The Truth About Sodium: Is It Really Essential
When you hear the word sodium as it relates to food, it may conjure up negative associations with salty, high-fat foods and high blood pressure.
While salty foods and high blood pressure certainly have a connection, this should not be the take home message.
Sodium is an essential mineral our bodies need to function properly.
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Without it, your body wouldnt be able to regulate your nerves, muscles and blood pressure. Thats because:
Not only that, your body would have a much harder time finding the right balance of fluids for your system to run optimally if it didnt have enough sodium.
Speaking of that, when you dont consume enough salt, youll put your body into a state of hyponatremia, which can lead to:
And in severe cases, low sodium levels can lead to seizures or even coma, which can be fatal.
Thats why its so crucial, no matter what diet youre on, to consume the right amount of salt for your body each and every day.
Pause: That doesnt mean you have a free pass to gorge on all things salty.
Heres Why Salt Gets A Bad Rep
Most of us know eating foods with too much sodium isnt a good move for our health but its important to understand why that is.
With the rise in processed foods and convenient Frankenfoods came higher than average intakes of salt.
Heres the bad news: Studies have shown it only takes an extra 5g of salt per day to increase your cardiovascular disease risk by 17% and your risk of stroke by 23%.
And thats just the beginning.
Too much sodium can also contribute to:
When this happens, youll end up increasing your risk for urinary and kidney stones.
As your body tries to find calcium to meet its needs, it will do so by robbing your bones of this important mineral, leading to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Studies also demonstrate high salt diets lead to increased risks of gastric cancer as a result.
Since these negative side effects happen when you eat too much salt, many people, especially newbie dieters, have a fear of sodium.
Theres no argument here: if you eat a high salt diet, you will increase your risks for these horrible conditions.
But that doesnt mean you should eliminate salt from your diet altogether.
How Much Salt Do You Need
If youre seeking optimum nutrition, you ought to make sure youre adding pink Himalayan sea salt to your food. But, how much salt do you actually need?
The specific amount of salt people need to feel their best varies person-to-person. If you are an active person who sweats a lot, for example, youll need more sodium than someone who is sedentary.
At the very least, its important to make sure youre meeting the recommended daily amount, which is 2300 milligrams.
Many people who follow a ketogenic diet consume quite a bit more sodium than this, though. Some people eat and drink up to 4000 milligrams of sodium per day.
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What Is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
What actually is pink Himalayan sea salt, and what makes it better than regular table salt?
Pink Himalayan salt comes Pakistani salt mines, which are located approximately 300 kilometers from the Himalayas. The pink color of the salt comes from iron oxide deposits and rust in the mountains.
Pink Himalayan salt is unprocessed, unlike traditional table salt, which has nearly all of its nutritional value stripped from it.
Pink Himalayan salt is a great source of sodium. But, it also contains trace amounts of several other essential minerals and nutrients, including:
Many people notice that they feel much better on a keto diet when they are consuming pink Himalayan salt than they do when they just consume regular table salt.
Will Peanuts Kick You Out Of Ketosis
Eating more than 30-50 grams of carbs per day may provide your body with enough glucose to stop producing ketones and fuel your muscles and brain with glucose instead.
Not ideal if your goal on keto is to lose weight.
- 130 grams of fat
- 64.7 grams of protein
Plus, these nutrition facts don’t take into account the various brands of peanuts and peanut butters. Many are made with preservatives, sugar, honey, and other sweeteners that increase the number of carbs and calories in a serving.
And finally, besides their nutritional value, another thing to keep in mind about peanuts is that, technically, they’re not nuts at all.
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Keto Diet Recipes For Beginners
The first few days of the keto diet can be challenging for beginners. While its difficult to include enough fat in your diet, cravings can also be a nuisance at times.
For this reason, here are the best recipes to fight cravings with the help of healthy fats without compromising ketosis.
- Warm coconut or almond milk in a small pot at medium heat.
- Add the remaining ingredients in a large cup and mix.
- Dribble a teaspoon of the warmed milk into the cup and mix until the liquid is smooth and lump-free.
- Add the remaining milk and mix well. The remaining ginger pieces can stay in the cup or be strained.
- Last but not least, you can season the golden milk to taste and add optional spices.
How Much Garlic Can You Eat On Keto
How much garlic you can have on a ketogenic diet all comes down to how many carbohydrates you can have for the day.
Most individuals generally stick to between 20 and 50 grams of net carbs per day.
Think of your carbohydrate allotment, similar to a budget you get to spend. Therefore, how much garlic you can have all depends on whether your budget allows for how much garlic you want to use.
Unless youre going crazy with the garlic daily, you should be fine using a generous amount.
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How To Make Sure Youre Getting Enough Salt
If youre eating a ketogenic diet comprised primarily of whole foods , salt and sodium can be hard to come by.
