The ketogenic diet is one of the most popular diets in the last twenty years and with good reason. Everyone from your next door neighbor to your favorite athletes and celebrities has committed themselves to the keto lifestyle, describing it as the very thing they needed to finally get the body they wanted.
While you can definitely do well enough by just following a keto-centric lifestyle, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get more out of your keto diet efforts. One of the best ways to improve your keto diet gains is by taking the best supplements on keto.
What are the best supplements for a ketogenic diet? Read on to find out.
Do You Need Supplements On Keto?
Let’s just break it to you right here: You can’t expect any supplement to just miraculously make you lose weight. It doesn’t happen and for those supplements that actually do that, they’re likely really bad for your health. So the truth is, you don’t need to take any supplements on a keto diet. The only things you need are:
- Discipline: Because the ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets out there.
- Focus: Opening your fridge and seeing a leftover cupcake can be too tempting.
- Patience: The ketogenic diet isn’t something that works in “as little as two weeks.” Well, maybe it can, but for most people, the first week would be all about easing into the diet, then the following week would be the start of the real thing.
But, that doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to taking a supplement when you’re on a ketogenic diet. After all, the idea of supplementing the weight away is never out of the conversation, and those who are into the ketogenic diet (or planning on trying it) are definitely interested in speeding up the weight loss process.
The science of supplementation has progressed to a point where most of the time, there is definitely a marked benefit to taking them for their intended usage. This is the case for those in the sports industry, especially when it comes to muscle recovery and gym performance.
What we’re saying is, don’t feel bad if you think you need the extra help. Just like in a race, the idea of losing weight through keto is to get to the finish line no matter what it takes, and supplements on a ketogenic diet can help with that.
What are the minerals and nutrients that keto diet followers may be missing?
The best keto supplements you want should naturally be started with nutrients a ketogenic diet is known to lack. If you ever want to find out the best keto supplements for the ketogenic diet, here are some keto diet essentials:
Thiamin – What is it?
Sometimes spelled thiamine, this is the formal name of your vitamin B1. It’s water soluble and is naturally present in some foods. It plays a critical role in energy metabolism, growth development, and cellular function.
Why the keto diet often lacks vitamin B1?
The best sources of thiamine are mostly carb-based. In a low-carb diet like keto, you’re going to cut a large portion of foods rich in thiamine such as rice and breakfast cereals.
Folate- What is it?
Sometimes referred to as vitamin B9, folate is water soluble and primarily functions as a coenzyme or cosubstrate in single-carbon transfers in the creation of DNA and RNA as well as amino acid metabolism. Basically, folate is important when it comes to growth and explains why pregnant moms should consider higher folate intake.
Why does the keto diet often lack vitamin B9?
The top sources of folate include spinach, peas, rice, and spaghetti – foods that are carb-heavy.
Vitamin C – What is it?
Also known as ascorbic acid. Humans are unable to synthesize our own vitamin C, making it an essential part of our diet. As many would know, vitamin C helps improve our immune system and rate of wound healing. It also helps with collagen synthesis, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters.
Why does a keto diet often lack vitamin C?
It’s really easy to meet the daily vitamin C requirement, but some of the best keto supplements include vitamin C because it’s largely found in fruits. Fruits contain sugar and low carb diets really want to eliminate sugar as much as possible.
Magnesium – What is it?
Magnesium is an abundant mineral in the body and is naturally present in many foods. It’s a cofactor (a catalyst) for over 300 enzyme systems involved in various biochemical reactions such as protein synthesis. It’s also critical for blood pressure management, blood sugar control, and nerve health.
Why does a keto diet often lack Magnesium?
Believe it or not, despite its abundance, people are likely not meeting their daily magnesium intake due to factors such as diseases and medicines that reduce magnesium absorption and metabolism. For those on a weight loss, low carb diet such as the keto diet, they’re also at risk at having much lower levels of magnesium due to the strictness of the weight loss diet.
Iron – What is it?
A mineral naturally present in many foods and one of the best keto supplements, iron is an essential part of the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. It also supports muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue.
