The Keto diet is capturing the hearts and minds of more and more Americans every day and is sought after primarily for its weight loss abilities.

The idea is to cut out carbs and consume more meats and proteins so that our bodies can move into a metabolic state known as ketosis.

This is the process where our bodies will move to burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

If you’re new to the keto diet, you might be reading and hearing about how you need to start consuming more sodium than what you were previously on a standard carb-full diet. This has people wondering: is it safe?

In this article, we’re going to take a look at why your body requires more sodium on the keto diet and whether it is safe or not.

But First, a Word on Ketosis

As mentioned earlier…

The metabolic state of ketosis is the process where your body uses fats for fuel instead of carbs.

Normally, our bodies prefer running on carbs, starches, and sugars since these are all more easily processed by our cells, but when you remove these from your diet, your body will break down fat cells instead which results in the production of ketones.

When your ketone levels have risen, this means your body is undergoing ketosis. This shift in metabolic states has been shown to lead to a wide variety of health benefits such as:

  • Suppressed appetite and decrease in obesity [1]
  • Used to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders [2]
  • Decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases [3]
  • And so much more!

So what does ketosis have to do with increasing our sodium consumption? Let’s take a look!

Keto and Sodium

On the keto diet, it’s important to get much more sodium than you normally would on a carb-full diet.

Normally, your body breaks down carbs into glucose which is then moved into the bloodstream and then moved again by the pancreas into cells so that it can be utilized for energy.

If your body is used to consuming carbs (especially those from processed grains and white sugar), you’ll find that insulin is always present in the bloodstream due to the continuous flow of glucose.

Insulin can help regulate our blood sugar levels but it can also help our bodies maintain and absorb sodium. Without it, sodium will move through the bloodstream and it will be filtered into urine by our kidneys.

So basically,

when you cut carbs, you’ll more than likely experience a drop in insulin levels, and consequently, a drop in sodium levels since sodium is being expelled at a much higher rate.

Sodium is important for many reasons and low levels of it can have a great effect on us. It can impede focus, energy regulation, and other vital functions and physiological processes.

Low sodium levels are actually one of the biggest causes of the “keto flu”, which is a bout of cold-like symptoms our bodies experience the first couple of weeks after going keto.

This is because as your body is transitioning into a carb-free life, it will lose a lot of water and sodium.

Some common side effects of the keto flu are the following:

  • Decrease in energy levels
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of focus
  • Body aches

Have More Salt

If you’re thinking about going keto, you will be needing that extra salt in your diet. It isn’t unsafe because you are just giving your body the sodium amount it needs to function properly.

Increasing your sodium intake might feel excessive on the keto diet, but just remember that you want to make up for all of the sodium your body is losing since it has switched to a carbless diet and is experiencing a dip in insulin levels.

Having too much sodium, however, can also be harmful to your body because it increases blood pressure, which can lead to an increased risk of a variety of ailments, such as heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease.

So how do you know if you are getting the right amount?

As you incorporate more sodium into your diet, experts advise keto dieters to consume 2000-4000 mg of sodium each day. The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 2300mg for a normal carb-filled diet.

Some ways to add more salt to your diet:

  • Add more salt to your dishes
  • Consume foods that have a higher salt level, such as bullion, bacon, or salted butter
  • Try Himalayan salt, which is healthier than table salt

If you want to make it really easy, consider supplementing your diet with SaltStick Caps, each of which delivers 215mg of sodium. It also contains other important electrolytes that can help you kick the keto flu to the curb so you can feel great.

Additionally, if you are an active person who enjoys working out, you’ll have to be extra conscious about replenishing lost sodium.

Conclusion

So our verdict on whether or not sodium is bad for you is: yes and no. Sodium in moderate, healthy amounts is actually great for your body and is an integral component to keeping it functioning as it should.

However, consuming too much sodium can also be detrimental to your health and leave you at risk for a variety of health conditions.

You always want to be sure you’re getting a good amount, especially when you’re changing your diet so drastically as in the case with cutting carbs on keto.

Just remember that while on the keto diet, your body is getting rid its stores of sodium at a much faster pace than on a normal diet, so you aren’t overeating sodium, but rather replacing what has been lost.

References:

[1] Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: Friend or foe? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11:2092–107.

[2] Barañano KW, Hartman AL. The ketogenic diet: Uses in epilepsy and other neurologic illnesses. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2008;10:410–9.

[3] Kosinski C., Jornayvaz F.R. Effects of ketogenic diets on cardiovascular risk factors: Evidence from animal and human studies. Nutrients. 2017;9:517 doi: 10.3390/nu9050517.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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