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Homemade Bread Recipe – Low Carb & Keto Friendly

Over the last year, we’ve tried about a dozen different bread recipes and ready-made bread options that range from extremely low to moderately low carb. All are sugar free, most are grain free, and some are gluten free. We were on a quest to find something that made everyone in this little family happy.

Many folks have shared their successful experiments in creating really amazing breads, usually one kitchen guru building on another’s tasty creation, effectively evolving it into something new. And that’s what we’ve done here. We found a super simple keto bread recipe by Mad Creations that was inspired by recipes and experiments by Diedre, Keto Luna, and She Calls Me Hobbit. It was a great foundation to play with and shape into a texture and flavor profile we really love.

Jump to Recipe | Jump to Recipe Notes | Jump to Alt Ingredients

Why try all the bread??

Well, to be honest, my husband is picky about his bread and until recently, we hadn’t found one that met his criteria. He kinda liked the buttery, almond flour breads I made at the start of this lifestyle change, but they weren’t really “bread” in his opinion. He believes wholeheartedly that bread is pillowy soft, fluffy, stretchy, bouncy, toastable, with a yeasty smell/flavor; bread that can be eaten alone, without anything added on top.

Basically, traditional bread but without carbs.

The search began…

Nature’s Own makes a sugar free bread readily available in most stores that comes very close to the hub’s idea of what bread should be and he’s pretty content with it, but the carb count is pretty high per slice when you want more than one and the ingredients aren’t super agreeable for me personally. Sola Bread comes in second for store bought bread with fewer carbs per slice, but the taste and texture aren’t quite right.

Keto Luna has fine tuned keto flour ratios in her bread recipes to perfection, resulting in an incredible traditional bread doppleganger – but a huge portion of the ingredients is casein powder, which I’m allergic to. We tried Diedre’s bread recipe too – the texture was so incredibly bready but the flavor was off. So close, but none of these options were quite right for my family. Nor did they meet the hub’s hefty bread standards. This meant we were just gunna hafta find a way to make it ourselves.

So, after countless recipe attempts, failures, near-successes, and 1 broken food processor later… we offer up our own spin on a low carb (1.6g net carbs per slice!), gluten-based, yeast-risen, traditional-tasting, homemade bread with extremely low net carbs. We’ve made it 5 times so far with modest tweaks, consistent results, and it’s finally received the husband’s stamp of approval. Also, be sure to check out my notes below the recipe for tips and ideas on variations or substitutions.

Low Carb Bread Recipe

Tools

Note: Okay, so I don’t usually list tools, but some tools make your life easier. I’ve been making this with a stand mixer to knead the dough – but I’ve also used my hands for a hefty workout when we had no stand mixer. Also, some people have success using a decent food processor (carefully though, I broke mine attempting this method ’cause I didn’t know what I was doing).

  • Stand mixer with dough hook, food processor, or strong hands
  • Parchment Paper or Silicone Mats
  • Rolling Pin
  • 8 or 9 inch Loaf Pan
  • Breadmaker??? I’ve never used one before but I’ve heard good things, like how it both kneads the dough and bakes it for you. If you have one and give this a go, let me know how it turns out!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Warm Water (between 105 and 110°F)
  • 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Inulin Powder (or 2 tsp Honey or Maple Syrup, see notes)
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/3 cup Oat Fiber
  • 1/3 cup Brown or Golden Flaxseed Meal (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup Fine Blanched Almond Flour
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Fine Pink Salt or Fine Sea Salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp Xanthum Gum (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Powdered Erythritol or equivalent in your preferred sweetener (this doesn’t make the bread super sweet IMO but rather balances the flavor of the flours and salt)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-6 tbsp Unsalted Butter (softened, we use 6 but can use less)

Directions

Note: I am wordy, can’t emphasize this enough. So the gist is this:
– activate the yeast
– mix the dry ingredients in one bowl
– mix the wet ingredients in another bowl
– combine the activated yeast, wet, and dry ingredients
– knead for 5-8 minutes
– proof the dough for 1 hour
– bake for 45 minutes in a 335° f oven

Ta da! But it’s still highly recommended to read the more detailed instructions and recipe notes below.

