We live in a world where nothing is entirely perfect – and that includes diets. Even the healthiest of eating plans can have some holes. While the ketogenic high-fat/low-carb model has incredibly positive effects on your health and overall wellness, it isn’t always perfect. That’s why we’re going to dive into keto supplements with this article.
Why do keto in the first place? Well, the benefits of the keto diet and ketosis are numerous and include:
- Boosted energy
- Weight loss
- Lowered chronic inflammation
- Balanced hormones
- Support with diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s
- Improved skin
- Better breathing
- And much more
But to experience the benefits of ketosis, you’re going to have to follow a pretty focused eating regimen. Oftentimes the macronutrient breakdown only gives you about 5% to 10% of your calorie intake in carbs.
For example: if you follow a 2,000 calorie-a-day plan, you’re looking at keto carb limits of 100 to 200 grams in a whole day. Not only is that sometimes difficult to do (but not impossible! Here’s a list of great keto snacks to help you out!), but the low carb fruit and veggie combo also comes with a few potential problems and deficiencies.
That’s why I want to talk about the keto supplements including supplements to increase ketosis.
Taking the best keto supplements regularly can solve your potential keto concerns and make it easier to stay on the plan for the long term so you can reap all those great benefits of ketosis.
I’m going to give you all the specifics you’ll need to know about ketogenic diet supplements – from keto probiotics to electrolyte supplements for keto.
Potential Issues and Deficiencies with Keto
So what are the cons of keto? Let’s understand them, so we know how to fix them with keto supplements.
When you first go keto, you might experience some ketosis symptoms like headaches, fatigue, keto breath, or constipation. This is “affectionately” called ketosis flu by keto dieters. These symptoms normally go away really quickly – maybe even a few days later. They’re really nothing to worry about (1).
But once you’ve been on the keto diet for some time, new challenges may arise. If you don’t address them, they could become real problems.
Depending upon how you adjust your macronutrient breakdown and depending upon which foods you are choosing to satisfy that macronutrient breakdown, it is possible to wind up with:
- A few nutrient deficiencies (mainly micronutrients)
- Some other health issues
It makes plenty of logical sense. When you’re not eating as much variety in your fruits and vegetables (filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants), it can create some gaps in the micronutrients that you would otherwise be getting. Scientific studies back up this idea by showing us that high carb diets have greater “dietary adequacy scores” than low carb diets (2).
That doesn’t make keto bad – after all, there are numerous benefits of ketosis. But it does mean you need to source that “dietary adequacy” from somewhere else. In this case, keto supplements do the job well.
To get a better understanding of the best keto supplements, I’m going to take you through the most common potential issues when you’re on the keto diet. Fortunately, each problem I’m about to describe can be remedied with a few diet modifications and our list of top ketogenic diet supplements that you’ll see in a minute!
Traditionally when people want to stock up on dietary fiber they turn to grains or other whole foods like berries, beans, peas and lentils. Legumes aren’t on the keto diet at all and berries are very limited, too.
So it may be possible that your keto diet could leave you a little low on fiber, which can end up being a problem for your gut – leading to digestive and immune system issues. You may feel backed up, sluggish, and even fatigued when your fiber is too low (3).
Luckily a few of your keto-approved choices will prevent this from being too much of a problem. For example, an average-sized avocado has 10 grams of fiber. A cup of broccoli or Brussels sprouts have about 5 and 4 grams of fiber, respectively. All of these are keto friendly foods and can help you get to the daily recommendation of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men (4).
That means fiber doesn’t have to be a keto problem, but in all honestly, it can easily become one.
Everyone seems to understand why nutrients like vitamin C are important – but when’s the last time you thought, “I wonder if I had enough selenium today?” Probably never. But maybe you should. Selenium is a mineral essential to protecting your body against oxidative damage and foreign invaders (bad bacteria and viruses).
