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Why should you be on the hunt for keto-friendly potassium rich foods?

Because potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte your body needs for everything from balancing your bodily fluids to keeping your muscles functioning properly.

And since your body can’t make potassium on its own, it’s your job to eat the right foods to give it what it craves.

Many Americans don’t meet the recommended daily potassium intake already — but it’s even more critical to watch this mineral when you’re on a ketogenic diet.

And that’s easier said than done.

While there are tons of potassium-rich foods to meet your quota, there’s really only a handful of keto-friendly choices.

So today we’re focusing on potassium and learning:

Before we get to those healthful foods, let’s find out what this mineral is even used for.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is the third most abundant mineral found in your body, but more importantly, it’s one of the big three electrolytes including sodium and magnesium.

Electrolytes are important chemicals required by your cells to function. They regulate your cells’ fluid and mineral balance within your body.

Electrolytes have their hands in activities such as[*]:

  • Muscle contractions
  • Heartbeat regulation
  • Body temperature management
  • Bladder control
  • Energy production
  • Neurological functions

Potassium, specifically, is involved in what’s known as the “sodium-potassium pump”.

Basically, this function helps move fluids in and out of your cells, which…

  • Allows your blood to circulate
  • Helps pump your heart
  • Allows messages to be delivered along your nerves

But how does the sodium-potassium pump work and why the weird name?

Your body needs around 4,700 mg of potassium each day. But it only needs less than half that amount of sodium (around 1,500 mg).

Here’s the bad news: most Americans have this intake backward.

They have too much salt in their diet and not enough potassium to balance it out.

So when sodium levels are too high, sodium gets pushed out while potassium gets pumped in, hence the name sodium-potassium pump[*].

High sodium levels means potassium levels plummet as a result.

That’s why it’s not a huge surprise many Americans suffer from low potassium.

Are You Potassium Deficient?

Low potassium levels are no joke.

Since potassium is responsible for the way your cells release and create energy, your nerves, muscles and cells may not function properly — if they do at all — when you’re low on this mineral.

Signs you don’t have enough potassium in your diet include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Fatigue, both physically and mentally
  • Fluid retention (due to excess sodium)
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • High blood pressure (aka hypertension)
  • Dehydration
  • Gland and tissue swelling
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle weakness and aches
  • Weight gain
  • Nausea, bloating and tummy cramping

These side effects can be improved with dietary potassium, but sometimes that may not be enough.

Healthy bodies should be able to regulate potassium levels on their own, but some health conditions can get in the way of this process and trigger potassium deficiency[*]:

  • Elevated corticosteroid levels
  • Specific medications (like ACE inhibitors)
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Gastro issues such as vomiting, diarrhea and laxative/diuretic use, which all deplete your body of electrolytes
  • Intense cardio/endurance without adequate hydration and electrolyte replacement

Can you have too much potassium?

An overdose from naturally-occurring potassium is highly rare, unless you’re on dialysis, undergoing cancer treatments or have kidney problems or another medical condition.

If you have too much potassium in your system, you’ll likely experience nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, too much potassium can lead to cardiac arrest.

Again, these high levels are usually the result of a medical condition or taking potassium salts versus taking high potassium foods.

Why You MUST Pay Extra Attention to Potassium In Keto

Potassium is one of the big vitamin and mineral supplements you need in keto.

That’s because when you start eliminating carbs from your diet, your glycogen stores will quickly get depleted.

But for every gram of glycogen found in your body, there’s also three grams of water holding on as well.

So as you start losing glycogen, your body starts flushing out this water. And each time you pee, you’re flushing out these super critical electrolytes too.

When it comes down to it, keto flu happens due to an electrolyte imbalance.

If you don’t understand the symptoms, you may feel as if keto doesn’t work when really you’re just not refilling your electrolytes during that window of adjustment from burning carbs to burning fat.

Check out our guide on keto electrolytes when you’re done with this one for more help.

On the flip side, your health will show noticeable improvements when you hit your potassium target, as we’ll see next.

4 Health Benefits of Potassium

Why is paying all this attention to potassium worth your time?

Here are five awesome health benefits potassium delivers:

#1: Prevents and Treat Muscle Cramps

The first sign people usually notice when their bodies are screaming for more potassium (or magnesium) is muscle cramping and charley horses.

That’s because these painful cramps are typically caused by dehydration and electrolyte and mineral loss[*].

Potassium helps build proteins and muscles[*]. So when your diet is high in potassium rich foods, your muscles will not only feel stronger, they’ll be less prone to cramping up too.

Replenish your electrolytes post workout and your muscle aches will severely diminish.

Potassium may even help with menstrual cramping and PMS[*].

#2: Promotes Heart Health and Lowers Risk of Stroke

Low levels of potassium have been connected with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Harvard Medical School studies find that a diet high in potassium from whole food sources lowers blood pressure by lessening the effect of sodium, which can raise blood pressure in high concentrations[*].

Research shows potassium may also protect your arteries and blood vessels from growing thick with plaque[*].