1. In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and inulin. Give it a quick stir, cover with a cloth or cling film and set aside in a warm/humid area for about 5-7 minutes, or until frothy (e.g. oven with the light on, stove top while the oven preheats, or a microwave). If it doesn’t get frothy on top, you might need to try again with fresh yeast and double check your water’s temp.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: Vital Wheat Gluten, Oat Fiber, Golden Flaxseed, Almond Flour, Salt, Xanthum Gum, and Garlic Powder (or any other seasonings you’d like to add).

3. Once the yeast mix looks frothy, combine the rest of the wet ingredients in the small bowl: Eggs and Butter.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and give it all a quick stir with a fork or hard spatula until it starts to look like a lumpy, sticky dough.

5. Make sure your dough hook is attached to your stand mixer and set it to knead your dough in the big bowl on a low-medium setting for about 5-8 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to turn into a giant ball and looks stretchy rather than lumpy.

Tip: Alternatively, you can pour the lumpy dough into a food processor and carefully pulse (and scrape the edges as needed) for about 5-8 minutes, until the dough starts to ball and twine around the center. You can also go old school and knead the dough by hand until it barely sticks to your hands anymore and stretches an inch or two without breaking.

6. Optional: Place the kneaded dough between two sheets of parchment paper or silicone mats and roll it out to a flatish rectangle where the shorter side is about the width of your loaf pan (so it fits!). This doesn’t have to be perfect. From the short side of the rectangle, start rolling the dough inward until it makes a log (it’s kinda like rolling a log for pinwheels or cinnamon rolls).

7. Place the dough into a greased loaf pan, seam side down.

8. Cover the dough with a cloth and place in a humid area to proof and rise for 1 hour. We like to preheat our oven and leave the dough on the stovetop near the oven’s vent. You could also place it in a NON-preheating oven, with the oven light on, or a microwave.

Tip: For a darker, shinier crust you can brush the dough with an egg wash or butter before baking. Rather than baking with a wash, I like to brush my fully baked bread with melted butter when it’s hot out of the oven then sprinkle it with some sea salt. For a harder, crispier crust you might try adding a pan full of ice cubes or cold water on the bottom rack to create steam; however, I’m not sure how well this method works with our low carb flour combo.

9. Preheat oven to 335° f and bake for 40 minutes on the middle rack. Stick a long toothpick/skewer through the side, toward the middle and if it doesn’t come out clean, bake for another 5 minutes. Note: Bake times will vary if you choose to do buns or other, smaller/flatter shapes – for these, check at 20 minutes and add time as needed.

10. Carefully remove from the loaf pan and let it cool on a rack for about 1 hour before slicing. Super warm bread fresh out of the oven is delicious to eat, but difficult to cut evenly.

11. Slice the bread with a large, sharp knife and store in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also store slices in the freezer for several weeks.

Makes 15 thick slices | Serving: 1 slice | Net Carbs: 1.6g | Calories: 109
Disclaimer: Info provided here by entering the ingredients used into Carb Manager. These numbers can change based on the ingredients/brands/etc. you choose to use.

Recipe Notes

What else can we make with this dough?

So, so, sooo much. Over the last month we’ve successfully made cinnamon rolls, pull apart dinner rolls, and thick crust pizza. If you omit the yeast, it might also make a decent pasta! Whatever bready thing you’re craving, this might be a good base to start with.

About that yeast

The water should be warm to the touch but not boiling – like a cup of coffee that’s been cooling down for 15 mins. The warmest my tap water gets is about 110 so I no longer worry that hot water straight from my tap may kill my yeast.

Yes, it’s already activated yeast and you might be able to skip the warm water bath step with success and just toss everything in the mixer as-is, but low carb dough can use all the help it can get. A nice bath doesn’t hurt…

The yeast will feed on whatever sugar you use to emit a gas that gives your dough rise and will leave behind trace amounts to no carbs. If you don’t want to risk it with real sugar and you have no issues with nightshades, just use inulin – it’s pure fiber with zero net carbs and is just as effective.

Salt can kill yeast, that’s why we’re combining the yeast mixture with the eggs and butter before adding them to the dry ingredients. This creates some separation between the two ingredients so your bread should have a really nice rise.

