By Dr. Josh Axe
Can you take supplements on keto? Definitely, and there are many reasons why you should. Keto supplements offer benefits like helping you get into ketosis, supporting you while your body adjusts to running off of ketones, and offering support for appetite control.
Keto supplements — such as exogenous ketones, multivitamins with electrolytes, low-carb keto protein powders and MCT oil — might not be completely necessary to see results from the keto diet, but they can certainly go a long way in making the transition to a low-carb, high-fat lifestyle smoother.
Even if you choose to only follow the keto diet for several months, or to transition to something like carb cycling (aka cyclical ketogenic diet) after some time, you can continue using the same supplements mentioned below for benefits like immune system support, support for cognitive health, exercise recovery, and more.
What Are Keto Supplements?
Keto supplements are those that are taken most often by people following a very low-carb, very high fat ketogenic diet. We can consider supplements including exogenous ketones, electrolytes, MCTs and adaptogens to be keto supplements, even though they are sometimes taken by people following other diet plans, too.
The best keto supplements provide nutritional support while you are transitioning to ketosis. They can make it easier to get into ketosis and stay there (assuming you follow the diet correctly), and may also help support quality sleep, healthy digestion, and healthy energy levels.
What supplements should you take on a ketogenic diet? Among the best supplements to take while either starting or maintaining the keto lifestyle include: exogenous ketones like BHB salts, keto/bone broth protein, MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil, multi collagen protein, a keto multivitamin, digestive enzymes, ashwagandha, probiotics and turmeric.
Below you’ll find more about each one of these supplements and the unique advantages they offer.
Benefits (Why They Help)
Let’s take a closer look at why you may want to take supplements while on the keto diet …
If you’re new to the keto diet, you’ll be happy to know that certain keto supplements like exogenous ketones can come in handy. These are most often taken during the initial transition to a keto diet, especially while the body adjusts to its new fuel source.
The ketogenic diet is unlike many other diet plans, even other low-carb diets, because it changes the actual fuel source that your body runs off of. Rather than using glucose from carbohydrates for energy, you start burning fat on the keto diet for fuel.
This sounds simple, but it does take your body some time and effort to make this metabolic switch, which can wind up causing some temporary adjustments in the body.
These tend to occur during the first 1-2 weeks of someone starting the keto diet, and minimizing these sometimes unpleasant adjustments is one of the most compelling reasons to use keto supplements.
Regardless of how long you’ve been eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, taking keto diet supplements has the potential to help you in some of the following ways:
- Can support you in getting into ketosis and producing your own ketones. You can use keto supplements like exogenous ketones when first beginning the diet, or to jump back into ketosis if you’ve taken a break.
- Can help boost energy levels and athletic performance
- Supports a healthy metabolism and healthy weight management
- Can boost cognitive performance
- Provides important electrolytes which assist in keeping you hydrated
- Can help support a healthy appetite and reduced cravings
- Along with an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, may help support weight loss if that’s your primary goal
- Assists healthy digestion of fats
- Supports joint comfort
Top Keto Supplements
1. Exogenous Ketones
How do you get into ketosis fast? Ideally you follow a strict keto diet correctly, plus take exogenous ketones for additional support.
Exogenous (which means “outside”) ketones are supplements that provide you with an instant source of ketones, usually in the form of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), helping to support ketosis and giving you more energy. Ketone powders or salts can be used pre-workout, between meals or while you’re fasting to keep you on track.
Ancient Nutrition’s Keto FIRE supplement features three kinds of powerful exogenous ketones in one blend, including Magnesium Beta-Hydroxybutyrate, Calcium Beta-Hydroxybutyrate and Sodium Beta-Hydroxybutyrate that work together with other ingredients to support natural ketone and energy levels in the body.
2. Protein Powder from Bone Broth (or One That’s Keto-Based)
If you’re looking for keto supplements for healthy weight management, consider getting a quality protein powder, such as one made from bone broth.
In addition to an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, protein powder is great for controlling your appetite and providing amino acids. An added bonus is that quality keto protein and bone broth protein powders — including Ancient Nutrition’s Keto Protein — may also provide electrolytes, MCT oil and other beneficial compounds, such as collagen or glucosamine. These are included to help support gut health, joint comfort, and more.
If you’re shopping for general protein powders that are not specific to the keto diet, make sure to pay attention to the carbs and sugar content (look for those that use stevia or monk fruit as natural keto-friendly sweeteners).
You can also look for a keto protein powder that includes ingredients like moderate caffeine and herbs that can support you during workouts and help make the product easier to digest.
If you're a vegan, consider a plant-based keto protein.
3. Multi Collagen
While many people might turn to the keto diet for help with weight management, this is far from the only health perk that’s associated with ketosis. If you’re looking to support a healthy gut and the health of your skin, hair and nails, then supplementing with collagen protein is wise.
Collagen is the most abundant type of protein found in the human body, helping to form connective tissue, promote skin health and holding the body together like glue.
Look for a keto-friendly collagen powder that is free of added sugar and is low in carbs. Because collagen is unflavored, use some in keto smoothies, on its own, mixed into “fat bombs,” with coffee, etc.
4. MCT Oil
MCT oil, which is a concentrated source of “medium-chain triglycerides,” is one of the most popular supplements to help you stay in ketosis, supporting goals such as healthy weight management.
