Keto Diet Supplements – What You Might Be Missing On Keto
Even if you’re eating a healthy keto diet, there are certain vitamins and minerals you’re probably not getting enough of.
So, while supplements aren’t essential to a Keto diet, they can often help boost your general health as well as how great you can feel.
But which supplements do you take on keto?
How much should you take?
And what about exogenous ketones…they’re not a mineral but everyone seems to be taking them?!
This article will answer all your questions: which supplements to take (and why), how much you need to take of each supplement, and which brands are best to buy.
And we’ll also go over exogenous ketones: when/if you should take them, and where to buy them.
7 Supplements You Should Take On A Keto Diet:
Here are the 7 nutrients you’re likely to be missing on a Keto diet. We’ll explain why you might be missing them as well as what you can do to supplement.
And remember, often supplementing just means eating more of the right types of food rather than taking a pill!
1. Prebiotic Fiber and Probiotics
You’ve probably heard about probiotics and prebiotics, but what are they exactly? “Probiotics are mostly bacteria, which assist in the maintenance of the natural balance of microorganisms (microflora) in the intestines. Therefore, prebiotics feed the probiotics,” explains Dr. Mandana Arabi, M.D., Ph.D. “These probiotic bacteria reduce the harmful bacteria, suggesting that probiotics can prevent infections in the digestive tract and reduce inflammation.”
Good gut health is highly important and strongly correlated with improved health, digestion, weight-loss, and better moods. And making sure you get plenty of probiotics and prebiotic fiber will ensure your gut health improves.
Why you need prebiotic fiber and probiotics on Keto:
Unfortunately, on a Keto diet, most of us skip the vegetables in order to cut down on our carbohydrate intake.
This means that we’re missing out on huge amounts of prebiotic fiber. And we’re also often cutting out the traditional fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, and sauerkraut. So we’re also missing those good bacteria that help us thrive.
Most people are afraid of eating vegetables on a Keto diet because of the carbs they contain. But remember that net carbs is the total carbohydrates in the food minus the fiber. So the fiber amount doesn’t count toward your daily carb intake.
So stick with low carb vegetables like these.
And supplement with prebiotic fibers and probiotics to boost it up.
Common dosage for fiber:
- The FDA recommends 25 grams of fiber intake per day.
- Studies on ancestral diets suggest fiber intake of up to 100 grams per day.
- Most people don’t even get close to the FDA guidelines for fiber intake.
Where to get your prebiotic fiber and probiotics:
- The easiest way is to eat more vegetables, especially fermented vegetables like kimchi, pickles, and sauerkraut. But make sure they’re actually fermented and not just sprinkled with some vinegar.
- Supplement with a good prebiotic fiber blend that contains a variety of different prebiotic fibers. We recommend CoBionic Foundation.
- Supplement with a good probiotic like Prescript Assist.
If you’re feeling low in energy and struggling with cravings, you might not be getting enough sodium.
Why you need sodium on Keto:
- It’s essential to keep your muscles working properly
- It’s vital for making sure your nervous system functions correctly
- It’s an electrolyte which helps your body keep your fluid levels in balance – and on a keto diet your body excretes more electrolytes than usual, so you’ll need to take supplements to keep your electrolyte levels topped up.
“When we are in a state of ketosis, insulin drops, and this causes our bodies to excrete sodium in the proper fashion, rather than holding onto excess as we do when we are sugar-burners,” says Australian Clinical Nutritionist Kimmi Katte. “We also strive to eat very “clean,” which means we naturally excluded most, if not all of the highly processed foods that are the largest source of dietary salt in non-Ketogenic peoples. These factors mean that a Ketogenic person must be more vigilant about intentionally keeping their sodium at balanced levels.”
Common dosage for sodium:
- 5 – 7 grams total per day. Usually your food contains just under 2 grams, so that means you need to add in 3 – 5 grams more.
Where to get your sodium:
- Adding more salt to your food should give you the extra sodium you need, because table salt is about 40% sodium.
Another mineral deficiency which could be affecting your energy levels is potassium. So if you’re feeling fatigued, supplementing with potassium is also a good idea!
Why you need potassium on Keto:
- It could help prevent kidney stones (according to this study)
- It could help lower high blood pressure (there’s a study with evidence here)
- It could help prevent osteoporosis and help your body maintain healthy bone density (here’s a study)
- It’s an electrolyte (like sodium) – so you’re more likely to be deficient in potassium on a keto diet, and you’ll need to take supplements to avoid this.
Common dosage for potassium:
- 2 – 3 grams total per day. And if you’re very active then you may need more.
Where to get your potassium:
- Eat plenty of potassium-rich foods, like avocados, spinach and beef
- Take a supplement! The brand we recommend is Thorne Research Potassium
Almost all of us are deficient in magnesium – that’s because modern farming methods strip nutrients from the soil, so the foods we eat are less rich in minerals.
Why you need magnesium on Keto:
- It may help reduce inflammation (the study is here)
- It may help improve depression (here’s the research study)
- It could help regulate your blood pressure (see this study)
Common dosage for magnesium:
- 300 – 500 milligrams total each day. Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., recommends supplementation “As a sound ‘insurance policy’,” adding that, “Magnesium is extraordinarily safe for most people.”