Selenium also supports the thyroid, and plays a valuable role in the reproductive system. In other words, selenium makes a real difference in lots of areas (5).
Studies have shown that those on the keto diet are often low in selenium, but these same studies also show keto supplements with selenium can help fix the problem with no issues (6). (More on that later!)
Think about how much work your nerves are doing throughout the day. Electrolytes stimulate those nerves. Depleted electrolytes could actually lead to scary health consequences (like heart problems), but most of us just experience really frustrating daily issues like (7):
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive problems
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
The keto diet won’t necessarily leave you electrolyte free – as long as you’re eating a decent amount of vegetables, avocados, dairy, etc. you should be ok. (Though starches and fruits are a great source of electrolytes, so it’s possible you wouldn’t get quite enough.)
The real electrolyte problem for keto dieters is that ketosis leads to more water release.
The lowered insulin in the keto diet encourages your kidneys to excrete more water. When you lose water, you lose electrolytes (think of athletes who sweat a lot and need to consume electrolyte replenishers after practice).
Below is a roundup of the electrolytes you may become deficient in and the problems that could cause:
Dairy is allowed on the keto diet – and the right types are even encouraged in moderation – so most people don’t have too much of a calcium consumption issue. If you’re dairy-free, you would have to focus on including high-calcium green veggies (leafy greens are excellent choices).
We all know poor calcium levels lead to poor bone health – but calcium also plays a vital role in muscles, blood, cells, and nerves.
Being deficient in magnesium while on the keto diet isn’t that crazy of an idea – after all, studies show that most Americans are actually deficient in this important mineral to begin with. So every person needs to be taking steps to deal with the problem.
You just might have to be more conscious of your magnesium intake on the keto diet.Low magnesium could be causing muscle cramps, weakened bones, anxiety, poor digestion and much more (7).
Normally when people think potassium, they think about bananas – a fruit that is totally not keto compliant. But potassium can be found in yogurt, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, salmon, etc., foods you’re definitely going to be eating plenty of (3).
But if you’re losing too much potassium? You’re looking at muscle cramps, muscle spasms, fatigue, poor blood pressure, etc. (7). This is exactly why a potassium supplement for keto will be your best friend.
These are the two main components of salt, and they’re responsible for ensuring the proper fluid balance in your body (7). The same story applies here too. It’s not that you aren’t eating enough salt on the keto diet, it’s that your body is flushing it out too quickly (3).
Low Vitamin K
Vitamin K is another one of those nutrients that doesn’t get a lot of press. Many people aren’t even sure what it does exactly. It’s actually a really important vitamin for bone health, and it plays a big role in your body’s ability to clot blood (8).
Here’s the bad news for keto eaters: most of your vitamin K comes from plants, not from fats or meat.
Here’s the good news: vitamin K may not be an issue for you on the keto diet – it’s all about proper veggie consumption. You can’t be solely focused on fat and protein on the keto diet (in fact, too much protein can sabotage your results). You also have to throw in adequate amounts of cruciferous veggies (kale, broccoli, etc.) (3).
For your gut (essentially the epicenter of your immune system) to be functioning properly, you don’t only need plenty of good bacteria (AKA: probiotics), you also need a wide diversity of that good bacteria.
When you dramatically cut down your range of produce, you may be also cutting down this gut flora, both the number and the diversity (9).
Gut issues can lead to countless health problems, but common ones include digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety/depression, imbalanced hormones, autoimmune challenges, headaches – the list could go on and on.
When your macronutrient breakdown is very, very low in carbs, it is possible that your risk of developing kidney stones will go up. Also, keto may not be the best bet if you have kidney problems or kidney disease to begin with (2).
Definitely talk to your health care provider before making the switch if this applies to you at all. Ask him or her about whether going keto is right for you and if the ketogenic diet supplements could help prevent any potential issues.
Last up on our list of potential problems with the ketogenic diet is actually quite controversial in the keto community: pregnancy. Some people will tell you that it is possible to stay on the keto diet while you’re pregnant; others say to stay away.
