How To Use Supplements To Maximize Your Ketogenic Diet


Is it a good idea to take supplements when following the keto diet? The keto diet is unlike any other diet. It forces your body to use different energy pathways. It cuts out a lot of healthy food options and makes you susceptible to unpleasant side effects such as the keto flu, low energy, and nutrient deficiencies. Although it’s possible to meet your micronutrient needs following keto diet guidelines, supplements can address problems that are common on the keto diet. We’ve put together a list of high-quality supplements that can make your life simple and help you thrive while on the keto diet.

The Keto Diet Promise: Weight Loss & Ketosis

The keto diet is unique in that it actually changes the way your body works and uses energy. By restricting carb intake to just 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates daily, your body is forced to use different energy pathways. Instead of using sugar from carbs as it normally does for energy, your body burns fat and enters a state called ketosis (1). Ketosis is a metabolic state of enhanced fat burning that occurs when your body doesn’t have enough sugar (glucose) for energy so instead, it breaks down stored fat.

The goal of people following the keto diet is to keep their bodies in a state of ketosis, which is directly influenced by food choices. (ie avoiding carbs)

Did You Know?
People on the keto diet initially experience a rapid weight loss of up to 10 lbs in two weeks or less (2).

Though the keto diet was not originally developed as a weight-loss eating plan, that is what the keto diet has primarily gained popularity for. Several studies have shown it may accelerate weight loss and help control hunger (3).

Safe Supplements to Take on The Keto Diet

The following seven supplements are proven to help keep your body at its best while following a keto diet plan.

Coconut oil in a glass jar

Coconut oil is a great natural source for MCTs. About 62-65% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are MCTs, but recently pure MCT oil was shown to be more satiating than coconut oil.

MCT Oil

Medium-chain triglycerides, also known as MCTs, are a common type of fat found in food, such as coconut oil. Coconut oil is a rich natural source of MCT, however, taking a concentrated dose of MCTs has been shown to be particularly beneficial for those following the keto diet. MCT Oil is a clear and tasteless oil containing pure MCTs, and it has been shown to promote a feeling of fullness in the body and promote weight loss (4). It can also help boost fat intake and keep keto dieters in a state of ketosis (5).

Taking MCT Oil: MCT oil can be easily added to smoothies and shakes or can simply be taken by the spoonful. Health experts recommend a small dose when starting out (6). Speak with your practitioner about dosage and always be sure to see how your body reacts before increasing dosage.

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Digestive enzymes are small, specialized proteins that help break down the food and beverages you consume. On the keto diet, your body may not be producing enough, which means supplementing can help.

Digestive Enzymes

When first starting the keto diet, a common complaint is the toll that the diet takes on the digestive system. Because the keto diet can be up to 75% fat, people who aren’t used to eating so much fat usually experience symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and bloating. Digestive enzymes can help settle an upset stomach caused by ketosis (7).

Taking Digestive Enzymes: When transitioning to a ketogenic diet, practitioners recommend taking a digestive enzyme blend with lipases and proteases. These specifically work to break down fat and protein. The proteases also have the added benefit of helping reduce soreness after workouts (8).

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If you indulge in a ‘cheat meal’ on the keto diet, exogenous ketones may help prevent you from being kicked out of ketosis.

Exogenous Ketones

If you accidentally eat too many carbs, exogenous ketones may help prevent you from being kicked out of ketosis. Exogenous ketones are ketones supplied for an external source that has the same molecular structure as the ketones your body creates. They have been shown to be an effective way to achieve ketosis (9), raise ketone levels, and suppress appetite (10).

Available in powder, pill, or liquid form, exogenous ketones are an important supplement for keto athletes. When taken prior to workouts, exogenous ketones have been shown to improve endurance performance in athletes (11) and speed up the muscle recovery process.

Taking Exogenous Ketones: Make sure to talk to your doctor about taking exogenous ketones and recommended daily limits. Keep in mind that many health experts agree that the research on exogenous ketones is limited and more research is needed to establish benefits and possible risks.

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kale leafs on a kitchen towel on kitchen table

A quality made greens powder can combat inflammation and provide your body with better nutrition and energy.

