Transitioning to a new diet doesn’t always go as smoothly as we’d like…
And while the keto diet, in particular, has been shown to assist in a variety of health benefits, there can be some unpleasant side effects that come with it, such as:
- keto breath
- keto flu
To make matters more challenging, eating the right foods alone won’t always be enough to provide your body with the essential nutrients it needs.
This is where supplements come in.
Supplements can help make up for the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need to better and more quickly adapt to the keto diet.
In this article, we’re going to run through the top ten supplements you need to know about on the keto diet.
Related Article: Should I Supplement with Exogenous Ketones?
The keto diet is all about getting your body to shift to relying on fat and ketones for energy (instead of glucose). The ketones already found in your body are endogenous ketones.
Exogenous (which means “originating from outside of the body”) ketones can help you move into ketosis faster by rapidly increase blood ketone concentrations (lasting for up to 8 hours).
Exogenous ketones can also help suppress appetite, allowing you to reach weight loss goals faster. About 12 grams of BHB salts is an efficacious dose.
Electrolytes are essential minerals and chemicals in the body, such as magnesium, sodium, and bicarbonate, that carry electrical charges; they are necessary for healthy cellular physiology and fluid balance.
On the keto diet, you’re trying to avoid starchy fruits and vegetables, which are coincidentally some of the best sources of electrolytes. Thus, it’s not uncommon to be lacking electrolytes if you’re on the keto diet.
Lack of electrolytes can trigger the symptoms associated with the “keto flu,” like dizziness and dehydration. It can also cause water retention and constipation, so it’s important that your body is getting what it needs.
It’s suggested that as we age, our bodies produce fewer digestive enzymes.
This could explain why foods that you didn’t have a problem digesting when you were younger might cause bloating, gas, or discomfort now.
On the keto diet, you’re going to be eating more protein and fat, meaning you’ll want to make sure you have sufficient lipase and protease enzymes. These help your body break down and digest triglycerides and proteins into free fatty acids and smaller amino acid chains (which then go on to serve a myriad of metabolic functions).
If you feel that you’re suffering symptoms of indigestion and nutrient malabsorption, digestive enzyme supplements may help. Betaine HCl before meals can also help by increasing the amount of stomach acid available.
Collagen supplements can do wonders whether you’re on keto or not.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, being an integral component of tendons, skin, bones, muscles, and other tissues. Collagen deficiencies will undoubtedly expedite the aging process, leading to weak joints, frail bones, wrinkly/saggy skin, and other undesirable health ramifications.
Collagen supplements are an option on keto since they are generally free of carbs. Collagen peptides, particularly type-I and type-II, can help keep your skin glowing, your joints healthy, and even support lean body mass.
MCT Oil & MCT Powder
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are a specific class of fats found in coconut oil, cheese, butter, and yogurt. They have shorter chain lengths than other fatty acids and can be metabolized quicker, allowing your body to convert them to fuel rapidly (thereby encouraging ketone production).
Rather than getting these healthy fats in the form of, say, coconut oil, MCT supplements provide a higher concentration of capric acid and caprylic acid, which are arguably the more beneficial medium-chain fatty acids.
Coconut oil is naturally most rich in lauric acid, which remains somewhat uncompelling for internal health benefits (though it does seem quite beneficial when applied topically).
MCTs often come in oil form that you can take right from the bottle or in powder form that you can mix with both hot and cold liquids.
Like collagen, Vitamin D supplements are valuable whether or not you’re following keto.
Vitamin D deficiency is very common these days given that most of us spend the majority of our day indoors and out of direct sunlight. However, this doesn’t mean you should overlook the importance of Vitamin D since it’s integral for healthy skin, bone, immune function and more. It doesn’t directly contribute to ketosis but is nonetheless vital to your overall health.
Thankfully, vitamin D is quite affordable. Look for a supplement that contains cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) as this is the most bioavailable form. 1000-2000 IU per day is generally a good starting dose.
It can be challenging to get the veggie intake you need that will supply you with enough essential nutrients. Greens powders consist of powdered plants like spinach, kale, broccoli, and wheatgrass. They can be conveniently mixed in shaker cups or blended into smoothies. These smoothies can be healthy snacks or meal substitutes on the keto diet, especially when combined with things like collagen and MCT powder.
