Ketogenic Supplements Guide: Do You Need Supplements When Doing Keto?
The ketogenic diet is all about embracing healthy, low-carb, and unprocessed foods like leafy vegetables and fatty meats, which should be sufficient in supplying your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
This is easier said than done, however, and many keto dieters find it challenging to obtain all their nutrition from food alone.
Adding the right supplements can be the difference between succeeding as a Keto dieter or failing by the first week.
With that said, Keto supplements can make a great addition to anyone’s diet. They can keep your keto diet optimal by providing your body with the nutrients it needs and by making the transition from a high-carb to a low-carb lifestyle far easier.
In this article, we’re going to review everything you need to know about taking supplements on the keto diet so you can benefit the most and continue making the right dietary decisions.
Benefits of Taking The Right Supplements When on Keto
It’s generally understood that getting your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients is essential for an optimally performing body, but what most people don’t realize is that not getting enough of what you need can affect you on a daily basis.
Falling short on your nutrients, particularly on the keto diet, can result in:
- Fatigue and low-energy
- More difficulty in reaching ketosis
- Electrolyte imbalance or dehydration
- Can slow down your weight loss progress
Remember that your body and metabolism are changing on the keto diet as you switch from burning the glucose from carbs to burning fat.
So it’s important to pay attention to what nutrients, vitamins, and macros your body needs to make the transition and succeed in functioning optimally.
While you can expect brain-fog, headaches, fatigue, and these other unpleasant nutrient deficiency symptoms to all but disappear by taking supplements and eating right, here are a few more of the benefits that come with supplementing your diet:
#1 Avoid or Get Rid of the Keto Flu
The keto flu is a collection of flu-like symptoms that typically occur in the first few weeks of transitioning from a high-carb to a low-carb diet.
Some of these symptoms include drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, muscle cramps, and irritability. So why does this happen?
The keto flu commonly occurs due to a lack of nutrients and vitamins the body needs when transitioning to a low-carb diet.
One major way you can avoid or reduce symptoms of the keto flu is by staying hydrated.
Since the keto diet causes your body to quickly shed excess water your body retains (from consuming carbs), your glycogen levels will decrease significantly which can result in dehydration.
By simply taking extra care to stay hydrated, you can kick some of these symptoms—such as muscle cramps and fatigue—to the curb.
You also want to watch your sodium, potassium, and magnesium levels, which can also plummet and lead to the keto flu.
Introducing the right supplements into your diet can greatly increase your chances of reducing keto flu symptoms or even avoiding it completely.
Electrolyte supplements like Nutritional Yeast flakes work best since they contain sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
#2 Make Your Diet Easier
Even if you aren’t in the throes of carb-withdrawal keto flu symptoms, your body still might not be feeling and performing the best it can if all of its nutritional needs aren’t being met.
The keto diet doesn’t just cut out unhealthy processed foods from your diet, but some healthy foods too, like starchy vegetables and carb-heavy fruits. So how do you replace these lost vitamins and minerals?
Supplements are a great way to give a much-needed boost to your diet and provide your body with what it may be lacking.
They’re especially useful at the start of the diet when your body and mind are still transitioning and you’re still getting used to eating more meats and low-carb fruits and veggies.
#3 Get Healthy(er)
While the keto diet is popular for those looking to shed those extra pounds, many find themselves attracted to it for its wealth of health benefits, such as aiding in diabetes and improving physical performance.
For those falling short on their health goals due to a lack of nutrients, supplements can help fill the gaps to keep you healthy.
For example, those not seeing a boost in their cognitive function after transitioning to the keto diet might benefit from fish oil.
The Best Supplements on Keto
Now that you have a better idea of what you stand to gain from incorporating supplements into your keto diet, let’s take a look at some of the most popular supplements keto dieters are using to be their best.
MCT oils, or medium-chain triglycerides, have long played a huge role in the world of supplements for keto dieters. MCT oil, in particular, is an odorless, clear liquid extracted from palm and coconut oils and is popular due to its unique ability to quickly metabolize in the body to create ketones as a source of fuel.
MCTs come in powder or liquid form and is an incredibly useful tool in maintaining ketosis. The powder form is typically easier on the digestive tract and adds a nice, creamy texture to drinks—just be careful the supplement you take does not contain any hidden fillers.
MCTs in liquid form give drinks a more oily texture and shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach. Most research on MCT has been done on the liquid form.
As you grow older, your body naturally produces less and less digestive enzymes, which can explain why adults might experience digestive issues like bloating and gas more than children.
Since what you can eat is more restricted on the keto diet, it’s important to ensure your body is getting the digestive enzymes it needs to help with digestion and ease common symptoms like diarrhea or nausea.
Taking digestive enzyme supplements can better help your body digest fiber, proteins, and fats while on the keto diet.
The ketones naturally found in your body are considered “endogenous ketones” whereas those outside the body—such as supplements—are called “exogenous ketones”.
These exogenous ketones are often used to help reach the metabolic state of ketosis quicker, in part due to reducing glucose.