What the heck is “Oat Fiber”??

Oat fiber, not to be confused with oat flour, is made from the outer hull of oat kernels and contains zero net carbs, as it’s pure fiber – just like inulin. Oat fiber gives low carb bread that familiar grain consistency that you associate with fine wheat flours.

Overseas, you’ll find many low carb recipes use potato fiber rather than oat fiber. Unfortunately, potato fiber is scarce in the Americas, so folks started experimenting with oat fiber as a viable alternative and have had great success. However, some people can be very sensitive to different types of fibers. I encourage everyone to give it a try if they’ve never used it before, but do so cautiously and make note of any adverse reactions.

Which Flax is best?

Golden Flax has slightly healthier fats, brown flax has slightly more antioxidants. They’re both pretty healthy all around and the difference seems to be incredibly small, so it’s really up to you. You can use brown or golden flaxseed interchangeably here, *BUT* if you choose to use one that’s been very finely ground into a powder, the carb count per slice will go up slightly (expect about 1.9-2g net carbs per slice instead of 1.6g). You can also try to use slightly less of the fine powdered version so it balances out a bit better carb-wise.

And what about that gluten?

Vital Wheat Gluten or Gluten Flour is the main protein derived from wheat flour. Bakers have been using it for ages to make carby breads even breadier. It’s only protein though and as such, very low in carbs. Anyone with a serious gluten sensitivity or celiac disease should look into other bread options as this recipe doesn’t have a substitution for the gluten flour. Click here to check out one of my earlier posts about bread for some ideas that might better suit your bready needs.

Speaking of substitutions…

The most important ingredients for this recipe are vital wheat gluten, yeast, and oat fiber. I don’t recommend subbing those 3 out, but please feel free to experiment and tweak until you find something that works for you – this is a constantly evolving recipe strewn across many different kitchens. As for the other ingredients:

  • Almond flour can be swapped for more flaxseed meal – more flaxseed means you’ll have an “earthier, rye style” bread and it can also increase the natural, albeit subtle sour/vinegar taste. And remember – flaxseed has way more fiber than almond flour. One of the reasons we used almond flour in this recipe was to reduce the fiber.
  • Flaxseed meal can be swapped for more almond flour – the crumb might be a tad chewier but we barely noticed.
  • Xanthum gum can be swapped out for guar gum, though neither gum is necessary. Not all gums are created equal – Xanthum is usually derived from corn, which can be very inflammatory for people sensitive to the grain.
  • Eggs – I haven’t tried it yet, but I think 2 flaxseed “eggs” might work. The eggs help with moisture and structure, so I’d expect a different overall texture and taste.
  • Butter – I haven’t tried it yet either, but likely any oil that solidifies at room temp, like coconut oil or ghee, would work as tasty substitutions here. You can also use less butter if you’d like, but healthy fats makes everything taste better.

Alternate Recipe Ingredients

Don’t like Almond Flour? Don’t mind slightly more fiber? Try these ingredients instead! Same directions as above, just slightly different ratios for a less chewy, almond-free bread. The texture is a bit softer, especially if you use the full amount of butter.

Ingredients

  • 1.25 cup Warm Water (between 105 and 110°F)
  • 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Inulin Powder (or 2 tsp Honey or Maple Syrup, see notes)
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1/2 cup Oat Fiber
  • 1/2 cup Brown or Golden Flaxseed Meal (see notes)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Fine Pink Salt or Fine Sea Salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Powdered Erythritol or equivalent in your preferred sweetener (this doesn’t make the bread super sweet IMO but rather balances the flavor of the flours and salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-6 tbsp Unsalted Butter (softened, we use 6 but can use less)

Makes 15 thick slices | Serving: 1 slice | Net Carbs: 1.4g | Calories: 102
Disclaimer: Info provided here by entering the ingredients used into Carb Manager. These numbers can change based on the ingredients/brands/etc. you choose to use.

Jump to recipe directions →


And that is that. At some point, I’d love to find or create a gluten free recipe that works out as nicely as this one. Until then, we’ll keep playing with the ratios and ingredient list. Stay tuned for more variations!

