Everyone knows that staying hydrated is important no matter what diet you follow.
But during your low-carb journey, water intake is more important than ever.
In this Keto Beginners Series, we’ll dive into the importance of ample water intake on Keto and why you need more water on a low carb diet.
You Need to Drink More Water on Keto
Dehydration is one of the most common side effects of the Ketogenic diet. Many people overlook how much more water you should be drinking when you’re on a low carb diet.
Here’s why: Glucose from carbohydrates is stored in your liver and muscle cells as glycogen. Glycogen is basically a bunch of glucose molecules smashed together with water. In fact, there are approximately 3 grams of water for every gram of glucose stored in glycogen![*] Therefore, glucose is important for water storage in the body.
Additionally, carbohydrate consumption triggers insulin secretion. Insulin tells your kidneys to keep sodium, as opposed to adding it to urine and peeing it out.[*] If you are eating a low-carbohydrate diet, then you are not triggering much insulin release and your kidneys will excrete more sodium than usual.
More sodium excretion causes more water excretion. So, to accommodate for this effect, you should drink more water and add salt to your meals while on the Keto diet.
The bottom line is that carbohydrates play an important role in holding water and sodium in your body. When you restrict carbs you retain less water and need to increase how much you take in. This means people eating Keto need to drink more water and eat more salt compared to other diets.
Side Effects of Dehydration
If you aren’t carefully monitoring your water intake, mild dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, dry mouth, and flu-like symptoms.[*]
Chronic dehydration can deter you from getting the results you’re after on the Ketogenic diet and lead to long-term health problems.
Electrolytes are Crucial
Sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are essential electrolytes that are key for proper hydration.
On Keto, you’re eliminating various salty processed carbohydrates, so it’s crucial that you increase your sodium intake more than if you were following a diet that consisted of carbs.
Since Keto helps maintain low levels of insulin, your body flushes out more sodium than any other diet.[*] Make sure to replenish these essential electrolytes, especially sodium, to get the most out of the low carb, high fat lifestyle.
Keto-Adaptation Will Cause Water Weight Fluctuations
During the first week of Keto, you’ll experience a drastic water weight fluctuation. This is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern. It's just another way that the scale doesn't always tell the whole story when it comes to weight loss and diet progress.
When your body stores carbs, it holds onto water. For every 1 gram of carbs you store, you’ll store an average of 4 grams of water. Once these carbs are removed from your diet, water will come along with it, so it’s important to maintain proper fluid levels during this period.
Why You Should Drink More Water on Keto
Your body goes through major metabolic transitions as you become a fat burner. Here’s why adequate fluid levels are crucial on the Ketogenic diet.
#1. Replaces lost water
As mentioned previously, your body stores water when carbohydrates are present. When carbs are eliminated, water is also flushed out.
#2. Curbs cravings and regulates appetite
Often, when you experience hunger pangs or sugar cravings on keto, it’s most likely because you’re dehydrated. Make it a habit to reach for a glass of water instead of a sugary treat when these cravings arise.
#3. Less stress on your kidneys
Ketones are acidic and some of these ketone bodies are flushed out instead of used for fuel to ensure they don’t accumulate in the body. Drinking more water supports the kidneys’ role of filtering out any unnecessary toxins that may be lingering.
#4. Water helps fat metabolize faster
The process of beta-oxidation (where fats are broken down) requires water molecules. Burning fat costs more water during the process compared to carbs which means more water consumption will help your body break fats down more effectively.
How Much Water Should You Drink on Keto?
The Institute of Medicine recommends consuming between 91 and 125 fluid ounces of water per day as an adult.[*]
This amount will vary depending on the individual and lifestyle factors such as age, diet, weight, and activity level. For example, if you exercise frequently and work in hot weather, you’ll need to drink more water than someone who works a desk job and lives a sedentary lifestyle.
As a Ketogenic dieter, you’ll need to drink even more water because of the fluid excretion that occurs as a result of low carb eating.
A good rule of thumb is to drink when you’re thirsty but don’t overdo it. If your urine is a very light yellow or close to clear, then you are drinking the correct amount. If your urine is a darker yellow, consider drinking more water throughout the day.
Tips to Help You Drink More Water
If staying hydrated is a struggle for you during your Ketogenic journey, here are a few of our favorite tips to ensure you maintain proper fluid levels.
- Drink a water bottle immediately upon waking up. Your body is most dehydrated after a full night’s rest. Drinking a couple glasses of water right as you wake up is a great way to start your day hydrated.
- Flavor your water. If you can’t stand flavorless water, consider getting a zero-calorie flavoring to add to your water. Avoid anything that contains sugar or calories.
- Keep a water bottle next to you. It’s much easier to drink water if it’s always within reach.
Stay Hydrated to Get the Most Out of Keto
Since carbohydrates are responsible for retaining water in the body, it’s crucial that you drink more water after following the Ketogenic diet.
If you are showing signs of fatigue, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and your urine is a darker yellow, there’s a good chance you’re dehydrated.
Make sure to prioritize adequate water intake to get the most out of the low carb, high fat Ketogenic lifestyle!
Note: The content in this article is not medical advice and is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.