Do you need keto supplements or can you get all the nutrients you need from keto-friendly foods?
The short answer is that supplements can make your ketogenic diet significantly easier.
It can be challenging to obtain all your required nutrition while also focusing on getting the right amount of macros. This is where keto supplements come in.
What makes ketosis and the ketogenic diet healthy or not depends on the quality of macros and micronutrients you’re consuming.
To follow an optimal keto diet, you need to understand supplements.
The ketogenic diet is unique because it transforms your metabolism. Your default energy source is glucose from carbs, but you take away this primary source of energy when you start a very low-carb diet.
Your body then switches gears and shifts to an alternate energy source: fat. When this happens, your body begins ketogenesis: fat stores are converted into ketones in your liver, providing an alternative energy fuel.
You shift from being a carb-fueled machine to being a fat-fueled machine. This change is huge, and like all changes, it will take some adjustment while your body settles. Keto supplements help you go through this change with little to no side effects.
While not always necessary on a keto diet, supplements can help in a few crucial ways:
Reduce Symptoms of the Keto Flu
The keto flu is often caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals during the transition to ketosis.
For example, as your cells use up all the glycogen stores in your body, you lose water and with it important electrolytes.
Having the right supplements, such as electrolytes, can help prevent nutrient deficiencies that cause the keto flu and can make your transition smoother.
Fill Any Nutritional Gaps in Your Keto Diet
Because the ketogenic diet doesn’t allow fruits or starchy veggies, you may not know where to get the vitamins and minerals you once got from those foods. You may also need a fiber supplement if you find that your digestion has changed and you need a little bit more bulk.
Keto supplements help ease the transition to keto because they can give you important vitamins and minerals as you adjust to getting them from keto foods like red meat, eggs, and low-carb vegetables.
For example, taking a greens supplement can be helpful if you don’t like eating a lot of fresh kale and other leafy greens.
Support Your Health Goals
Keto supplements can support the health goals that motivated you to start the ketogenic diet in the first place.
For example, fish oil can support better cognitive function, which is a benefit of the keto diet, while MCT oil can support your weight loss efforts.
Using supplements on keto helps you be at your best, and understanding how certain supplements work makes it easier to know if you need them.
These are the top keto supplements to consider taking. Learn more about why they matter and the best way to incorporate them in your keto diet.
1. Electrolyte Supplements for Fluid Balance
While there are many health benefits of the keto diet, it’s possible to miss out on important minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium that come from non-ketogenic foods. These electrolytes control nerve and muscle function, among many other things.
The low-carb nature of the keto diet causes your kidneys to dump excess water, excreting sodium and other electrolytes that need to be replenished.
Low levels of these electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, can lead to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and constipation, also known as the keto flu.
By replenishing these important electrolytes through food or supplements, you reduce keto flu symptoms while protecting yourself from long-term deficiency on keto.
Below are the four electrolytes to be aware of when going keto.
A healthy balance of sodium in the body is necessary for nerve and muscle function. Sodium’s ability to retain water is also essential to keeping a balance of other electrolytes.
Most diets encourage less sodium, but you might need more on keto because sodium is lost with water loss, especially at the beginning of the keto diet.
How to Get Sodium
While you don’t need a sodium supplement, you’ll likely need to replenish any sodium lost on keto by:
- Adding salt to your food or drinks. Choose Himalayan sea salt.
- Drinking bone broth regularly.
- Eating more sodium-rich foods like red meats or eggs.
Note: Sodium has an impact on blood pressure. Monitor your intake if you’re concerned about or prone to hypertension. Many health organizations recommend sodium intake no more than 2300 mg a day (one teaspoon)[*].
Being deficient in magnesium is fairly common, and even more so in people eating a low-carb diet. Blood testing is the best way to know for sure about your levels, but muscle cramps and fatigue are common signs of magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium supplements help maintain normal heart rhythm, healthy immunity, and nerve and muscle function. It works with calcium to maintain healthy bones, and assists more than 300 bodily reactions including regulating sleep and maintaining proper testosterone levels[*][*].
How to Get Magnesium
You can get magnesium from magnesium-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, leafy green vegetables, and high-fat yogurts. But these foods contain carbs and it might be hard to consume enough to reach your magnesium needs without exceeding your carb macros.
Potassium helps the body keep normal blood pressure, fluid balance, and regular heart rate. It also helps break down and use carbs, and build proteins[*].
How to Get Potassium
Supplementing with potassium is often discouraged, as too much is toxic. It’s best to get it from whole food keto sources like nuts, leafy greens, avocados, salmon, and mushrooms.
Calcium has many roles in the body. Strong bones is just half of it. Calcium is also responsible for proper blood clotting and muscle contraction.
How to Get Calcium
Keto sources of calcium include fish, leafy greens like broccoli, dairy, and non-dairy milk (just make sure they’re unsweetened and zero-carb). You still might need to supplement with calcium to cover your bases. High-quality calcium supplements include vitamin D, which is needed for absorption.
Both men and women need around 1000 mg of calcium per day[*].
