Hydration and the Keto diet

Updated: Jan 11

Following the ketogenic diet changes the way we process water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium) but luckily, once you know the diet works, it is easy to adjust to incorporate enough water.

Dehydration is a known side effect of the ketogenic diet. Those following the ketogenic diet excrete more salt. The more salt you lose, the less water you retain. Electrolytes are important and they are key to good hydration, as they maintain fluid balance. The keto diet helps maintain low levels of insulin and therefore, your body flushes out more sodium than other diets. In the beginning, a lot of people excrete a lot of excess ketones, which in itself is dehydrating. When following the ketogenic diet, you need to drink more water to stay properly hydrated. A good rule to follow is that your urine should be pale yellow.

Carbohydrates hold onto water and sodium in your body. When following a ketogenic / low carb diet, these are excreted, which means you retain less water. Therefore, you need to ensure you drink more water compared to other diets. For every 1 gram of carbs we store, we store 4 grams of water.

Ketones are acidic and some of these are flushed out rather than used for fuel to make sure they do not accumulate in the body. Drinking more water helps reduce the stress on the kidneys with flushing out any excess ketones.

The more water you drink, the more fat you will lose, as water molecules are required in the process of breaking down fat.

If you are fatigued, dizzy, have flu like symptoms and your urine is a dark yellow, there is a good chance you are dehydrated. Make sure to replenish your essential electrolytes, especially sodium, to ensure you get the most from your low carb high fat lifestyle choice. A great way to do this is by using electrolyte tablets in a bottle of water, once or twice a day.

As an adult, it is recommended that we drink between 91 – 125 fluid ounces of water per day but this should be increased when following a ketogenic / low carb lifestyle. Some sources say, when on the ketogenic diet, to drink half the number of pounds you weigh in fluid ounces, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 fluid ounces of water a day.