Why Sodium Is so Important on a Ketogenic Diet

When insulin levels are kept low (in the case of following a LCHF lifestyle), the kidneys excrete sodium at a higher rate. This combined with adequate sodium consumption, lots of water consumption and coffee (which is a natural diuretic) can cause a slight case of hyponatremia (which is the technical term for low sodium levels in the blood stream). This can cause slight nausea/headaches, dizziness, loss of energy/fatigue, muscle weakness and muscle spasms/cramps.

This causes another problem! Potassium wasting. Your body will use up its potassium stores to conserve the little bit of sodium you do have remaining.

However this problem is easily fixed. Just add salt to all of your meals.

Dr Stephen Phinney, who has been researching ketogenic diets for decades recommends approximately 3–5 g of sodium daily (one teaspoon of salt roughly equals 2g of sodium). This means the we have be having at least 1 teaspoon of salt throughout the day, ideally 2. These values have been used in research by Dr Phinney and have found to effectively maintain optimal circulatory reserve.

I personally carry a grinder of Himalayan rock salt in my backpack at all times. So if I forgot to salt my packed lunched or buy lunch out somewhere I can add plenty of salt.

Salt is an essential electrolyte which can cause muscle weakness and cramps if levels are too low (as previously discussed). This is also why I have a glass of water with some salt added before doing any fasted exercise in the morning.

Bonus tip: Making bone broth can also be a great source of sodium if you include plenty when you make it, as well as a host of other vitamins and minerals (including potassium).