Medically Reviewed by Dr. Bryan Seigel D.C., P.L.C.
Everyone has favorite supplements they use on the keto diet, and not all supplements are right for everyone. Competitive keto athletes need different support than a casual runner who has been doing keto for a few months, and someone completely new to the world of keto has different needs altogether. It takes a little time to figure out exactly what you need to feel and perform your best, whether that means heavier squats, faster miles, or feeling stronger when you pick up your grandkids.
What are keto supplements?
Broadly speaking, keto supplements are any supplements that don’t have carbohydrates, but that isn’t a very good definition. Instead, we think of keto supplements as vitamins, minerals, and other ksubstances you can use to enhance your keto journey. They don’t do the work for you, but they make life easier or better, and help you get results faster. This can mean replacing lost minerals, helping you sleep, ensuring sufficient protein intake, and protecting joint health, among many other supporting roles. Keto is unique among ways of eating for it’s health benefits, but also because those who choose keto choose also to know how their bodies work more deeply, and want to keep it working in top condition. Let’s look at some of the best choices for keto supplements!
The most notable electrolyte minerals are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and are needed for essential functions like fluid balance, nerve conduction, and muscle function. It’s likely you know the feeling of being low on electrolytes without even realizing it. When you have those days you just feel unenergetic, run down, and have a foggy brain, this is often because of electrolyte loss. We lose electrolytes every day through normal metabolism, and we lose more when we work out or sweat a lot. On the keto diet mineral loss is more noticeable. It’s hard to get enough electrolytes from food alone, so an electrolyte drink is the tastiest and easiest option.
Many people have issues falling asleep or staying asleep, and pharmaceutical sleep aids can have problematic side effects. Using alcohol to get to sleep isn’t ideal either, since this can disrupt sleep patterns and take you over your carb limit for the day. Since you’re changing the way your metabolism runs, this makes sleep more difficult for some people, and they give up because they can’t seem to get a good night’s rest. If you find falling asleep or staying asleep to be a challenge, try a natural sleep aid a few hours before bed so you’re relaxed and ready to sleep when you turn out the lights.
Magnesium is not only an electrolyte; it’s a mineral that’s an essential part of hundreds of processes inside the body, and does several things to ensure a great night’s sleep. It directly helps the muscles to release tension and relax. Indirectly, it increases the neurotransmitter GABA, which promotes deeper and more restful sleep, and helps to melt away those spinning thoughts that can keep you up late at night. The best forms to use are magnesium glycinate or magnesium malate, since they are easily absorbed and don’t cause digestive problems. To relax before bed and have an easier time falling asleep, herbal remedies work wonders. It might sound cliché, but chamomile tea is soothing, and anything that contains valerian root will have you drifting off in no time.
Some people find relief with melatonin, which is a hormone that is supposed to rise in the evenings to help your body relax and have an easy time falling asleep and staying asleep. It’s a bit of a strong armed approach though, as your body makes melatonin in tiny amounts, far smaller than the amount you get in a supplement. Using melatonin supplements can disrupt your natural circadian rhythms, so if you must go this route, think of it as only a short term solution. For more ideas check out our 10 tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Collagen protein is made of amino acids just like whey or casein, but it works a whole different kind of magic. Sure, it can help with muscle growth, but it’s better used to support joint health, as well as skin, hair, and nails. Sure it sounds cliché, but it really does improve the condition of your body! Research even shows that it improves digestion by improving the integrity of the gut. Collagen is the main type of protein found in all of our connective tissue, like tendons and ligaments, so it does help make you stronger. Modern diets don’t include the tough connective tissue from meat that our ancestors would have gotten to naturally get collagen in their diets, so we do the next best thing: we supplement.
Exogenous ketones are a lot like jet fuel for the body, and can help newbies and seasoned keto dieters alike. Ketones are what our bodies produce from fats, and are used as energy in place of glucose. When you’re new to keto, you aren’t yet efficient at producing or burning ketones, so an outside source, aka exogenous source, can help to kick start your keto journey, giving you much needed energy so you don’t get lost in a slump. For those more experienced in keto, exogenous ketones are like an energy drink. Sure, you make enough ketones for your daily activities, but if you have a harder workout planned or a big meeting you need to be at the top of your game for, having exogenous ketones can make a big difference.
MCT Oil Powder
MCT, or Medium Chain Triglycerides, are a kind of fat that doesn’t reach digestion. This is straight raw fat that your liver converts into ketones that get into circulation fast. This is another versatile tool you can use in different ways depending on your goals. It’s great to speed up adaptation to the keto diet since you’re making more ketones from it. It’s also more of a sustained energy source than exogenous ketones. If you’re going for more of an endurance workout, MCT oil powder will keep you fueled for the duration of your activity. With MCT oil and MCT oil powder, make sure to start slow, at ¼ of the full dose so your body can get used to it.
Do you NEED any supplements to do keto? Technically no, but with the right combination of supplements you’ll feel better and see faster results. Avoiding carbs is the largest part of keto success, but without supporting electrolyte balance it’s also the fast way to the keto flu, which is the number one reason people quit the keto diet. If there’s only one supplement you choose to take, electrolytes are the thing for you, since they have such broad benefits that you can feel from day one. Supplements help you get faster results, and support optimal health. Choose from the others based on where you are in your journey and your unique needs. There’s no wrong way to try these keto diet supplements, try them out and see what works best for you!