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Tracking Is Important

Hello there, long time no post. The hubs made a good point recently about when we first started our low carb lifestyle: we needed to track what we were eating to really KNOW what we were eating. You definitely don’t have to track to be successful, but it can be helpful in ways beyond the obvious.

Jump to: Tracking Apps | Tracking Tools | Bonus

The first weekend we decided to take on this big change, we decided to finish off some of the higher carb perishables and pantry items in our house – eating as we normally would and tracking the food using an app for comparison the next week.

We were floored. We had no idea how many unnecessary carbs we were loading up on and how little protein and micronutrients we were really getting every day.

Using an app to help us track, not only the amount of carbs we consumed, but also calories, protein, fat, and other basic nutrients, was an education all on its own.

Regardless of what kind of diet you eat, whether it’s high carb, low carb, flexible, intuitive, etc., tracking (in the beginning, at least) can help teach you how to get healthier nutrition into your diet and ensure you’re eating enough (or not too much) in order to feel your best.

Do you NEED to track to be successful?

Of course not! Some people eating low carb choose to follow a simple set of guidelines on the type of food to eat rather than tracking at all, others just count the carbs they’re eating and nothing else – usually making a tally inside their head each day.

And some people swing in the entirely opposite direction. They can become really obsessive about tracking to the point it becomes damaging, perhaps even promote a preexisting eating disorder rather than providing a helpful, educational tool. That’s really not cool.

No matter what you’re eating, you’ll be hard pressed to know exactly how much of which nutrients your body is absorbing in absolutely precise amounts. But you can get kinda close. Because of that margin of error or the potential to become obsessive, I didn’t want to track when we started out; it’s not how my brain works. Tracking was the hub’s idea and I’m glad he pushed us to do so despite my hesitation.

Full disclosure: I very rarely track these days unless I’m trying a new recipe, new brand of food/restaurant, or if I’m really unsure what’s in a serving of something I don’t usually consume. Eating low carb has become my natural, default way of eating. But when we started, low carb did NOT come naturally immediately and tracking became a crucial tool in figuring out what works best for me. The knowledge we gained has been invaluable.

We learned pretty quickly that eating a low carb, *high fat* diet like keto meant that you’re very satisfied and RARELY actually hungry – especially when you carry quite a bit of extra weight. So eating until you’re full is nice in theory, but doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting all the nutrients/calories you need to support a baseline of health each day, week, or month.

My pitfall was a lack of protein. Keto diets usually promote eating a moderate amount of protein and push the fat to no end, but a person of my size requires a LOT more than the moderate protein recommendations, particularly when already eating at a slight caloric deficit to promote weight loss. I started to lose a lot of my very thick head of hair. My nails split and became brittle, my skin suffered a bit, my tension headaches were constant, leg cramps were bullets striking in the dead of night. When you’re eating at a deficit during ANY type of diet, you can expect a bit more hair to fall out and perhaps some other symptoms of electrolyte imbalance. But these should be MILD and easily managed/corrected, and mine were not.

If we hadn’t been tracking the first few months, it would’ve been a lot harder to figure out what my diet was lacking: calories and protein. The fix was simple, increase my calories and make those calories protein, predominantly from meat. Done. My hair and other symptoms improved dramatically the following months. Turns out, meat naturally contains many of the electrolytes my body was lacking.

The more you know, the less you’ll second guess everything.

Below are the apps we use to track, when we track. Without these, we might still be stumbling through this process, wondering exactly what we need to do to achieve a better baseline of health.

Tracking Apps

We recommend using these trackers on your phone/device so it’s more convenient but most can also be used on a desktop computer if needed:

