Potassium and the Keto Diet

Summary: Meeting the FDA’s daily values for potassium can be difficult, especially when following the keto diet. Although some high-potassium foods such as avocados are suitable for the keto diet, you may have to rely on supplements to meet your daily potassium goals.

Potassium is an essential electrolyte and mineral. It impacts many functions of the human body including protein synthesis, carbohydrate breakdown, and growth. It also plays a role in the electrical activity of the heart.[1]

The FDA recommends that adults consume 3,500mg of potassium daily.[2] However, if you’re following the keto diet, it can be challenging to make sure you’re getting enough potassium on a daily basis. You may find yourself needing to supplement your diet rather than relying on potassium-rich foods. Here are some ways you can make sure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient.

Avoid the dangers of potassium deficiency

Since many potassium-rich foods are also high in carbohydrates, people who follow the keto diet are at risk for having low potassium levels. If you’re sticking to the keto diet, you’ll probably find yourself avoiding many high-potassium foods such as bananas and beets. It’s very important to supplement potassium if you aren’t getting enough from your regular diet.

Low blood potassium has many dangerous symptoms such as weak muscles, increased blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms.[1] Exhaustion and muscle cramping can also occur. To avoid potassium deficiency you should monitor your daily intake and supplement your diet if necessary.

When following the keto diet, it’s important to monitor your potassium intake on a daily basis. You can easily track how much potassium you’re getting from every meal with MyFitnessPal. This helpful app makes it easy to set a daily potassium goal and monitor your progress throughout the day.

Recognize high potassium keto foods

Although potassium is found in a wide variety of foods such as cantaloupe and potatoes, if you follow the keto diet, your options are limited. Unfortunately, many of the foods that contain high levels of potassium are also high in carbohydrates. However, there are still some solid potassium-rich foods you can enjoy on the keto diet.

Avocados may be the ultimate high-potassium keto food. They contain a whopping 708mg of potassium per cup, as well as plenty of other nutrients. Kale is also a solid option, with 329mg of potassium per cup. Spinach is another good choice, with 167mg of potassium per cup. If you’re craving something more decadent, bacon has a surprisingly high amount of potassium. At 45mg of potassium per slice, it’s a great way to start your day with an extra boost of potassium.

You may still find it difficult to reach your daily 3,500mg of potassium even after working these foods into your diet. If you’re still coming up short on potassium in MyFitnessPal after making an effort to eat more potassium-rich foods, you should consider supplementing your diet.

Reach your daily goal with powder supplements

If you’ve chosen to supplement the keto diet with potassium, you’ll have to decide between potassium citrate and potassium chloride supplements. Although potassium citrate can be useful for patients with certain urinary conditions, potassium chloride is the best bet for people looking for a quick, easy boost to their potassium levels. Most people with low levels of potassium are suffering from chloride depletion, so potassium chloride is a more sensible choice.[8] Potassium chloride is the standard treatment for potassium deficiency, and is the most effective way to boost your potassium levels on the keto diet. Here are some reliable potassium chloride supplements to choose from: https://www.priceplow.com/bulksupplements/potassium-chloride-powder.

Potassium chloride is relatively safe, but can cause side effects such as diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramping, and vomiting. Most side effects are minor and will resolve as your body adjusts to the new supplement.

When supplementing your diet with potassium, you’ve probably noticed that it’s impossible to find capsules containing more than 99mg of potassium. Additionally, many powdered potassium supplements recommend not taking more than 99mg at a time. This is because potassium can potentially be fatal in very high doses. However, many potassium supplements can be taken several times a day to ensure you meet your daily potassium goals. Always check the labels of your supplements for dosing information, and don’t exceed the recommended daily dose without consulting with a physician.

The link between supplements and fasting

In an extraordinary 1973 fast where a man lost 276 pounds over a 382 day period, potassium played an interesting role. An obese man was given nothing but potassium supplements and multivitamins for the duration of his fast. From Day 93 to Day 162, he survived on potassium supplements alone. His weight dropped from 456 pounds to 180 pounds, and at the end of the study, he was not potassium deficient.[7]

The results of this study speak for the effectiveness of potassium supplements. The subject obtained no potassium through a normal diet for the duration of the study, but instead got all his potassium from extra supplements. This suggests that if you rely on supplements to meet your daily potassium goal, you should still be able to avoid deficiency.

Potassium and sodium are closely linked

When monitoring the amount of potassium in your diet, it’s important to take sodium into account as well. Recent studies have suggested that these two electrolytes may work together to impact cardiovascular health. A 2011 study found that a higher sodium-potassium ratio caused an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Subjects with a higher sodium-potassium ratio also suffered from increased all-cause mortality.[3]

The FDA recommends that adults consume a 3:2 ratio of potassium to sodium each day. Their recommended daily values are 3,500 milligrams of potassium and 2,400 milligrams of sodium.[2] As previously mentioned, if you follow the keto diet, it will probably be difficult to reach these daily values without supplementation.

Question the research and find your own ideal values

Although the 3:2 potassium-sodium ratio recommended by the FDA looks good on paper, there is inconclusive research surrounding this number. In fact, a 2013 study showed that it’s impossible to meet the FDA’s potassium and sodium recommendations simultaneously. Researchers used linear programming models to test various food patterns, and discovered that the FDA’s sodium and potassium guidelines were incompatible with each other.[4]

Keeping the results of this study in mind, the 3:2 ratio shouldn’t be taken as scientific fact, but as a rough starting range. You should attempt to figure out a potassium-sodium ratio that works for you through trial and error. When you start tracking your potassium and sodium intake with MyFitnessPal, you can aim for the 3:2 ratio in the beginning. However, this ratio may need to be adjusted over time.

You should have regular blood tests to monitor your levels of sodium and potassium. The normal range of blood potassium levels is 3.70 to 5.20 millimoles per liter.[5] For sodium, a normal range is 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter.[6] As long as your blood test results fall within these ranges, you can safely adjust your diet to tweak your potassium-sodium ratio.

You should also pay close attention to how you feel overall. As long as you aren’t deficient in either electrolyte, you can use your sense of well-being as a guideline on your way to finding your ideal potassium-sodium ratio. Regardless of blood test results, you may end up feeling great even though you have a potassium-sodium ratio that would be less-than-ideal for someone who doesn’t follow the keto diet. If you’ve been sticking to the keto diet and have achieved ketosis, you may feel very differently than someone who hasn’t.

Take on the challenge and meet your goals

Although meeting your potassium goals on the keto diet can be challenging at first, you’ll be able to figure out a routine that works for you. You should spent some time researching supplements on PricePlow, as well as tracking your daily potassium intake on MyFitnessPal. By getting regular blood test results and paying attention to your sense of well being, you’ll be well on your way to optimal potassium levels.


  1. S. National Library of Medicine. “Potassium in diet;” 2017

Link: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002413.htm

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Guidance for industry: A food labeling guide;” 2015

Link: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064928.htm

  1. Yang, Q, et. al.; Arch Intern Med. “Sodium and potassium intake and mortality among US adults: prospective data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey;” 2011

Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21747015

  1. Nutr Res. “Food pattern modeling shows that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for sodium and potassium cannot be met simultaneously;” 2013

Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878634/

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Potassium test;” 2017

Link: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003484.htm

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Sodium blood test;” 2017

Link: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003481.htm

  1. Postgraduate Medical Journal. “Features of a successful fast of 382 days’ duration;” 1973

Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2495396/pdf/postmedj00315-0056.pdf

  1. American Family Physician. “Potassium disorders: Hypokalemia and hyperkalemia” 2015

Link: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/0915/p487.html







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