Keto Diet Supplements: My Top 5 Recommendations
Let’s take the time to talk about a polarizing topic in the nutrition community: supplements.
The argument of whether supplements are effective and necessary is an age-old debate with valid points on both sides. Some health-nuts swear by their supplement stack while others believe proper nutrition can be achieved through a well-balanced diet. I think we’re more likely to reach consensus on whether the chicken or egg came first before we agree on the role of supplements in a diet.
Nonetheless, I’ll share my stance and keep it brief.
I’ll break things down to one fact and one myth before I share the most effective supplements for keto dieters.
FACT: You can get all of the nutrients you need from a balanced diet.
Let’s get this out of the way – you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need from a balanced diet. Need calcium? Drink some milk. Vitamin C? Have an orange.
There’s a natural source for every nutrient your body needs, and if you have the time to create and follow a well-rounded diet, all the power to you. Unfortunately, this is impractical for most of us. I mean, do you even know how much of every vitamin and mineral you’re supposed to have each day?
Supplements can be used to fill in the gaps of an otherwise healthy diet. The key here is “fill in the gaps.” Supplements should not be used as a replacement to a healthy diet; they’re used to supplement a healthy diet (pun fully intended).
MYTH: Supplements are Ineffective “Snake Oil” Sold To You by the Greasy Fat Cats at GNC
The most common myth amongst the supplement protestors is that supplements do not work. You’d be better off buying a fresh batch of snake oil than investing in a nutritional supplement.
This stance is a false overgeneralization. Sure, some supplements don’t follow through on their bold claims (sorry if you had hopes of getting that Hollywood body overnight), but supplements are effective. Most of us already ingest some type of supplement on a regular basis.
You think that energy drink has fresh coffee beans? No, it uses a caffeine supplement.
You think your orange juice naturally has vitamin d? No, it is fortified with a vitamin d supplement.
The point here is simple – supplements work. They can vary in quality and efficacy, but they do work.
So, which ones should you use? Let’s get to the master list.
Top Supplements for the Ketogenic Diet
Let me start by saying that there is not a perfect supplement stack for everyone out there. Supplements are used to help you fill in the gaps of your diet and maximize your existing health efforts.
For example, a preworkout supplement may be appropriate for a lifter, but there’s no reason to get cracked out on Explosive Gainz 100x before reading a book.
Keep that in mind as you read this list. Focus on the supplements you can use to reach your personal goals.
I’ve tried hundreds of different supplements (literally) and these are my top 5.
Every restrictive diet will have nutritional gaps. Whenever you cut out a major food group, you are missing out on the nutrients from that group.
Vegetarians cut out meat…
Vegans cut out meat, dairy, and fun (only kidding)…
Keto dieters cut out carbohydrate-rich foods…
While these diets can be healthy, they have gaps: nutrients your missing out on due to the restrictive nature of the diets.
A multivitamin is a great way to fill in some of those gaps. While not as effective as getting the nutrients straight from the source, multivitamins are far more practical. They’ve also come a long way over the past few years.
You can now get multivitamins with better nutrient profiles and higher absorption rates.
Consider adding a multivitamin to your routine. I take one daily.
Multivitamin: Best for maintaining a well-balanced diet.
Carbohydrates are responsible for a lot of water storage in the body. It’s part of the reason you lose weight fast when you first start the ketogenic diet.
Dropping water weight is great for showing off your freshly-sculpted keto bod, but there are some health risks as well. You’re likely to feel the side effects of dehydration (headache, cramps, fatigue, etc.)
An electrolyte supplement can go a long way in relieving these side effects. You can get these electrolytes through sports drinks and other sources, but I prefer electrolyte pills.
Take one pill with 8oz of water (important!) daily when you’re starting out. From there, you can slow usage based on your preferences.
I don’t take electrolytes daily, but they’re beneficial after losing a lot of liquids (such as after a hike or a night of irresponsible decision-making).
Electrolytes: Best for staying hydrated and avoiding the side effects of keto-induced dehydration
#3: MCT Oil
MCT oil is one of the most popular supplements amongst keto dieters. MCT oils are basically rocket fuel for dieters in a fat-adapted state.
You can get MCT oil in oil form (duh) or powder form.
A good MCT oil can serve two purposes:
- Boost Ketosis
- Provide Fast, Focused Energy
Here are a few of the ways I personally use MCT oil.
- Improve energy and focus by adding some MCT oil to coffee
- Use MCT oil for an energy boost before hitting the gym
- Balance the macronutrient profile of a meal by increasing the fat content (i.e. adding MCT oil to a protein shake)
If you’re serious about the ketogenic diet, you’ll definitely want to keep some MCT oil around.
MCT Oil: Best for fast, clean energy, improved focus, and boosting ketosis
#4: Collagen Protein Powder
When I started the ketogenic diet, I was surprised to find how difficult it was to get the right levels of protein every day. I like to lift weights 4-5 times per week, so I like to keep my protein intake at about 0.6 grams for every pound of body weight.
…Easier said than done.
A protein supplement can be beneficial if you don’t always have time to grill up a fresh ribeye. You can choose between different types of protein (such as whey, egg, etc.) but I prefer collagen protein powder.
Collagen protein powder has some added benefits on top of the protein itself. Collagen protein also helps with:
- Joint health
- Skin health
- Hair and nails
- Gut health
- and more!
May as well get the added health benefits from your protein shake.
One thing to note is that you need to be careful with protein drinks. If you don’t have enough fat, your body may turn the protein into carbs (yikes!) through a process called gluconeogenesis. I usually mix some MCT oil into my protein shake to avoid this issue.
#5: Exogenous Ketones
The ketogenic diet switches your body’s fuel source from glucose to ketones. The goal is to get your body to start converting fat into ketones for a better source of energy.
You can also take ketones as a supplement. Exogenous ketones are a supplement comprised of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), one of the main ketones in your body. Ultimately, you want to generate these ketones naturally, but a supplemental boost can be helpful from time to time.
Here are a few ways you can use exogenous ketones:
- Kickstart ketosis (i.e. trick your body into getting into ketosis faster
- Get a major energy boost
- Burn fat faster
- Avoid negative side effects when starting the keto diet
I don’t take exogenous ketones daily, but I always keep them around. They’re great for an energy boost before the gym or whenever you have a long day ahead of you.
What Would You Add to the List?
There you have it folks! These are my top 5 keto supplement recommendations. If there’s anything you would add to the list, leave a comment below! I always enjoy hearing about other people’s experiences.