If you’re on or have dabbled with a low-carb diet—paleo or ketogenic for example—you may have noticed some symptoms of what’s commonly called the ‘keto flu.’
What’s happening in your body to cause these effects when going low carb? How can you fix it? Is sodium the knight in shining armor? Is adding extra salt to your meals enough or do you need to supplement?
In that quick 10 and 2 video I’ll go over electrolytes and why sodium is SO important.
Nicki: Robb we’ve talked a little bit about the keto flu and what’s going on during that process and you mentioned that sodium is the biggie to pay attention to. Can you elaborate on that?
Robb: Yeah. Even though folks start losing electrolytes, kind of globally, which includes sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. When we look at kind of a whole-foods based diet, the things that we get, in generally decent amounts are potassium, magnesium and calcium. The thing that we’re really deficient in is sodium and there’s all kinds of drama and conflict around how much you should have, how much you shouldn’t have. The standard recommendations that come out of the medical sphere are to, globally, everybody generally, to consume fewer than two grams of total sodium per day.
Robb: What’s interesting about that is that there have been some very nicely done studies looking at populations that you could make a case or probably the most likely to be problematic for elevated sodium intake and these are folks with existing cardiovascular disease issues; they’ve suffered a heart attack, they suffered a stroke or they’re at high risk for these things and when these folks have been looked at over a long period of time, interestingly, the people that had sodium intakes that were below two grams per day, were at the highest risk for morbidity and mortality for all kinds of problems to happen.
Robb: If we were to graph this out, it’s a U-Curve and at low intake, we have very high morbidity and mortality. At about five grams per day of intake, is actually the low ebb of problems in these folks and then what’s really interesting is that increasing levels of sodium intake, it’s a flat curve. So you have to get up to eight, nearly nine grams of sodium intake per day, in this diseased population to have the same risk profile as somebody consuming fewer than two grams of sodium per day.
Robb: That’s just kind of a baseline with that. If we do a little bit of digging around, even in the American Counsel Sports Medicine recommendations around sodium intake and electrolyte intake, in general, folks that are exercising at a high intensity, that are in heat or humid conditions, their recommendation is as high as seven to ten grams of sodium per day. That’s just kind of some background stuff. If we were to overlay the fact that a lot of people are doing low carb diets, even Paleo, kind of fits into that low carb diet scenario compared to what people are generally doing, that as a baseline, I would argue is going to increase your sodium needs and so we can really use that five grams per day, low ebb of that U-Curve as a pretty safe benchmark, as a beginning point for what people should be getting throughout the course of a day, both from dietary intake and also from potential supplemental sources.