Potassium is an essential electrolyte that often becomes more essential on a low carbohydrate diet. Ensuring that you get the recommended intake through your diet will make sure that you reach the adequate intake. Like the electrolyte magnesium, potassium is one of the main electrolytes in our body.
It is responsible for maintaining our electrolyte balance alongside chloride and sodium. The sole duty of electrolytes is the sending of electrical impulses through our body. Although there are some specific duties in which potassium assists in keeping moderate, they are:
- Water balance
- Blood pressure control
- Muscle contractions
- Heart rate and rhythm
- pH balance
Normal Ranges In The Body
It is expected that an adult is to consume an average of 40-50 millimoles of potassium to 1.6-2.0 kilograms of his body weight. In simpler terms, if you weigh 70kg, you are expected to consume around the range of 2800-3500 millimoles of potassium daily. If you are 72kg, you are to consume 2840-3550 millimoles of potassium every day.
The concentration of potassium is more effective within the intracellular fluid, usually, 150 mmol per liter while the remaining potassium is found in the extracellular fluid, which is 3.5-5.5 mmol per liter.
The total amount of potassium is directly linked to the level of lean mass in your body, if you are a man, it is generally known that you have a greater number of lean mass than a woman, you, therefore, have a greater level of potassium in the body.
Testing of Potassium Levels
If you are to test for your potassium levels, it is to be done within your blood. This means that you are to test your extracellular fluid level which on a norm should range between 3.5-5.5 mmol per liter.
Naturally, your body cannot produce or recreate potassium, it is an important nutrient to be gotten from your food intake. Although the recommended intake for an adult falls between the range of 2,000-4,700 milligrams, the milligram recommended differs according to countries, like in the United States of America, the recommended intake for an adult is 4,700 milligrams per day while in the European countries, the intake falls to 3,500 milligrams per day.
Note that wherever you might be, the lowest intake would still work for your nutritious needs, that you are allowed as an adult is 2 grams per day (2,000mg/day). As the levels are directly correlated with muscle mass, men may require a slightly higher dose.
Levels of Potassium
Several factors and hormones (one of which is the sodium levels) affect the level of Potassium within our body. It is an essential role of the kidney to keep potassium balance and those of other electrolytes regulated. We have three levels of Potassium in the body and each has its effects.
- Normal Level: this is a state when your body has the moderate amount of Potassium needed, it means that your intracellular fluids have 150 mmol per liter and your extracellular fluids contain 3.5-5.5 mmol per liter. This has no side effects, only benefits.
- Hypokalemia: this is when the body has a low level of Potassium (lower than 3.5 and 150 mmol respectively). Extreme cases of hypokalemia can cause the following symptoms:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle weakness or cramping
- Glucose intolerance
- Extreme fatigue
- Constipation, nausea, and/or vomiting
Having such a low level of Potassium in the body should not occur as this means sabotage to the normal functions of the body by not taking enough potassium. However, a mild deficiency is much more common and gives symptoms like:
- An increase in blood pressure
- Increased salt sensitivity
- Increased risk of kidney stones
- Heart arrhythmias
- Mild muscle cramping
- Hyperkalemia: this is when the levels of potassium in the body are too high, usually more than 5.5 and 150 mmol respectively. This happens when you consume more than 17,600 milligrams of potassium every day (this occurs through the use of supplements). You should also know that while supplementation can result in a high level of potassium, certain medical conditions (kidney disease) can also bring about the same result. The usual mild symptom of a high level of Potassium is an abnormal heartbeat and the severest symptom is cardiac arrest.
Potassium Levels On A Ketogenic Low Carb Diet
Few weeks into a low-carb diet, you tend to get the keto flu symptoms and feel its effect. A major reason for this flu is a sudden change in nutrient intake, which also includes a change in your electrolyte balance. Potassium is also one of the electrolytes affected by this sudden change.
During these few weeks, your body loses a respectable amount of water and as this is processed through your kidney, your electrolytes balanced is affected too. Sodium and potassium are controlled by the kidney and are among the first electrolytes to be lost, this occurs because sodium is related to potassium and is the first to go, the loss of sodium signifies an immediate drop in potassium.
The mild symptoms of muscle cramps, fatigue, and heart arrhythmias can be a combination of lower potassium and salt level in the body. This is why you must get enough salt in your low-carb keto diet for both sodium and potassium and to alleviate your keto flu.