  • Carb Manager | View Site
    This is what I’ve primarily used from the start, mainly because it has a huge library of real world food and it was easy to add my own recipes. The feature my husband liked best was the ability to scan the barcodes on most of the food at our local grocery store and automatically get all the information right in our tracker. You can customize the settings toward whatever diet you’re following (keto, carnivore, high carb, etc.) as well as your weight and goals. The free version offers A LOT and that’s what we use, but the premium version is better for those who want to fully utilize their built-in community feature and especially for people who need to track specific electrolytes/minerals or log insulin readings to analyze over time.
  • Cronometer | View Site
    Similar to Carb Manager, but also tracks those essential micronutrients for free. The user interface isn’t our favorite and the food library can be a bit lacking, but for a free app, it goes above and beyond helping you stay on track.
  • Zero | View Site
    Are you fasting? I follow what’s called a 16:8 intermittent fasting method (8 hour eating window), without really meaning to. Breakfast is not a friend of mine and easy to skip. Fasting can happen naturally when you’re following a low carb/high fat diet, especially when you’re not hungry in between meals. Whether you’re 16:8, OMAD, 5:2, or any other kinda fasting, Zero is a really zen way to keep track of your fasting schedule. That’s right, I used the word zen. Check it out and you’ll understand why…

More apps to browse! We don’t use these so we can’t comment on how well they do or don’t work, but many people in the community use them successfully:

Tracking Tools

Apps might be the most essential tool in tracking these days, but certainly not the only tools. When you’re not sure what a serving size really looks like, measuring cups and food scales become the most important guides.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Only one full set matches, the rest have been collected or lost over decades and several moves.

This is the most visual way to get a good idea of how much you’re plating each meal or snack. Most kitchens are already stocked with an arsenal of mismatched cups and spoons, but if not – try to grab some that are easy to clean and easy to store.

Food Scales

Our $10.99 food scale has survived 2 years of my toddler’s abuse and still works great.

The most accurate way to know exactly how much you’re plating is to weigh your food. This is also the best way to replicate recipes more precisely. That’s not ideal for me personally, I like eyeballing it and I never get bored with how different the same recipe comes out each time. But some people prefer a bit more consistency and that’s cool too. Enter: Food scales. The best part? Food scales are cheap. Like, really cheap. You don’t have to buy a cheap one, you can get a super fancy one that talks to you or lists the food’s general nutrition data. But that’s absolutely NOT necessary.

If you take a look at my very detailed post about different low carb bread recipes, you’ll quickly learn that many bakers encourage weighing your ingredients. Baking truly is a science. A food scale becomes a really important kitchen tool if you wanna try these homemade breads and the recipe calls for weighing food rather than using cups so keep that in mind!

Conversion Charts

Let’s face it, realistically, not everything you buy and eat during this journey is going to be 100% whole, natural, unprocessed food. Some of it is going to come from a manufacturer overseas and you’re going to eat all of it or it’s going to be some weird low carb flour you’ve never heard of before, and that’s okay. It’s better to be prepared and know how to convert those odd measurements that might pop up on some nutrition labels. That’s where conversion charts come in handy. I received one with a set of small cake pans last year and it’s currently taped inside my cabinet door. A quick search online for free kitchen conversion charts yields tons of results so browse around and see what you can find.

As of 2/19/2020, CanningCrafts.com offers a free printable conversion chart here →

Bonus!

The most important thing you can track, if nothing else, is your physical progress. Measure yourself, weigh yourself, take pictures of yourself, and if you have issues that might be more serious than needing weight loss, get a general blood panel done to see what’s going on inside.

Then put all that information away for a little while as you begin this change in eating, change in thinking. Toss the scale in the closet and let your appearance be the least of your worries.

Give yourself a chance to grow and learn.

Maybe a month (or three) down the line, take some new measurements and pictures and blood work. See how things compare from where you started.

The one regret I see people mention over and over is that they didn’t take those measurements, they didn’t take those photos. Sometimes it feels like you’ve made no progress at all or you hit a plateau and it takes just a moment to look back at the beginning and SEE just how far you’ve come in such a short time.

So, do yourself a favor and track something.

PS – Wish I’d taken more pictures!

Nearly 5 months apart (Early Aug, late Dec) and less than 2 months into Keto (started in Nov). Massive bloat from overeating carbs gone within weeks!
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You Need More Spark

Right this very second, you have electrically charged minerals coursing throughout your body. Every human needs electrolytes to live (they literally keep your heart beating!) and it seems that most humans are deficient in one or more of these: Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium – the big 3; then we have Calcium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Bicarbonate.

We absorb these essential minerals through the food and drinks we consume. Food and drinks that are often lacking in all of the above. On top of that, sometimes, our bodies aren’t very good at absorbing what little we receive from our daily diet – even worse when we’re sick and losing fluids rapidly, or taking certain medications, or fasting, or working out, or trying to lose weight by cutting calories, or drinking waaaay more, or a hundred other random reasons.