Your baby needs some carbs. And since you are growing the baby you need some carbs too! On top of that, though keto is a high-fat diet, it can also lean into high-protein as well. Too much protein is not good for the baby. So these – among other factors – leave some people anti-keto during pregnancy (9). A lot of the concern seems to be around ketoacidosis (which is very dangerous and this is NOT the referring to the state of ketosis that we’re referring to when discussing the keto diet).
That said, my wife Erica has enjoyed keto meals during her pregnancy but has not committed to a strict keto diet. From her vantage point, pregnancy changes the body (and appetite) enough and she’d rather not be restricted by a diet plan, but focus on eating healthy for herself and the baby. I support her 100% in that.
I’m not sure I’m ready to say that keto should be completely avoided in pregnancy. For some women it could be beneficial, but this is a decision you and your health care provider are going to have to make together.
Unlike every other potential keto problem on this list, pregnancy issues with keto is not something you can easily fix with the keto supplements. It’s more of a “either you do or you don’t” sort of thing.
6 of the Best Keto Supplements
Now we get to the good stuff.
The great news is you can find ketogenic diet supplements that will provide answers to these keto challenges. Below you are going to find 6 types of keto supplements that will not only help prevent/reduce deficiencies or issues, but will also improve your overall health.
Let’s start our list of the best keto supplements with the basics, a multivitamin, because you need adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals each day.
A good, high-quality multivitamin is really going to help you avoid any of the deficiencies we talked about above. It’s like your safety net.
Keto Vitamins will also ensure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C – that’s important if you’re not eating a wide variety of produce (3). Keto Vitamins will also combat the common vitamin D deficiency issue (a general public thing, not necessarily a keto thing). You’ll also get energy from the B vitamins which is especially helpful if you’re feeling sluggish from ketosis flu.
Of course, there are going to be lots of things in one pill, but be sure to look for one with vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, and selenium at the proper doses since these are most likely going to be your biggest problems.
Be brand picky. Take your time to do your research. Trust the company before you buy – and pay close attention to their percentages of each nutrient.
Keto Supplements Bonus: It’s not a bad idea to get your vitamin and mineral levels checked by your healthcare provider. If you learn that you’re deficient in something, you can add an extra dose of that nutrient on top of your multivitamin for extra support.
2- Digestive Enzymes
If you’re on a diet that is already a tad low in micronutrients (like keto), you need to be sure that your body is properly absorbing the micronutrients it is receiving. Otherwise you have a double loss. A digestive enzyme is one of the best keto supplements for that very reason.
Digestive enzymes will improve your overall digestion (honestly, making them a great choice for any diet) and make sure you are getting every drop of selenium, vitamin K, magnesium, etc. as you can from the healthy foods you are consuming.
Digestive enzymes will also improve your bowel movements and keep you from feeling too bloated, gassy, (fill in the blank with your not-so-fun stomach issue).
But there isn’t just one digestive enzyme. There are lots. So which do you choose?
Start with a broad-spectrum choice with a few different digestive enzymes in one. In time, you may be able to narrow down which enzymes work the best for your body (or you may be super thrilled with the broad-spectrum option and stick there).
Keto Supplements Bonus: Sometimes you can find digestive enzymes that are also blended with ingredients like ginger. These are great choices if you know your body has any difficulty with digestion.
3- Electrolyte Replenisher
Like I mentioned earlier, you may lose too many electrolytes on the keto diet, so taking electrolyte supplements for keto is often a good idea.The electrolyte supplements keto eaters want to look for will not be brightly colored liquid in a plastic bottle.
Sport-ade drinks are often high in (fake!) sugar, preservatives, and coloring. So they’re obviously not keto compliant, nor are they a smart choice for anyone’s wellness.
Instead look for electrolyte drops/capsules that you can add to your own water.