Studies also show a connection between diets with high potassium foods and protection against strokes[*].

#3: Keeps Your Bones Strong

Researchers have learned people with more potassium in their diet also have higher bone density than those who don’t meet their recommended intake amount.

Potassium helps your body better absorb calcium, which helps strengthen your bones[*].

During a study of 266 elderly women, researchers noticed a positive association with bone density mass and potassium intake, suggesting that eating foods high in potassium may play a role in osteoporosis prevention[*].

#4: Reduce the Chance of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard minerals clumped together that form a small “stone” that you’ll feel in your back and in your urinary tract. These can be very painful and your chances of having them increase if you’ve already had one before.

Potassium deficiencies have been linked to increased kidney stones.

When you’re potassium deficient, your kidneys will release more calcium, which raises your chances of developing stones.

However, kidney stones may be avoided by increasing potassium intake for two reasons[*]:

  • Kidney stones formed with calcium are a sign your urine is too acidic and needs to be balanced. Potassium has an alkaline effect, which will increase your urinary pH and make it less welcoming for kidney stones to nest.
  • Potassium binds with calcium, so calcium doesn’t have the chance to bind with other minerals that cause kidney stones. More calcium in your urine means higher chances of kidney stones forming, while less means a lower chance.

So now that you know why your body needs potassium, let’s talk about the best dietary sources.

12 Potassium Rich Foods to Enjoy In Ketosis

Your recommended daily intake value of potassium is 4,700 milligrams[*].

Most people reach for potassium rich foods such as bananas, potatoes, black beans and yogurt when they need a boost.

Bad news is these aren’t keto-friendly because they have way too many carbs and sugar.

Add these 10 potassium rich foods to your ketogenic menu plan and you’ll meet your potassium goals and stay in ketosis the easy way:

#1: Avocado

Avocados are a true superfood and one of the best sources of potassium when you’re on a ketogenic diet.

Packed with healthy fats, tons of dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals, avocados are one of the best ways to meet your potassium requirement when you’re in keto.

One medium Hass avocado provides 689 mg of potassium, or 20% of your daily intake[*].

Bonus: One study showed people who regularly nosh on avocados are healthier and better looking; avocado eaters had lower BMIs, body weight and waist sizes than those who didn’t eat them, not to mention they had lower risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease too[*].

Get some: We love this amazing fruit at Perfect Keto and can’t wait for you to try these recipes featuring avocado:

#2: Brussels Sprouts

One cup of cooked brussels sprouts delivers 494 mg of potassium, or 14% of your RDV[*].

That same serving of these cruciferous veggies also packs 4g of protein, 4g of fiber, over 150% of vitamin C and over 200% of your vitamin K all for a measly 60 calories.

Get some: Add this Cheesy Bacon Brussel Sprouts Casserole to the table and it will disappear before you can even hashtag your keto potassium win.

#3: Mushrooms

Portobello and white button mushrooms add flavor and texture to your meals and deliver a dose of potassium worth 630 mg, or 18% of your daily value[*].

You’ll also score 5g of protein for just 3g net carbs in that serving as well.

Get some: Take a walk on the fun(gi) side of life with these keto-friendly Creamy Mushroom Chicken or Portobello Bun Cheeseburger recipes.

#4: Summer Squash or Zucchini

Whether you like them spiralized as zoodles or roasted in the oven, a cup of zucchini gives you 10% of your recommended intake of magnesium and 13% of your potassium requirement (455 mg)[*].

For less than 30 calories, 40% of your vitamin A intake and 2.5g fiber, these versatile veggies can be noshed on every day of the week.

Try them: Replace the noodles in your old carby lasagna recipe with this Low Carb Keto Lasagna using zucchini noodles.

#5: Pumpkin Seeds

One ounce of pumpkin seeds will give you 226 mg of potassium, or 6% of your RDV[*].

These small nutritional powerhouses also supply noteworthy amounts of magnesium, zinc, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and are a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes restful sleep.

Get some: Pumpkin seeds can be added to your snack time along with nuts and cheese, or sprinkled on top of salads or Keto Oatmeal for extra crunch.

#6: Spinach and Leafy Greens

There’s a reason spinach is a true nutritional rockstar. Check out the stats for one cooked cup of the green gold[*]:

  • 40 calories
  • 5g protein
  • 4g fiber
  • 2.5 net carbs

Those seem great, but not super awesome, right?

So check out the vitamins and minerals that same serving packs:

  • Vitamin A: 377%
  • Vitamin K: 111%
  • Manganese: 84%
  • Folate: 66%
  • Magnesium: 39%
  • Iron: 36%
  • Vitamin C: 29%
  • Calcium: 24%
  • Potassium: 24%
  • Sodium: 5%

Now we’re talking.

You get all three electrolytes in a cup of cooked spinach (i.e., potassium, magnesium and sodium).

Spinach is also crazy high in vitamin A and vitamin K, which has been studied for its use in preventing cancer, helping your bones stay strong, and increasing insulin sensitivity[*].

