How much sodium, potassium and magnesium should I have on a ketogenic diet?
In short, 3000–5000 mg of sodium and 3000–4000 mg of potassium on average are needed as part of a well-formulated ketogenic diet. For sodium and potassium (aka electrolytes), rather than trying to track them directly (which is frustrating at best), we recommend salting food to taste, adding 2 grams of sodium as broth or bouillon, and eating 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily.
For magnesium, 300–500 mg is an initial recommendation. Muscle cramps are our best indicator of depletion, and to replenish one’s intracellular magnesium, we generally recommend 3 tabs per day of Slow-Mag or the generic slow-release equivalent for 3–6 weeks.
How to Get Enough Potassium When You’re on a Keto or Low-Carb Diet
I recently started on a three-week tour of the ketogenic diet. I wanted to see both how effective it could be, and how it made me feel—I’ll report back in a few weeks. But right now I’m only three days in, and I can tell you one unexpected side effect: I’m experiencing a major energy drain. It wasn’t entirely unexpected. Some people call this the keto flu.
I’m not going to lie, the past few days have been rough. I’ve felt foggy, tired, and hangry. Plus, my sugar cravings have been more intense than ever.
Apparently these are all symptoms of the keto flu, which is caused by a combination of carb withdrawal (it’s been said that sugar affects your brain in a way that’s similar to cocaine and heroin) and electrolyte imbalance from quickly losing water weight, which happens when you eliminate almost all carbs and processed foods. Apparently carbs hold a lot of water!
According to my frantic Googling, keto flu can be remedied by adding sodium and potassium to your diet, plus sticking it out for a few more painful days while you adjust, and drinking a lot of water.
But while salt is easy to replace (just sprinkle a little extra on your eggs or meat), many potassium-rich foods are off-limits for people doing keto (think: bananas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, melon, beets, dried apricots, yogurt, beans, and lentils.)
I spoke with Cooking Light’s Food and Nutrition Director, Brierley Horton, MS, RD, and she said that most Americans—whether they’re on the keto diet or not—need more potassium in their diets because it helps regulate blood pressure and combats excess sodium in the body.
Then I looked up the keto-friendly foods with the highest levels of potassium—here are eight, with a keto-friendly recipe to go with each.
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of potassium per serving: 708mg (20% DV)
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of potassium per serving: 676mg (19% DV)
Serving Size: 3 oz.
Amount of potassium per serving: 309mg (8% DV)
Serving Size: 3 oz.
Amount of potassium per serving: 270mg (7% DV)
Mushrooms (especially cremini)
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of potassium per serving: 223 mg (6% DV)
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount of potassium per serving: 188mg (5% DV)
Nuts (especially almonds or macadamia nuts)
Serving Size: 1 oz.
Amount of potassium per serving: 200 mg (5% DV)
Leafy Greens (especially spinach and chard)
Serving Size: 1 cup raw spinach
Amount of potassium per serving: 167.4 mg potassium (4% DV)
12 Potassium Rich Foods You Can Enjoy On Keto
Avocados are a true superfood and one of the best sources of potassium when you’re on a ketogenic diet.
Packed with healthy fats, tons of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, avocados are one of the best ways to meet your potassium requirement when you’re in keto.
One medium Hass avocado provides 689 mg of potassium, equivalent to 20% of your recommended daily intake.
Bonus: One study showed people who regularly nosh on avocados are healthier and better looking; avocado eaters had lower BMIs, body weight and waist sizes than those who didn’t eat them, not to mention they had lower risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease too
#2: BRUSSELS SPROUTS
One cup of cooked brussels sprouts delivers 494 mg of potassium, or 14% of your RDA.
That same serving of these cruciferous veggies also packs 4g of protein, 4g of fiber, over 150% of vitamin C and over 200% of your vitamin K–all for a measly 60 calories.
Add this Cheesy Bacon Brussel Sprouts Casserole to the table and it will disappear before you can even hashtag your keto potassium win.
Portobello and white button mushrooms add flavor and texture to your meals and deliver a dose of potassium worth 630 mg, or 18% of your daily value.
You’ll also score 5g of protein for just 3g net carbs in that serving as well.
#4: SUMMER SQUASH OR ZUCCHINI
Whether you like them spiralized as zoodles or roasted in the oven, a cup of zucchini gives you 10% of your recommended intake of magnesium and 13% of your potassium requirement (455 mg).
For less than 30 calories, 40% of your vitamin A intake and 2.5g fiber, these versatile veggies can be noshed on every day of the week.
#5: PUMPKIN SEEDS
One ounce of pumpkin seeds will give you 226 mg of potassium, or 6% of your RD.
These small nutritional powerhouses also supply noteworthy amounts of magnesium, zinc, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and are a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes restful sleep.
Get some: Pumpkin seeds can be added to your snack time along with nuts and cheese, or sprinkled on top of salads or Keto Oatmeal for extra crunch.
