in stalling? Will exercising help?

    1. Congrats on starting but it takes a few weeks to get adapted so I wouldn’t worry too much about any weight loss at this point. Just focus on keeping your carbs below 20-30g per day and eating fat to satiation. You shouldn’t feel hungry and just allow your body to get to where it is burning fat for fuel instead of sugar. Constipation can play a role but if you are constipated it usually indicates a lack of electrolytes. Try increasing your salt intake and consider taking a Magnesium supplement like the ones at Pure Vitamin Club. As for exercise, it won’t help with weight loss but it can help with fat loss, you just tend to add muscle at the same rate you lose fat. Exercise is a positive for other reasons as well because better toned muscles use sugar faster and force your body to dip into your stores of fat faster. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. What do you mean it will assist in fat loss and not weight loss? Does that mean I won’t see results on the scale? I have about a hundred pounds to lose, so if I start exercising will I gain muscle? I really want to lose a lot of weight before an event at the end of the month. What should I do? I really appreciate your time and definitely am grateful for you taking the time out to share your wisdom with me.

  4. Hi! I just wanted to add a support comment! Ive been enjoying a ketogenic lifestyle for 8 months now. Ive gone from a tight size 18 to a comfy 10, and a tight 8. I was really getting sick of water, and had seen some videos from 2 prominent doctors in the keto world who stated that drinking half of our body weight while keto wasn’t necessary. So, I stopped drinking as much. I cut down from 100oz to about 40-50oz. My weight loss and inches lost completely STALLED! Happy to report that I decided to up my water consumption again, and I am back to losing 1-1.5lbs a week!

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