When it comes to hydration, it's important to ensure we're getting a proper balance of both water and electrolytes. Electrolytes are important minerals that our body needs to carry out a variety of vital functions such as our heart beat and other muscle contractions.
So, what are the main electrolytes in the human body? They include the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and chloride.
Electrolytes become especially important to understand when lowering your sugar intake as this can create a fluid balance shift in the body.
This is because for every gram of carbohydrate (sugar), our body holds onto 3-4 grams of water. Therefore, when we decrease the amount of sugar and carbs we’re eating, this can lead to the release of what many people refer to as ‘water weight.’ This is the reason why many people see a drop in weight when they first go on a diet.
The reason for this is that the switch from eating high-moderate sugar/carbs to low sugar/carbs happens, the hormone insulin isn’t needed in such high quantities. In this low insulin environment, your kidneys get the signal to release water, and along with it goes important electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
This can lead to dehydration, which can present with feelings of low energy, muscle cramps, brain fog, headaches, weakness, insomnia, and several other symptoms which are sometimes referred to as the Keto flu.
Now it’s important to understand that these same symptoms can also be directly caused by the withdrawal from sugar. So Keto flu would be more accurately described as a combination of dehydration and/or withdrawal.
Either way, these symptoms are uncomfortable, even painful, and can make sticking to a sugar free food plan challenging if you don’t have the right tools to manage them.
I outline these tools in my Hydration & Sugar-withdrawal Guide available for free for members of the 30-Day Sugar Free(dom) Challenge.
Now you may be wondering, why would a healthy, whole food, low sugar style of eating be lower in electrolytes than a high-sugar, processed-food Standard American Diet?
Well for starters, traditionally, the water that our ancestors drank contained many of these important minerals.
Second, the minerals in our soil are so depleted that the plants and animals that we’re consuming are also depleted.
Third, low sugar fruits and vegetables are also naturally lower in electrolytes.
By lowering our sugar intake by switching out processed foods for natural whole foods, we greatly benefit from the reduction of sugar and other toxic ingredients that are inherently a part of processed foods. However, it means that we need to get our sodium (somewhere between 4-7 grams, or 2-3 teaspoons per day) from somewhere else. A good quality sea salt rather than table salt is recommended.
In addition to this, many people are actually over-consuming water, which further dilutes electrolytes and, when it comes to ‘keto flu’ can make us feel even worse!
To gauge your own hydration, you can do a simple check at home, next time you go to the bathroom. You should be drinking enough water for your urine to be a pale-yellow colour. If it’s colourless like water, then you’re likely drinking too much water, and it’s dark yellow (like apple juice) you’re likely dehydrated.
If you found this post helpful and would like to learn more about how you can get support for your own sugar-free lifestyle, consider joining my next 30-Day Sugar Free(dom) Challenge!
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