Greens Powders

Greens powders contain powdered forms of healthy plants and vegetables you may be lacking in your diet, such as kale, spinach, and spirulina. Greens powders easily added to smoothies and different drinks, making it a convenient source of nutrients you may be missing while prescribing to a ketogenic diet.

Taking Greens Powders: Studies have shown that consuming vegetable powder for at least 90 days may help lower blood pressure and address hypertension (12).

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On the ketogenic diet, your body does not retain water as well, making it important to increase and keep track of your water intake.

Electrolytes

When you first transition over to the keto diet, your body loses a lot of water weight and electrolytes as your body adapts (13). The diet has a diuretic effect, with most people usually losing 10 lbs in two weeks or less. It’s important to remember to drink water regularly while on the keto diet and try and add minerals through diet. A drop in electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium levels leads to unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea and headaches (14).

Recent research has shown that athletes who follow the keto diet sweat more heavily and are more likely to experience electrolyte loss while exercising (15). This means that replenishing your electrolytes is especially important if you are an athlete training on the keto diet.

Did You Know?
A fact about kids on ketogenic diets: Research has shown (16) that potassium citrate supplementation can prevent kidney stones in children following a ketogenic diet.

Taking Electrolytes: Although most health experts consider simply salting food as an easy fix for balancing out sodium levels, there are electrolyte supplements that contain sodium, magnesium, calcium, and other electrolytes lost through sweating. Low levels of electrolytes are treated by supplementing with the needed electrolyte. If you think you are experiencing keto flu symptoms while transitioning over to the keto diet, talk to your doctor about electrolyte supplementation.

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Supplementing with BCAAs helps boost muscle growth and prevent fatigue.

BCAAs

BCAAs is an important pre-workout supplement for athletes training on the keto diet. Branch-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, have been shown to combat muscle fatigue, soreness, and exercise-related muscle damage while working out (17)(18). What makes BCAAs especially great while on the keto diet, is they aren’t processed in the liver. This means that when you consume BCAAs, they go straight into your blood plasma to be used for energy (19).

Taking BCAAs: You only want to take BCAAs right before heavy resistance training because you are tearing down muscles that can use the amino acids for immediate recovery. If you are on the keto diet and do not move around a lot or exercise, it is not as beneficial to take BCAAs.

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A global survey found that people in Western countries do not consume enough omega-3s in their diets.

Omega-3 Fats (Fish Oil Supplements)

Fish oil supplements are a great source for omega-3 fats and an important supplement to consider on the keto diet. Taking daily fish oil supplements has been shown to counteract inflammation triggered by a ketogenic diet and also lower the risk of heart disease (21). Taking fish oil supplements daily can help keto followers maintain a healthy Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio when consuming diets so high in fat.

Taking Fish Oil Supplements: When looking for an omega-3 supplement, look for a reputable brand, such as Nordic Naturals. Also, keep in mind that Omega-3 supplements can increase your risk of bleeding if you are taking any blood-thinning medications, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you are on any medications.

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How Long Should Someone Follow A Ketogenic Diet?

According to the National Institute of Health, the duration of the ketogenic diet may range from a minimum of 2-3 weeks in order to induce ketosis to a maximum period (following a general precautionary principle) of 6-12 months (22).

Did You Know?
Flip-flopping between the Keto & Mediterranean diet the secret to long-term weight loss? An extensive study published in 2013 found that going back and forth between a Keto Diet for 6 months and a ‘maintenance’ Mediterranean diet for 6-months leads to successful long-term weight loss (23).

While recent research on the keto diet has been promising, health experts say there is little evidence to show the keto diet is effective or safe to follow for a period over 12 months for anything other than epilepsy (24). It’s also important to note that the keto diet also has a high rate of side effects including (25):

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • A headache
  • Bad breath
  • Overall Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash
  • Diarrhea

Taking keto supplements can help enter ketosis, assist you to stay in that state, and boost your workouts while on a keto diet. Remember to always consider quality when shopping for keto supplements. Look for supplements that are safe, natural, and scientifically proven to be effective such as the ones listed in this article.

If you are currently on the keto diet or are thinking of trying it, schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor about the keto diet and supplement options.