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 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!