If you have learned one thing about the ketogenic diet, it’s the importance of sticking to your macros. The term macros refers to the three macronutrients – fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Maintaining the proper ratio of these three macronutrients is the key to entering and staying in ketosis.
But what about micronutrients like vitamins and minerals?
A balanced diet is the key to good health and long-term wellness. So, even though you should be focusing on your macros while going keto, you shouldn’t neglect essential micronutrients. Keep reading to learn more about micronutrients including what they are, which ones you need, and where to get them in your daily diet.
Macronutrients vs. Micronutrients
When it comes to the nutrients your body needs to function, they are divided into two primary categories – macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the three nutrients your body needs in the largest quantity and they provide energy in the form of calories. Fat, protein, and carbohydrate are the three macronutrients. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, protein 4 calories per gram, and carbohydrate 4 calories per gram.
Micronutrients include things like vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fatty acids. They are the nutrients your body needs in smaller amounts than macronutrients and they do not provide energy. Because micronutrients can’t be measured in calories, only a select few show up on food labels and, when they do, it’s usually in a percentage of your recommended daily allowance (RDA). The key to any diet is to strike the right balance between macronutrients and micronutrients.
Which Micronutrients Are the Most Important?
The metabolic process known as ketosis is the foundation of the ketogenic diet. In order to achieve and maintain ketosis, you need to keep your fat intake as high as possible, around 70% to 75% of your daily intake. You should also strive for moderate protein intake between 20% and 25% with a maximum of 5% carbohydrate intake from your daily diet. This combination of nutrients is usually referred to as your “macros” and you need to monitor them closely.
But what about micronutrients? How important are they and which ones do you need?
One thing you need to know about the ketogenic diet is that you need to be a little more proactive about getting your RDA of essential micronutrients than you might on a different diet. Carbohydrates are restricted on the keto diet and because they are some of the best sources of vitamins and minerals (think things like whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies), you need to find a way to get your daily dose without going overboard on carbs.
So, which micronutrients do you need the most to ensure balanced nutrition? Here are a few:
- Sodium – The most common essential mineral, sodium is also an electrolyte that is important for controlling blood pressure and fluid levels.
- Potassium – Another electrolyte, potassium deficiency can lead to irritability, constipation, weakness, and skin problems.
- Magnesium – This micronutrient plays a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body including protein synthesis, ATP production, and cell reproduction.
- Calcium – This nutrient is important for strengthening your teeth and bones as well as supporting nerve signaling and regulating blood pressure.
- B Vitamins – There are 7 main types of B vitamins and they help the body break down food and absorb energy from it.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – These essential fatty acids play a role in healthy brain development, heart health, and inflammation reduction.
- Iodine – This mineral regulates thyroid hormone production to prevent thyroid-related issues like weakness, skin problems, and weight gain.
- Iron – This mineral boosts hemoglobin formation which is important for transporting oxygen to the lungs and ensuring proper growth.
- Phosphorus – This nutrient is involved in hundreds of cellular functions and also plays a role in balancing hormones and energy levels.
- Vitamin A – This vitamin plays a role in cell reproduction, healthy vision, and organ growth.
- Vitamin C – An antioxidant vitamin, Vitamin C helps protect you against bad cholesterol and it plays a role in collagen production.
- Vitamin K – This vitamin is important for transporting calcium into the bones and it is an element of blood coagulation as well.
- Zinc – This nutrient contains over 250 different enzymes that play a role in healing, protein synthesis, and cell reproduction.
- Trace Elements – Dozens of micro-minerals that the body needs in small amounts. They are a part of cells, hormones, enzymes, etc.
- Pre & Probiotics – Essential to a healthy gut.
- Enzymes – Support a wide range of important functions, including digestion & assimilation of foods, metabolism & other chemical reactions crucial for good health.
- Antioxidants – Protect cells from damage.
Now that you know which micronutrients are the most important, you may be wondering where to get them. Keep reading to receive some practical tips for getting your RDA of key micronutrients.
Tips for Getting Your Daily Dose of Micronutrients
The list from the previous section may seem long but you might be surprised how easy it is to get your daily dose of essential micronutrients. Here are some simple tips to make it happen:
Focus on natural, whole foods as sources of key micronutrients instead of taking supplements – natural sources are more biologically valuable.
Think about the quality of the nutrient-rich foods you eat – organic foods are more expensive but they are don’t contain dangerous substances and studies show that they are actually higher in antioxidant content.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about a specific deficiency – in some cases, supplementation may actually be beneficial.
No matter what kind of diet you’re on, it’s important to maintain balance. When it comes to the ketogenic diet, you need to strike the right balance of fat to protein and carbohydrates, but you also need to think about micronutrients. Put what you’ve learned here to work in creating and maintaining a balanced diet to maximize your keto results as well as your health in general.