The ketogenic diet has become all the rage lately, with everyone from trendy bloggers to social media influencers singing its praises. But as great as the protocol is in many regards, its dietary limitations can leave your body without some key nutrients. That's where keto supplements come in.
The right keto supplements will help you avoid some of the speed bumps – such as the dreaded "keto flu" symptoms – that can derail your dieting efforts.
But wait! Why would anyone put themselves through a keto diet if it poses many difficulties?
Well, the keto diet has many benefits that make it worth following through on. Here's what Dr. Josh Axe has to say about the keto diet:
The keto diet works for such a high percentage of people because it targets several key underlying causes of weight gain — including hormonal imbalances, especially coupled with high blood sugar levels, and the cycle of restricting and “binging” on empty calories due to hunger that so many dieters struggle with. In fact, these are some of the direct benefits of the keto diet.Dr. Josh Axe
So if you can work through the quirks – and there are several keto supplements that can help you do just that – your body will thank you!
Let’s look at 10 keto supplements and break down why they're so important for success while on a keto diet.
10 Crucial Keto Supplements
#1. Nordic Naturals Omega 3
Omega 3 nutritional supplements are great for keeping your omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids ratio in balance while on a keto diet. Many high-fat, low-carb staple foods, like the ones you eat lots of while on a keto diet, are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
While your body needs omega-6, too much of it can lead to excess inflammation.
This is something you definitely don't want, considering researchers have linked inflammation to severe illnesses like diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's, and some types of cancer.
How do you balance things out? Easy! Take omega-3 fatty acids.
Research shows that keto dieters who used omega 3 supplements saw greater results by way of larger decreases in inflammation and triglycerides than people who went without them.
If you are on blood-thinning medication, be sure to speak with your doctor before using omega 3 supplements as they can increase your medication's effects.
Some keto diet experts recommend you make as much as 75% of your diet fat-based. That's a major change for most people on the standard Western diet, which typically consists of roughly 20-25% fat.
You'll also be eating only moderate amounts of protein on a keto diet.
Changes of that magnitude are going to throw your digestive system for a loop, even if just temporarily. Symptoms can include:
These symptoms are part of what many keto dieters refer to as the "keto flu."
One reason for the “keto flu” is that your body has to work extra hard to digest fat, which you're eating a lot of on a keto diet.
Digestive enzyme supplements can give your body a hand here. They'll also help your body break down the foods you're eating and access those keto-friendly nutrients more easily.
Research also shows that digestive enzymes can help you recover faster from a workout, making digestive enzyme supplements a must for any keto dieter who likes to hit the gym.
The keto diet can throw your electrolyte balance out of order.
Here's the deal.
When you're on a typical high-carb diet, your body has more fuel (glucose) than it needs. As a result, it takes the excess glucose and creates glycogen which it stores for future use as energy.
For every gram of glycogen in your body, there are roughly 3-4 grams of electrolyte-rich water with it.
When you switch to a low-carb and high-fat diet, your body responds by using up its glycogen stores, taking the electrolytes with it. To further complicate matters, during a keto diet you're also likely consuming less salt, and this can further rob you of electrolytes. This contributes heavily to the "keto flu" symptoms.
Electrolyte supplements can go a long way towards reducing these symptoms. They are an especially important part of a keto diet if you live an active lifestyle.
Magnesium is an essential macro-mineral, meaning you need to consume it in large amounts daily.
You need magnesium for many tasks. It's involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Muscles need this mineral to contract; nerves need it to send and receive messages. It keeps your heart beating steadily and your immune system strong. Most people can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and fish.”Harvard Health Publishing
Unfortunately, many foods rich in magnesium are a no-go when you’re on a keto diet. So when you switch over to a low-carb diet like the keto diet, you can inadvertently throw yourself into magnesium deficiency if you're not careful.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Muscle twitches
- High blood pressure
Magnesium supplements can work wonders for keeping your magnesium levels consistent. This mineral also acts as a muscle relaxant and can be effective at reducing muscle cramps.
#5. PVL MCT Oil
The term MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which is a type of fat that your body processes much faster than other, long-chain, forms. MCT oil manufacturers most often extract MCTs from coconut oil.
MCT oil is one of the most popular keto supplements because it helps you drastically increase your fat intake in a way that is conducive to the keto diet. Your body uses MCTs right away, transporting them from your gut to your liver. There, your body either uses them as an energy source or turns them into ketones, supporting weight loss.
