Chances are that if you’ve been following a low-carbohydrate (that’s between 100-150g of carbs a day) or ketogenic diet (50g of carbs or less) you haven’t given a single thought to how much salt you’re consuming.
The scientific research is out, though, and it’s saying that if you’re eating low carb, you should be consciously taking steps to make sure you’re getting enough salt! Yes, you read that right.
Here’s the lowdown.
LOW CARB = LOW SODIUM
So much salt (and sugar) is hidden in processed foods and a low-carb diet requires that you eliminate all processed and packaged foods and eat a natural diet of wholefoods while avoiding specific high-carbohydrates foods. One of the reasons the low-carb diet works so well is that it reduces your insulin levels. Some of insulin’s many tasks is to tell your fat cells to store fat and your kidneys to retain sodium. So if you’re reducing your insulin levels, your body is going to start releasing excess water, which is why you’ll experience weight-loss, reduced bloating and water-retention after starting a low-carb way of eating.
So far, so much feeling-great!
However, along with the water, you’ll start losing critical minerals such as potassium, magnesium and also sodium. This can be detrimental to your health; minerals, including sodium are crucial to your overall wellbeing (check out our recent blog on why salt is so essential).
Low sodium levels can become a problem and is one of the reasons people succumb to the so-called ‘keto-flu’ with symptoms of light-headedness, nausea, changes in mental state, fatigue, headaches and muscle spasms. So it’s important to keep up potassium and magnesium intake via your diet, and to optimise your salt consumption.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF SALT!
Naomi Whittel, health researcher and well-being explorer says if you’re on a keto diet, it’s really important to take enough high quality salt (one that is minimally processed and rich in natural trace minerals and micronutrients – it’s the minerals which help balance fluids, avoid dehydration, balance blood sugar and promote a healthy pH balance in the cells) and has some great tips for how to do that:
HOW MUCH SALT IS ENOUGH?
Most experts state that as long as we’re not on medications for fluid retention or high pressure, we should consume between 2-3 grams of sodium per day while on a low carb or keto diet. Some advise even going as high as 4-5 grams a day. The key takeaway here is that if you’re on a low-carb diet, you need to actively maintain good levels of salt intake to prevent ‘keto-flu’ symptoms.
Naturally, be sensible and consult your health-practitioner for your own individual needs depending on your unique health situation. But we say the research is clear: high quality, natural and unprocessed salt is essential for good health, especially if you’re following a low-carb diet.
So eat salt, and feel good!
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