It can also help in appetite suppression, making weight loss goals all the more achievable. A few unpleasant side effects of taking exogenous ketones is bad breath—also known as “keto breath”—and upset stomach.
Omega-3 and Omega-6
Supplements like fish oil are loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which can make a big impact on the health of your body. EPA and DHA are two crucial omega-3s found in fish like mackerel and salmon as well as nuts and seeds.
It’s important to note that while both of these fatty acids are essential to your body, too much omega-6 can actually cause issues like inflammation.
[Read: Omega 3-6-9 Supplement Guide]
One study revealed that keto dieters who supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids reported a greater decrease in inflammation, insulin, and triglyceride than those who didn’t.
Getting enough vitamin D is crucial, as it helps skin health, bone health, and keeping a healthy immune system. While it’s not as helpful in achieving ketosis as exogenous ketones may be, vitamin D is essential to your overall health, no matter what diet you’re on.
Vitamin D3 supplements are fat-soluble and can help your body absorb more phosphorus and calcium, and keep your bones strong.
They can be tough to get enough of on the keto diet, however, since they’re often found in sugary foods.
While you can certainly obtain probiotics from healthy foods, you would have to increase how much you eat, which isn’t always easy to do, and the last thing you want is to interfere with ketosis.
This is where supplements can save the day. Probiotic supplements can also help offset some of the more unpleasant gut symptoms brought about by the keto diet. You can buy them as pills or capsules, which lets you consume them directly.
Collagen makes up roughly 30% of the body’s total protein content, making it the richest protein in the body. Collagen helps your tendons, skin, bones, and overall connective tissues, so you want to make sure you’re always getting enough.
While your body will naturally produce collagen from the protein sources you can consume, if you’re falling short, you can take easily digestible supplements such as collagen peptides. You can add these to your smoothies, tea, or coffee, or cook them into baked goods.
Keto-Friendly Foods to Give You a Boost
You can certainly navigate the keto diet without supplements, but it’s more of a challenge, especially for newbies who aren’t used to all the foods you should be eating when going keto. Below are essential keto foods that will help your body meet its nutritional needs.
Keto dieters love bone broth as it can not only add flavor to a meal but it also provides your body with plenty of gelatine and minerals. Drinking this broth can especially help fight the keto flu since it’s an excellent source of electrolytes.
Bone broth is made from animal bones and connective tissue, typically from chicken, fish, or cattle, which has been boiled into a broth and simmered for hours.
The best way to enjoy bone broth is by sauteing your veggies with it, mixing it into a smoothie, or even using it to add some fluffy texture to your scrambled eggs.
Most seafood is considered keto-friendly and provides a whole host of nutrients such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, B vitamins, A vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and more, depending on the type of fish.
One of the best things about seafood is the variety. It’s hard to get bored eating seafood when there are so many types of fish that are perfectly suitable for the keto diet while also being rich in healthy vitamins and minerals. A few of the best fish you can eat on the keto diet include salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, mussels, and shrimp.
Eggs are another superfood on the keto diet. They’re super versatile, delicious, and incredibly nutritious. Don’t skip on the yolk! The majority of the beneficial nutrients found in eggs are actually in the yolk. This includes a whopping 13 vitamins and minerals along with antioxidants.
Meat and Poultry
Getting enough meat and poultry on the keto diet is crucial. After all, they are high in protein, fats, and essential nutrients your body needs. Meat and poultry are teeming with B vitamins as well as selenium, zinc, and potassium.
To get optimal benefits, always try to opt for grass-fed and pasture-raised meats since they have a higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6 fats. They also tend to come with more antioxidants.
While you might be used to choosing 1% or 2% dairy products, stop! The fats found in dairy like cheeses, butter, and cream are essential on the keto diet and contain high-quality protein along with an abundance of vitamins and minerals.
High-fat dairy is low in carbs, so they’re perfectly keto friendly. Additionally, adding more full-fat dairy to your diet will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
No healthy food list is complete without having avocados on it. Avocados are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as fiber.
They’re low in carbs and super versatile. If you aren’t a big fan of avocados, try using avocado oil. It doesn’t quite provide as many nutrients as the food, but the oils contain monounsaturated fats which can help with cholesterol.
Nuts and Seeds
While you have to be careful with how many and what types of nuts and seeds you consume due to their carb content, there are plenty that are low-carb and offer up some essential nutrients, such as magnesium, zinc, vitamins E, B6, folate, calcium, copper, potassium, and plenty more, depending on the nut or seed.
Flaxseed, for example, is rich in lignan precursors while sesame seeds offer the most phytosterols. Both are helpful in reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
At the end of the day, supplements are a perfectly safe and reliable way to fill the gap on important nutrients your body needs while on the keto diet, but it’s also important to keep in mind that they’re called supplements for a reason. They are meant to supplement your diet and should not be replacing the healthy foods you should be eating.
When purchasing supplements, keep in mind that they often come in a variety of forms, such as pills, capsules, liquids, and powders. Always read the labels to see exactly what you’re getting and to ensure there aren’t any unnecessary fillers. Reading reviews can also help narrow down results if you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of the supplement products out there.