Thinking about giving the ketogenic diet a try? Or, are you having trouble sticking with it either because you’re feeling negative symptoms or simply because you find the diet too hard to stick with? Then read on. Here are some of the best supplements for making the transition to keto easier.
Best Keto Supplement #1: Electrolytes
Recently, we addressed the topic, “Are Electrolyte Supplements Necessary For Intermittent Fasting?”
Now let’s pose the same question for followers of the keto lifestyle.
If you’re having any of the following symptoms, then, yes, an electrolyte supplement may offer relief:
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle weakness
- Foggy brain/difficulty concentrating
If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, why can supplemental electrolytes help? Before answering that question, it’s important to understand why these symptoms occur in the first place.
The human brain normally relies on carbs as an energy source. The brain doesn’t metabolize lipids (dietary fats) as easily as glucose (sugar). This despite the fact that fatty tissue comprises a far greater source of energy than sugar stored in the muscles and liver (glycogen).
But when your body is starved of carbs and endogenous (internal) ketone bodies are produced, your hormones that control blood sugar are greatly affected. This is especially true of insulin and glucagon. (When blood sugar gets too low, glucagon signals the liver to release stored insulin.)
Having lower insulin levels sounds like a great health benefit. However, when insulin levels are low, your kidneys excrete sodium, an electrolyte. Levels of other electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium can also deplete when making the transition into ketosis.
Therefore, supplementing with trace mineral drops can offset the electrolyte loss. If you enjoy vigorous exercise and wish to continue exercising while transitioning into ketosis, taking a sugar-free electrolyte supplement (such as trace mineral drops) may be a prudent preemptive measure as high-intensity exercise can further deplete electrolyte levels.
Trace mineral supplements, however, are on the pricier side. If you prefer a whole-food alternative to trace minerals, try drinking bone broth or bouillon.
Best Keto Supplement #2: MCT
Usually, when it comes to nutrition, one golden rule is to eat real, whole foods. But MCT is actually a lab-produced food. Now, before you swear off MCT, do realize that lab-produced does not mean that it’s a genetically-modified organism.
MCT, which stands for medium-chain triglycerides, is fatty acids that are found in coconut oil called caprylic and capric acid. These two fatty acids convert into ketones more efficiently than animal fats, which are predominantly long-chain fatty acids. Of the two, caprylic acid is the best MCT for providing a quick source of ketones for your body and brain to use as energy for exercise.
But why bother with MCT if coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides? The answer is coconut oil contains relatively low amounts of caprylic acid in comparison to MCT oil. The dominant fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which acts more like a long-chain fatty acid. Long-chain fatty acids do not convert as efficiently into ketone bodies as medium chain fatty acids.
One knock, however, on MCT oil is that it may cause digestive upset. An alternative to MCT oil is MCT powder, which may be easier for some people to digest.
Keep in mind that MCT, like coconut oil, is very high in saturated fat. If you have a family history of heart disease or if you have very high cholesterol levels, check with your doctor if MCT oil is safe to consume.
Best Keto Supplement #3: Exogenous Ketones
One of the biggest challenges of remaining in ketosis for some people is that the diet may be difficult to keep up with. Let’s face it: the desire to eat carbs can be overwhelming. But one of the best ways you can stick to the keto diet and prevent sabotaging your weight loss success is by giving into temptation. In other words, have a cheat day once in a while.
The problem with having a cheat day, of course, is that it can kick your body out of ketosis. But if you want your body to quickly become fat-adapted (to be fully in ketosis) again, one of the best supplements to take is exogenous ketones.
Exogenous ketone supplements are most often available in the form of ketone drinks. In a study by researchers from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, at the University of Oxford (UK) ketone drinks were shown to lower blood glucose and are “a practical, efficacious way to achieve ketosis,” the researchers concluded.
Ketone drinks help your body quickly switch back to burning ketone bodies for fuel rather than carbs. However, after a few hours, the effects of ketone drinks can wear off. Make sure you eat lots of fats and keep those net carb counts way down to continue the ease back into ketosis.
Best Keto Supplement #4: Digestive Enzymes
If you’re not used to eating a lot of dietary fat, your digestive system may become overwhelmed trying to break down all those lipids. Taking supplemental digestive enzymes such as hydrochloric acid (HCL) with pepsis may help. HCL and pepsin are the stomach’s main gastric juices. An enzyme prevalent in pineapples, bromelain, may also help improve digestion.
The transition into being fully fat-adapted can be difficult for some people. Especially for those that are used to eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) high in carbs and processed food. Making the switch from a SAD diet to a whole-food, high-fat/low-carb diet can result in the dreaded “Keto flu.” Digestive enzymes may help lessen the severity of flu-like symptoms such as fatigue.
Did you take any supplements to help you transition into ketosis? Do you take any Keto supplements? Share your thoughts below.