Can you take supplements on keto? Definitely, and there’s many reasons why you should. Keto supplements offer benefits like helping you get into ketosis faster, mitigating keto flu side effects, and controlling your appetite.
Keto supplements — such as exogenous ketones, a multivitamin with electrolytes and a quality protein powder — might not be completely necessary to see results from the keto diet, but they certainly go a long way in making the transition to a low-carb, high-fat lifestyle smoother.
Even if you choose to only follow the keto diet for several months, or to transition to something like carb cycling after some time, you can continue using the same supplements mentioned below for benefits like immune system support, mental health and exercise recovery.
Why Take Supplements on the Keto Diet?
Taking keto diet supplements can help you:
- Avoid symptoms like fatigue, brain-fog, headaches and constipation.
- Speed up how quickly you get into ketosis and start making ketones.
- Decrease the chances you’ll experience nutrient deficiencies, such as an electrolyte imbalance, or dehydration.
- Control your appetite and cravings, which helps support weight loss if that’s your primary goal.
- Improve your ability to digest fats.
- Help prevent constipation and GI issues.
- Give you enough energy to stay moderately active and to recover from exercise.
- Help decrease inflammation, muscle soreness and pain.
The ketogenic diet is unlike many other diet plans, even other low-carb diets, because it changes the actual fuel source that your body runs off of. Rather than using glucose from carbohydrates for energy, you start burning fat on the keto diet for fuel. This sounds simple, but it does take your body some time and effort to make this metabolic switch, which can wind up causing some temporary side effects.
Symptoms that tend to occur during the first 1–2 weeks of someone starting the keto diet have been nicknamed “the keto flu,” and avoiding these unpleasant symptoms is one of the most compelling reasons to use keto supplements.
The best keto supplements provide nutritional support while you might otherwise be feeling fatigued and irritable. They make it easier to get into ketosis and stay there (assuming you follow the diet correctly), and can even help you sleep better, improve your digestion, fight cravings for carbs or sugar, and allow you to continue to stay active.
10 Best Keto Supplements
What supplements should you take on a ketogenic diet?
1. Exogenous Ketones
How do you get into ketosis fast? Ideally you follow a strict keto diet correctly, plus take exogenous ketones for additional support.
Exogenous (which means “outside”) ketones are supplements that provide you with an instant source of ketones, usually in the form of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), helping to push you into ketosis and giving you more energy. Ketone powders or salts can be used pre-workout, between meals or while you’re fasting to keep you on track.
2. Protein Powder from Bone Broth (or One That’s Keto-Based)
If you’re looking for keto supplements for weight loss, consider getting a quality protein powder, such as one made from bone broth. Protein powder is great for controlling your appetite and providing a good dose of amino acids with relatively few calories and very little carbs. An added bonus is that quality keto protein and bone broth protein powders may also provide electrolytes, MCT oil and other beneficial compounds, such as collagen or glucosamine that are good for digestion, joint health and more.
If you’re shopping for general protein powders that are not specific to the keto diet, make sure that they are low in carbs and nearly free of sugar (look for those that use stevia or monk fruit as natural zero-carb sweeteners). You can also look for a keto protein powder that includes ingredients like caffeine, creatine and herbs that can support you during workouts and make the product easier to digest.
3. Multi Collagen
While many people might turn to the keto diet for help with weight loss, this is far from the only health perk that’s associated with ketosis. If you’re looking to improve digestive health, immune system function, joint health and even the health of your skin, hair and nails, then supplementing with collagen protein is wise.
Collagen is the most abundant type of protein found in the human body, helping to form connective tissue, repair wounds and holding the body together like glue. Look for a keto-friendly collagen powder that is free of added sugar and low in carbs. Because collagen is virtually tasteless and odorless, use some in keto smoothies, on its own, mixed into “fat bombs,” with coffee, etc.
4. MCT Oil
MCT oil, which is a concentrated source of “medium-chain triglycerides”, is one of the most popular supplements to help you stay in ketosis, plus it has benefits if weight loss is one of your goals. Because MCTs are a type of fat that can be used readily for energy, they’re helpful for producing ketones, suppressing your appetite, keeping your energy up, and even improving endurance and physical performance.