Keto Food That Are Rich In Potassium
While there are lots of foods that are high in potassium, we would be going through just 6 easy to get items that you can mix in with your meal plan daily.
Spinach: this is a dark green leafy vegetable that offers an abundance of nutrients, especially potassium. A cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach, offers a respectable amount of 839 milligrams of potassium, this is 28% of the recommended nutrient intake for an adult. Although spinach has one of the highest magnesium contents, its potassium levels make it one of the best keto meals.
Avocados: in addition to it providing a significant amount of healthy fats, avocados are also filled with certain minerals and electrolytes. One avocado weighing 136 grams contains 690 milligrams of potassium.
Zucchini: zucchini as a squash is a vegetable with versatility and it also carries a low carbohydrate content of just 4 grams of net carbs per cup. Zucchini is also high in potassium as a medium-sized zucchini weighing 192 grams provides a significant or 512 milligrams which is 15% of the daily RNI.
Salmon: Salmon is best known for its provision of omega 3, it also is pack filled with several essential nutrients that include potassium and lots of Vitamin D and Vitamin B. For every 3 ounces of salmon, you serve up 416 milligrams of potassium. This is a whopping 12% of the daily recommended nutrient intake. You should know that other fish also offer potassium like codfish.
Beef: when listing the food items that provide Potassium, do not overlook meat. Like most fruits and vegetables, beef offers a significant level of potassium, as well as 4 ounces of steak, which offers 11 percent of the recommended potassium intake (384 milligrams). Other meats like pork, poultry, and lamb meat offer a good dose of potassium too.
Mushrooms: as we all know, mushrooms are a nice base for many ketogenic low carbs meals that are plant-based. It is not only known for its high level of Vitamin B12 and its antioxidant capacity that helps keep radicals away. Usually, mushrooms possess lots of potassium and a cup of it provides 323 milligrams (that is 9% of RNI).
Other Sources Of Potassium
Nuts And Seeds: these are great essentials for people that are on a low carbohydrate diet, they provide sources of good fats, protein, and certain minerals for the body. Almonds are seeds that offer the highest potassium content out of all the nut and seeds options with an ounce of it providing 200 milligrams of potassium. This is six percent of the recommended daily intake.
Beets: beets as an edible root are often classed as a superfood cause they are filled with phytonutrients that can act as powerful antioxidants. Just as they are high in folate and manganese, they are a great source of potassium. One cup of beets which is 136 grams provides a whopping 442 milligrams of potassium. This is 13 percent of the RNI. Since you are eating this on a low carbohydrates diet, it should be consumed in moderation as it is quite high in carbs.
Supplementation: it is rare for you to get potassium supplements that are above 85 milligrams, this is due to the risk of developing high potassium levels (hyperkalemia). Moreover, it is of utmost importance that you consult your health professional before embarking on the journey of supplementing your potassium intake. To supplement potassium, you can use:
- Potassium Chloride: it has been casually studied that supplementing with a little amount of potassium chloride within the course of the day can assist in solving the side effects of low potassium in the diet. When you dissolve a dose of around 20 milliequivalents in a glass of water and take it with food 1 or 2 times per day, it will help you with any symptoms of low potassium levels (hypokalemia). If you are unsure of your potassium levels, do not attempt supplementation without consulting a health care professional for tests.
- Cream Of Tartar: Cream of tartar is an ingredient often used in baking and cooking recipes. In itself, it carries a great potassium content with 1/2 teaspoon providing almost 250 mg. This can be a good, natural way to supplement potassium. However, caution must be taken to not over supplement this as hyperkalemia can occur.
- Lite Salt: this can also be used to supplement the presence of potassium in your ketogenic low carbohydrates meals.
Ketogenic Recipes That Are Rich In Potassium
- Keto Pork & Kohlrabi Stew
- Keto Zucchini Breakfast Hash
- Beef, Spinach & Mozzarella One-Pot Bake
- Stuffed Avocados
- Paleo Spinach Tabbouleh
- Low-Carb Zucchini Apple Pie
- Easy Avocado & Egg Salad
- Keto Beef Stroganoff Soup
- Quick & Easy Eggs Benedict
- Keto Breakfast Sausage & Guac Stacks
- Goat Cheese & Spinach Salad Bowl
- Spicy Keto Salmon Burgers with Lemony Kale
If your keto low carbohydrate diet is well filled with foods containing potassium (as mentioned above and more) then you would not need to supplement your potassium levels. And for no reason should you indulge in potassium supplements without consulting your physician first.