Electrolytes on Keto: Do You Really Need Supplements?

Electrolytes play a crucial role in maintaining countless body functions, and people in the adaptation stage of the keto diet may experience losing some of them through frequent urination.

This comprehensive article will discuss electrolytes on keto, from their functions and deficiency symptoms to the electrolyte supplement recommendations.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium are essential electrolytes.
  • On a ketogenic diet, you excrete more water and electrolytes with it.
  • Electrolyte-rich foods, electrolyte-infused water, and supplements help balance them on a keto diet.

Table of Contents:

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes1 are essential minerals that carry an electric charge within bodily fluids, playing a crucial role in maintaining various physiological functions. The major electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium.

Sodium2Regulates fluid balance, supports nerve transmission, and aids in muscle contractions.
Potassium3Vital for nerve and muscle function, helps balance sodium levels, and supports heart health.
Magnesium4Essential for muscle and nerve function, bone health, and energy production.
Chloride5It is vital for nerve and muscle function, helps balance sodium levels, and supports heart health.
Calcium6Vital for bone and teeth health, blood clotting, and muscle function.

Why You Need More Electrolytes on Keto

The ketogenic diet, characterized by a low-carbohydrate intake and increased reliance on fats for energy, triggers several physiological changes that impact electrolyte balance.

Here are a few factors that affect the body’s electrolyte levels when doing the keto diet:

Insulin and Sodium Excretion:

  • Insulin’s Role: The keto diet is characterized as a low-carbohydrate diet, which causes a decrease in insulin.7 As insulin levels drop on a keto diet, the kidneys excrete more sodium.
  • Sodium Loss: Sodium is one of the most excreted electrolytes in the urine. Increased sodium excretion can lead to an electrolyte imbalance.

Water and Glycogen Depletion:

  • Water Loss: Each gram of glycogen contains about 3 grams of water.8 The initial keto phase often results in water loss as glycogen stores are depleted.
  • Electrolyte Dilution: The water loss through urination can dilute electrolyte concentrations, emphasizing the need for replenishment.

Increased Ketone Production:

  • Diuretic Effect: Ketones have a diuretic effect, promoting increased urine production.
  • Mineral Depletion: This process contributes to losing essential minerals, particularly potassium and magnesium.

Prevention of Electrolyte Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Muscle Cramps: Adequate electrolyte levels help prevent muscle cramps and spasms.
  • Fatigue and Headaches: Electrolyte balance supports overall energy levels and can alleviate fatigue and headaches.

Electrolytes and Keto Flu

The keto flu is a collection of symptoms that some individuals experience during the initial stages of adopting a ketogenic diet. While not everyone encounters keto flu, its occurrence can be attributed, in part, to electrolyte imbalances.

To understand this better, here’s an overview of the symptoms of different electrolyte deficiencies:

1. Sodium Deficiency:9 Headaches, dizziness, nausea, low blood pressure, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

2. Potassium Deficiency:10 Muscle cramps, palpitations, and weakness.

3. Magnesium Deficiency:11 Muscle spasms, palpitations, fatigue, and low appetite.

4. Chloride Deficiency:12 Digestive issues and muscle weakness.

5. Calcium Deficiency:13 Muscle weakness, cramps, numbness, or tingling sensations.

Symptoms of Electrolyte Deficiency

Muscle Cramps and Spasms:

Electrolyte imbalances, particularly low potassium, magnesium, and calcium levels, can lead to muscle cramps and spasms.13

These involuntary contractions occur when there is a disruption in the delicate balance of electrolytes involved in signaling muscle contractions and relaxation.

Fatigue and Weakness:

Sodium14 and magnesium15 deficiencies are often linked to feelings of fatigue and weakness. Sodium is vital for maintaining proper fluid balance, and cells can’t function optimally when levels are low.

Magnesium, on the other hand, is crucial for energy production within cells. A lack of magnesium can impair ATP synthesis, the body’s primary energy currency, leading to fatigue and weakness.


Sodium, potassium, and magnesium16 all play roles in maintaining proper nerve function and blood vessel dilation. Electrolyte imbalances can disrupt these processes, potentially leading to headaches.

For example, low magnesium levels can cause blood vessels to constrict, contributing to tension headaches.

Dizziness and Lightheadedness:

Low sodium and potassium levels can impact blood pressure regulation and fluid balance. When blood pressure drops due to insufficient sodium,17 dizziness and lightheadedness can occur.

Similarly, potassium is crucial for maintaining the electrical potential across cell membranes, including those in nerve cells. An imbalance can affect nerve signaling and contribute to feelings of dizziness.

Palpitations and Irregular Heartbeat:

Potassium is essential for maintaining a regular heart rhythm. A deficiency can lead to palpitations and irregular heartbeats,18 known as arrhythmias.

