Electrolyte imbalance can cause many health issues. In fact, a lack of electrolytes can cause irregular heartbeat, fatigue, muscle weakness and cramping, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. That’s just a few side effects of not consuming enough electrolytes daily. As a matter of fact, these side effects are usually what cause some of the symptoms that people associate with the Keto Flu. For that reason, taking in enough electrolytes can help ease and even avoid the Keto Flu.
Furthermore, people on the ketogenic diet are prone to electrolyte imbalance. On a high-carb diet, the body retains more water and therefore more electrolytes. In contrast, on a low-carb, high-fat diet, the body retains less water and electrolytes. This means a person, especially a patient with a neurodegenerative disease like Charcot Marie Tooth, on the ketogenic diet should consume more electrolytes than normal.
So what exactly are electrolytes, what are they for, and how much should we be consuming?
There are quite a few different electrolytes. Electrolytes commonly found in the body include:
For this article, we will be focusing on sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Sodium is important for a couple of reasons. According to “Sodium in diet” on the Medical Encyclopedia. “the body uses sodium to control blood pressure and blood volume.” The article adds, “your body also needs sodium for your muscles and nerves to work properly.” With that in mind, sodium is quite important for patients with Charcot Marie Tooth.
On a ketogenic diet, we simply need more sodium in our diet. “5 Most Common Low-Carb Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them),” from HealthLine mentions that low sodium intake is a common mistake on low-carb diets. A low-carb diet lowers insulin levels, which makes the kidneys excrete excess sodium from the body. As a result, this can lead to a sodium deficit in the body.
Sodium is the easiest of the three electrolytes to consume. One just needs to increase their intake of salt by adding it to foods. Many keto dieters and nutritionists agree that people adhering to the keto diet should consume between 2,000-4,000 mg of sodium each day.
As an electrolyte, potassium is just as important as sodium. “Potassium in diet,” from the MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, states that potassium helps to build protein, build muscle, maintain normal body growth, and control the electrical activity of the heart. Due to potassium’s influence on muscle growth, it’s even more important for those of us with Charcot Marie Tooth. With this in mind, be sure that you’re taking in enough potassium in your diet if you have a neurodegenerative disease or a disease that causes muscle wasting.
Supplementation will not work with potassium. Basically, most potassium supplements will have a limit of 99 mg per serving, and it is suggested to consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day. Therefore, you would need to take a lot of supplements to supplement dietary consumption.
Luckily for us keto dieters, there are many more options than just bananas for potassium. Here are a few foods high in potassium:
I’ve found avocados and spinach to be the best sources of potassium and magnesium.
Magnesium is a very important and highly underrated electrolyte. The body needs magnesium “for more than 300 biochemical reactions,” according to “Magnesium in diet” from the MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Furthermore, magnesium is necessary to maintain normal nerve and muscle function, making it important for patients with Charcot Marie Tooth disease. Magnesium also helps regulate the heartbeat, supports a healthy immune system, and helps bones remain strong.
Magnesium supplements exist, and you can get them in significant dosage. Although it’s very rare, it is possible to take in too much magnesium. The suggested daily amount of magnesium is between 400-500 mg. It’s easy to exceed this amount if you’re taking more than one, 250 mg magnesium supplement each day. Make sure to monitor your intake and to stay between the daily recommended amount. I suggest just getting magnesium from your diet, as it’s fairly easy to reach the daily amount with the proper foods.
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
Spinach is a wonderful source of magnesium. I include spinach and avocados in my daily diet to help reach my potassium and magnesium goals.
No matter what diet we’re consuming, electrolytes are important to our body. During a keto diet, our kidneys excrete more sodium from the body than normal. Therefore, a person adhering to the keto diet needs to consume more sodium than normal. We also don’t retain as much water when consuming so little carbs, so we have less electrolytes in our body in general while in ketosis. This all means that we should monitor our electrolyte intake carefully while on the keto diet.
Charcot Marie Tooth is a neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness, cramping, and wasting among many other symptoms. The effect that CMT has on our muscles means that electrolytes are extra important to patients with CMT. A sports drink isn’t going to cut it! Patients with CMT needs to monitor their electrolyte intake and be sure to get enough electrolytes in their diet each day.