Newbie - Salt question


Hi all, day 6 here and it’s been an adventure LOL I realized there could be some “gastric” issues and I have fallen victim to the loose stools/intermittent diarrhea - at the same time, that has concerned me about my electrolytes (I have a tendency to dehydrate anyway although I drink tons of water). My question regards salt - I’ve seen that it’s wise to keep up on my salt intake and I am salting my meats but with the loss of fluids, I’m concerned I’m getting enough but isn’t salt literally a laxative? It sounds like a vicious cycle to me: increase salt to make up less than normal, salt triggers diarrhea, lose fluids, more salt, more diarrhea. Hahaha
Any advice? Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good - I haven’t had many low electrolyte symptoms like cramping and muscle spasms.


You’re right - it is a laxative. If you’re otherwise feeling fine, pull back a little bit - you might be having a little too much.

Suddenly transitioning to a higher quantity of fat can also trigger loose stools, so that could also be a factor. If you suspect fat might also be involved, you can pull back slightly and up it a little more slowly - your body will adjust as you increase.

Well done on making it to day 6.

(Joey) #3

With all due respect, I’ll beg to differ…

You are very wise to up your salt (electrolyte) intake, especially during these ear;y weeks of adaptation. If you’re not gagging on the added salt, it means you aren’t overdoing it. Your taste buds will tell you much of what you need to now.

As for actual science (I’m just a guy on the internet!) I highly recommend reading “The Salt Fix” by Dr DiNicolantonio. It is highly readable but packed with references/citations to no-fooling science.

Spoiler alert: You are not likely getting enough salt.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #4

Salt is a tricky issue. Various studies have shown that we are healthiest at 4-6 g/day of sodium from all sources, which is 10-15 g/day of sodium chloride. Too little, and we get constipated, too much causes the digestive problems you are noticing. Do not overhydrate, because that plays hob with your electrolytes. Drinking to thirst is enough.

Dr. Tim Noakes, the researcher and marathon runner who wrote The Lore of Running, has re-thought his advice about hydrating. He saw that the sport drink manufacturers had taken his initial advice and run with it, and called for restraint just a bit too late, as marathoners began ending up hospitalised, and a few even died, from over-hydration.

So keep your salt in the healthy range, and drink to thirst. Things should settle down in a day or so.


Thanks to all of you for the great advice - I think it’s hard to judge as we all have different metabolisms and chemistry but I do like the idea of perhaps just experimenting with levels a bit and I truly appreciate the advice on over hydrating. I think that is definitely an issue that I overlooked. I just fried up my first beef liver and it was delicious (although I would have given anything for some fried onions on it…haha). On to Day 7!


I am a firm believer of some of us needing way less sodium than the recommended amount, my experiences say so…
But the problem easily can be the fat, indeed. It has that effect to many. (Not to me. 260g fat in a few hours? 12g salt at one sitting? Sour milk? Nothing. My body is stubborn. Maybe if I ate the fat all alone, without protein… I didn’t raise my fat intake on keto but I did get a higher concentration on carnivore and it made me nauseous so maybe it’s not just the mere fat macro that can cause problems but that you eat it without a bunch of other thing to soak it up…?)

I have that from lack of magnesium, sodium brings the dizziness. I think. I am pretty sure but not 100%. It only happened twice in my life but considering I had no sodium since 4 days in the first case, it’s quite probably that was the culprit… Hadn’t heared about electrolytes at that point of my life, you see. But it was fun. Cheapest drunkenness ever. Won’t do it again to my poor body, of course.
The second case where I am not sure happened on my first keto week. So actually yes, sodium may be super important in the beginning BUT we don’t need the same high amount, apparently. I had a slight quick dizziness and nothing else and I stuck to my usual modest amount and I am happy with that since.
But dizziness happens due to zillion other reasons, of course. It’s one of my most common “need fuel” sign. Because my body just can’t bother with hunger signs every day…

So I can’t give you a responsible advice. I just wanted to be the voice of the ones who are much better with less sodium. As I went up with it once and it was awful.

And while I automatically salt my food to get my normal amount of sodium, I didn’t hate the taste of my food when I overdid it. I felt it was too salty to my liking (certain kinds of smoked pork are super salty, no matter what) but I could eat it and could do nothing to get it out. I just ate unsalted stuff with it but it wasn’t enough.