Use MCT oil on its own by swallowing a tablespoon, or add some to your coffee, smoothie, etc. Additionally, you can take MCT oil capsules and get some MCTs from eating coconut oil.
5. Keto Multivitamin
When you’re following a strict keto diet it can seem challenging to get enough essential vitamins, minerals and fiber on a daily basis, considering you’re reducing the variety of foods you eat. While non-starchy vegetables should still be making a regular appearance on your plate, taking a multivitamin is a good “insurance plan” for ensuring your nutritional needs are being met.
The keto diet also causes the kidneys to excrete extra water, sodium and other electrolytes at an accelerated pace. Good quality multivitamins can serve as electrolyte supplements, since they provide minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium that are lost during the ketogenic diet.
As an alternative to taking vitamin capsules, you can also use a powdered green drink that contains electrolytes, some fiber, antioxidants and functional ingredients like spirulina and chlorella. In addition to taking a multi, be sure to get enough sodium (another electrolyte) by adding some real sea salt to your meals, and drink plenty of water.
You can eat the healthiest diet in the world, but if you’re battling chronic stress on a daily basis, your health is still going to suffer. This is where adaptogen herbs — which include ashwagandha and others like rhodiola or astralagus — come into play.
Ashwagandha can help to keep levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol in check and protect against some of the negative effects that stress has on your hormones, weight, sleep and mental health. In studies, ashwagandha has been shown to have thyroid-modulating, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may even help you to build muscle strength and recover from workouts better.
The most popular form of ashwagandha is the root extract, but leaf extracts are also available in capsule and powder forms. Start by taking about 300 to 500 milligrams of ashwagandha once or twice per day, and then slowly increase your dosage if you’d like while watching for potential side effects. Many supplements recommend between 1,000–1,500 milligrams per day as a full dosage (or potentially even higher).
7. Fat Digestive Enzymes
Given the fact that the keto diet is very high in fat, digestive enzymes that help you properly digest fats are some of the best supplements to take on keto. Enzymes can be especially helpful if you’re transitioning from a diet that previously didn’t include much fat, or if you have a history of having trouble digesting fats due to health conditions, such as a gallbladder issue.
Look for a product that contains lipase, which is made by your pancreas and secreted into your small intestine. After mixing with bile, it helps digest fats and triglycerides into fatty acids, so it’s needed to digest fat-containing foods like dairy products, nuts, oils, eggs and meat.
Whether you’re on a low-carb diet or not, probiotics are multi-functional supplements that have been shown to support overall health in many ways. Taking a quality probiotic supplement is a great way to improve your gut microflora and support digestive and immune health, but there are some specifics you’ll want to be aware of when purchasing one.
Here are important things to consider when buying a probiotic supplement: purchase from a reputable probiotic brand that has a high number of probiotics, from 15 billion to 100 billion; look for strains like Bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus clausii and other cultures; purchase a formula that contains both prebiotics and other ingredients designed to support digestion and immunity; find a supplement that is kept cold in order to preserve its potency, or a shelf-stable product that contains soil-based organisms.
When it comes to fighting inflammation, turmeric is a fan favorite and one of the most well-researched supplements on the market. If you’re not familiar with turmeric, it’s an orange spice native to India that contains the active ingredient called curcumin, which helps to reduce inflammation and symptoms associated with conditions like arthritis, blood clots, diabetes, obesity, headaches, colitis and more.
You can take turmeric in capsule form, use turmeric essential oil, or add fresh/dried turmeric to turmeric tea, eggs, soups, marinades, or low-carb coatings for chicken, meat, etc.
Final Keto Supplement Tips
- Why take keto supplements when you’re making the switch to a low carb lifestyle? Benefits of keto supplements include: avoid keto flu symptoms, speeding up how quickly you get into ketosis, decreasing the chances of experiencing nutrient deficiencies, controlling appetite and cravings, improving digestion, increasing energy, improving moods and fighting inflammation.
- The 10 best supplements to take on keto include: exogenous ketones, keto/bone broth protein, MCT oil, multi collagen, a keto multivitamin, digestive enzymes, ashwagandha, probiotics and turmeric.