Where to get your magnesium:
- Supplements are your best bet – the brands we recommend are Magtech Magnesium Complex and Douglas Labs Magnesium
If you’re following a keto diet, you’ll likely need to supplement with carnitine. While carnitine comes from meat and you’re probably eating some meat on Keto, your body requires extra carnitine when you’re in ketosis.
You can tell if you’re deficient by running a Urine Organic Acids Test from Great Plains Lab. If your levels of adipate and subarate are elevated that means you need more carnitine.
Why you need carnitine on Keto:
- It could lower high blood pressure (read the evidence here)
- It can help reduce muscle soreness after exercise (according to this study)
- It could help endurance athletes perform better (here’s the evidence)
- It’s used by your body to transport fats from outside a cell into a cell – and a keto diet means your body has to do more of this (because your cells are using fat for fuel), so it requires more carnitine
“Carnitine plays a central role in how our cells, including brain cells, utilize fuel to create energy,” according to neurologist and author Dr. David Perlmutter, M.D. He notes that studies have shown that carnitine can have a positive impact “in a variety of energy dependent issues like muscle function, heart function, and…brain function as well.”
Common dosage for carnitine:
- At least 3 grams per day.
Where to get your carnitine:
- Take a supplement – the brand we recommend is Designs for Health Carnitine Tartrate
6. Vitamin D
This is another nutrient many of us are deficient in, especially during the winter months.
The best way to check for deficiency is with a blood test for 25 hydroxyvitamin d. If your levels are below 40 ng/mL that’s a good indicator you’re deficient.
You can double-check by testing your levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Having levels lower than 30 pg/mL are confirmation that you’re deficient in vitamin D.
Why you need vitamin D on Keto:
- It may reduce your risk of cancer (read more here)
- It could decrease your likelihood of getting the flu (here’s the study)
- It could lower your chance of getting heart disease (find out more here)
- It could improve the symptoms of folks with depression (here’s the study)
Common dosage for vitamin D:
- Depending on how deficient you are, it could be anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day
Where to get your vitamin D:
- Spend 20 to 25 minutes outside in the sunshine. You’ll need to spend longer outside if it’s winter or your skin is darker or you’re older.
- Take a supplement: we recommend Thorne Research Vitamin D / K2 Liquid
If you aren’t making a habit of eating fatty fish each day, your omega-3 levels may be low.
Why you need omega-3s on Keto:
- It benefits your heart health in multiple ways (read more here)
- It could reduce inflammation and insulin resistance (check out this study)
- It’s good for your skin (this is the evidence)
- It may lower your risk of colon cancer (here’s the study)
- If you consume omega-3 regularly, you’re less likely to be depressed (see the evidence here)
Common dosage for omega-3s:
- There is no defined dosage for Omega-3s, but as a rule of thumb, one can of small fatty fish will probably contain the daily dose of omega-3s you need
Where to get your omega-3s:
- Eat sardines! The brand we recommend is Wild Planet Sardines
Exogenous Ketone Supplements
These are slightly different from regular vitamin and mineral supplements, and that’s why we’re covering them separately.
Strictly speaking, supplementing with exogenous ketones isn’t essential for your health and wellbeing. Unlike getting enough vitamins/minerals, which is vital for your body to thrive.
But these supplements do have some benefits, which is why they’re worth considering adding into your Keto diet.
A quick note: If you’re not familiar with what exogenous ketones are, have a look through our article on What are Exogenous Ketones and Should You Take them? And then come back here and carry on reading!
Exogenous ketones are *not* a magic pill which get you ketosis, weight loss, and other health benefits without needing to follow a keto diet. But they will give you some other benefits.
Why exogenous ketones might be useful for your Keto diet:
- To help you get over keto flu faster (and lessen your symptoms)
- As a useful energy booster if you’re an athlete (especially when you’re doing endurance training)
- To boost your brain function and help you focus better
- To help you get back into ketosis, if you’ve dropped out of it after eating slightly too many carbs
Dr. Peter Attia, M.D., conducted a personal experiment with exogenous ketones, sharing his findings on his blog. He consistently saw a reduction in his blood sugar. “Without exception, every time I ingested these compounds (which I’ve probably done a total of 25 to 30 times), my glucose would fall, sometimes as low as 3 mM (just below 60 mg/dL). Despite this, I never felt symptomatic from hypoglycemia.” He also observed a reduction in appetite.
How much exogenous ketones to take:
- One serving of exogenous ketones per day will be enough for you to feel the positive effects
Where to get your exogenous ketones:
- The brand we recommend trying is Perfect Keto
So, Should You Supplement On Keto?
Supplements can be a powerful tool for boosting your health to the next level.
They allow you to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to flourish, which are hard to get enough of in even the healthiest diet.
But it’s important to remember supplements can’t replace a nourishing diet completely – you can’t eat an unhealthy diet full of processed junk foods and rely on supplements to keep you healthy.
And the same is true for exogenous ketones – they’re great for boosting your energy, improving your focus and helping you get over keto flu faster. But they should not be used instead of eating a healthy Keto diet.
The takeaway: combining supplements with a healthy whole food diet is the best way to give your body what it needs to thrive.
About This Article
This article is based on this interview with Chris Kelly from Nourish Balance Thrive for The Keto Summit.