Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can have various health benefits. These benefits include:
- Your cognitive functioning and mental clarity get a boost (1)
- Improved brain health
- Reduction of pain and inflammation (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Reduced hunger (6)
- Increased energy level
The above advantages of the ketogenic diet are naturally very appealing and it is therefore not surprising that many people wonder whether it is possible to optimize the functioning of the ketogenic diet through supplements.
In this case, optimization refers to, for example, getting and staying easier in ketosis, increasing energy levels, improving sporting performance and muscle recovery, and maintaining a healthy fatty acid ratio.
This article discusses the following supplements that can be a valuable addition to your diet during a ketogenic diet:
- MCT oil
- Fish oil / Krill oil
- Exogenous ketones
- 7-Keto DHEA
- Vitamin D
In addition to the above supplements, there are also certain foods that deserve extra attention because of their special properties:
- Bone Broth
- Green tea
- Dandelion root
The abbreviation MCT for MCT oil stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. This is the English name for medium-chain fatty acids. The special thing about these fatty acids is that they are processed in a different way than long fatty acid chains.
In contrast to long fatty acid chains, MCT oil does not have to be broken down from the gallbladder with the help of bile. They are also not split and end up in the blood immediately after being absorbed by the intestine.
Long fatty acid chains, which are most common in our daily diet, cannot provide this quickly available energy.
By supplementing with MCT oil you can therefore provide yourself with energy from fatty acids that are easily processed by the body . The rapid absorption through the intestine ensures that the fatty acids can be quickly transported to the liver and then converted into ketones.
The best natural source of MCT oil is coconut oil. In addition, MCT oil is also available in pure form as a supplement. As a supplement to your diet, with this supplement you can ensure that you make fatty acids efficiently available to the liver, so that it can convert the fatty acids into ketones.
Krill oil / fish oil
The reason that krill oil and fish oil supplements should not be missing from your daily diet (regardless of whether you follow the ketogenic diet or not) is that these oils contain valuable omega-3 fatty acids that provide numerous health benefits.
Krill oil and fish oils are both sources of DHA fatty acids and EPA fatty acids. These are omega-3 fatty acids that only occur in fish, crustaceans, and shellfish.
Compared to fish oil, krill oil has proven itself in various scientific studies as a more effective and potent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
The difference between fish oil and krill oil is in the way in which the omega-3 fatty acids are ‘stored’ in the oil. In normal fish oil, those fatty acids are encapsulated in triglycerides (7).
The omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil, on the other hand, are encapsulated in phospholipids . These phospholipids are more easily absorbed into the blood so that the fatty acids are absorbed more efficiently in the body (8).
The active fatty acids from fish oil and krill oil have an anti-inflammatory effect (9). In addition, krill oil contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin. It is this substance that gives krill oil the characteristic red color. This antioxidant has, among other things, a positive influence on blood circulation (10).
Krill oil has also proven itself as a remedy for arthritis symptoms (11).
The most interesting characteristic of the omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and krill oil with regard to the ketogenic diet is that these fatty acids have a beneficial effect on the triglyceride content of the blood (12) (13) (14) (15).
A study was also conducted into the effects of krill oil and pure omega-3 fatty acids on cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. This study showed that only krill oil increased the level of HDL cholesterol (16) .
A high HDL cholesterol state is important in maintaining and obtaining a healthy cardiovascular system . An extensive article about cholesterol and the misconceptions about it can be found here !
In addition to the positive effect of krill oil on HDL cholesterol levels, it was also more effective in preventing inflammation . Pure omega-3 fatty acids were found to be more effective in lowering triglycerides in the blood than krill oil in this study (17)
Another study showed that bark oil is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol . This is beneficial for the cardiovascular system, since a high LDL cholesterol level increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (18) .
The same study found that krill oil lowers the level of triglycerides in the blood. This is also beneficial for the cardiovascular system .
