12 Keto Supplements That Are Worth Your Money
Keto eaters eliminate a lot of foods, so they might be lacking in certain nutrients. We asked the experts which keto supplements they recommend to keep your body functioning at its prime.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fatty acids usually derived from coconut or palm oil. They are one of several popular keto supplements commonly used by keto dieters. Elroy Vojdani, MD, IFMCP, a functional medicine doctor in Los Angeles, recommends adding a tablespoon or two to a coffee or smoothie in the morning to fuel ketosis and boost mental energy. Indeed, a 2018 review suggests that people who use MCT oil reach ketosis more quickly than people who do not. Plus, people who use MCT oil may have higher levels of circulating ketones in the blood, the review said. “The more circulating ketones you have, the more potential fuel your brain cells have to use when in ketosis,” Dr. Vojdani says.
Taking it in the morning will help you get the biggest benefits from that brain boost, he adds. “It really helps curb appetite, pushing your first true meal into later in the day and potentially amplifying the effect of intermittent fasting if you are doing this alongside keto,” he says. Start with small doses so you don’t cause stomach pain.
This is a type of ketone metabolite—an energy molecule. Your body forms beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) when it’s breaking down and burning fat; people in ketosis tend to have higher levels of BHB. As one of many keto supplements, BHB salts “trick the body and force the brain to lower glucose production and switch to burning fat instead,” says Sarah Peterson, content manager at Perfect Keto. “It would be especially useful when you’re starting keto to ensure a smooth transition.” Learn how to avoid these 10 ways the keto diet can backfire.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish oils are one of the most popular keto supplements because they are a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are especially important for keto dieters, says Dr. Vojdani. “One thing we know for certain with ketogenic diets is that if they are higher in saturated fat derived from animals, they have a greater tendency to cause a worsening of cholesterol numbers linked to cardiovascular disease,” he says. “It’s paramount to be sure that your version of keto combats this by increasing your exposure to plant-derived poly- and monounsaturated fats, and clean sources of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids.” Fish oil supplements can cause fishy burps, though, so Dr. Vojdani recommends taking omega-3 supplements in the morning with food to avoid the returning scents.
Collagen is a protein that’s derived from bones, marrow, and connective tissues from animals. It’s one of several keto supplements dieters turn to for help with muscle development—ketosis can eat away at muscle if you don’t have enough fat for fuel—and it’s a great source of energy. “Many people are familiar with the fact that collagen can help with hair, nail, and skin health, but most people don’t realize that taking a collagen supplement can kick you out of ketosis, so it’s important to use a keto-friendly collagen—essentially a blend of collagen and MCT oil powder,” says functional medicine practitioner Anthony Gustin, DC, founder and CEO of Perfect Keto. “The MCT oil powder slows down the absorption of collagen in the body so that it can be used for healing and recovering instead of quickly turning into glucose.” Read up on the 13 things people always get wrong about the keto diet.
As many as 50 percent of Americans are low on magnesium, a nutrient that’s important for muscle and bone health, blood pressure regulation, and more. “But people on a ketogenic diet are at a higher risk,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “This is because magnesium-rich foods like fruits and beans are also high in carbs. You can eat spinach, avocado, and other low-carb magnesium-rich foods to get your fill.” Keto dieters who are low on magnesium may experience symptoms of the keto flu, which includes fatigue, headaches, and cramps. You can also take a magnesium supplement as one of your keto supplements.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) system likes fiber. It helps feed the good-for-your-gut probiotics that live in there, and it keeps things moving so you stay regular. But when you begin a keto diet, you switch from a fiber-rich diet to one that is primarily fat and protein. “That may take a toll on your digestive system,” Backe says. “If you aren’t used to eating 75 percent fat, you may experience symptoms like diarrhea and nausea. The higher amounts of protein may also contribute to digestive issues.” Backe says a digestive enzyme blend will help break down fats and proteins to improve your digestion, which helps prevent constipation and other issues. You should take a digestive enzyme supplement that contains both lipase and protease enzymes for the best results. Make sure you know about the most common reasons people fail on the keto diet.
In the first weeks and months of a keto diet, your regular nutritional intake will be upended by your new diet. That can quickly alter your levels of specific nutrients your body relies on, so a multivitamin is one of the keto supplements you should consider to keep your body functioning normally. “Most people following the ketogenic diet will benefit from taking a well-formulated multivitamin, which supplies the B vitamins that you could be missing out on from not eating whole grains and legumes,” says Rebecca Oshiro, MS, MA, CN, MCMA, a coach for wellness company Arivale. Oshiro adds that if you have a sensitive stomach, you should take your multivitamin with food. If you don’t, take it any time of the day for the benefits. Check out the 13 things doctors want you to know about the keto diet.
Keto dieters can often get calcium from cheese, but other calcium-rich sources like yogurt and milk should be limited because they’re fairly high in carbs. Oshiro says you can get calcium from canned fish, such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel with bones—”and yes, you eat the bones,” she says. You can also add a calcium supplement. “Calcium citrate is a well-absorbed form that you can take on an empty stomach or with food,” she says. “Calcium carbonate supplements are cheaper, but they need to be consumed with food to ensure maximum absorption.”
The ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, which often means healthy sources of fiber like whole grains, fruit, and certain vegetables are off-limits. (Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are great keto-friendly fiber sources.) For some dieters, a fiber supplement may be necessary. “The ketogenic diet is low in fiber, so you’ll want to consider a source of supplemental fiber, such as psyllium,” Oshiro says. “When supplementing with fiber, start slowly and build up to the recommended dose on the label. This allows your GI tract to adjust to this increase in fiber and minimizes any uncomfortable symptoms, such as cramping and gas.” Check out these other 15 things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
Vitamin B complex
The keto diet drastically changes the brain’s energy levels and blood sugar content as fats replace carbs as the body’s energy source. Vitamin B deficiency can cause tiredness and weakness, so beginner keto dieters should consider supplementing it while their bodies adjust to a low-carb eating plan, says Samantha Morrison, a health and wellness expert for Glacier Wellness. “It’s not uncommon for people beginning the keto diet to experience the infamous ‘keto flu,’” she says. “This debilitating readjustment phase can produce a wide variety of withdrawal-like symptoms, including extreme exhaustion, brain fog, and cramping.”