Appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements can not just make the keto diet easier but also considerably enhance its effectiveness. People are right to be wary of ‘diet plans’ that actively promote the use of supplements – especially branded ones – which are often unnecessary and overpriced. But in the case of keto, there is solid scientific proof that adopting a proactive attitude towards supplementation can be vital to long term success (and very cheap too!).
Whether adopting a high fat and low carb keto diet for weight loss or fitness reasons it is important to understand the essential way that key supplements can help your body’s transition. Those who take the time to properly research and prepare for keto tend to be those who achieve the greatest success – so make sure to consider the following five essential supplements before getting started.
1) Digestive Enzymes
The overwhelming majority of people will experience some form of digestive discomfort when entering ketosis. Adapting to a fat-based diet can cause diarrhea, cramps, bloating and dizziness alongside low energy and general discomfort. It is one of the key reasons why a good number of people fail to make it through ‘keto flu’ for the first time, as left unattended these symptoms can last as long as 4-6 weeks.
Using digestive enzymes can considerably lessen the severity of these symptoms. These work by boosting the digestive system’s ability to break down lipases (fats) and protease (proteins) that will make up a high proportion of food intake.
It is a good idea to take these supplements for a few days before starting keto in order to maximize their efficiency. Your body ought to naturally adapt after a few weeks but it is also sensible to reduce your intake gradually around week four to reduce the risk of further discomfort. Do be aware that totally avoiding digestive issues is pretty unlikely when entering ketosis but digestive enzyme supplements should help make it considerably more comfortable.
Pretty recently, an interesting product has been created by the renowned brand “BiOptimizers” that was built to optimize ketogenesis, which helps you especially if you’re already on a keto diet right now and you’re experiencing a fat loss plateau. It also combats digestive issues that some people may experience during their keto journey. The product is called kApex.
Magnesium is one of the most overlooked supplements out there. Despite being essential for helping control blood sugar levels, enhance energy production, and support our immune system a growing proportion of the population are becoming deficient. Magnesium deficiency can be a particular issue for keto as many of the richest sources also happen to be heavy in carbohydrates. Many of the worst symptoms of ‘keto flu’ (the early transition phase towards ketosis) are caused by a lack of magnesium and can at least be partially removed with adequate supplementation.
The good news is that magnesium supplements are both readily available and affordable. Depending on your body type and age anywhere between 200-400mg taken daily ought to be plenty, and remember to also include plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, mackerel, and avocado in your diet. As with many aspects of keto, a healthy and consistent balance should be the key objective, so try and split your intake around 50/50 with supplementation and natural sources.
3) Exogenous Ketones
In layperson’s terms, these supplements provide an external source of ketones that are thought to boost the endogenous ketones naturally produced by the body. By ‘importing’ ketones we ought to be able to reach ketosis quicker and more effectively. Coincidentally, they are also used quite commonly by athletes to boost their performance level and recovery speeds. So sounds like they should be at the top of the list, right?
Well – not exactly. The truth is that most of the research so far conducted into exogenous ketone supplementation has focused on more powerful ‘ketone esters’ (rarely sourceable without a prescription). Very little is understood about the ketone salts that are included in the vast majority of exogenous ketone products marketed for dietary/weight loss use.
Anecdotally speaking plenty of people continue to swear that exogenous ketone supplements have improved their personal progress significantly. Just be aware that such sentiments are not exactly universal. While it will not do any harm to try them for yourself, they will perhaps be most effective when used alongside other essential supplements. Those who intend to perform plenty of exercise while in ketosis may find them especially useful.
4) Vitamin D
Just because vitamin D is naturally produced by the body does not mean that we automatically have enough – in fact, most people are actually deficient regardless of whether they are using keto or not. Although there is no particular reason why keto should make anyone more or less prone to vitamin D deficiency, you should make sure that your body is adequately supported before starting out.
Not many foods are particularly rich in vitamin D (we produce most of this ourselves through exposure to sunlight), and those which are, tend to be fortified cereals, juices, and milk – all of which are rich in carbs. Salmon, tuna, and egg yolks are more keto-friendly options but supplements provide a useful boost to many. They ought to be regarded as essential for vegetarians/vegans looking to go keto.
Vitamin D is easily available, cheap and something which anyone ought to consider including in their daily routine.
5) MCT Oil
One of the first hurdles to overcome with keto is finding a way to significantly increase your intake of fat in order to increase those essential ketone levels. MCT oil has long been regarded as offering one of the best solutions for this problem. Unlike more complex fats composed of long-chain triglycerides, these medium-chain triglycerides are much easier for the liver to break down. The energy they provide is delivered quickly into the bloodstream to provide a fast and consistent form of energy alongside the added bonus of helping us feel fuller for longer.
MCT oil can be found naturally with coconut oil being the most common source, but taking concentrated supplements tends to be a more effective, efficient and cost-friendly option. Most people need only a small dose – approximately 5ml/one teaspoon – added to a smoothie or juice in order to feel the benefits. As with all supplements, it is wise to start on a low dose and work up if needed over time.
As far as effective fat supplementation goes MCT is pretty much universally accepted as being the best option. Do be aware that a small minority of people may experience light side effects (diarrhea/nausea) especially when entering ketosis for the first time.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, Dr. Colbert’s MCT Oil Powder looks like a viable option.
These five supplements will help most people successfully enter and maintain their state of ketosis. It is no coincidence that each of them assists the body to adapt towards a high-fat diet by boosting and supporting not just the digestive system, but also our release of energy and hormone production/control.
Alongside these essential supplements, there are a few others which can be useful – although the scientific support may be inconclusive so far. You may wish to take a look at how Omega 3 can help with the way the body absorbs energy through healthy fats, how powdered greens can boost our intake of essential vitamins and minerals, and the ways where some electrolyte supplements can assist with easing through the keto flu.
Should you have any underlying health issues it is often advisable to consult with a doctor before starting keto, especially if planning on taking up a host of dietary supplements at the same time. While it is unlikely to lead to any complications with medications or treatment schedules, safety should always come first.