The use of krill oil in combination with the ketogenic diet can give the health of your cardiovascular system a huge boost. Why? Because the ketogenic diet has the same positive effects on cholesterol levels.
Scientific studies have described the following results of the ketogenic diet:
- Ketogenic diets increase the concentrations of healthy HDL cholesterol more than low-fat, carbohydrate-rich diets (19) (20)
- Reducing carbohydrate consumption in healthy individuals also leads to higher HDL cholesterol (21)
- Low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets reduce the number of LDL particles (LDL-P) and increase the particles of LDL cholesterol (22) (23)
- Ketogenic diets reduce the number of VLDL particles in the blood (24) (25)
The above effects of the ketogenic diet can therefore be enhanced by using krill oil as a supplement.
A high-quality krill oil supplement is therefore a valuable addition to the ketogenic diet. 100% Pure Krill Oil from Foodie is such a high-quality supplement. It contains highly dosed omega-3 fatty acids that can be absorbed efficiently by the body through phospholipids (26) .
In addition, 100% Pure Krill Oil from Foodie also contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin , the substance that gives the krill oil that beautiful red glow. This wonderful red powerhouse among antioxidants is attributed by scientific research the following health benefits:
- Improved blood circulation (27)
- Most active antioxidant against free radicals that are harmful to the body (28)
- Improved skin, fewer wrinkles, better skin hydration in men and women (29)
- Improved fertility in men, better quality of sperm (30)
Electrolytes are minerals that are electrically charged with ions in the body. They are found in all of our body fluids, tissue and cells. Maintaining a good balance in electrolytes is crucial for blood composition, muscle functionality and other physical processes. They are essential because cells ensure that they can ‘communicate’ with each other through electrically charged voltage.
Electrolytes mainly consist of the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, and sulfate.
Good hydration in combination with minerals and electrolytes are vital aspects of our health. The ketogenic diet has a moisture-wicking effect, which means that you release a lot of water through urine. Electrolytes are also secreted together with the urine.
It is therefore important to drink a lot of water during ketogenic and to supplement the electrolytes.
This is possible in two ways. You can purchase an electrolyte supplement that contains the correct electrolyte ratio. Make sure that you choose a variant where no sugars have been added since this will remove you from ketosis.
A second way is to add a little salt (preferably pink Himalayan salt) to your drinking water. This way you can compensate for the loss of electrolytes. In addition, the water is absorbed into your body faster this way.
In his book Own The Day, Own Your Life, one of the most important tips that American health expert Aubrey Marcus gives to start a new day full of energy is as simple as it is effective.
He calls it the ‘Morning Mineral Cocktail’:
- 350 ml of filtered water
- 3 grams of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 th lemon squeezed in the water
The loss of electrolytes and minerals can be absorbed by using more sea salt.
Sea salt contains more than 60 (!!) minerals and trace elements.
In addition to sodium, chloride and iodine, it also contains phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromine, boron, zinc, iron, manganese and copper.
Together these minerals are essential for a healthy functioning body. Thus sodium ensures the binding of water in the body, in the body cells and beyond. This ensures good hydration.
When people hear the word ‘collagen’, they will initially think of TV commercials for face creams and beauty products. But collagen is an impressive supplement that has many health benefits that go beyond tight skin!
The word collagen comes from the Greek, which literally means “glue-producing”. It is therefore not surprising that collagen is a connecting factor on various aspects of your health. Collagen helps with:
- Energy production
- Structure of healthy DNA
- Good digestion
- Repair of joint tissue, tendons, cartilage, skin, nails, hair, organs etc.
The reason why collagen is a good supplement to use during the ketogenic diet is that it is a good alternative to milk protein powders. These powders can be anti-inflammatory and also whey powder causes a considerable insulin peak, which is not conducive to staying in ketosis.
Creatine is an amino acid that plays an important role in energy production and muscle contractions (31). It is a supplement that is particularly known in the sports world, among athletes and bodybuilders.
