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How to Get Electrolytes on Keto: Best Low-Carb Sources of Electrolytes

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski (Certified Nutritionist, S&C specialist, M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology)

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While the keto diet has its uses, one common issue people experience on a low-carb diet is a lack of electrolytes, which can lead to unpleasant symptoms, especially when beginning the diet. In this article, we’ll be covering why electrolytes are so important on keto, as well as how to maximize your electrolyte intake on a low-carb diet.

How to Get Electrolytes on Keto? Be sure you’re adding enough salt to foods to hit your sodium goals. Prioritize potassium and magnesium through dairy and meats. Nuts, seeds, and vegetables are other low-carb sources of magnesium. Consider using an electrolyte supplement to meet your daily needs.

electrolytes on keto

Electrolyte Balance on the Ketogenic Diet

While monitoring carb intake may be your primary focus, when going on a keto diet, it’s also important to keep your electrolyte intake in mind. As we’ll be covering more in-depth below, keto diets can often lead to electrolyte imbalances. So, be aware of your electrolyte intake to avoid any unwanted side effects. 

1. Increased Importance of Electrolytes on Keto

So, why are electrolytes important on keto? 

The main reason it’s important to be aware of electrolytes on keto is that many natural sources of electrolytes are high in carbs. Shifting to a low-carb diet may also lead to eating significantly less electrolytes. While it’s possible to get enough electrolytes on keto, you need to be more conscious of what electrolyte-rich foods to prioritize. 

For example, because most high-carb processed foods are rich in sodium, cutting these out on keto can lead to a large decrease in your sodium intake. This makes it important to add enough salt to your food to make sure you’re still hitting your daily sodium requirements.

2. Common Electrolyte Imbalances on the Ketogenic Diet

Those beginning a keto diet often experience symptoms like headaches, cramps, digestive issues, and general weakness. This appears to be caused by the increased loss of sodium, potassium, and water in urine caused by f.e. lower insulin levels.

This means prioritizing sodium, potassium, and adequate water intake is especially important when beginning a keto diet. 

electrolyte drink

Also, magnesium is another common deficiency on keto, likely because many magnesium-rich foods are also high in carbs. With magnesium deficiency being associated with weakness, cramps, and abnormal heart rate, it’s important to prioritize magnesium intake as well. 

Low-Carb Sources of Electrolytes 

Do you need electrolytes on keto? Absolutely. While everyone needs electrolytes, you may need to prioritize them a bit more on a keto diet. 

As we outlined above, prioritizing electrolytes – specifically sodium, potassium, and magnesium – is important for avoiding many unwanted side effects associated with keto. Below we’ll be covering some easy ways to hit your electrolyte targets with low-carb food sources. 

1. Low-Carb Foods High in Sodium

Sodium is not found in high quantities in any natural food sources. Most people get the majority of their sodium through high-carb processed foods. By cutting these out, you need to prioritize added salt in the food you are eating. So, whenever you’re having a meal, don’t be afraid to add a bit of salt. 

The general guideline for adequate sodium intake is 1.5mg a day. This will vary depending on the brand and type of salt you’re using, but it typically works out to be around 1 teaspoon of salt. Deficiency is rare because of how much sodium is added to processed foods, but it’s entirely possible on a keto diet. 

2. Low-Carb Foods High in Potassium

Potassium is a little more difficult to get on keto when compared to sodium. This is because you can’t just add it to your food with a salt shaker like you can with sodium. Because most potassium-rich foods are high in carbs, you’ll have to be strategic about what you eat. Some keto-friendly sources of potassium include:

  • Vegetables (Spinach, Broccoli, Tomatoes)
  • Dairy (Cheese, Yogurt)
  • Nuts (Cashews, Almonds)
  • Meat and organs(Chicken, Salmon)
  • Eggs
  • Coconut Water (Unsweetened)

By prioritizing all these foods in your diet, you should be able to hit daily potassium targets without relying on any high-carb foods. 

electrolytes

The recommended daily intake of potassium is 2.6g for adult women, and 3.4g for adult men. It’s worth noting that most people regardless of diet struggle to hit these numbers, so it may be difficult for you as well, especially if you’re eating in a caloric deficit. As a result, supplementation may be beneficial, as we’ll be covering below. 

3. Low-Carb Foods High in Magnesium

As mentioned earlier, magnesium is another electrolyte many people on keto struggle with. Similar to potassium, this is likely because most natural sources of this mineral are high in carbs. Still, there are plenty of keto-friendly options available that are rich in magnesium, including:

  • Nuts & Seeds (Almonds, Peanuts, Cashews, Pumpkin Seeds, Nut Butter)
  • Vegetables (Spinach, Swiss Chard)
  • Meat and organs (Salmon, Beef, Poultry)
  • Dairy (Cheese, Yogurt)
  • Coconut Water

As you can see, there is plenty of overlap between foods rich in magnesium with foods rich in potassium. So, if you’re prioritizing potassium intake, you shouldn’t struggle much with magnesium intake and vice-versa. 

The daily recommended intake of magnesium is much lower than potassium. Adult men should shoot for 400-420mg, while women should aim for 310-320mg. This should be possible with whole foods, although it may be difficult. Similar to potassium, supplementation with magnesium may be especially beneficial on keto. 

4. Electrolyte Supplements

As mentioned above, while it’s entirely possible to get enough electrolytes through whole food sources on keto, supplementation may be significantly easier. You have a few options when it comes to electrolyte supplementation.

First, you can consider single-ingredient potassium and magnesium supplements. These typically come in capsule form and contain a solid amount of your daily requirements. These may be especially beneficial if you’re confident you get enough sodium and only want to supplement with other key electrolytes. 