Because your body uses MCTs right away, those calories have a lesser likelihood of becoming fat. Ketones are also key to achieving ketosis, which is the goal behind a keto diet.
During ketosis, your body relies on burning fat for energy instead of using carbs. This can help you lose weight drastically.
Research confirms that MCT oil is a very effective keto supplement for keeping your body in a state of ketosis.
Not only that but it can help to increase energy levels, improve mental and cognitive function and another great thing about MCT oil is that it can make you feel fuller. That's another way to lose weight fast and maintain an ideal body weight.
You can also buy MCT powder, which can be easier to travel with and can give drinks a creamy texture. Like MCT oil, MCT powder is tasteless, so you can use it in all sorts of applications, including smoothies!
#6. Greens Powder
Many popular vegetables, such as green beans, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are high in carbs. (16)
As with many other high-carb foods the keto diet excludes, your body still does need vegetables, though. As such, if you're not careful on a keto diet, you run the risk of entering a state called dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of microbes in your body. (17)
Dysbiosis symptoms can include:
Reduced immune function
A good greens powder can be a great way to incorporate more lower-carb, leafy vegetables into your diet beyond what you might normally enjoy eating.
#7. Keto Cuts
As mentioned previously, ketones are a crucial part of the ketogenic diet. While the diet will help your body produce more ketones naturally, you can help it along by taking an exogenous ketone supplement.
This dietary supplement is one of the most popular among keto supplements. But it's not a magic potion. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can slack on their keto diet and make up for it by getting in ketones through an exogenous ketone supplement.
While research shows that exogenous ketone supplements do increase your ketone bodies you are still going to get much greater results by following the diet than you will by using these supplements alone.
So, then, where do exogenous ketone supplements fit in?
Well, for one, they can reduce the amount of time it takes you to achieve ketosis.
Perhaps most promising, however, is exogenous ketone supplements' ability to suppress appetite. One study of 15 participants found that those who used exogenous ketone supplements experienced 50% less hunger throughout an overnight fast.
For optimal results, avoid taking the keto supplement right after you've already eaten a meal, as this can limit the appetite suppression potential.
#8. A Beta-Alanine/BCAA Supplement
There are several workout-specific keto supplements that athletes swear by. Beta-alanine and BCAA supplements can be two of the most powerful that target athletic performance.
Let's look at beta-alanine first.
Beta-alanine helps your body produce carnosine, which allows you to work out longer before feeling "burned out."
When you're just starting out on a keto diet, increased workout potential can help you burn through your glycogen stores faster. Once you're well into a keto diet, you'll find that a beta-alanine supplement can help you continue working out to your fullest potential.
As for BCAAs, that abbreviation stands for "Branched-Chain Amino Acids."
A BCAA powder can help you maintain muscle mass while on a keto diet. As you start a keto diet, which will inevitably involve some experimentation to find what works best for you, you may find that your muscle mass growth starts to slow because you're eating a lot less protein than usual.
The great thing about ketosis is that it is a protein-preserving process, meaning that whatever protein you do consume will go a long way. As you get started, however, supplementing muscle-building amino acids into your diet in the form of a BCAA powder can ease the transition.
Another good keto supplement to include in your exercise performance routine is a ketogenic energy drink.
Ketogenic energy drinks differ from other types of energy drinks in that they contain very little sugar and carbs. Ketogenic energy drinks also contain MCTs, amino acids, and L-carnitine, which can provide many potential benefits such as give you a physical boost, improve athletic performance, support weight loss and also help you maintain ketosis!
Many calcium-packed foods are on the "no-list" when it comes to the keto diet because of their high carb content.
A single serving of whole milk alone can have as many as 12 grams of carbs per serving, while the full daily recommendation for optimal ketosis is less than 50 mg.
In lieu of dairy, you're going to want to work a calcium supplement into your diet. Doctors recommend 1,000 mg of calcium daily for most adults, with that number bumping up to 1,200 for women over 50 and men over 70. (23)
You should have no problem achieving that with a good dietary supplement.
#10. AOR Ortho Iron Vegan
If you're a vegetarian embarking on a keto diet (yes, it can be done), you don't have a ton of options for iron as your body doesn't easily absorb the type of iron you'll find in leafy greens.
Statistics also aren't exactly on your side, considering iron-deficiency anemia is one of the more common types of anemia. This can also affect carnivore diets as well. An iron supplement can help you maintain your levels of this vital nutrient, preventing iron deficiency symptoms such as :