(Alec) #7

I am with @SomeGuy… I think you should be salting up heavy. Salt all your food to taste… make it taste good to you. I have occasionally overdone the salt, and trust me it makes it taste nasty. You will know if you oversalt your food.

Your loose stools will sort themselves out… very common in the early days. But don’t skimp on electrolytes… loose stools is dehydrating you, and is taking some electrolytes with it. You need to replace them: they are so important.

(Joey) #8

Yes, but those were remarkably extreme cases with unique border variable case factors. And more likely to create unfounded fears than to be helpful guidance in this case.

We’re not talking about such limiting outside factors when someone simply embarks on a keto regime - and experiences some normal indigestion as their system adapts.

I think we can agree that too little salt is FAR more problematic than the rather unlikely risk of overdoing it at this stage. Hard to imagine how that’s going to happen before gagging on excess dietary salt. Meanwhile, we’ve created a baseless fear of salt in our western world.

Invoking Noakes’ marathon runner risk is kind of like using the concerns NASA has for astronauts’ nausea in weightlessness as a caution for taking the elevator down from a highrise building right after lunch. Fuggetaboutit.

My $0.02


I choose too little salt any day (with salt at hand only!), borderline impossible to pull it off but so easy to notice and correct, in a few seconds. I talk about me here.
It’s very easy for me to overdo salt if I eat salted pork (VERY salty. hams easily are around 7% but I suspect the ones caked in salt have more. even if I eat little of it, it adds up). And it takes a some time to correct and I keep feeling a bad burn until, ew. The pork stays as tasty and salty as ever, maybe a tad less desirable but if I don’t have anything else or if I want smoked pork, I eat it. With unsalted eggs but they can’t bring my salt intake down enough.

Maybe I should make experiments, like eating 8g extra salt before lunch every day… But as I know I need little salt, it’s hard to justify it…

Of course it’s just for me who needs little salt. Not people who need a ton. They may need to eat as much salt as they can…

And what about carnivores with zero added salt? They can’t get more than 1-2g from their food naturally… I always was curious how that works. I can’t go down there, I start to desire salt more if I lower it, I have this nice balance built-it so I always eat about 5g salt a day, my perfect amount. (It wasn’t normal to have heavily salted pork and chicken liver as my only meat sources on carnivore. and I never do it again).

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #10

Extreme over-hydration is a thing, especially when the standard “advice” is now that if we feel even a little bit thirsty, we are already dangerously dehydrated. Which is nonsense. The marketers, in their eagerness to sell product, forgot that killing off customers is not good for sales. Dr. Noakes’s advice is “drink to thirst,” and I think he’s right.

Certainly. However, the OP lists symptoms that are what I experience when I get too much salt, so it is truly possible that he may be getting enough already.

I am usually criticised for reflexively recommending more salt, and now here I am, getting criticised for tailoring my advice to the situation. I must be doing something right, lol!

In any case, it never hurts to tell people what the research shows is the healthy range of intake, because then they know.

I invoke him because he’s the guy responsible for starting the whole “drink water like crazy” advice in the first place. If even he says “watch it,” then it’s worth paying attention to him.


I agree - I use an abundance of salt and even use it in my water - but it’s hard to know how much salt someone else is using.

If the original poster hasn’t got any symptoms of their electrolytes being low but they are experiencing gut issues, it might be the salt that’s a factor - or, as I suggested, it might be something else (or a combination of the two).

It’s not a dangerous experiment to pull back incrementally to see if it helps and/or to see if any electrolyte problems arise.

With fat intake and salt intake, there’s a sweet spot for all of us - but it’s easy for us long-termers to forget how going from zero to a larger amount all at once can sometimes trigger a reaction. Increasing gradually might be an answer.


this shows alot about your progress.

this is more about bad gut bacteria die off in your adaption phase. Your body switching off total glucose and into total ketone burn. It is your guts healing and repairing right now.

your salt is your least issue here kinda if you feel ok. You were wondering about salt but to me it sounds like you are fine just where ya are since you said you aren’t having ‘any kinda normal bad electrolyte balance issues’ hitting you.

stay hydrated. use your salt as you like. wait for getting thru adaption. this can vary to many. Key being if one takes ox bile or even changes to a tad more lean meat to help the issue, at the same time that slows down your adaption in a way but it also makes ‘life bareable’ to survive daily if big D is a big monster to you. Also take an Immodium with limited use, you know to ‘save ya a bit’ if truly needed.

