Fasting is an excellent way to lose weight. But there is an equally high risk of electrolyte imbalance due to dietary restrictions and changing body metabolism. Chalking out a plan on how to get electrolytes when fasting and compensate for the electrolyte deficit is crucial to achieving maximum results from your fasting.
Different types of fasting plans are evolving as a sure shot means to achieve weight loss. Alternate Day Fasting, Time Restricted Fasting, keto diet – the names may be different. The combined goal, though, is to address the piling pounds. A 2020 study published in the Canadian Family Physician journal establishes a positive relation between fasting and healthy weight loss.
With fasting and keto diets gaining so much popularity, a growing concern among the medical and fitness community is the electrolyte depletion during fasting. Are these concerns well-placed?
Does fasting deplete electrolytes?
Yes, the process of fasting depletes your body of important electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This is especially true in cases of prolonged fasting or in cases where you combine your fasting with workouts causing an increased electrolyte loss due to sweat.
When you fast, your insulin levels start going down. This causes your kidneys to expel increased levels of fluids and electrolytes. With a combined effect, you start experiencing electrolyte loss and different symptoms associated with it.
Why does fasting deplete electrolytes?
The process of fasting deprives your body of important nutrients since you do not have any intake during the fast.
Your body gets its electrolyte supply from the following sources:
- Your drinking water contains certain electrolytes depending on the source and purification process.
- Natural electrolyte drinks such as coconut water, fruit juices and smoothies are excellent sources of electrolytes.
- The food you consume is also rich in electrolytes. Fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, pulses, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products are all different sources of mineral supply for your body.
- Electrolyte drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks are also excellent and highly preferred sources of electrolytes and other nutrients.
When you are fasting, you are essentially depriving your body of this electrolyte supply. In the absence of food, your body depends on stored glycogen in your body. This glycogen binds with water molecules. In effect with the process of glycogen burn up, you are also losing bodily fluids.
Whether you are fasting or you are following a ketogenic diet, the principle is simple. You are forcing your body to burn stored fat to produce the energy needed for performing various activities.
In all the above weight loss programs, the key feature is reduced insulin levels. These low levels of insulin force your kidneys to flush out electrolytes mostly sodium.
While low insulin levels may be good for your weight loss, they are bad news for the maintenance of optimal electrolyte balance in your body. This means that your body fails to maintain the required levels of fluids, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Recommended mineral intake requirements while fasting:
Inability to concentrate
|3-6 gms per day on fasting and keto.
Can be increased if experiencing keto flu
|Magnesium||Cramps and Twitching post-exercise
Inability to sleep properly
|Calcium||No visible symptoms||1000 mg|
If you observe one or more of these signs, it is a clear indication that your fasting electrolytes are extremely low and it is time to up your fasting electrolytes game.
How to treat electrolyte deficiency during fasting?
- Identify: The first step is to identify if you are experiencing any symptoms of electrolyte deficiency. Refer to the table above for symptoms and recommended daily allowances of each of these minerals.
- Compensate: If you are experiencing symptoms, you should up your diet to include permissible food items that compensate for the electrolyte loss. This may not always be possible due to the limitations of each of these diets.
- Supplement: In that case, you must add electrolyte supplements to your diet. But adding just electrolytes is not enough. Hydration is equally important. This is why we suggest electrolyte drinks. Keep sipping these drinks throughout the day till you feel better and feel the symptoms going away.
- Hydrate: Once you are back to normal in terms of symptoms, you can alternate between drinking water and electrolyte drinks. Green tea without added milk and sugar is another option to keep you hydrated if you are bored of sipping on water and electrolyte drinks.
With these steps, you will be able to ensure a proper fasting electrolyte supply and avoid getting sick and experiencing symptoms such as the keto flu.
Electrolyte loss is a common problem you will face when restricting diet plans such as the fasting and keto diet. Especially when you are following these diet plans for the long term, compensating for this loss becomes crucial.
So, how to get electrolytes while fasting? Electrolyte drinks and other supplementing drinks such as water are an excellent option to keep you hydrated and ensure that your electrolyte levels are optimal.
Don’t worry about excess electrolyte levels, since your kidneys will eliminate them through urine. So, when planning to start a fasting diet for weight loss, start by planning for your fasting electrolytes!!