Whether you are following a diet or not, water is the key to life. A vital resource that is often taken for granted. If you have started following a low carb diet such as the keto diet, taking this precious liquid for granted can leave you feeling worse for wear and if you are not careful, it could cause serious long term health conditions. But how much water should you be drinking on a keto diet? While everyone may have a different opinion about how many glasses you should be chugging, it’s not necessarily a one size glass fits all, there are many factors to consider before deciding on how much water your body really needs.
Why Do You Need More Water On A Keto Diet?
Dehydration is a common side effect of going keto, which many dieters experience during the beginning stages of the diet. This is caused by the change in cellular mechanisms that occur as the body transitions into a state of ketosis. As many already know, the goal of the keto diet is to force your body to use stored fats as fuel instead of its primary source, carbs.
For the average glucose-burner, water plays a vital role in the process of storing and converting carbs into energy. Carbohydrates help the body retain water and salt. Every gram of carbohydrate that is stored in the body as glycogen contains 3 to 4 grams of water. The positive side is that carbs help you stay hydrated. The negative is that it can make you look bloated, which is why it is commonly referred to as ‘water weight’. The more glycogen stored, the more water the body retains.
On carbohydrate-restricted diets like the keto diet, the opposite starts to happen. As glycogen reserves start to deplete, water, ketone bodies, and salt are excreted from the body at a more accelerated rate. This is why many keto beginners start to notice that they are losing weight rapidly. However, it is not actually fat that is being lost during the first few days, it’s water weight.
Many low carb dieters do not realize how much the transition into ketosis actually affects their water requirements, and many do not account for the water loss. This is when dehydration and the keto flu starts to set in. It is not a virus like the typical flu but is your body’s way of adjusting to the lack of carbohydrates, important minerals, and water. Fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, brain fog, and nausea are common side effects of the keto flu. Fortunately, it is a quick fix. All you need to do is up your intake of water, electrolytes, and fats.
The Importance Of Electrolytes
Electrolytes also play a pivotal role in hydration. Electrolytes are minerals such as potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphate which have been dissolved in water and converted into positive or negative ions. These ions conduct electricity within the body and help with various functions such as balancing fluids and transporting nerve signals to the brain.
Calcium, magnesium, and phosphate have all proven to offer a wide range of health benefits such as improving bone strength, reducing inflammation, and regulating blood pressure levels, but sodium and potassium play a crucial role in balancing fluid levels and hydration. Many people do not have a problem supplementing with minerals such as potassium and magnesium, however, sodium has gotten a bit of a bad rep. Many people try to cut sodium (salt) from their diet as much as possible because eating sodium in excess can lead to hypertension, a stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases. However, the keyword here is excess.
Everything that is eaten in excess has negative effects. Sodium helps to balance water in the cells, stabilizes blood pressure, and enables proper nerve and muscle function. Like water, we need sodium in order to survive. It is vital for keto dieters to drink enough water and replenish electrolyte levels to stave off any negative side effects.
Many of the symptoms associated with dehydration have a strong correlation with low sodium and potassium levels:
- Muscle cramps
- Mood swings
How Much Water Must You Drink On A Keto Diet?
It was previously recommended that adults should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day. However, as we mentioned before, it is not a “one size fits all” situation anymore. Some nutritionists also recommend drinking the equivalent of half your body weight. For example, someone who weighs 140lbs should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water per day. The truth is, there is no set rule on how much water the body needs every day. Everyone has different water requirements based on a few factors:
Lifestyle and Health Status
Depending on where you live and the type of lifestyle you lead, the amount of water your body needs will vary on a daily basis. If you live in a warmer climate like Florida, your body is going to need more water than someone who is living in North Dakota. What you eat, your level of activity and BMI also play a role in determining how much water you need to drink every day.
The key to staying hydrated on the keto diet is to find balance. If you don’t drink enough water dehydration will set in, however, if you drink too much water, it doesn’t benefit the body either. Drinking too much water can cause an imbalance in electrolytes and overhydration. A good guideline to follow is to drink water until the urine is a very pale yellow or straw color. Clear urine indicates that you have drunk too much water and darker yellow urine indicates that you need to drink a bit more water.
The Body Is Water Wise
If something is lacking in your diet, your body will let you know about it, and it is no different with water. The body is efficient in regulating its own water levels and will trigger signals of thirst long before dehydration actually sets in.
Ways To Stay Hydrated On A Keto Diet
Keeping track of your meals is hard enough on a keto diet, and remembering to drink enough water can be a challenge for some. When the day gets busy, it’s easy to forget, especially if the habit hasn’t formed yet.
Here are a few ways to fit hydration into your keto lifestyle and boost your electrolyte levels:
- Set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch to remind you to drink some water every hour.
- Drink a glass of water with every meal and after exercise.
- Eat more keto-friendly vegetables with a higher concentration of water such as spinach, iceberg lettuce, celery, cucumbers, and zucchini.
- Buy a good quality reusable water bottle to keep on hand everywhere you go.
- Dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in a glass of water for a sodium boost.
- Take Approved Science Keto every day to replenish any lost electrolytes and ward off any keto flu symptoms. It’s important to take a high-quality keto supplement – you do not want to fall into any traps like the Shark Tank keto pills.
- If you simply don’t like the taste of plain water, consider infusing it with tasty herbs and keto-friendly berries.