Plus, with close to 90% of your manganese intake, you may also experience greater antioxidant defense, energy and immune function with a daily dose of spinach[*].

What if spinach isn’t up your alley?

One cup of cooked beet greens provides 37% of your DV of potassium, while a cup of Swiss chard provides 27%.

Try it: Pair any protein with this decadent Creamed Spinach recipe for maximum potassium potential.

#7: Wild-Caught Salmon (and other special fish)

Wild-caught salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. Studies have shown every increase in fatty fish like salmon you eat reduces your risk of dying from heart disease[*].

A six ounce serving gives you 1,068mg of potassium, or 31% of your daily intake.

But if you don’t love salmon or can’t get the wild-caught version, here are a few other fish in the sea high in potassium and perfect for you:

  • Pompano: 30% of your potassium intake in a 6 oz. filet
  • Mackerel: 28%
  • Halibut : 26%
  • Snapper: 26%
  • Tuna: 26%
  • Trout: 22%

Get some: This Crispy Skin Salmon and Pesto Cauliflower Rice recipe will convert any salmon nonbelievers.

#8: Clams

You may not think these little guys are worth the effort of shucking, but clams are an amazing source of potassium for their size (and you can also find them in cans).

A 3.5 oz serving of canned or fresh clams provides with 18% of your potassium needs.

And for their size, clams also contain almost your entire selenium intake, twice your requirement for iron and the highest concentration of vitamin B12 found in any food seafood.

Try them: Because they’re so small, clams cook super fast when lightly steamed, grilled or cooked on the stove in butter and garlic. You can also add them to keto soups and stews.

#9. Pork Chops

The ol’ classic combination of pork chops and applesauce may be out of your keto macros, but pork chops shouldn’t be.

As “the other white meat”, pork chops pack a healthy dose of protein while being on the relatively low-cal end of the meat spectrum.

One pork chop packs a whopping 532 mg of potassium, 9g of fat and 40g of protein[*]!

Get some: Apply one of these Low Carb Breadcrumb Substitutes to your pork chops and let them do their thing in the oven while you whip up a yummy Keto Cauliflower Mac and Cheese side dish.

#10: Plain Coconut Water (In Moderation)

Coconut water is hydrating and boasting with potassium. One cup of this liquid gives you:

  • Potassium: 515 mg (14% DV)
  • Fat: 0.4 grams
  • Protein: 1.5 grams
  • Total carbs: 8 grams

As you can tell, you should enjoy coconut water in moderation due to its higher carb count.

Packaged coconut water usually contains more sugar, so look closely at the labels to find a low sugar brand, or stick to plain coconut water directly from coconuts.

Now you know how to get more potassium from whole foods, but what about when you don’t have the time to cook these or eat enough to meet your requirements?

Here are two safe and easy ways to supplement potassium:

#11: A High-Quality Electrolyte Supplement

Supplementing your potassium in tandem with other electrolytes is the easiest way to ensure you have the right electrolyte balance in your body, without worrying too much about what to cook to get them all.  

When looking for a supplement, make sure it has no fillers, added sugars,  or unnecessary ingredients that downgrade its quality.

Perfect Keto Electrolytes is specifically formulated for the keto diet  since you’re more likely to lose electrolytes when you enter ketosis.

It provides a precise 4:2:1:1 ratio of sodium to potassium to calcium and magnesium, which helps support healthy biological functions.

In each capsule you’ll find:

  • 140 mg of sodium
  • 70 mg of potassium
  • 35 mg of magnesium
  • 35 mg of calcium

How to use it: You can take electrolytes in between meals, before your workouts to support performance, or in the morning fasted.

#12. Exogenous Ketones

Your body makes ketones and ramps up production when you’re in ketosis. These energy saviors are what your body will run on when you’re burning mainly fat for energy.

Exogenous ketones are ketones made outside your body which you can add to your diet (i.e., like a protein powder or keto supplement).

Exogenous ketones help your body transition to a state of ketosis — and stay there — much easier than if you tried to get in keto without them.

They’ve been shown to:

  • Support a healthy metabolism
  • Suppress your appetite
  • Increase your focus
  • Boost your athletic performance
  • Maintain your high energy levels

Most exogenous ketone supplements bind the ketones as beta hydroxybutyrate (BHB) to a salt, such as sodium, calcium, magnesium or potassium.

So if you find the right exogenous ketone supplement, you’ll get an excellent source of potassium as well.

Save this guide to read about how to supplement with exogenous ketones in keto later.

How to use them: Grab a high-quality exogenous ketone base without additives, fillers, carbs or sugar for these recipes:

Which Potassium Rich Food Is Your Fave?

Stock your pantry with these 9 potassium rich foods and 2 keto-friendly supplements and you’ll always be sure to hit your daily potassium intake while staying in ketosis.

Start with your favorite food on today’s list and work your way through the rest each following day or week.

And if you take an electrolyte supplement or an exogenous ketone base that binds to potassium, you may be able to knock out your daily intake in one sitting.

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