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As the popularity of the ketogenic diet continues to grow so does interest in how to optimize health while following this high-fat, low-carb eating plan.
Because the keto diet cuts out a number of food options, it’s a good idea to supplement with specific nutrients.
Not to mention, some supplements can help dieters reduce adverse effects of the keto flu and even enhance athletic performance when training on a low-carb diet.
Here are the best supplements to take on a keto diet.
Magnesium is a mineral that boosts energy, regulates blood sugar levels and supports your immune system (1).
Research suggests that due to magnesium-depleting medications, reliance on processed foods and other factors, a good portion of the population has or is at risk of developing a magnesium deficiency (2).
On a ketogenic diet, it may be even more difficult to meet your magnesium needs, as many magnesium-rich foods like beans and fruits are also high in carbs.
For these reasons, taking 200–400 mg of magnesium per day may be beneficial if you’re on a keto diet.
Supplementing with magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping and irritability — all symptoms commonly experienced by those transitioning to a ketogenic diet (3, 4, 5).
Some of the most absorbable forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, magnesium gluconate and magnesium citrate.
If you wish to increase your magnesium intake through keto-friendly foods, focus on incorporating these low-carb, magnesium-rich options:
– Swiss chard
– Pumpkin seeds
2. MCT Oil
Medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, are a popular supplement among keto dieters.
They’re metabolized differently than long-chain triglycerides, the most common type of fat found in food.
MCTs are broken down by your liver and quickly enter your bloodstream where they can be used as a fuel source for your brain and muscles.
Coconut oil is one of the richest natural sources of MCTs, with about 60% of its fatty acids being in the form of MCTs (6).
However, taking MCT oil (made by isolating MCTs from coconut or palm oil) provides an even more concentrated dose of MCTs and can be helpful for those following a ketogenic diet.
Supplementing with MCT oil can help keto dieters since it can quickly up your fat intake, which increases ketone levels and helps you stay in ketosis (7).
It has also been shown to promote weight loss and increase feelings of fullness, which can be helpful for those using the ketogenic diet as a weight loss tool (8).
MCT oil can be easily added to shakes and smoothies or simply taken by the spoonful for a quick fat boost.
It’s a good idea to start with a small dose (1 teaspoon or 5 ml) of MCT oil to see how your body reacts before increasing to the suggested dosage listed on the supplement bottle.
MCT oil can cause symptoms like diarrhea and nausea in some people.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish or krill oil, are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which benefit health in many ways.
EPA and DHA have been found to reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk and prevent mental decline (9).
Western diets tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids (found in foods like vegetable oils and processed foods) and lower in omega-3s (found in fatty fish).
This imbalance can promote inflammation in the body and has been linked to an increase in many inflammatory diseases (10).
Omega-3 supplements can be particularly beneficial for people on ketogenic diets, as they can help maintain a healthy omega-3 to omega-6 ratio when following a high-fat diet.
What’s more, omega-3 supplements can maximize the ketogenic diet’s impact on overall health.
One study showed that people following a ketogenic diet who supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from krill oil experienced greater decreases in triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers than those who did not (11).
When shopping for omega-3 supplements, choose a reputable brand that provides at least a combined 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000 mg serving.
Those on blood-thinning medications should consult a doctor before taking omega-3 supplements, as they can increase your risk of bleeding by further thinning your blood (12).
To boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids through keto-friendly foods, eat more salmon, sardines and anchovies.