Basically, it’s a delicate balance.

Your body is extremely intelligent about maintaining that balance and delegating resources to avoid adverse reactions, especially when limited. That’s why slight deficiencies go unnoticed for the most part. But sometimes, your super smart body could use a bit of help with its natural spark.

Jump to: Meat | Vegetables | Everything Else | Supplements

When you try out something new, especially a new way of eating, many folks try to do the whole shebang and they go at it hard. They try to exercise more, eat better, and eat less. Doing all at once can be a catastrophe, an absolute recipe for disaster! Not only are you already likely a bit deficient in some of these essential minerals – you’re losing them faster and barely replacing any of them.

Kind of a detrimental bummer in the middle of your noble quest to a healthier version of yourself. The side effects of missing electrolytes can be mild, subtle things that you get used to or overcome as your body adapts to your new lifestyle or smaller figure. Or they can be so severe that they threaten your life.

You might recall a time when you decided the New Year would be the New You! And you started eating/drinking less, working out every day, and… getting leg cramps every night? Or feeling dizzy and foggy during the day? Maybe your fingers started to tingle or go numb? There are a lot of different side effects when you’re missing some of these electrolytes, and none of them are fun:

  • Nausea
  • Brain Fog
  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Cramping
  • Digestive Upset
  • Weakness/Fatigue
  • Tingling/Numbness
  • Irregular Heartbeat

An imbalance in electrolytes might be easily improved by simply eating/drinking a little bit more overall. If that’s not possible, then at minimum, it would be extremely beneficial to include nutrient dense superfoods a few times a week.

No matter what kind of diet you choose to follow, you’ve gotta get those minerals. The best way to get them is from your food, especially meat. Next up are vegetables and fruits/grains. Finally, supplements. If you’re struggling while following a lower carb way of eating, you’ll find a few ideas below that can help amp up your nutrition.

MEAT

Our bodies are extremely efficient at breaking down and using just about everything we can get from meat.

Meaty Superfood: Liver

Beef, poultry, fish – all liver seems to pack a serious punch. I’m not particularly fond of ANY kind of liver, but I can’t deny the extremely high level of minerals and vitamins it contains including: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and B-12, and so much more.

Check out the nutrition stats on a whole bunch of different types of liver on the USDA’s official FoodData Central Database:
https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?query=liver

If you’re anything like me and just – cannot – with the liver, check out Dena Norton’s tips and recipe ideas on Back to the Book Nutrition. She offers up a great article featuring 3 Ways to Eat Liver Without Tasting It.

Seeing as liver is not my first choice and a rarity in our kitchen, I opt for a variety of meat throughout the week that rank well on the electrolyte scale including: wild caught salmon, organic beef and chicken, eggs, and shrimp. Occasionally, we’ll include pork and other types of poultry.

We’ve also tried bone broth, but again, the taste just wasn’t for me. That said, if you’re low on sodium and other electrolytes, broths are a great starting point.

VEGETABLES

This might be a bit of a rant, bare with me though.

When you’re trying to eat low carb, many high carb vegetables get the axe, like the beloved and versatile potato. It’s a staple in many diets for most people across the world. It was one of mine, for sure.

Along with its higher carb count, potatoes contain massive amounts of potassium – 1 large potato can contain upwards of 900+ mg of potassium alone! So it’s no wonder that anyone removing it from their diet might struggle to replace those nutrients, in fact – they might not think about it at all and start to suffer symptoms from not getting enough potassium and other vital minerals without knowing why. They’ll blame the type of diet rather than realizing they never replaced a staple food with something of equal value nutrition-wise.

So… did you used to love all-things potato, all day, every day? And now that it’s gone, you’re left with muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation, or maybe even weird heart rhythms? Yikes! It’s time to change that. Rather than going back to your good old high carb friend, the potato, there are lots of alternatives that offer EVEN MORE potassium and other essential nutrition that’ll help with these kind of symptoms.

