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We all know water is a big part of any diet. But while hydration is key to health for all of us, it’s even more important when you ‘re consuming less carbs. The ketogenic diet is being discovered by an increasing number of people— in short, it’s a high fat, low carb diet with strong scientific credentials.
Researchers have found in numerous different studies that the keto diet can aid weight loss and overall health improvement, and this diet is also used to combat some diseases and chronic health conditions— including diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer.
But it is a relatively extreme diet, primarily because it requires you to consume very few carbohydrates. A low-carb diet has one side effect, dehydration.
Does Keto increase the chance of dehydration?
Carbohydrates play a number of important roles within the body. Carbs contain sodium and water within the body. You excrete more salt through your salt intake, rather than keeping it in the carbohydrate intake glycogen stored in your muscles.
So you retain less salt and less water when you eat less carbs.
In addition to being diligent to drink enough water, it is important to be aware that a keto diet requires both less salt intake (you remove salty carbs and most processed foods) and more salt excretion. So you need to have plenty of salt from sources in your diet too.
This can be a challenge, particularly as many of us believe that salt is bad in an ingrained way. But it is incredibly important to get enough sodium (salt) in your blood. To stay alive we need salt, and low sodium can cause muscle weakness, cramping, and extreme tiredness.
Add salt to your cooking and you can buy salt or electrolyte tablets from your local pharmacy if you think you’re running really low. Make an easy Bouillon stock broth is also a great way to uplift your sodium and at the same time it hydrates you!
Electrolytes are crucial
Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are essential electrolytes to proper hydration.
With keto, you remove different salty refined carbohydrates, so it’s important that you increase your sodium intake more than if you adopt a carbohydrated diet.
Because keto helps keep insulin low, your body flushes out more sodium than any other diet. Make sure these essential electrolytes, especially sodium, are replenished to maximize the low-carbon, high-fat lifestyle.
What happens if you get dehydrated?
Dehydration can range from extremely mild to very severe. There are several typical symptoms of early or moderate dehydration and it’s important to be aware of these so you can catch it early:
- Dry mouth
- Dark colored urine
- Feeling tired or groggy
- Faster heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy
- Dry skin
- Slower mental performance
Symptoms of more severe dehydration are more urgent, and include:
- Not feeling the need to urinate at all
- Severe headache
- Rapid breathing and rapid heartbeat
- Sunken eyes
The benefits of staying hydrated on the ketogenic diet
The benefits of drinking enough water while following the keto diet generally involve a great feeling!
Being well hydrated increases your concentration and mood, and gives you an overall sense of health and strength. Your body feels stronger and more competent and your muscles are functioning in the best possible way.
Water plays a central role in weight loss, improving your metabolism and stopping you from mistaking hunger-hungry feelings. So if you use the keto diet to lose weight, staying hydrated will give you the best chance to attain your goals.
Many people experience constipation when they start the ketogenic diet due to a reduction in carbohydrate fiber. Fluid intake is important for avoiding or treating constipation, as it helps transfer waste more efficiently through your digestive tract.
So staying hydrated overall will assist you on your keto journey. It will help you feel comfortable and adapt to the changes in the food you eat, and will help you get the most out of your diet. Additionally, it will help you stick with it for longer— because you will avoid the feelings of fatigue, hunger, and discomfort that are sometimes associated with keto diet dehydration.
How much water should I drink on keto diet?
However, there is no hard and fast rule as to how much water you should be consuming on the ketogenic diet— or, for that matter, in general. Health experts also recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses a day, but that recommendation is not yet based on reliable scientific evidence.
The United States National Library of Medicine recommends the average adult will drink about 91-125 ounces of fluid (i.e. 2,7 to 3,7 liters) of water every day. But others say we all need more than that — and on low-carb diets we may need more. The amount will vary depending on individual and lifestyle factors like age, diet, weight and activity level.
In reality, each of us is special. Based on internal and external causes, our bodies consume energy at different rates— from our particular physiology and physiological make-up to how much exercise we do, to the air temperature around us and the toxins we breathe in.
And (unfortunately for those of us who like numbers and quantities to work from!), it’s important to pay attention to your body’s signals to decide if you’re drinking enough water.
Your body gives signs that a sip— or chug — or water is needed. If you experience any of the above-mentioned dehydration signs regularly, you may need to drink more. If you feel thirsty, answer.
A simple thumb rule is to always aim for very light colored urine. Which means for most of us having water on hand to take daily sips so we can avoid going without water for hours. Drinking little and often, rather than just a few times a day in large amounts, also helps prevent too much water from drinking.