Fish oil supplements are beyond abundant these days and it’s easy to see why. As the name implies, fish oil is derived from marine species, such as salmon, cod, mackerel, and krill. These species are rich in omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and other health conditions.
If you don’t eat much fish, it behooves you to supplement with fish oil daily. The current recommended intake is about 2,000 mg of EPA and DHA per day (in a 2:1 ratio, ideally).
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is considered conditionally essential (meaning you only need it in certain circumstances since the body usually produces enough of it).
However, if you exercise intensely on a regular basis, glutamine levels can drop significantly, thereby suppressing immune function and your ability to recover.
In such cases, consuming L-glutamine supplements can help boost your immune system, muscle recovery time, and stave off cellular damage. Aim for about 10-15 grams per day, split into 2-3 doses taken before meals.
Turmeric has become increasingly popular in recent years and is technically a flowering plant of the ginger family.
The primary health-promoting compound in turmeric is curcumin. It’s a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, which may serve a myriad of roles throughout the body. However, curcumin is only present in small amounts in turmeric and it’s not well-absorbed.
The best way to get curcumin is via supplements that contain a patented form called Bio-Curc®, which is tested to be 400x more absorbable than highly concentrated turmeric extracts fortified with piperine.
Don’t Rely on Supplements on Keto!
Supplements, whether in pill, liquid, or powder form, are only meant to serve as adjuncts to your diet; supplements will never replace the whole foods you eat. Nevertheless, using the right supplements on keto can ensure that your body is getting the important nutrients it needs to function optimally.
As always, it’s recommended that you consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian before beginning a new diet and supplement regimen.
 O’Malley, T., Myette-Cote, E., Durrer, C., & Little, J. P. (2017). Nutritional ketone salts increase fat oxidation but impair high-intensity exercise performance in healthy adult males. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 42(10), 1031-1035.
 Gibson, A. A., Seimon, R. V., Lee, C. M., Ayre, J., Franklin, J., Markovic, T. P., … & Sainsbury, A. (2015). Do ketogenic diets really suppress appetite? A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity Reviews, 16(1), 64-76.
 Sergiev, P. V., Dontsova, O. A., & Berezkin, G. V. (2015). Theories of aging: an ever-evolving field. Acta Naturae (англоязычная версия), 7(1 (24)).
 Day, C. R., & Kempson, S. A. (2016). Betaine chemistry, roles, and potential use in liver disease. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1860(6), 1098-1106.
 Li, Y., Lei, D., Swindell, W. R., Xia, W., Weng, S., Fu, J., … & Voorhees, J. J. (2015). Age-Associated Increase in Skin Fibroblast–Derived Prostaglandin E2 Contributes to Reduced Collagen Levels in Elderly Human Skin. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 135(9), 2181-2188.
 Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45.
 Papamandjaris, A. A., MacDougall, D. E., & Jones, P. J. (1998). Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications. Life sciences, 62(14), 1203-1215.
 Babayan, V. K. (1981). Medium chain length fatty acid esters and their medical and nutritional applications. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 58(1), 49A-51A.
 Dayrit, F. M. (2015). The properties of lauric acid and their significance in coconut oil. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 92(1), 1-15.
 Holick, M. F. (2007). Vitamin D deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine, 357(3), 266-281.
 Lee, J. H., O’Keefe, J. H., Bell, D., Hensrud, D. D., & Holick, M. F. (2008). Vitamin D deficiency: an important, common, and easily treatable cardiovascular risk factor?. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 52(24), 1949-1956.
 Swanson, D., Block, R., & Mousa, S. A. (2012). Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Advances in nutrition, 3(1), 1-7.
 Kris-Etherton, P. M., Grieger, J. A., & Etherton, T. D. (2009). Dietary reference intakes for DHA and EPA. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 81(2-3), 99-104.
 Calder, P. C., & Yaqoob, P. (1999). Glutamine and the immune system. Amino acids, 17(3), 227-241.
 Cui, J., Yu, B., Zhao, Y., Zhu, W., Li, H., Lou, H., & Zhai, G. (2009). Enhancement of oral absorption of curcumin by self-microemulsifying drug delivery systems. International journal of pharmaceutics, 371(1-2), 148-155.