The most important thing is to find electrolyte supplements for keto that do not have any added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Then make sure there’s a nice representation of all the different electrolyte minerals we talked about. That way it qualifies as your potassium supplement for keto as well.
Keto Supplements Bonus: Bone broth can actually help you replenish some electrolytes, so drink up!
Probiotic supplements (pills filled with living, good bacteria) support gut health, which we’ve learned is an essential step for those on the keto diet. You need to introduce the healthy bacteria you may not be consuming in your food.
Keto probiotics should ideally have multiple strains of good bacteria, as well as a good amount of them in each capsule (probiotics are measured in CFU – go high), and they should be from a reputable company that does everything in their power to protect the bacteria.
You may want to also consider a prebiotic supplement. What’s the difference? Prebiotics are essentially fuel for the good bacteria, but they mostly come from plants. A prebiotic supplement can enrich your gut flora as well. Want to learn more about keto probiotics and prebiotics? Check out our tips for a healthy gut here.
Keto Supplements Bonus: Fermented foods are all-natural and packed with keto probiotics, so a little side of sauerkraut is a pretty low-carb way to add extra healthy bacteria to your body. You can also try our fermented red pepper salsa to add to eggs or any of your other favorite keto meals.
5- Extra Fiber
Next up on our list of best keto supplements is powdered fiber. Of course, it’s always best to get your fiber from food sources, so choose high-fiber, low-carb veggies whenever you can. As mentioned previously, broccoli and brussels sprouts are two great choices.
But sometimes you just can’t hit your fiber needs and your desired keto carb percentage at the same time. That’s when fiber keto supplements will really help you with two important things:
- To stay “regular”
- To keep the digestive system functioning well
You’re never going to find fiber keto supplements that are 100% carb-free, but you can definitely find options that are really low – between 1 and 3 grams. You aren’t going to have carbs that low and fiber that high through your diet, so this makes a nice happy medium.
Keto Supplements Bonus: Psyllium husk, flax seeds and chia seeds are commonly consumed for their extra fiber benefits. It’s something you can definitely consider too.
6- Ketosis Support Supplement
Last up on our list of the best keto supplements is this grouping of different ingredients which can help you get keto adapted. Lots of people want to know: “How long does it take to enter ketosis?”
After all, that’s the whole reason you’re on the keto diet to begin with. It’s not just about eating lots of fat; the wide variety of health benefits come when the body is in ketosis. That’s when you start to see results.
But let’s be real – it is difficult to keep your diet perfect every day for months and months, so sometimes becoming keto adapted or staying in ketosis can be a struggle. The right keto supplements can actually help you get there faster and stay there longer.
Often, these ketogenic diet supplements are forms of exogenous ketones. When you’re in ketosis from the food you eat, you’re producing endogenous ketones – these are ketones from within. Both types of ketones lead to ketosis. So think of these supplements as your helping hand – your little extra boost.
It is imperative to get a high-quality keto support here – fillers and additives are going to impede your health goals. And definitely be taking your electrolyte supplements for keto during this time, since you will be in ketosis faster and longer.
Keto Supplements Bonus: Keep in mind that while your MCT oil doesn’t just drop ketones in your bloodstream like a keto supplement will, it still works to keep you in that fat burning state for longer. Take advantage of that.
Your Best Keto Supplements
Integrating keto supplements into your diet will allow you to reap the many ketosis benefits while sidestepping the potential challenges. As I mentioned initially, no diet is perfect (including keto) and the right keto supplements will fill in any gaps you may experience on the keto diet.
Just Remember: You never want to rely too heavily on keto supplements to fulfill all your needs. Instead, you should be choosing the ideal produce choices to support your nutrient intake as much as possible. Then add the supplements on top.
Now I’d love to hear from you about ketogenic diet supplements. Have you dealt with any deficiencies or health issues while on keto? What are some of the best keto supplements you’ve tried to remedy the problem? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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