Staying hydrated is an important part of staying healthy but during a keto diet, water intake becomes even more crucial. People eating a low-carb, high-fat diet need to consume more water. Here’s why adequate fluid levels are crucial on your keto journey, and how much water you should be drinking.
Replace lost water
Carbohydrates hold water and sodium in our bodies. Naturally, when carbs are restricted, water and sodium are expelled from the body. This causes the body to retain less water, which can lead to mild dehydration.
Dehydration is a common side-effect of keto diets. Some symptoms of mild dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Flu-like symptoms
- Dark-colored urine
- Strong urine odor
Mild dehydration can be remedied by increasing your fluid intake. Chronic dehydration, on the other hand, can lead to long-term health issues. This is why it is especially important to stay well-hydrated during a ketogenic journey.
Electrolytes matter too
Water is important for more than just quenching thirst. It also helps maintain electrolyte levels. Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are important electrolytes that ensure proper hydration. Keto keeps insulin levels low, so your body excretes more sodium. You may need to increase your sodium intake in other ways.
You can do this by:
- Salting your food– Simple, yet effective
- Trying broths– Boullion and broths like chicken and beef can help replenish lost sodium from the body
- Using salt/electrolyte tablets– These can be purchased at health food stores and they come in flavored and unflavored varieties
- Using MORTON® LITE SALT™– This salt has less sodium and more potassium and can be used just like regular salt
Keeping those electrolytes in balance will help you get the most out of your ketogenic lifestyle.
Your kidneys will thank you
The ketogenic diet works because it reduces carbs and when glucose is in short supply, the body produces “ketones” which are used for fuel. Ketones are acidic and the kidney will flush some out to avoid over-accumulation in the body. Drinking enough water ensures that the kidneys are functioning properly, in turn creating less stress on these important organs.
So, how much water should you drink?
You should be drinking water every day. The average guideline that most of us know if is “eight cups of water per day.” That is approximately 64 ounces of water, minimum.
You can calculate the average amount of water you should consume daily by dividing your weight in pounds by two. The number you’re left with is how many ounces of water you should be consuming daily. For example, a 200-pound man should be drinking at least 100 ounces of water every day — but that is just a baseline. There are other factors to consider.
Water intake should be increased or decreased based on age, lifestyle, diet, weight, and activity level. For example, a 200-pound man that exercises daily, works in hot conditions, and is generally active outside of work should be consuming more water than a 200-pound man with a sedentary lifestyle.
On a keto diet, you should drink more than the average baseline based on your weight. A good rule of thumb is to drink whenever you’re thirsty. Pay attention to your urine’s hue to determine whether you’re well-hydrated or not. Light or clear-colored urine is a good sign that you’re on the right track. Dark yellow urine means you should probably consume more.
Be careful, however. Drinking too much water can lead to over-hydration. Too much water can dilute the electrolytes in your body.
Tips to Drink More Water
Does the taste of water turn you off? Is it a struggle to get enough water during the day? You’re not alone. Millions of people struggle with consuming enough water every day. Fortunately, there are other ways to maintain proper fluid intake.
- Drink water as soon as you wake up.– Keep a full, room-temperature bottle of water near your bed and drink it as soon as you wake up in the morning. This will start your day off right.
- Flavor your water with flavoring packets.Just go easy on the sugar!
- Drink sparkling water.For the carbonation-lovers out there, they make flavored sparkling water that is 0 calories and 0 sugar.
- Always have water on hand.Keeping water nearby will make it easier to get your daily intake.
You can also get some of your daily hydration through other drinks such as tea and coffee (within reason — caffeine is a diuretic which can lead to water loss), juices, and even some foods. However, these should not be your main sources of water. Plain water is best, even if it’s from the tap.
The bottom line
A ketogenic diet changes the way your body works. It begins to process water and electrolytes differently, which means you’ll need to make some changes as well. Prioritizing your water intake is critical to getting the most out of your low-carb, high-fat ketogenic lifestyle.