Dehydration & The Keto Diet: Why Your Body Needs Proper Hydration
Rapid weight loss and being able to eat foods that you like are two main reasons why people love the ketogenic diet (keto diet). But as more people embark on their low-carb journeys, managing dehydration and water intake become more crucial than ever.
According to experts, dehydration is one of the most common effects of ketogenic diets. Carbohydrates help our body to hold more sodium and with it also more water, but when we deplete our body of carbohydrate intake, the water and electrolytes go with it. For every one gram of carbohydrate, our body stores an average of 3 grams of water, according to most medical experts. So if you are following a keto diet, it's more important than ever to monitor your hydration.
Keto Diet & Sodium
On a keto diet, the way that your body handles electrolytes and water changes dramatically. The keto diet eliminates salty carbohydrates and, with it, electrolytes or minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Compared to other diets, following a keto diet causes more sodium to be flushed out, and sodium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that helps retain water in the body and plays a vital role in muscle and nerve function.
Reducing the carbs in your diet also reduces other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium to be lost and can further cause your body's electrolytes to become unbalanced. For athletes and people who live a stressful life, replenishing electrolytes becomes even more critical because intense exercise depletes sodium levels fast.
Keto Diet & Signs of Dehydration
Because there's less sodium to hold water in the body, it's common for people on ketogenic diets to experience symptoms of dehydration such as headaches, bad breath, muscle aches and pains, dizziness, dry mouth, and fatigue. If your urine is darker than usual, that's a clear sign that you might be dehydrated.
When these symptoms appear, it generally means that you are dehydrated and have an electrolyte imbalance. And if you're not making an effort to replenish these minerals, it can cause problems such as heart palpitations, dizziness, weakness, and leg cramping. Some research even suggests that prolonged dehydration in keto dieters can cause an increased risk of kidney stones.
Drinking more water isn't the best or most effective way to restore electrolytes because water is not the only ingredient necessary for proper hydration. We also need to get minerals like sodium and potassium into our cells for our organs to function correctly.
The body automatically restores electrolytes from both food and water. But in some cases, especially if you are working out intensely or have medical conditions that require you to take medications like diuretics, you need to be more cautious about maintaining a balance of electrolytes.
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