Adapation is what it is for each of us. Getting our transition into zc and bathroom issues again is very personal to each of us. I came into this from extreme low carb, like 5g from plants per day as I walked this way, so my guts didn’t have this adaption to this level of others coming into it from higher plant carb count intake.

so to me 99% of this ain’t about your salt intake, this is fat adaption and changes to your guts and healing more to me so you hang in there. Again, ox bile helps. Eating a bit leaner in your day helps. Don’t concentrate and ‘add alot of fat’ to meat etc. and if required, take some OTC meds to help you thru your day if really required. It is ok to help ourselves thru this transition if it is a real deal in our face daily big issue.

hold strong. like others said, you keep the zc plan and your guts will come around and you should be ok. wishing you the best!


Morning everyone. I truly appreciate all of the input as I’ve embarked on this - there seems to be lots of strong feelings about this issues but it’s refreshing to see people who care and have a passion for getting healthier. The good news, is that it’s amazing what a day and a half can bring. The stool issue has shown great improvement - I believe, as pointed out by several, that it’s a “fat” and biome issue - at the same time, I’ve had some issues with electrolytes over the years so I’m a bit more paranoid about it than others so I just wanted to try and avoid that. I didn’t cut back on the salt, actually added some with an LMNT mix for water and I took one meal to “rest” a touch - beef liver sauteed in butter and some mackerel. I’m feeling great - one of the benefits this first 6 days has been that my sleep is amazing. I’ve gone from 4 hours of sleep a night to close to 7 hours. Keep sharing everyone - it really does help newbies like me and it is so appreciated!


good report back and happy you are getting some improvement!

you are so early. so new. you got tons of changes to hit ya and they will come at ya but key to carnivore…eat all you need, all your body is asking for whether it be a fatty meal, seafood, fish or a leaner meat day, but if the body says I want this, feed it that :slight_smile: a day and 1/2 sure can be a big change for us coming into a big plan like carnivore!!

ZC strong and rock on!!

(Megan) #15

Hi @JOE2, when I went carnivore I had intense watery diarrhea for at least 4 weeks, the kind it’s not safe to fart. I wasn’t eating super high fat carnivore, like some folks do, so it wasn’t b/c of that. I liberally salted to taste, drank to thirst, and just waited it out. I was told lots in my gut was adapting to no longer eating carbs, as well as other adaptations going on in my body. Then one day it just stopped and I moved into a once a day, small and very easy to pass.

I only did a couple of weeks keto before deciding to go carnivore, so it was a huge dietary change for my body to adjust to.

It may just be normal adaptation for you too, so if you’re basically feeling ok, try waiting it out.


Thanks so much Megan. 4 weeks must have seemed like an eternity! I came off a fairly low carbohydrate diet but was lower carb plants and was pretty low fat so I really think it’s this big uptick in fat. I guess one of my surprises about carnivore is that the “adaptation” period is so long. But I imagine there is some serious changes going on in the body. I’m taking it a day at a time and it makes it easier having folks like you out there who are here when I need ya :slight_smile:


for you :slight_smile: we are all so very individual truly. My adaption was massive short cause I came into this higher fat and extreme LC so who we are and how we come in…it is a very personal walk for each of us :slight_smile:

There are huge transitions happening in your body right now. So new to this change. Time rides it out!

(Joey) #18

Definitely, If you’re not being criticized, you’re missing an important opportunity. :wink:

(Joey) #19

:+1: Great to hear you’re feeling better!

Keep us all posted on your progress. :vulcan_salute:

(Ohio ) #20

Great book. The jaw dropping sentence goes like; your kidneys can filter through the RDA of sodium in 5 minutes.

I always add salt to my water. I also feel like sodium can be absorbed in the mouth very efficiently. The further I progress in keto/fat adaptation lifestyle, the more I rely on salt & magnesium supplements; and less on food itself.