But, there are lots of things you can do to ensure youre meeting your daily sodium requirements:
- Sprinkle pink Himalayan sea salt on your food
- Consume salty foods like bone broth
- Consume naturally sodium-rich foods like bacon, beets, celery, and spinach
Another easy way to increase your sodium consumption is to add a teaspoon or so of pink Himalayan sea salt to your water. Add some fresh lemon juice to the water, too, for additional electrolytes.
Can You Have Salt On Keto
We all know that consuming too much salt can be hazardous to our health.
However, that doesnt mean you should eschew sodium altogetherespecially on the ketogenic diet.
In fact, a certain amount of sodium is necessary to ensure the body functions properly, and individuals practicing keto may need even more of this essential substance.
Read on to learn more about sodiums role in our diets and how salt and ketosis go hand in hand.
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The Incredible Edible Egg
Is an egg zero carbs? Not exactly. A large egg contains 0.6 grams of carbohydrates. When you consider that, most keto dieters aim at around 20 grams to 50 grams of net carbs per day, there’s room for plenty of eggs! One egg only adds 72 calories to your meal but 6 grams of protein.
According to the USDA, a large egg contains:
- 187mg cholesterol
What Happens When You Don’t Eat Enough Salt
In today’s society, we’re scare mongered into believing high salt intake will lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and hypertension In everyone.
When you start cutting sodium to less than 3000mg/day, renin, angiotensin II, and aldosterone begin to skyrocket. 5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28391629
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What About Salt Intake In People With Medical Conditions
Recommendations to reduce sodium intake are so pervasive that one could assume the research must consistently demonstrate that low-sodium diets markedly improve various medical conditions. In truth, the effect of sodium restriction is often more modest than one would think plus, much of the evidence has been contradictory or inconclusive.
Lets take a closer look at the evidence for salt restriction as it relates to common chronic diseases:
Low Sodium Levels Can Lead To Keto Flu
One of the less desirable effects of the ketogenic diet is the Keto Flu. This usually happens within the first three to five days of following a keto diet. Symptoms include feeling lethargic, run-down, irritable, unmotivated, etc. Our body doesnt have access to the glucose it previously used for energy and hasnt made the necessary metabolic changes to efficiently use fat for fuel yet.
Perhaps the biggest cause of the keto flu is dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. I recently posted a simple guide to electrolytes on keto that simplify and explains electrolytes. Thankfully, the keto flu comes and goes quickly on low-carb diets. Staying hydrated and balancing your electrolytes is a simple process that can minimize both the duration and extent.
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What Is The Keto Diet For Beginners
The ketogenic diet or keto diet aims to burn fat as the primary source of energy.
Because it is more readily available, the body prefers energy from carbohydrates. Only when there is no longer enough glucose does the body attack fat reserves.
After we are used to eating carbohydrates around the clock in Western society, many peoples bodies have unlearned to burn fat for energy.
Do you look forward most to side dishes like potatoes, pasta, or bread when you eat out and find it hard to say no to dessert?
Then youve come to the right place. This beginners guide explains step-by-step how your body regains the ability to burn fat through a ketogenic diet effectively.
Salt Vs Sodium: Whats The Difference
Although frequently used interchangeably, salt and sodium arent the same thing an important distinction when discussing daily intake. Sodium is a mineral that is found naturally in small amounts in many foods such as meat, milk, yogurt, certain tropical fruits, and vegetables like artichokes, celery, beets, and seaweed.
Salt is sodium combined with chloride, another mineral. Since sodium chloride is roughly 40% sodium, 5 grams of salt contains about 2 grams of sodium. According to one study, salt added to processed foods accounts for about 70% of our daily sodium intake.3
Some sodium also comes from baking soda in baked goods, crackers and cookies.
In short, sodium is the essential mineral our body uses, but salt is the dominant way we ingest that mineral.
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How Does The Ketogenic Diet Work
In a regular diet, the body converts the carbohydrates in food into a form of sugar called glucose, also known as blood sugar. In a ketogenic diet, the lack of carbohydrates forces the body to burn fat for energy instead of glucose, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
When the body breaks down fat, it creates molecules called ketones through a process known as ketosis. When the body starts using ketones instead of glucose for energy, that fat-burning state is known as ketosis. So the ultimate goal of the keto diet is to maintain ketosis at all times.
To achieve ketosis, a person can only eat 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day, per Harvard Health Publishing. To put that in perspective, two slices of bread contain about 30 grams of carbs. The daily recommended carb intake for the average adult is 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal, according to the American College of Cardiology.
As you can tell, the keto diet is very restrictive. And because of the lack of diet variety, following it can result in a keto mineral deficiency.
Choose The Right Salt For Added Health Benefits
On the surface, all salt probably looks the same its usually white and crystallized like sugar.