#6: SPINACH AND LEAFY GREENS
There’s a reason spinach is a true nutritional rockstar. Check out the stats for one cooked cup of the green gold[*]:
- 40 calories
- 5g protein
- 4g fiber
- 2.5 net carbs
Those seem great, but not super awesome, right?
So check out the vitamins and minerals that same serving packs:
- Vitamin A: 377%
- Vitamin K: 111%
- Manganese: 84%
- Folate: 66%
- Magnesium: 39%
- Iron: 36%
- Vitamin C: 29%
- Calcium: 24%
- Potassium: 24%
- Sodium: 5%
Now we’re talking.
You get all three electrolytes in a cup of cooked spinach (i.e., potassium, magnesium and sodium).
Spinach is also ridiculously high in vitamin A and vitamin K, which have been studied for use in preventing cancer, helping your bones stay strong, and increasing insulin sensitivity
Plus, with close to 90% of your manganese intake, you can also achieve greater antioxidant defense, energy and immune function if you add a daily dose of spinach
What if spinach isn’t up your alley?
One cup of cooked beet greens provides 37% of your DV of potassium, while a cup of Swiss chard provides 27%. Other leafy greens have similar levels.
#7: WILD-CAUGHT SALMON (AND OTHER FATTY FISH)
Wild-caught salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. Studies have shown every increase in fatty fish like salmon you eat reduces your risk of dying from heart disease thanks to their omega-3 content[*].
A six ounce serving gives you 1,068mg of potassium, or 31% of your recommended daily intake.
But if you don’t love salmon or can’t get the wild-caught version, here are a few other fish in the sea high in potassium and perfect for you:
- Pompano: 30% of your potassium intake in a 6 oz. filet
- Mackerel: 28%
- Halibut : 26%
- Snapper: 26%
- Tuna: 26%
- Trout: 22%
You may not think these little guys are worth the effort of shucking, but clams are an amazing source of potassium for their size (and you can also find them in cans).
A 3.5 oz serving of canned or fresh clams provides with 18% of your potassium needs.
And for their size, clams also contain almost your entire selenium intake, twice your requirement for iron and the highest concentration of vitamin B12 found in any food seafood.
Try them: Because they’re so small, clams cook super fast when lightly steamed, grilled or cooked on the stove in butter and garlic. You can also add them to keto soups and stews.
#9. PORK CHOPS
The ol’ classic combination of pork chops and applesauce may be out of your keto macros, but pork chops shouldn’t be.
As “the other white meat,” pork chops pack a healthy dose of protein while being on the relatively low-cal end of the meat spectrum.
One pork chop packs a whopping 532 mg of potassium, 9g of fat and 40g of protein
#10: PLAIN COCONUT WATER (IN MODERATION)
Coconut water is hydrating and boasting with potassium. One cup of this elixir gives you:
- Potassium: 515 mg (14% DV)
- Fat: 0.4 grams
- Protein: 1.5 grams
- Total carbs: 8 grams
As you can tell, you should enjoy coconut water only in moderation on keto due to its higher carb count. However, it can fit your keto macros if you pay attention!
Packaged coconut water usually contains more sugar, so look closely at the labels to find a low sugar brand, or stick to plain coconut water directly from coconuts.
Now you know how to get more potassium from whole foods, but what about when you don’t have the time to cook these or eat enough to meet your requirements?
Coming up: two safe and easy ways to supplement potassium.
#11: A HIGH-QUALITY ELECTROLYTE SUPPLEMENT
Supplementing your potassium in tandem with other electrolytes is the easiest way to ensure you have the right electrolyte balance in your body, without worrying too much about what to cook to get them all.
When looking for a supplement, make sure it has no fillers, added sugars, or unnecessary ingredients that downgrade its quality.
Perfect Keto Electrolytes is specifically formulated for the keto diet since you’re more likely to lose electrolytes when you enter ketosis.
It provides a precise 4:2:1:1 ratio of sodium to potassium to calcium and magnesium, to support healthy biological functions.
In each capsule you’ll find:
- 140 mg of sodium
- 70 mg of potassium
- 35 mg of magnesium
- 35 mg of calcium
How to use it: You can take electrolytes in between meals, before your workouts to support performance, or in the morning fasted.
#12. EXOGENOUS KETONES
Your body makes ketones and ramps up production when you’re in ketosis. These energy saviors are what your body will run on when you’re burning mainly fat for energy.
Exogenous ketones are ketones made outside your body which you can add to your diet (i.e., like a protein powder or keto supplement).
Exogenous ketones help your body transition to a state of ketosis — and stay there — much easier than if you tried to get in keto without them.
They’ve been shown to:
- Support a healthy metabolism
- Increase satiety
- Boost your focus
- Improve your athletic performance
Most exogenous ketone supplements bind the ketones as beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) to a salt, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium…or potassium.