Why does a keto diet often lack iron?
The richest sources of iron are mostly cereals, beans, and dark, leafy greens like spinach. Lean meat and seafood are also high in iron, but the high fat low carb nature of the keto diet may have people preferring fatty meat.
Vitamin D – What is it?
Although it’s known as the “sun vitamin,” vitamin D is also present in fatty fish, some nuts, and mushrooms. The body has the ability to produce its own vitamin D, but it needs sunlight to do so. It’s a vitamin that has quite a lot of important functions ranging from immunity and bone mass to inflammation management.
Why does a keto diet often lack vitamin D?
Generally speaking, those in the urban setting are often vitamin D deficient because of their “shaded” lifestyles. Then, the availability of vitamin D in everyday foods ain’t that much either. This scarcity makes vitamin D one of the best supplements for keto diet.
Vitamin E – What is it?
Vitamin E is a really potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. This way, vitamin E protects us from toxins and environmental pollutants that would have otherwise made us sick easily.
Why does a keto diet often lack vitamin E?
Vitamin E is one of the best supplements for keto because much of the foods it’s highly sourced from are carb-based.
Calcium – What is it?
This mineral needs no introduction. Calcium helps strengthen the bones, needed for vascular contractions, and nerve processes which explains why it’s the most abundant mineral in the body.
Why does a keto diet often lack calcium?
Calcium, along with sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are minerals we easily lose to exercise and other metabolic functions. The sources of calcium, like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, are also milk-based or dairy, foods that can have a lot of carbs or high in calories.
Are there any supplements you should avoid on the keto diet?
Generally speaking, there are really no bad supplements to take on a ketogenic diet provided the supplements aren’t coming from shady brands or companies. However, there are a few things to avoid.
This is a no-brainer. The last thing you want in a ketogenic diet is to have too much carbs. So, be wary of supplements that may use the likes of maltodextrin as a filler.
It’s best to get your protein from actual food because too much protein can kick you out of ketosis through gluconeogenesis. So, avoid supplements that primarily contains protein as much as possible unless you’re trying to fill some protein gaps.
This is more for safety reasons. There are a lot of “keto-friendly” supplements out there that are really just encapsulated ground-up leaves which may be contaminated with some nasty stuff. Stick with the big brands even if they are expensive as health and safety are not cheap.
Foods to Avoid on a Ketogenic Diet
Here are some foods you definitely should stay away from if you want to get started – and maintain – a ketogenic lifestyle.
Anything sugar related
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. The goal of the ketogenic diet is to lower carb intake to take advantage of ketosis. However, you aren’t going to get into ketosis if you have too much sugar.
So, avoid anything laced with the sweet stuff. Not just the usual sugary sweets and pastries, but also some beverages like coffee, tea, shakes, and even beer.
Also, avoid honey-baked ham. We know it’s good, but we have to make a few sacrifices for this diet to work its best. We promise it will be worth it.
Foods heavy on carbs, including some vegetables
As weird as it sounds, some vegetables can be bad for a weight loss diet. This include high-carb veggies like peas, corn, potatoes, and beans. Leafy vegetables are safe since fiber is not really digested by the body.
Bananas, pineapple, mangoes, and other “sweet” fruits aren’t really ideal for keto. Generally speaking, just avoid the hand-sized “filling” fruits and stick with those you can pop in small amounts like berries and grapes. You can at least control the amount of carbs that you eat.
Chips, crips and other packaged foods
Regardless of what diet you have, it’s better to avoid these types of food in general.
Margarine and hydrogenated fats
This fat is really bad for you because it makes use of hydrogenated fat or fat known to produce trans fats. Trans fats are the worst fats ever as they can harm a body if you consume them for long-term. Avoid anything that uses margarine or hydrogenated fat in general.
Keto Supplements: What to look for
If you’re really into the best low carb keto supplements, here are some that can help boost your weight loss efforts.
Medium Chain Triglycerides or simply MCT oil is the type of fat that keto lovers always go for because this type of fat is not accumulated and goes directly to the liver.