Yet when you go to the supermarket to pick up this underrated mineral, prepare to face a wall of options.
Which one should you choose?
Are there any salts specifically better for keto?
While plain ol table salt can get the job done, there are three healthier options which deliver more important minerals than simply sodium.
Here are our top three:
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Why You Need More Electrolytes On Keto
Sodium and potassium are critical electrolytes the body needs to function properly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These electrolytes work hand in hand, and starting the keto diet can cause low sodium and potassium levels.
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When the body starts to use ketones for energy instead of sugar, insulin levels drop. Insulin is the hormone that manages blood sugar and while lower insulin levels are generally a good thing, it can also cause a person to lose sodium at the start of the keto diet, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Insulin causes salt and water retention. But when insulin levels drop and a person stops retaining so much water, they can lose a lot of sodium through urine, the Cleveland Clinic states. And, because sodium and potassium are closely linked, a person can lose potassium through urine as well, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
This loss of electrolytes can result in what’s known as the “keto flu.” Symptoms can include dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. To address this, the Cleveland Clinic recommends staying hydrated with sufficient electrolyte replacement .
You can also get sodium and potassium by drinking electrolyte drinks, like sports drinks or Pedialyte, or by taking dietary supplements.
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Foods Beginners Should Avoid On The Keto Diet
The cornerstone to master the ketogenic diet for beginners is to know which foods you should avoid.
The white crystal is pure poison for your health and makes losing weight almost impossible.
Sugar can appear in countless forms, such as sweets, pastries, cakes, ice cream, chocolate, lemonade, juice, honey, agave, or maple syrup.
Contrary to popular belief, you should also avoid zero-calorie sweeteners and zero drinks, as they can negatively affect metabolism and fuel cravings .
After decades of optimizing food production, most processed products contain cheap synthetic ingredients instead of expensive natural ones.
If you turn over some brand-name products, youll be surprised whats inside. In particular, look for hidden sugars, starches, emulsifiers, stabilizers, sweeteners, and other chemical additives.
Also, labeling them as low-carb or keto foods rarely makes fake food aid weight loss, even if there are few net carbohydrates.
Sauces and Dressings
Ready-to-eat foods are a mecca for added sugars. I often cant believe how much sugar can be in hot mustard.
Moreover, balsamic vinegar is often 50% sugar. Likewise, ready-made dressings are pumped with sugar and sweeteners.
With barbecue sauces, the result can often be even worse. For this reason, it makes sense to make sauces yourself or to invest the amount in pasture-raised meat instead, which tastes better without any need for condiments.
Protein Bars and Drinks
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Keto Diet Shopping List For Beginners
Once youve stocked your pantry with these keto staples, youll be ready to whip up a delicious LCHF meal anytime:
- Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, avocado oil
- Spices: Himalayan salt, black pepper, turmeric
- Drinks: Mineral water, green tea, coffee
These largely unprocessed natural foods guarantee keto diet success for beginners and help you maximize the health benefits.
Getting Caught Up In Carb
When it seems as if the sole goal of keto is to drastically cut carbs, the rest can feel like an afterthought. Reducing your carbohydrate intake is great, but focusing on higher-quality products when budget allows will help improve your health, too, says Clevenger. That means choosing omega 3rich foods, like wild salmon, grass-fed, local, or organic meats, and snacking on whole foods rather than processed keto-approved treats. It also means trying to follow a balanced diet as best you can by incorporating as many nutrient-rich fruits and veggies as you can. Many registered dietitians arent a fan of keto because it may lead to nutrient deficiencies. You can help avoid these by working with an RD yourself as you follow keto. Find one at EatRight.org.
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Different Keto Diet Types
There are five main types of ketogenic diets. Each of them takes a slightly different approach to the distribution of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Depending on your daily routine, training, and weight loss goals, you can choose the best method for you from the five.
1. Standard Ketogenic Diet
The SKD is the most common and best-researched version of the keto diet, which is why this article refers to it.
Here, you stick to the classic keto macronutrient distribution and take in under 50 grams of net carbohydrates per day.
2. Cyclical Keto Diet
For people who are intimidated by keto, the cyclical ketogenic diet is an excellent starter method.
In this, you alternate between periods of low-carb eating for several days, followed by a period when more carbs are allowed.
For example, athletes also use this method to add more carbohydrates on training-intensive days.
3. Targeted Keto Diet
The targeted ketogenic diet is similar to the cyclic diet in that it allows increased carbohydrate intake after exercise.
Hence, the TKD makes particular sense to athletes since that is the best time to eat carbohydrates to help with muscle recovery .
4. High-Protein Keto Diet
Compared to the standard approach, the only thing that changes during the high-protein ketogenic diet is protein intake.
Due to the higher protein and lower fat intake, this variation is more similar to the Atkins diet than the others.
Here, macros distribution is around 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.