2. Vitamin D for Strength and Healthy Hormones
Vitamin D acts as both a nutrient and a hormone in your body. Many food products are fortified with vitamin D because it’s hard to get enough from food alone. You can get it from sun exposure, but only in places that are sunny enough. Plus, extended sun exposure puts you at risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, magnesium, and other minerals[*]. It’s also necessary for maintaining strength and muscle growth, bone density, healthy testosterone levels, and for supporting cardiovascular and immune system health[*][*][*].
Despite these crucial functions, about one-third of Americans are low in vitamin D. The restrictive nature of foods on the ketogenic diet might put you at a higher risk of deficiency[*].
How to Get It
You can get vitamin D from some types of mushrooms and fatty fish, but that’s about it on the keto diet unless you also eat fortified dairy products. Supplementation with 400IU per day is recommended[*].
3. MCT Oil for Fat Efficiency
MCTs stands for medium-chain triglycerides, and they’re a type of fat the body can use for energy right away instead of storing them as fat[*]. MCTs help produce ketones in your body, which are necessary to enter and stay in ketosis, because they’re a more efficient energy source than glucose (which comes from carbs).
The immediate usage of MCTs for fuel makes them a great keto diet supplement for keeping you in a fat-burning energy state and meeting your daily macros for fat intake.
How to Use It
MCTs are found in coconut oil, butter, cheese, and yogurt. But the best way to get a concentrated dose your body can easily digest is by supplementing with MCT oil (in the form of soft gels or liquid MCT oil) or MCT oil powder.
Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder can sometimes be easier on the stomach than liquid MCTs and can be added to hot or cold drinks, smoothies, and shakes. Use at least a half or whole scoop serving per day.
4. Krill Oil for Heart and Brain Health
Your body needs three types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA.
Krill oil is an excellent bioavailable source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two omega-3 essential fatty acids that you must get from either diet or supplementation — your body can’t make it on its own.
The other type of omega-3, ALA or alpha-linolenic acid, is found in plant foods like walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.
Your body is able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is very low. That’s why it’s better to supplement with fish oil supplements or eat a lot of high-quality fatty fish.
While the keto diet can contain omega-3s naturally, a lot of keto foods are also high in omega-6s, which can cause inflammation in excess amounts[*].
Most people eat way too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s, so you should strive to achieve a ratio of 1:1.
Omega-3s are crucial for brain and heart health in many ways. Supplementing with omega-3s can help:
- Fight inflammation[*]
- Ease depression symptoms[*]
- Lower triglyceride levels in the blood (high triglycerides are linked to increased cardiovascular disease risk)[*][*][*]
- Lower triglycerides more than a ketogenic diet alone, along with lowering total and LDL cholesterol, body fat, and BMI[*]
Why krill oil? Krill oil supplements contain all of the omega-3s of fish oil, but with some added benefits. Krill oil also contains phospholipids and a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin has neuroprotective properties that can reduce damage to your brain and central nervous system from oxidative stress[*][*].
Unless you’re eating wild, fatty, well-sourced fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel, plenty of leafy green vegetables each day, and emphasizing grass-fed beef, you likely need some additional omega-3s.
How to Get It
While the American Heart Association recommends 250-500 milligrams of combined EPA and DHA per day, most studies of krill oil demonstrating health benefits use between 300 milligrams and 3 grams. That should provide approximately 45-450mg combined EPA and DHA per day[*].
Choose only high-quality krill oil supplements with strict testing in place to make sure it’s free from heavy metals and other contaminants. You might also want to check that the manufacturer practices sustainable sourcing techniques.
5. Exogenous Ketones for Ketosis
Exogenous ketones are an external form of the ketones your body makes in ketosis.
Taking exogenous ketones can raise your ketone levels and provide immediate additional energy, whether you’re in ketosis or not. They are an ideal supplement for a keto diet.
Potential benefits of using exogenous ketones include:
- Increased focus
- Higher energy levels
- More energy for better athletic performance
- Decreased inflammation
How to Get It
The best exogenous ketone product has no fillers, additives, sugars, or carbs and is made with high-quality beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
You can take Perfect Keto Base anytime you need additional support, such as before a workout, while fasting, in between meals, or after eating carbs. Plus, you have five delicious flavors to choose from (or you can opt for the unflavored capsules).
6. Keto Greens for Full Nutritional Support
Taking a bunch of individual vitamins and minerals supplements can be unrealistic, and most multivitamins won’t give you the right combination for keto. A high-quality greens powder is a good way to cover all your nutritional bases.
How to Use It
Perfect Keto Micronutrients Greens Powder contains four different blends for maximum antioxidant and nutritional support on a ketogenic diet:
- A greens blend (4000mg)
- An antioxidant blend (950mg)
- A berry blend (500mg)
- An absorption blend (300mg)
Use one scoop in your favorite beverage up to three times per day.
Although these supplements aren’t as crucial as the ones above, they can help make your transition to ketosis easier and continue to support your keto diet.