The use of creatine ensures that muscles have more endurance with high training intensity. In addition, creatine helps build lean muscle mass (32).
As you get older, your capacity to produce creatine diminishes and it may, therefore, be useful to supplement this. This way, regardless of whether you follow the ketogenic diet or not, you can continue to deliver optimum sporting performance.
Glutamine is an amino acid produced by your body. You do not necessarily need to get this nutrient from food, as is the case with minerals. However, if you have a sporty/active lifestyle, then your physical capacity to produce glutamine may not be sufficient to meet your body’s needs.
A specific reason why it is advisable to use glutamine during the ketogenic diet is that glutamine functions as an antioxidant that prevents cellular damage (33).
Because with the ketogenic diet you eat little or no fruit because of the high sugar content you will have to look for other ways to get antioxidants. L-Glutamine is a good solution for this.
However, caution should be noted when using l-glutamine in ketosis. In some people, the use of this amino acid can cause them to get out of ketosis.
Glucosamine is a so-called glucogenic amino acid, so the body can convert it into glucose. The easiest way to see how your body reacts is by measuring your ketone levels. To find out more about measuring your ketones, click HERE.
You probably know them, the sweet yellow energy drinks in plastic bottles that you often see in sports canteens. Such sports drinks have been developed to provide you with a good shot of sugar just before exercising so that you can use this energy directly for physical efforts.
When you are in ketosis you want to avoid any kind of sugar because you want your body to use fat as fuel. For people in ketosis who have a direct need for energy before or during exercise, they can use exogenous ketones in such a case. It is, therefore, an energy drink based on ketones instead of sugar.
Exogenous ketones enable your body to immediately use ketones as fuel. Although this does not get you into ketosis, you do benefit from the benefits of ketosis. Think of more energy, a better focus and better physical and mental performance. Exogenous ketones also help you to get back into ketosis if you have ingested too many carbohydrates.
7-Keto DHEA sounds like a robot from Star Wars, but it is really a body-specific substance, produced by your brain and adrenal glands (34). It acts as a growth hormone and stimulates your body to produce hormones that play a role in fat burning and muscle growth (35).
There are indications that 7-keto DHA activates the action of certain enzymes in the liver so that the liver cells deal with fatty acids more effectively (36). This is why 7-keto DHA can help burn fat and lose weight.
Vitamin D is not so much a specific supplement that you need to get or stay in ketosis, but it is an important supplement for your overall health. It plays an important role in various processes in the body.
You need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium, for muscle function and to support your immune system. The best way to get vitamin D is to go outside and enjoy the sun.
The sun is, therefore, your most important vitamin D supplement! About a billion people around the world suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This can be due to various reasons, such as living in a colder, less sunny climate or simply not getting home enough (37).
It is therefore that the bone disease rickets is also known as the “English disease”. With this disease, you have a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium, with bone formation problems as a result. It bears this name because, in the 18 e and 19 e century England, many children worked in the industry in which they barely came out and so did virtually no sunlight. The result was that they had problems with their teeth and bones. So you can see how healthy it is to occasionally take a terrace in the sun!
Foods that can be a good supplement
Bone Broth (bone broth)
Bone broth is a very nutritious source of collagen, gelatin, glycine, and potassium. Due to the long preparation time of (24 to 48 hours), the nutrients are slowly cooked and not ‘broken in’. This ensures a high bioavailability of all nutrients in the broth.
There are several health benefits associated with bone broth consumption:
- Good for the digestive tract. The gelatin from the broth helps to repair and protect the intestinal wall (38)
- Anti-inflammatory properties due to the amino acids glycine and arginine present in the broth (39)
- Good for joints because of gelatin and collagen. Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin. These are substances that have been shown to reduce the symptoms of arthritis (40) (41) (42) (43)
- Saturating effect despite low-calorie values. Although bone broth is low in calories, it does have a satiating effect due to the gelatin present in the soup (44).
