The Number One Reason Why People Fail on a Ketogenic Diet

By December 10, 2018 No Comments

New research shows that the current FDA and Canadian Food Guide-recommended daily amounts of sodium are far lower than what our bodies crave (shocking…not really though). In fact, the current level of recommended sodium intake may be injurious to most people. This is also the number one reason why people fail on a ketogenic diet – they are not consuming enough sodium.

Have you ever actually thought about the concept of low salt? It just doesn’t make sense!

To give you an example, sodium is necessary for the uptake of vitamin C- a micronutrient required for immune cell function- into the intestines, bones, the brain, and likely the adrenals. Low sodium can elevate the core body temperature and lead to heat stroke, because the body will DECREASE it’s amount of sweating (in order to hang onto what little salt it has) therefore allowing the body temperature to overheat. Sodium also helps to dilate blood vessels (improve blood flow) and lowers heart rate, another marker of health AND performance. And these are just a couple examples.

Recent studies published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, have found that low sodium intake is as bad as very high intake. Very low levels, below 5g, of salt appeared to put people in the study at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. For reference, the Canada Food Guide recommends people eat no more than 2300mg of sodium per day!

The study did find very salty diets were associated with higher blood pressure and greater numbers of strokes. However this was seen most clearly in those communities eating very high levels, above 12.5g of salt a day, and these were mainly in China where soy sauce is used extensively- another highly processed option. (Study)

But I do not want to spend alot of time on the great salt debate right now. I plan to dig into in 2019 in a ‘x part series’ which is what it deserves.

For now, let’s look at why a keto diet increases the demand for salt:

Author of Art and Science of Low Carb, Dr. Stephen Phinney recommends 3000-5000 mg of sodium per day and 2000-3000 mg of potassium per day.

Lyle McDonald, author of The Ketogenic Diet, recommends even higher levels with target amounts (including what you get from food) set at:

  • 5000-7000 mg/day sodium
  • 300-500 mg/day magnesium
  • 1000-3500 mg/day potassium

If you are an active individual, and frequently engage in workouts where you sweat then aim for the higher numbers. You should take these in throughout the day, not guzzle it all down at once. If you notice any loose stools, dial it back for a day and then slowly ramp back up.

WHOA! That’s alot of sodium, won’t I have a heart attack?

Contrary to what we have been told, consuming too little salt is far more detrimental than consuming too much (again, TBC in more detail). Dr. James DiNicolantonio, cardiovascular research scientists takes a deep dive on this in his book ‘The Salt Fix’, which is an unbelievable resource for anyone wanting more information on this and can’t wait.

3 Reasons the Demand for Salt is Higher on Keto

  • Ketones are negatively charged so they pull positively-charged sodium ions with them so we lose massive amounts water and salt in first 2 weeks—this is the cause of ‘keto flu’ and the reason you need to supplement.
  • Glucose helps your intestines absorb sodium and insulin helps kidneys absorb sodium—lowering both of these with a keto diet makes it imperative that you supplement with sodium. Your body will learn and adapt but help the transition by boosting salt intake.
  • If you’re salt-deficient, your body will pull from a reservoir that also holds magnesium and calcium depleting all three nutrients! So upping your salt can help keep magnesium and calcium from being excreted as well.

Here’s how to get it:

Example Recipe- Brain Ignition electrolyte elixir:

Here’s a quick electrolyte recipe I make at home. You can adjust this (mainly the sodium over time and as you learn to train on keto). Don’t go too aggressive on this or you may score yourself a pair of “disaster pants.”

Makes: 1 quart

  • 1 quart water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (590 mg sodium)
  • ¼ tsp salt free salt substitute (690 mg potassium)
  • 1 tsp Natural Calm (160 mg magnesium)
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • Dash of stevia (to taste)

You can also drink pickle juice. This won’t satisfy your magnesium requirements, but it does have sodium and some potassium. As an added benefit, it has vinegar which has been shown to regulate blood glucose and improve gut health.

Are you enjoying all this Keto specific information? Are you interested in embarking into a keto lifestyle in 2019 for weight loss, mental clarity, and better health?

Contact Chett for details on the Keto Essentials Seminars in 2019, and for a deep dive into the science behind Keto, stay tuned for upcoming details on the Keto Essentials Online Course also coming in January 2019!