1. Keto Pre-Workout
Eating low-carb can sometimes make exercise more of a challenge, at least until your body becomes keto-adapted. A keto-friendly pre-workout can help power you up when you need the extra energy, whether it’s for a workout, staying up later than usual, or just getting through the day.
How to Get It
Look for a pre-workout free of junk that will support your fitness on a keto diet. Perfect Keto Perform was created for this exact reason and includes the following recommended supplements:
- Caffeine from green tea for increased focus and mental acuity
- BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) to support muscle building and maintenance on a moderate-protein keto diet
- Creatine monohydrate, a sports supplement with extensive research showing its positive impact on muscle mass, strength and exercise performance [*]
- Beta-alanine to prevent feelings of burnout while exercising on a keto diet
It also includes BHB ketones, MCT oil powder, and calcium and magnesium. Take one scoop in your favorite drink or plain water before or workout or whenever you need extra energy.
The low-carb nature of the keto diet cuts down on fruit and vegetable consumption, which are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for fighting toxic free radicals that form in the body.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that also acts as an antioxidant, so supplementing with it can provide additional support for fighting cellular damage[*].
It’s also a great choice for anyone who does intense exercise, which can naturally reduce glutamine stores[*]. Supplementing can help build them back up after each workout to protect the body and support better recovery time.
How to Use It
L-glutamine is available in capsule or powder form and typically taken in 500-1000 mg doses before each workout.
Also known as 7-keto, 7-oxo-DHEA is an oxygenated metabolite (a product of a metabolic reaction) of DHEA. Research shows it may enhance the weight loss effect of the keto diet.
One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that 7-oxo-DHEA, combined with moderate exercise and a reduced-calorie diet, significantly reduced body weight and body fat compared with exercise and a reduced-calorie diet alone[*].
In other words, it might boost your metabolism and weight loss efforts.
How to Use It
Current research suggests that it’s effective and safe to take 200-400 mg daily in two divided doses of 100-200mg[*].
4. Grass-Fed Collagen
Collagen makes up 30% of the total protein in your body, yet it’s the one most people are deficient in. That’s why supplementation is important.
Collagen can help your hair, nails, and skin grow and become healthy, and can even heal leaky gut.
The problem is, taking a regular collagen supplement can kick you out of ketosis, so keto-friendly collagen is the way to go.
Keto collagen is essentially a blend of collagen and MCT oil powder. The MCT oil powder slows down the absorption of collagen in the body, so it can be used for healing and recovering instead of quickly turning into glucose.
How to Use It
One scoop of Keto Collagen provides 10 grams of pure collagen, an effective dose that many studies recommend. You can take it daily mixed in a meal or drink like soup, coffee, smoothies, or raw energy balls.
There are some functional whole food options for supplementing your keto diet. Consider adding these to your daily routine.
1. Spirulina for Lower Cholesterol
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains all the amino acids your body needs, making it a complete protein. It also contains potassium, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients. Spirulina has antioxidant properties as well[*].
Daily intake of spirulina has also shown positive results on blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol[*].
How to Use It
Spirulina can be taken in capsule or powdered form and mixed into a smoothie or just plain water. Take 4.5 grams (or almost one teaspoon) per day. Spirulina is also included in Perfect Keto Micronutrient Greens.
2. Chlorella for Fighting Fatigue
Like spirulina, chlorella is another green algae superfood.
Chlorella is especially helpful in the beginning stages of keto if you experience fatigue. It contains Chlorella Growth Factor, a nutrient containing RNA and DNA that can help increase energy transport between cells[*].
How to Use It
Chlorella comes in capsule, tablet, or powder forms. Make sure it’s been tested for heavy metal contamination. It can be mixed in a smoothie, water or other drink daily. Chlorella is also included in Perfect Keto Micronutrient Greens Powder.
3. Dandelion Root for Fat Absorption
The sharp increase in fat intake on a keto diet can initially cause digestive upset for some people. Dandelion helps stimulate bile production in the gallbladder, which supports better digestion and absorption of fats, your main source of energy on the ketogenic diet[*].
How to Use It
Dandelion can be purchased in tea bags or in bulk to be consumed as needed as a tea. If using in bulk, take 9-12 grams (2-3 teaspoons) per day. Dandelion is also in the Keto Micro Greens Powder.
4. Turmeric to Combat Inflammation
Some lower-quality animal products can be inflammatory. If you aren’t able to splurge on higher-quality meats and dairy products are much as you’d like, taking extra anti-inflammatory measures is a good idea.
Besides fish oil, turmeric is a potent natural anti-inflammatory food. It contains curcumin, which helps counteract inflammatory foods.
How to Use It
Cook with turmeric or combine it with ghee or full-fat coconut milk, coconut oil, and cinnamon to make turmeric tea. You could also add a bit of black pepper, which can enhance curcumin absorption. Use 2-4 grams (0.5-1 teaspoons) daily.
Using Keto Supplements to Make Transition and Maintenance Easier
Although it may be possible to get all the nutrition you need on a keto diet, most people can’t be perfect eaters all the time.
The supplementation options in this guide should help you fill in the gaps and even boost your performance while eating a keto diet and living a healthy lifestyle.