Though it seems to go against much of the “limit salt” advice we hear these days, sufficient salt and other electrolytes are essential for our bodies to function well.
When we are eating a higher carbohydrate diet our bodies hang on to water.
To store 1g of carbohydrate as glycogen, 3g of water are needed
Higher insulin levels cause the kidneys to retain sodium
When we eat a lower carb diet or practice intermittent fasting, our insulin levels and stored glycogen levels drop, resulting in fluid loss. This is why you quite often see a big weight drop in the first week.
Losing excess water is fine, but electrolytes also get flushed out.
Lower carb foods are generally less processed and contain less sodium, worsening the deficiency.
You may have heard of the “keto flu”? The symptoms of headache, fatigue, brain fog, and cravings are directly related to this loss of electrolytes.
The keto flu can be avoided by drinking 2 cups of broth with added salt (1/4tsp/cup or more) and by adding salt to our foods.
Eat potassium rich foods such as: avocados, almonds, macadamia nuts, beef, salmon, cremini mushrooms, and leafy greens.
Magnesium can be obtained through food (avocados, dark chocolate, cooked spinach, almonds), but many soils have been depleted. Taking a magnesium supplement (citrate, maleate, glycinate, never oxide) is a good idea.
When you’re adjusting to a low carb diet or fasting, drinking an electrolyte solution can help maintain energy and prevent headaches. One recipe has ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp potassium chloride (salt substitute), and ½ tbsp Citro-mag (magnesium chloride solution) – amounts can be adjusted to personal tastes and electrolyte requirements.
There are commercially available electrolyte capsules and drink mixes, just avoid those with added sugars