Chlorella is a green algae species that can be taken in supplement form in powder or pill form. Chlorella contains a substance called Chlorella Growth Factor, this substance contains so-called nucleic acids. These acids help with the maintenance and repair of body cells.
This improves the energy transport between cells. This ultimately means that you will experience more energy. Certainly at the start of a ketogenic diet, taking chlorella can be a solution against the Keto Flu.
Like chlorella, green tea contains substances that keep your cells healthy. In green tea, this is the antioxidant EGCG, which stands for epigallocatechin gallate. This substance has a protective function for cells and prevents damage to body cells as an antioxidant (45).
In addition, green tea is, of course, suitable as a drink during the ketogenic diet because it contains no carbohydrates. In combination with some MCT oil, it is an antioxidant powerhouse that also provides you with good fuel.
Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can counteract the anti-inflammatory effect of foods such as dairy and non-organic meat. So add this herb to your meals. The yellow color that you often see with Indian curry dishes comes from turmeric.
Turmeric is especially effective in combination with black pepper or oil. By combining turmeric with black pepper you can increase the absorption of the active ingredient curcumin by no less than 2000 %! (46)
The active substances in turmeric are the so-called curcuminoids. The most important component of these substances is curcumin. Curcumin is the most active component of turmeric, it has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and it is a very strong antioxidant.
We will list the health benefits of turmeric:
- Anti-inflammatory effect, sometimes even as strong as some medical anti-inflammatory drugs, but without the nasty side effects of medication! (47) (48) (49)
- A powerful antioxidant that also boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (50) (51) (52)
- Protective effect for the brain by stimulating the production of new neurons (53) (54) (55)
- Reduces the risk of heart disease (56)
- Can help to prevent certain cancers (57)
- Can help against Alzheimer’s (58) (59)
- Helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis (60) (61)
- Helps against depression by stimulating the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain (62) (63)
- The anti-aging effect due to the antioxidant effect (64)
The root of the dandelion contains substances that promote the secretion of bile through the gallbladder. This allows your body to digest and absorb the many fats in the ketogenic diet more easily. There is dandelion root tea, which, by the way, tastes very bitter. With a little lemon, you can neutralize the taste.
In addition, the extract of dandelion roots is also sold in supplement form. It should be noted that some people may have an allergic reaction when using dandelion root. It is also possible that dandelion root reacts with certain medicines. If you use certain prescription drugs then it is advisable to consult a medical professional before using this product.
There is dandelion root tea, which, by the way, tastes very bitter. With a little lemon, you can neutralize the taste. In addition, the extract of dandelion roots is also sold in supplement form. It should be noted that some people may have an allergic reaction when using dandelion root. It is also possible that dandelion root reacts with certain medicines. If you use certain prescription drugs then it is advisable to consult a medical professional before using this product.
Many different types of supplements and supplementary foods have been discussed in this article, each with their own, sometimes amazing, effect. Take, for example, the list of health benefits attributed to turmeric by scientists! It is surprising how powerful some natural remedies can be.
Yet it is important to emphasize here that supplements should always be seen as a SUPPLEMENT on your food. The basis of a healthy lifestyle is still the consumption of nutritious meals from unprocessed and fresh food. That has priority.
So you can’t live on pizzas and sausage rolls every day and then expect supplements to ‘absorb’ all the negative effects of your poor diet.
If you supplement healthy food with powerful supplements such as turmeric, collagen, and krill oil then you provide your body with a wealth of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help your body recover, grow and keep healthy.
Especially in combination with the ketogenic diet, you can achieve good results in combination with supplements in terms of weight loss and overall health.
If you want to know how to get started with the ketogenic diet, we have prepared the ideal beginner’s guide for you, in which you can read exactly what the ketogenic diet is, what benefits it has and how you can start using it. You can find this manual HERE.