Can someone explain me water retention and sodium?

(Anna) #1

So I am very interested in starting keto diet, and have been doing lots of research. I am not doing it due to any wish of losing weight, but instead I have dealt alot with water retention lately. I have felt bloated, my face has looked puffy and tired, and I guess my diet have not been the best lately.
I have never really done keto completely, but I have been low carbing long time ago, where I really remembered how it helped with bloating and water retention…

BUT: as I have looked into the diet, I see a lot of people suggesting and emphasizing the importance of getting sodium on this diet. In my case, as I really have felt bloated and mainly wanna do this diet to kind of shed the water retention and bloat, won’t the sodium that are alot of in the keto diet then offset the otherwise drop of water weight that follows with decreasing carbs?

Sorry if it sounds confusing or stupid, but I am not really sure about how all this functions… I just really wanna feel less bloated, and I am afraid that the sodium will do, that I don’t see any difference…

(icky) #2

This topic is confusing.

Salt and electrolyte excretion by the kidneys increases in ketosis, but it seems to vary from person to person how much it increases by.

To make matters totally confusing, some people will get bloated if they increase salt too much, others get bloated if they don’t increase it enough.

I think you’re going to have to work out which one is true for you!

As far as I know, the water weight you lose is due to carbs not being in your system anymore - and that isn’t salt-related.


NOPE! Your brain is stuck on the old incorrect data that salt makes us hold water, which all of us were taught. It gets REAL involved but the easy version is when we’re sugar powered our kidneys keep re-uptaking our sodium as our systems try to excrete it out over and over again. When you’re Keto, your body uses what it needs at the time and flushes what it sees as not being needed, so even with our increased intake we’re also pushing more out. Think of taking a really strong multivitamin, you absorb SOME, and pee antifreeze for a couple hours as most of the surplus goes back out, same thing more or less. Not upping your sodium can lead to you feeling like garbage and just not running right overall, many people show it with reduced energy levels and if it gets bad things like getting dizzy when you stand up, all the way up to migraines.

(LeeAnn Brooks) #4

Keto is a diuretic, meaning it flushes out water and essential minerals. It may be a little tricky to find a good balance, but you will find you need A LOT more sodium on Keto than before.

When you start, you will quickly deplete your body of glycogen. Glycogen is 75% water, so you will drop water weight in some cases pretty fast. With that water you are also losing sodium, magnesium and potassium.

If you don’t make an effort to balance these back, you will end up with a bad case of Keto flu (and sometimes even when you do try to balance them).

Tell tale signs you need more electrolytes is dizziness, nausea, low energy, brain fog, headaches…

You get the idea. Salt is the easiest to add. Just suck on some rock salt and symptoms will go away within minutes. You can add to water as well. Lite salt contains potassium. Be VERY careful with this. Do not add too much as it can be very dangerous. But adding 1/4 teaspoon to water 3 times a day will help both sodium and potassium levels. For the most part, sodium regulates the level of potassium, so if you keep sodium in check, you won’t have to do much with potassium.

Lack of magnesium can lead to constipation and muscle cramps. You can also add magnesium to your water or in a pill form with magnesium citrate.

However, if you eat organ meat or a fair amount of leafy greens like spinach, you may only need to watch your sodium.

(Karen) #5

The amount of sodium (a portion of the sodium chloride-,table salt) varies from person to person. I can’t tolerate much. Warning… He’s going to mention vegetables. Eeeeek


(Ron) #6

Another explanation-

(Chris W) #7

I am told the book “the Salt Fix” is a great read, its on my short list.

Being ketogenic in of itself does not lower your water retention but having lower insulin does. Its pretty hard to get too much salt, people with kidney, heart, and high blood pressure should be cautioned at first and should start under doctors supervision. Personal experience is that with in 2 weeks of being ketogenic blood pressure dropped from normal low to really low. I was drinking about a gallon of water a day and probably urinating close to 1.25 gallons each day. The salt of course was gone, my potassium went all out of whack and went way high for a few reasons. Had I supplemented salt from a couple days in I would most likely have been fine. Salt is much like a wonder drug and does 100 different things, but in my case I can tie it directly to energy being months into this WOE.

(Alec) #8

I am soooooo glad you asked that question, cos you made me think about my recent salt intake and the fact that I have suddenly gained 3kg in a week. I was kinda shocked by this as I have been doing soooooo well, and now this. I had put it down to getting slack with my diet, that I have been sick with a cold in the last 4 weeks, and I haven’t been running as much because of the cold.

But what has really changed between me being X weight and me being X+3kg is that I have doubled or trebled my salt intake. I have been sucking on pink Himalayan salt for the past week, as I felt that was curbing my hunger cravings. However, I think that it has also increased my water retention quite seriously, hence my weight gain. Not 100% sure, but it feels this way.

Only my n=1, but for me, more salt I think has led to water gain.


Very good read, goes into a lot of studies and even going into it eating this way for years and knowing a lot about the importance of salt (something I’m never low on) I feel I learned a lot from it.


Hi Alec,

Sorry for reviving this old thread but just wanted to ask if you cutting down on the Himalayan Salt fixed the water retention and if so, how long did that take. Thank you.

(Ken) #11

My N=1 is a little different. I was always susceptible to water retention when I ate extra salt. I always went by observing my vascularity. Whenever I ate salty foods my veins would almost become invisible and I would swing several pounds of water weight.

I then started using pink salt and Cream of Tarter. After a week or so my vascularity came back and I started experiencing positive effects like being able to sleep all night without getting up to urinate. My leg cramps have also ceased. All in all the benefits have been very positive after a short adjustment period. I think I may have been deficient for years without knowing it.

(Sunny S) #12

How did you know how much ceam of tartar to use?

(Sunny S) #13

Also, how much cream of tartar did/do you use?

(Ken) #14

Not much.usually one good shake from a small spice container into a drink once a Day.

(Sunny S) #15

Thank you! I found this fascinating. I am going to be trying this.

(Sunny S) #16

Three years later and I have found out if you are retaining water due to sodium, it’s because one is not getting enough potassium! My husband and I started Keto January 2019. We no longer have fatty livers, skin rashes, aching joints, plantar fasciitis, tummys stay flat, skin is much nicer, brains are sharper, A1C is great, no more bloating except when we eat really gassy foods like broccoli spouts. I could go on, but no matter how tempted we have been to go back to the old way of eating, we just can’t! My husband is 72 and I am 67. Best thing we ever did for our health!!20210924_131810