As you’ve learned in many of my previous blog articles, adapting your body to burn fat is just that…an adaptation…a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t look exactly the same for every body. Your experience may look different than mine, and may require different strategies. Today I want to talk a little bit about supplements that can help enhance your fat burning experience. There are some recommendations around electrolytes and minerals, as well as some of my top suggestions for supplements and strategies to help your body learn to burn fat more effectively.
Salt (NaCl) = Sodium chloride which is about 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride. If you are eating a whole food diet and very little in the way of packaged foods you are likely in need of more sodium. Add 3-5 grams of salt to your food throughout the day. If that sounds excessive don’t worry it is less than 1 tsp.
Potassium (K) Daily intake should definitely not go below 3,000 mgs for those on a low carb diet. While the government has declared the AI (Adequate Intake) of potassium to be 4,700 mg a day. Potassium is thought to be a widespread deficiency, and lower carb foods don’t contain as much as potatoes but here are some suggestions: avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens, salmon, mushrooms, clams, beef, and sunflower/pumpkin seeds. Some supplementation is advised for many but watch out for medication interactions.
Magnesium (Mg) is another widespread deficiency associated with the modern diet. Many people already supplement with a variety of forms of magnesium from cheaper magnesium oxide to magnesium citrate, malate, threonate etc etc. Questions about the best absorbable form can go on and on but just be sure to get at least the RDA of 400mg. Those already dealing with diarrhea or taking a diuretic should probably avoid taking extra as higher doses of magnesium have a laxative effect – which is not good for mineral balance.
L-Carnitine – Like the name sounds this can be found in meats so you’re likely getting some but supplementing up to 3 grams a day can greatly enhance the mitochondrial potential to burn fat for fuel. This doesn’t mean it will make you skinnier (weight loss studies have been a bust) but it will help you create energy from fat more efficiently. That is what the mitochondria are all about: ENERGY. This is known as the carnitine shuttle and is what the image above is illustrating.
Multi-Vitamin & Mineral – I see this as a solution to filling the gaps in one’s personal nutrition. Quality matters so don’t buy the cheapest at the big box store. Look for a professional brand without a bunch of additives and coloring.
EFA’s – Essential fatty acids are called essential because you absolutely need them through diet as your body cannot make them. If you are eating fatty quality fish several times a week or all your animal protein is free range and grass fed you likely don’t require a supplement. I recommend liquid EFA’s in a dark glass bottle over capsules as you would not be able to know if the oil has gone rancid. Rancid oil is really bad by the way.
Some people will struggle with digestive upset when embarking on a higher protein or higher fat diet program. Some of you may already be struggling with digestive issues. These often come down to carbohydrate tolerance levels, inability to process fats, difficulty breaking down proteins, and oftentimes just poor digestive hygiene (mindful relaxed well chewed meals). Low or elevated levels of fluids or dietary fibers also have massive effects on digestion. Here are some supplement recommendations to help out.
Bile salts and Lipases – Lipids (fats) are broken down in the intestines into smaller particles for optimum absorption. This is done through the action of lipases, which are enzymes that target lipids, or the dietary fats that has been emulsified (turned into tiny droplets) by the bile released from the gallbladder. Many people have gallbladder dysfunction and can benefit from supplementing with bile salts which can often be found in supplements including other digestive enzymes such as lipases. If you need recommendations around these products, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to help out.
ProBiotics – Certain species of “good bacteria” can take a hit when changing carb/protein/fat ratios. These colonies helped you process those foods and others are not there to help you process your newer choices. The human gut microbiome is constantly in flux and bacterial and other microbial colonies rise and fall according to the substrate they are fed. Some people find that taking a probiotic blend can help their digestive tract while they adjust to a new way of eating.
Remember, adapting your body to burn fat is a process. You are teaching your body a whole new way of digesting and using nutrients. With the help of some of these supplements and additions, you can be well on your way to making your transition as comfortable and easy as possible. As always, please reach out if you have any questions or if you would like to work with me to get on the right track.
-Dr. Jerome Craig