Additionally, magnesium is involved in the regulation of the heart’s electrical activity.19 Insufficient magnesium can contribute to arrhythmias and palpitations.

Nausea and Vomiting:

Electrolyte imbalances, particularly sodium and potassium, can impact the functioning of the digestive system.

Low sodium levels, for instance, can affect the water balance in the intestines, leading to nausea.20 Potassium imbalances can disrupt smooth muscle function, potentially contributing to vomiting.


Magnesium deficiency has been associated with sleep disturbances and insomnia.21 Magnesium plays a role in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation.

A lack of magnesium may disrupt this process, making it difficult for individuals to fall or stay asleep.

Constipation or Diarrhea:

Electrolyte imbalances, particularly disruptions in sodium and potassium levels, can impact gastrointestinal function, leading to symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea.

Sodium is vital for maintaining water balance in the intestines.22 When sodium levels are low, it can increase water absorption, contributing to constipation.

On the other hand, potassium imbalances may affect smooth muscle function23 in the intestines, potentially leading to diarrhea. Electrolyte imbalances disrupting the intricate fluid balance in the digestive system can manifest as gastrointestinal discomfort.

Brain Swelling (Cerebral Edema):

Severe electrolyte imbalances, especially sodium, can profoundly affect the central nervous system.24 In extremely low sodium levels, a condition known as hyponatremia, water can enter brain cells, causing them to swell.

Recognizing symptoms like headaches, nausea, seizures, and altered mental status is critical for prompt intervention and treatment.

How To Get Enough Electrolytes on Keto

Supplementation under Guidance:

For some individuals, especially during the initial stages of keto, supplementation may be necessary. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether electrolyte supplements suit your needs.

Electrolyte-Infused Water:

Enhance your hydration strategy by incorporating electrolyte-infused water. Look for products with balanced electrolyte profiles, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

Alternatively, consider making your electrolyte water by adding a pinch of sea salt and a splash of lemon juice to your water. You can also drink pure coconut water.

Electrolyte-rich Foods

Here are the food sources of electrolytes that you should incorporate into your diet:

  • Sodium: table salt, pickles, olives, cheese, bacon, salted nuts and seeds, seaweed.
  • Potassium: Avocado, banana, spinach, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, zucchini, salmon, pork.
  • Magnesium: Almonds, cashews, spinach, kale, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, mackerel, halibut, dark chocolates.
  • Chloride: Table salt, sea salt, olives, seaweed, tomatoes, lettuce.
  • Calcium: Dairy products, leafy greens, almonds, canned fish with bones, and tofu.

Safety Considerations and Monitoring

Like low electrolytes may cause physiological effects, too much electrolytes could also be dangerous. Medical supervision and regular electrolyte monitoring are essential when taking electrolyte supplements.

People who get to adapt to the keto diet fully may regain their normal electrolyte balance and won’t need supplements at that point.

Best Keto Electrolyte Supplement and Drink

keto electrolytes supplement

Electrolyte Powders

Electrolyte powders are convenient for on-the-go supplementation. They typically contain a balanced mix of sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

Look for products with no added sugars or artificial additives. These can be mixed with water or added to keto-friendly beverages.

Some recommendations include LMNT, Redmond Re-Lyte, or Gatorade Endurance powder.

Electrolyte Tablets and Capsules

Tablets offer a portable and easy way to supplement electrolytes. Look for ones that provide a comprehensive blend of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

Nuun Sport and Hi-Lyte Electrolyte Replacement Capsules are some of the options.

Keto-Friendly Sports Drinks

Some sports drinks are specifically formulated for a ketogenic diet, providing electrolytes without added sugars. Choose the ones with no added sugar to avoid compromising the keto benefits.


Electrolyte imbalances are expected with the adaptation stage of the keto diet, and supplementation may be needed to prevent the symptoms, including the keto flu. You can get supplements in powder form or take electrolyte drinks.

However, this needs medical supervision to design how much and what electrolytes to focus on accurately.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What electrolytes can I drink on keto?

You can opt for electrolyte powders, capsules, tablets, and keto-friendly drinks to replenish your electrolytes without compromising ketosis.

What is the best natural source of electrolytes?

Bananas, avocados, leafy greens, beans, and seaweed are among the best natural sources of electrolytes.

What are the best drinks to replace electrolytes?

Coconut water, homemade electrolyte water, and keto-friendly electrolyte drinks are some of the best ways to replenish electrolytes.

Do electrolytes interfere with intermittent fasting?

No, electrolytes do not interfere with intermittent fasting, as they do not have any calories. However, some electrolyte powders and drinks have sugar and calories, which break the fast.


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Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

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