Beyond this, you can consider electrolyte powder, which will typically contain high amounts of sodium, potassium, and magnesium. While we typically only recommend these supplements for endurance athletes, they can be beneficial for those on keto struggling to hit their daily electrolyte targets. 

preparing electrolyte drink

The specific low-carb electrolytes we recommend are Hydrate by Transparent Labs, which we’ll be reviewing in more depth below. The best time to take electrolytes on keto is likely during or after your workout to help you replenish any electrolytes you’re losing through sweat. 

Overall, while it may not be necessary for everybody, additional electrolyte supplementation is a great way to cover your bases and ensure you don’t become deficient in anything while on keto. This may be especially beneficial when you’re first starting out and haven’t fully dialed in your new low-carb diet. 

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Importance of Proper Hydration on Keto

Beyond electrolytes, it’s also critical to be drinking enough water when starting keto. As mentioned earlier, along with losing additional sodium and potassium, you’ll likely lose additional water through urine when starting a keto diet. 

water with electrolytes

To prioritize both hydration and electrolyte intake, we recommend either making a homemade keto electrolyte drink or using a high-quality electrolyte supplement. 

DIY – Keto Electrolyte drink

If you’re wondering how to replenish electrolytes on keto, try out this delicious homemade, low-carb electrolyte drink. 

As you may have noticed above, we listed coconut water as a great source of both potassium and magnesium. This is why we recommend using it as a base for this keto electrolyte drink. Along with some added zero-carb sweetener, citrus juice, and salt, you have the makings of a perfect keto electrolyte drink. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups (or 1 Liter) of Coconut Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 tbsp of Stevia or Other Carb-Free Sweetener
  • ¼ tsp of Salt (Adjust to taste and sodium requirements)

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher
  • Taste, and adjust salt, sweetener, and lemon juice to taste
  • Serve chilled, and enjoy!

Note that the salt content of this drink is in line with the AIS recommendations for electrolyte supplementation during endurance exercise, which is 0.5-0.7g of sodium/L of fluid.

This range is meant to provide adequate replacement of sodium while still maintaining palatability. Individual needs may vary, especially if you’re not doing any endurance training, so you may want to consider using less salt.

Electrolytes we Recommend – Hydrate by Transparent Labs

Hydrate By Transparent Labs

transparent labs hydrate
  • Form: Powder
  • Flavors: Tropical Punch, Peach Mango
  • Key Ingredients: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium
  • Additional Ingredients: Coconut Water Powder, Taurine
  • Package Information: 304g
  • Servings: 40
  • Price Per Serving: ~$0.75
  • Company Founded: 2012
  • Recommended by athletes: Paul SklarHafþór Júlíus Björnsson

If you’d prefer to use a pre-made electrolyte supplement, consider an option from a high-quality, reputable brand like Hydrate from Transparent Labs.

This supplement contains 884mg of electrolytes per serving, including all the electrolytes covered in this article, (sodium, potassium, and magnesium), as well as some additional calcium. Specific amounts are broken down in the table below:

ElectrolyteMg/Serving
Sodium500mg
Potassium250mg
Calcium84mg
Magnesium50mg

We recommend mixing each serving of this supplement with around 1 liter of water for optimal taste. This will also fall at the lower end of the AIS range of 0.5-0.7g of sodium/L of water, which is ideal for endurance athletes.

Keep in mind that we recommend mixing a full serving of this supplement with 4 cups/1 liter instead of Transparent Labs’ recommendation of 6-8oz. 

electrolyte powder from Transparent Labs

Like all Transparent Labs supplements, Hydrate doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, colors, or preservatives. It’s also sweetened with Stevia, meaning Hydrate is zero-carb and completely keto-friendly. 

Each serving of this supplement will cost you ~$1.33. This could be a very worthwhile investment, especially if you’re just getting started on keto. 

Conclusion

Overall, the best way to get electrolytes on keto is through adding plenty of salt to your food and prioritizing high-quality whole foods rich in potassium and magnesium. 

With this being said, electrolyte supplementation can be an easy way to ensure you’re not becoming deficient in anything. If you’re interested in using electrolytes on keto, we recommend Hydrate by Transparent Labs

How long have you been on the keto diet? Are you new to the diet, or are you even just considering trying it out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References:

  1. Cliff J. d C. Harvey, et. al, “The use of nutritional supplements to induce ketosis and reduce symptoms associated with keto-induction: a narrative review,” PeerJ. 2018.
  2. The Nutrition Source, “Sodium,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/ (accessed April 11, 2024)
  3. The Nutrition Source, “Potassium,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/ (accessed April 11, 2024)
  4. The Nutrition Source, “Magnesium,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,  https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/ (accessed April 11, 2024)
  5. AIS Sports Supplement Framework, “Electrolyte Replacement Supplements,” AIS, https://www.ais.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/1000487/36194_Sport-supplement-fact-sheets-electrolytes-v5.pdf (Accessed Apr. 11, 2024)
  6. Photos made by Torokhtiy Media Team.

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Camila Parente Santos

Author: Camila Parente Santos
Sports Nutritionist

Experience: 7 years

Camila has worked as a Nutritionist for 7 years. In addition to being a nutritionist, she is an amateur weightlifting athlete for 2 years. Camila has experience at Flamengo’s football base and in a food supplement company and currently provides services at a clinic. At the moment she is coursing a postgraduate study in Sports Nutrition.

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Jacek Szymanowski

Reviewed by: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance architect
,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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