Because MCTs are a type of fat that can be used readily for energy, they’re helpful for producing ketones, managing appetite, keeping your energy up, and even boosting endurance and physical performance.
Use MCT oil on its own by swallowing a tablespoon, or add some to your coffee, smoothie, etc. Additionally, you can take MCT oil capsules and get some MCTs from eating coconut oil.
Ancient Nutrition’s Keto FUSION Organic MCT Oil Turmeric has the added bonus of featuring curcumin and turmerones, along with caprylic and capric acids that together support a healthy metabolism.
Another MCT oil product worth considering is called Keto BRAIN, a "cognitive performance fuel" with a combination of six nootropics and MCT fitness fats.
5. Keto Multivitamin
When you’re following a strict keto diet it can seem challenging to get enough essential vitamins, minerals and fiber on a daily basis, considering you’re reducing the variety of foods you eat. While non-starchy vegetables should still be making a regular appearance on your plate, taking a multivitamin is a good choice for ensuring your nutritional needs are being met.
The keto diet often also causes the kidneys to excrete extra water, sodium and other electrolytes at an accelerated pace. Good quality multivitamins such as Ancient Nutrition’s Keto Multi can support electrolyte balance, since they provide minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium.
As an alternative to taking vitamin capsules, you can also use a powdered green drink that contains electrolytes, some fiber, antioxidants and functional ingredients like spirulina and chlorella. In addition to taking a multi, be sure to get enough sodium (another electrolyte) by adding some real sea salt to your meals, and drink plenty of water.
You can eat the healthiest diet in the world, but if you’re battling chronic stress on a daily basis, your health is still going to suffer. This is where adaptogen herbs — which include ashwagandha and others like rhodiola or astragalus — come into play.
Ashwagandha can help your body respond to stress in a healthy way, thereby supporting healthy weight management, sleep quality and overall outlook. Ashwagandha not only supports healthy metabolism, but it may even help you to build muscle strength and recover from workouts,
The most popular form of ashwagandha is the root extract, but leaf extracts are also available in capsule and powder forms. Many supplements recommend between 1,000-1,500 milligrams per day as a full dosage (or potentially even higher). However, you should always read and follow product label directions as well as consult your healthcare professional prior to starting any dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplements.
7. Fat Digestive Enzymes
Given the fact that the keto diet is very high in fat, digestive enzymes that help you properly digest fats are some of the best supplements to take on keto. Enzymes can be especially helpful if you’re transitioning from a diet that previously didn’t include much fat, or if you have a history of having trouble digesting fats for other reasons.
Look for a product that contains multiple types of enzymes including lipase, which is made by your pancreas and secreted into your small intestine. After mixing with bile, it helps digest fats and triglycerides into fatty acids, so it’s needed to digest fat-containing foods like dairy products, nuts, oils, eggs and meat.
Ancient Nutrition’s Keto DIGEST formula is a great option if you’re looking for benefits such as promotion of regular bowel function, help maintaining an already healthy immune system, support for normal gastrointestinal balance of gut bacteria, and support for normal absorption and assimilation of nutrients in the gut.
Whether you’re on a low-carb diet or not, probiotics are multi-functional supplements that can support overall health in many ways. Taking a quality probiotic supplement is a great way to support the health of your gut microflora and digestive and immune system health, but there are some specifics you’ll want to be aware of when purchasing one.
Here are important things to consider when buying a keto-focused probiotic supplement:
- Purchase from a reputable probiotic brand that has a high number of probiotics, from 15 billion to 100 billion.
- Look for strains like Bacillus coagulans, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus clausii and other cultures.
- Purchase a formula that contains both prebiotics and other ingredients designed to support digestion and healthy immunity.
- Find a supplement that is kept cold in order to preserve its potency, or a shelf-stable product that contains soil-based organisms.
It's worth considering a pH balancing supplement as well, to aid in the adaptation to a keto lifestyle and to support acid/alkaline balance within the body.
When it comes to promoting a healthy immune response, turmeric is a fan favorite and one of the most well-researched supplements on the market. If you’re not familiar with turmeric, it’s an orange spice native to India that contains the active ingredient called curcumin, which has far-reaching benefits such as support for healthy metabolic function, joint comfort and much more.
You can take turmeric in capsule form, use turmeric essential oil, or add fresh/dried turmeric to turmeric tea, eggs, soups, marinades, or low-carb coatings for chicken, meat, etc.
10. Fiber Supplement
"Net carbs" are essential to understand when following the keto diet. Essentially, net carbs are total carb grams minus fiber grams. As a result, a fiber supplement can reduce the overall net carb total.
Additionally, most Americans get only about half the fiber they should consume daily, getting only 18g to 20g of fiber a day, when many experts recommend getting about 35g to 40g. For some keto dieters, constipation can occur, giving you another reason to consider a keto-based fiber supplement.
- Why take keto supplements when you’re making the switch to a low-carb lifestyle? Benefits of keto supplements include: help dealing with the transition into ketosis, support getting into and staying in ketosis, help with obtaining essential nutrients, support managing cravings and a healthy appetite, digestive support and more.
- The best supplements to take on keto include: exogenous ketones, keto/bone broth protein, MCT oil, multi collagen, a keto multivitamin, digestive enzymes, ashwagandha, probiotics, fiber supplement and turmeric.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet and Collagen Diet.