Since starting the Keto lifestyle, I’ve been monitoring my nutrition (or trying to anyway) and I’m very aware that I could be suffering from nutritional deficiencies especially given that my appetite has decreased significantly and as a result my food consumption has reduced.
I’ve been using an app called Cronometer (the free version might I add) to track what I eat and monitor what I need to against my macros, and it has come to my attention that (as I suspected), three things that I do struggle to meet each day are electrolytes – magnesium, potassium and sodium.
This is quite common in the keto and other low-carb diet and could explain my extreme low energy levels at present! Adding to that I’ve been under excessive stress due to a recent shoulder surgery and other personal issues.
So although an easy way to boost magnesium is through supplements (a 400mg pill is 100% of the RDA), and sodium can easily be added to your diet through salt-water / lemon-salt-water / bone broth etc, POTASSIUM is not so readily available in supplement form as too much of it can be toxic.
Prior to going keto this was not something that I’d thought about given that I was eatingt bananas and potatoes in abundance!
High Potassium (>200mg) & Low-Carb Food List
It’s safest therefore to make sure you’re getting enough potassium from food first as you won’t be able to get it from supplements. I therefore decided to compile a go-to list of high potassium keto-friendly low-carb foods, i.e. foods with over 200mg potassium per reasonable portion. Click here for the Excel version of the list.
I also decided on a few ‘Potassium Tactics’ for myself based on a potassium range of 2000 – 4700 mg (the Estimated Daily Minimum – Adequate Intake).
Following these tactics, I should be able to achieve my target amount of potassium whilst keeping within my carb limits.
Eat 6 Vegetables from the list inc. Avocado = 1920-3233 mg
Eat 2 proteins = 460-971gm
Smaller amounts from other foods (mainly vegetables, nuts, seeds and proteins) not listed.
Supplement = 200-400mg
Eat a few squares of dark chocolate / Drink cacao milk = 100-240mg
Eat almond / peanut butter = 200mg
Optional: During carb-cycling days – Sweet potato= 224mg
Please do contact me if there’s anything you feel that needs to be added to the list, bearing in mind that it needs to contain over 200mg of Potassium in a reasonable portion. There are a lot of other high potassium foods e.g. with over 100mg potassium that aren’t listed, as that isn’t the purpose of this table.
I hope this helps some of you struggling with Potassium!
This recipe is ideal for anyone dealing with Keto Flu, short on time, or just seeking your daily dose of vitamins and minerals from food sources (check the macros below)!
It’s well known that keto-ers can face issues with potassium. It’s one mineral that I am currently struggling with as I write this. Also, as it’s nearly that time of the month, I’m facing a tripply whammy of epilepsy, keto mood swings, and pms.
So for the women out there, this is a good one! I figured I better take precautions to ensure that I’m getting enough potassium from dietary sources as on top of everything else, low potassium levels can lead to menstrual cramps, and I get baaaad cramps due to PCOS. My epilepsy is also further triggered by hormones, and I could do without an episode at this point in time.
Anyway this super simple Salmon Spinach Miso Soup takes less than 10 minutes to prepare (perfect for when you’re not feeling well 🤒).
You will need:
2 cups of chicken bone broth (homemade preferably)
1 tsp miso paste
0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups of chopped spinach
80g egg tofu or soya tofu
2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
Heat the bone broth over medium heat with miso paste and cayenne pepper until well combined.
Once the broth starts boiling, lower the heat and add the spinach first to wilt it down.
After 1-2 minutes add the salmon and tofu. Cook in the boiling broth for a further 2-3 minutes and then serve. (Both will carry on cooking in the hot broth once you take it off.)
Taste and add extra salt to taste of needed.
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve piping hot!
The keto diet can be mentally and physically very challenging. Even more so if you have epilepsy (or any other disability or illness for that matter).
Before diving into any diet or lifestyle change, it’s wise to make yourself aware about the pitfalls and any difficulties you might face.
The ‘Keto Flu’ isn’t actually a “flu” per se (it’s not contagious!!!). It’s a wide range of symptoms that people can experience when going through the induction phase of the ketogenic diet, and it can feel very exhausting on the body and mind.
Your body is is going through ketosis, withdrawing from sugar and carbs and converting glucose for energy and instead learning how to burn fat for fuel. If you’re currently experiencing bad Keto Flu, it could possibly be a symptom that your body was heavily dependent on sugar and carbs. Logic says that the more it has to adapt, the harder withdrawal is.
