While we often get enough sodium from salting our food to taste. Ultraprocessed junk food is packed with salt to make us buy and eat more. However, many of us don’t get enough of the other essential minerals.
This Optimised Electrolyte Mix has been designed to help you get the critical electrolytes in optimal ratios until you can dial in your diet to get all the micronutrients you require from food.
- What Do Electrolytes Do in Your Body?
- Why aren’t we getting enough minerals?
- Electrolytes on a keto or low-carb diet
- Sodium:Potassium Ratio
- Optimised Electrolyte Mix DIY recipe
- Optimised Electrolyte Mix Recipe
- Why We Haven’t Added Calcium
- How Can I Check My Current Mineral Intake?
- Level Up Your Nutrient Density
What Do Electrolytes Do in Your Body?
Electrolytes from your diet are critical to maintaining electrical conductivity in your body.
Without the right balance of electrolytes, your body can’t effectively use the energy produced from the food you eat. If your electrolyte intake is low, your kidneys must work overtime to recycle the precious minerals.
These minerals are not just essential for life, but getting enough of them will empower you to manage your cravings, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity and improve your athletic performance.
Why aren’t we getting enough minerals?
Sadly, many struggle to get enough minerals from a rapidly processed modern diet grown rapidly with chemical fertilisers in nutrient-depleted soils. Hence, we need more food to get the nutrients we need to thrive.
If you don’t get enough of them, your appetite will send you out in search of more food to get these essential nutrients, and thus you will consume more calories. For more detail, see:
Electrolytes on a keto or low-carb diet
While avoidance of salt is often encouraged, avoiding or minimising minerals can drive insulin resistance.
When you suddenly decrease your intake of processed foods, your adrenal glands upregulate aldosterone and insulin to help your kidneys recycle any available minerals.
If you suddenly cut your carbohydrate intake, you may experience the ‘keto flu’ (i.e., headaches, fatigue, cravings, etc.) due to a lack of minerals, particularly sodium.
The amount of sodium you already have onboard governs the rate of sodium absorption into your body. When we need more sodium, it is absorbed quickly. Conversely, if we already have plenty of sodium in our body, sodium will hang around on our tongue, making the food taste ‘saltier’.
In the past, sodium was relatively rare and hard to get enough of, so we developed an appetite for sodium to seek it out actively. However, other minerals like potassium and magnesium were much more plentiful in the available foods, so we don’t have the same appetite for foods that contain these nutrients. Today, we need to go out of our way to seek out these minerals, which are less plentiful in our modern food environment.
Salt is added to processed foods to make it taste better, so you eat more. The combination of salt, sugar, starch, and fat is the basic formula for hyperpalatable junk food! But, if you switch to a minimally processed low-carb or keto diet, you may struggle to get enough sodium.
Along with the decline in many minerals, the sodium in our food system has decreased over the last half-century and correlates with the rise in obesity.
As shown in the chart below, once we get more than four grams of sodium per day, our cravings for salty food start to decrease.
While sodium is common in our food system, potassium is a nutrient of Public health concern because the vast majority of people are not getting enough potassium. To the left of the satiety response chart below, we see that the general population’s potassium intake aligns with the highest calorie intake.
Our satiety analysis suggests an optimal stretch target for potassium of 6.0 g for men and 4.8 g for women.
The potassium content in our food system has been trending down since the 1940s when the use of synthetic fertilisers started to become widespread to supercharge industrial agriculture. Our soil is progressively becoming depleted of precious minerals such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
If you are taking blood pressure medications, you should check with your doctor before supplementing with potassium, as these medications work to limit the losses of potassium.
While excess sodium is often blamed for high blood pressure, it appears that a lack of potassium and/or poor potassium:sodium ratio is actually the issue.
You will need to use potassium powder to get significant quantities of potassium, as pills are typically limited to 99 mg of potassium.
If you have pre-existing health issues or are on any medications for your heart or blood pressure, make sure you start slowly and back off if you have any adverse symptoms (e.g. racing heart, excessive thirst, increased urination, or loose bowels).
Compared to potassium supplementation alone, taking potassium as part of this balanced electrolyte mix will ensure you don’t overdo it. Your body will tell you that you are getting enough sodium and magnesium and stop you from consuming excess potassium.
Magnesium is another nutrient that we have a strong satiety response for. However, around half of the population is not getting enough magnesium.
Like potassium and sodium, the magnesium in our food system has also been in decline since the 1940s.
Beyond the quantity of potassium or sodium, it’s important to optimise your potassium:sodium ratio. The sodium-potassium pump is critical to your energy production.
Potassium is the major cation inside your cells which balances the sodium outside your cells. Hence, your diet should have at least as much potassium as sodium.
If you have elevated blood pressure, it’s likely that your potassium:sodium ratio has been low for a while. Hence, you likely need to prioritise potassium rather than sodium.
While potassium and sodium are essential, our analysis indicates a more significant satiety response from foods that contain more potassium than sodium.
This optimised electrolyte recipe has been designed to provide a potassium:sodium ratio of 1.5:1 to help the typical person restore their potassium:sodium balance.
Glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in connective tissue that many people don’t get enough of when they prioritise muscle meat rather than eating nose-to-tail. Glycine provides a range of benefits, including improved sleep, anxiety, and skin. It also has a sweet taste, so we have added it to this recipe to make it more palatable.
Creatine has been shown to have wide-ranging benefits, including cognition and strength gain by improving endurance. It is one of the most well-researched supplements that has consistently shown positive benefits. Because it’s been around so long, it’s also one of the most cost-effective supplements.
Optimised Electrolyte Mix DIY recipe
The small-batch mix quantities for the Optimised Electrolyte Mix shown below is enough to provide the daily “stretch target” magnesium, potassium, and sodium intake (without food). However, if you are already consuming a nutrient-dense diet, you won’t need to use all of this mix in one day. When you mix up ‘a day’s worth,’ you’ll realise it’s quite a lot of powder!
Once prepared, you can add half a teaspoon to a large water bottle. We recommend you start slowly, as overdoing mineral supplementation may cause stomach upset or diarrhoea. As you find you can tolerate it, you can start to add more after a few days.
Back off when it starts to taste “too salty.” This is a sign that you are not absorbing the minerals, and they are sitting around in your mouth. You should also watch for signs that you are becoming dehydrated and need to need to pee more. This can indicate that you have excess electrolytes and your body is flushing them from your system.
Potassium citrate helps alkalise the body and improve your liver and kidney health. It will also help your body balance the slight acid load that comes with ketosis.
Magnesium bis-glycinate is more gentle on the gut than magnesium citrate (note: Magnesium malate is arguably a better form of magnesium but is harder to find in powdered form). In addition to glycine, magnesium bis-glycinate will also help with sleep.
Depending on your tastes and goals, you can treat the glycine and creatine as optional.
Taking individual electrolyte powers like potassium and magnesium doesn’t taste great. But combining them with a natural salt makes it much more palatable. You’ll be less likely to overdo one mineral when they’re combined.
Glycine is a sweet-tasting amino acid, making the mixture more pleasant. Creatine powders are often flavoured, which can make the mixture quite tasty.
Additionally, there are several options that people have used to make the electrolyte mix more palatable and add their flavourings to the basic recipe.
- Add stevia or another sweetener to suit your preference.
- Add some effervescent vitamin tablets or vitamin C tablets. This will add some extra vitamins in addition to the minerals.
- Some people add apple cider vinegar, cranberry juice, or lemon juice
- You can also add a couple of packets of LMNT into the mix to add some flavour (note: LMNT is designed more for athletes who require more sodium than less active people, hence has more sodium and less potassium).
Optimised Electrolyte Mix Recipe
The ingredients in the table below will provide your daily “stretch target” potassium, magnesium, sodium, and glycine intake. However, if you eat a nutrient-dense diet, you won’t need all this in one day.
Getting all your minerals in their supplemental form can cause ‘gut distress’ for many, so you will only need a portion of this ‘small batch’ each day.
The hyperlinks in the table below will take you to the ingredients on iHerb if you want to order these and make the recipe at home.
|Potassium Citrate Powder||19||g|
|Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder||5||g|
Start by making up the small batch in a sealable container using digital kitchen scales. Give the container a bit of a shake before you use it to make sure it’s still well-mixed. Add up to a teaspoon of the mix to a bottle of drinking water on the first day. You can try two bottles on the second day.
Nutrients in small batch
Note: 19 g of potassium citrate powder yields 5.5 g of potassium, 6 g of magnesium glycinate powder yields 1 g of magnesium and 11 g of salt yields 4 g of sodium).
The large batch mix in the table below should last you a few weeks. You can use these quantities if you find you are enjoying the small batch.
|Potassium Citrate Powder||120||g|
|Magnesium Bisglycinate Powder||44||g|
- Mix up a weekly batch in an airtight container. Stir and shake to get an even consistency.
- Add half a teaspoon to your drinking water each day. You can also sprinkle on your food as a salt replacement.
- Back off the dosage if you experience any symptoms of gut distress.
Why We Haven’t Added Calcium
You may have noticed that we haven’t included calcium in the Optimised Electrolyte Mix recipe. Although we have a strong satiety response to calcium, several studies have shown that supplementing calcium can have adverse effects (see the Calcium Foods: The Complete Nutrient Guide for more detail).
Hence, you will need to focus on getting calcium from food. For best results, we recommend you do everything you reasonably can to get all the essential nutrients from the food you eat daily and supplement only if necessary.
We suggest you log the electrolyte mix with your food intake in Cronometer and titrate the mix so you’re not exceeding the optimal intake of these nutrients.
How Can I Check My Current Mineral Intake?
If you’re interested in checking if you’re getting enough minerals, you can use our Free 7-Day Food Clarity Challenge.
Level Up Your Nutrient Density
To help you level up your nutrient density, we’ve prepared a Nutritional Optimisation Starter Pack to ensure you are getting plenty of the essential nutrients (including these essential minerals) from the food you eat every day.
The free starter pack includes:
- Maximum Nutrient Density Food List
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Recipe Book
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Meal Plan