If you’re already in ketosis, then this provides instant fuel as the liver needs fat to produce ketones, and MCT oils are kind of like a shortcut. Do consume in small amounts, however, as too much MCT oil can lead to digestion problems and loose bowel movements!
Many keto fans are likely not consuming as much vegetables as they should due to the fear of being kicked out of ketosis. Most vegetables are packed with minerals, and the body uses minerals for electrolytes.
Being low on electrolytes can be hazardous, especially when it comes to water absorption and muscle recovery after training. When you buy electrolyte supplements (they mostly come in powder sachets or sports drinks), make sure to check the ingredients and avoid carb-based fillers as much as possible.
And just a reminder: monitor sodium intake. It may be a mineral, but if you’re sodium intake level is too high, you might get unwanted side effects.
Greens powders are literally vegetables grounded up into concentrated portions. This lets you “bypass” the carb part of the vegetable and gets your body the good stuff without the fear of being taken out of ketosis.
As always, many greens powders have a lot of carbs in them, but if you’re using them as meal replacements, then those carbs might not be too bad.
Being low on vegetable and fruit means your digestive enzymes are also threatened to be lower than most people. This can make it hard for the stomach to digest the hard proteins you’re eating. If you’re experiencing issues with digestion or even bowel movement, digestive enzymes might help.
The ketogenic diet doesn’t necessarily cause low Vitamin D levels, but people generally need vitamin D anyway, so take one if you’re not seeing the sun often.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The best source of omega 3 fatty acids will always be fish. However, we can’t exactly eat fish all the time and, in the case of keto, in high amounts. This is especially true when you’re looking to feel full since fish isn’t exactly filling.
Omega 3 fatty acid supplements can help you with this problem, but always check the expiration date and whether they’ve been properly stored during delivery.
Taking omega 3 fatty acids is also great for reducing heart disease.
Magnesium is a mineral that also functions as an electrolyte. And based on what we wrote already, people in ketosis kind of need the extra electrolyte, especially when weight lifting to help reduce muscle cramps. So yes, taking a magnesium supplement should really help you, especially when it comes to preventing magnesium deficiency.
Also known as ketone salts, exogenous ketones are ketones meant to directly increase levels of ketones in the blood. The popular exogenous ketone type is BHB or betahydroxybutyrate. BHB is the exact ketone produced by the body. BHB ketone supplements also often contain minerals (hence the name ketone salts) to help maintain electrolyte balance.
Exogenous ketones aren’t cheap, though, so make sure the exogenous ketones you’ll get are authentic ones.
Fiber in general is necessary for health and wellness, but more so when you’re following a ketogenic diet. Since the goal is weight loss, you want to get as much from food as possible without going overboard on calories and carbs. The answer? Fiber.
Unlike typical carbs, fiber isn’t metabolized the same way as most carbs. It’s also critical for healthy digestion, blood sugar levels, lowering heart disease, and other health benefits, so feel free to take a bit of fiber here and there. Don’t take too much though, as too much fiber can be really bad for your intestinal health.
Some keto-friendly supplements exist in the market and they often contain a combination of the best keto supplements we listed. Not only are they convenient, but they are also putting your ketogenic diet needs as a priority, so be on the lookout for them.
Takeaway – My final thoughts
You don’t really need to take supplements when you’re following a ketogenic diet. In fact, the only thing you need is discipline, patience, and focus. However, the best keto supplements can still help improve your efforts, especially if you’re after weight loss.
Based on our research, the best keto supplements are fiber, exogenous ketones, magnesium, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, greens powders, electrolytes, and MCT oil.
There are also a handful of bad supplements out there, so do your due diligence and only get the best for your body.
Let me know your thoughts on my article and share your experiences on any keto supplements you take.
A graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, Robert writes about sports supplements, nutrition, health & fitness and medical topics. Robert is a former Research Scientist and holds a degree in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition. Robert regularly shares his scientific knowledge and research-backed content on health authority websites, various podcasts and social websites including Quora.