So although it might seem like you’re sick, you’re not, you and your immune system are just recovering from the beating it has taken!
Signs of a Keto Flu
Symptoms of the keto flu can feel similar to a regular flu and more. Some of them are listed below in alphabetical order:
Arryhthmia (Heart palpitations)
Blood Pressure – High or Low
‘Brain Fog’ – i.e. lack of mental focus
Digestive issues: constipation, diarrhea
Fatigue, tiredness, lethargy
How long will it last?
I’m a part of a few Keto and epilepsy social media groups, and the overall consensus on the duration of Keto Flu is that well, there is no consensus.
Whilst some people are fortunate to not experience the Keto Flu, some may only get it for a few days, whilst some have reported feeling poorly for 3-4 weeks.
However long it is, it is temporary, train the mind to think positive! Once you’re in ketosis and your body has adapted to burning fat (ketones) for fuel, your energy will increase and the symptoms should ease.
Tips to avoid / deal with Keto Flu
Sufficient electrolytes: Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium. These can come from a number of sources:
– Food & beverages: I monitor my macros using Chronometer because it shows me units such as vitamins and minerals, and I can then adjust my food intake accordingly.
– Himalayan salts: add it to your food, water, or directly under your tongue when you’re feeling weak.
– Drink homemade bone broth.
– Supplements as required.
– Dead Sea Salt / Epsom Salt / Magnesium Salt baths.
Lots and lots of H2O. The diet is dehydrating, so it’s important to stay hydrated. I find this to be quite challenging personally.
Eat more fat! Remember fat = energy on this diet, so review your macros if needed to increase the amount of fat in your diet.
Limit your protein to an adequate amount – just enough for your body to do what it needs to – again, watch those macros. If you’re watching your calories (if you’re trying to lose weight, I would focus on cutting the carbs and increasing the dietary fat for energy, and then filling the remaining recommended calorie intake with protein.)
Sufficient nutrition: The Keto diet isn’t lacking in nutrition, although there might be some individual areas of contention. I really like this article on compoundsolutions.com which highlights food sources of micronutrients in the ketogenic diet.
Prepare for a few days off!!! Bear in mind that Keto Flu will probably strike 3-4 days after you start the diet, so it would be a good idea to take a few days off to spends a few days in bed with Netflix. Prepare comfort Keto food in advance so you don’t have to worry about cooking on those days. Pre-keto, my mum would make me chicken stew and ‘Gola bhaath’ (rice porridge). So I had the same, but with cauli-rice instead and it worked a treat! And lots and lots of bone broth – I cannot stress its importance.
Take any other medications you’re on, on time. If you forget your anti-epileptic (or other medications), it can affect your side effects of both your drug, your condition, as well as keto flu. Set a reminder and alarm on your phone for each day.
Keto Flu & The Epilepsy Dilemma
Personally, I got diarrhea and a dodgy tummy about 4 days into the lifestyle (which only lasted for about 2 days). But the problem with having epilepsy AND doing the Keto diet, is that ‘Brain Fog’ and tiredness seems to be a constant, and it’s been a good few months on the diet now.
I’m on a medication called Zonisamide (Zonegran) and like all medications it has side effects. The side effects of Zonegran include ‘flu symptoms’ (!!!), light-headedness, trouble concentrating, tired feeling, loss of appetite, problems with thinking or speech and drowsiness. There are more but I’ve just picked some of the side effects I’ve experienced, which also tally with Keto Flu side effects. (As I’m taking all the necessary precautions, I don’t think it’s a rare case of the keto flu lasting more than a month!)
What I’m hoping for is that as time goes on and my body becomes stronger and gains more energy with the help of the Keto lifestyle, this will enable me to counter the side effects of Zonegran (maybe even reduce the dose) and thereby solve the dilemma. Watch this space!
My one other tip for those with epilepsy going through the Keto Flu (in addition to the above):
Allow yourself to sleep and rest. And then sleep and rest some more! Your BRAIN already works double-time trying to keep up with normal life, now it’s working triple-time trying to figure out what you’re doing to the body, and both your brain and body needs the rest. Give yourself a break!
Have you experienced the Keto Flu with epilepsy? Write to me and tell me about your experience!