Veggie Superfood: Spinach or other dark, leafy greens (ie swiss chard)

To be completely honest, I grew up hating spinach. My mom always used the kind that came in the frozen bricks and they were so bitter tasting to my young buds. Like, not in a good way at all. Luckily, I grew up, learned how to sauté greens and balance that bitterness. Spinach is now my preferred staple and alternative to other potassium-dense food. Did you know that just one of those small bricks of frozen spinach (about 10oz) contain well over 1000+mg of potassium and only about 4g net carbs compared to a large potato’s 50g+ net carbs?? Yep… 10oz of spinach also has lots of calcium, magnesium, and sodium at over 200+mg each.

Check out the nutrition stats on spinach on the USDA’s official FoodData Central Database:
https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168462/nutrients

There are tons of other lower cab vegetables out there that can help amp up your electrolytes beyond leafy greens (to a lesser degree), such as zucchini, broccoli, artichokes, mushrooms, and more.

EVERYTHING ELSE
Fruits, Grains, Nuts, Dairy

Did you know that grains are fruit? It’s kinda like the square/rectangle situation – all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares, etc. etc. etc. Well, all grains are fruit but not all fruit are grains. Technically, vegetables/fruits/grains/legumes are all just plants, and these are just different ways to define which part of the plant your food comes from.

That’s kinda fun but I believe it’s easier for our brains to learn about and understand how different foods impact our systems by separating and categorizing them accordingly. Anywho!

Many following a low carb lifestyle avoid most fruits and grains like the plague. Much like our beloved potato above, they get the axe or seriously limited. These types of foods aren’t just high in carbs because they’re high in sugar or high in fiber, but also because they’re high in key nutrients and electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and magnesium.

The bottom line is: just because it’s full of carbs doesn’t mean they’re empty carbs. If you’re limiting carbs then make. them. count.

If your diet used to be full of fruits and grains and you no longer want to include them in your everyday diet, you’ll need to find some decent alternatives so your baseline level of health doesn’t suffer in their absence.

I don’t have one particular superfood for this category, but rather a modest list of ideas to share. All contain decent amounts of electrolytes but you must be cautious in how much you choose to consume in a day because not only can these carbs add up quickly, some folks are also very sensitive to fiber, lactose, and other aspects contained in these types of food. Be sure to look up the nutrition stats on these to see if they fall in line with your body’s needs:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts: Almonds, Cashews, Brazil
  • Cocoa/Dark Chocolate
  • Beans: Black Soybean, Edamame, Lima
  • Seeds: Flax, Pumpkin, Chia, Hemp
  • Yogurt: Full Fat and/or Low Sugar
  • Cheese: Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella
  • Creams: Heavy Whipping, Coconut, Sour Cream

Supplements

Bioavailability.

“The degree and rate at which a substance (such as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Nothing beats real food when it comes to bioavailability. And meat really is best for humans, but meat isn’t always possible whether by choice or not, and sometimes, our bodies just need more than it can absorb from what we consume.

Enter: Supplements

Whatever amount you choose to take, it’s very unlikely that your body will be able to absorb the nutrients 100%. That doesn’t mean you should up the ante and take more than directed, but it’s something to keep in mind as you dive into the world of sometimes natural but often synthetic pills and powders.

I’m not gunna bore you with a list of brands or options here. That’s all up to you. However, I will impart some wisdom I’ve learned about magnesium supplements: Look for citrate, avoid oxide. Citrate is much easier for our bodies to absorb, oxide is more of a challenge. (source)

Oh and maybe also avoid taking too much magnesium citrate…

It could make you poop. Like, a lot.

BONUS

Hey! Wow, can’t believe anyone made it all the way down here. Thanks for reading =) Now, on to a bonus:

Salt.

Many of today’s ready-made and natural food contain an overwhelming amount of sodium so it’s usually the last electrolyte anyone thinks they might be deficient in. But guess what? People starting a low carb diet lose a lot of water very fast and with it goes a lot of electrolytes, including sodium.

Suggestion? You don’t need to go overboard with the salt shaker but don’t be afraid to add a slight bit more than usual to your low carb meals. Unless you have a special condition or you’re feeling extra bloaty (think swollen fingers/ankles), there’s no need to be shy with your sodium intake. You need it.