How to get enough potassium on a keto diet?

I've been using Cronometer for 7 weeks now and I can't say enough good things about how awesome it's been to be able to track all my macros and nutrients. I just upgraded to gold and ran a nutrition report and one nutrient I've been chronically low on is potassium. Oracle showed me a list of foods high in potassium but even the best of those might give me 5% of my daily needs. Even most supplements are limited to 2% for some reason. How can I get more potassium into me?


  • @steel_horses

    The daily requirement for potassium is an "AI" or "Adequate Intake"; this is the amount of a nutrient that scientists believe is sufficient. An AI is set when there is not enough research to establish a more definitive nutrient requirement.

    All this to say is that nutrition scientists aren't 100% sure how much potassium we need to be healthy and prevent disease, but most professionals agree that the current level is likely higher than we need. In my practice, I ask people to aim for at least a 75% intake of potassium.

    Your best sources of potassium include:

    • Cooked swiss chard
    • Potatoes
    • Pumpkin
    • Cooked spinach
    • Canned tomato
    • Sweet potato
    • Bananas

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • @steel_horses I've read on a few keto forums that if you keep your sodium intake high enough, you shouldn't need to supplement with potassium since your body only dumps the potassium when your sodium levels drop too low. Keep the sodium levels up and the potassium levels stay up too. It is also fairly easy to overdo it on potassium (which is why supplements don't contain much potassium, I believe in the US it's actually a legal requirement by the FDA) and is a serious medical issue, unlike most other vitamins and minerals. So supplement with much caution and don't go too high.

    Keto forums tend to recommend using electrolytes or rehydration salts, or suggest making your own using Lo Salt (or similar low sodium salt) that replace the sodium with potassium.

    If you want to go down the whole foods route, here's a list of the 12 of the best food sources of potassium that I found online:

    (Percentages based on the recommended daily value of 4,700 milligrams for adult men and women.)

    White Beans (4) — 1 cup cooked: 1,004 milligrams
    Lima Beans (5) — 1 cup cooked: 955 milligrams
    Avocado (6) — 1 whole: 690 milligrams
    Broccoli (7) — 1 cup cooked: 458 milligrams
    Sweet Potato (8) — 1 medium: 438 milligrams
    Bananas (9) — 1 medium: 422 milligrams
    Salmon (10) — 3 ounces: 416 milligrams
    Peas (11) — 1 cup cooked: 384 milligrams
    Sardines (12) — 1 can/3.75 grams: 365 milligrams
    Grapefruit (13) — 1 whole: 354 milligrams
    Raw Milk (14) — 1 cup: 260 milligrams
    Grass-Fed Beef (15) — 3 ounces: 237 milligrams

  • I have a question about consuming all these potassium foods. For years I have eaten a plant-based diet with at least a couple of servings of fish a week. Thanks to Cronometer Gold I have completely re-set my diet for maximum health and am making much better informed food and portion size choices. That said, at my weight and height I can only consume 1,100 - 1,200 calories a day and I've learned to balance whole foods with whole-food vitamins to achieve the optimum results. Trying to get even 75% of potassium was a major challenge even on a plant-based diet. One day I tried getting my potassium up by ignoring all the other categories (which were for the most part doing quite well) and focusing solely on potassium-rich foods: banana, white beans, spinach, avocado, sweet potatoes AND potatoes, wild-caught salmon, etc. It seemed very wrong to eat so much starch but it didn't seem to do any harm. If I concentrate solely on potassium I can get up to 85 or 90% while still getting loads of other nutrients, including gobs of fiber (useful for digestion), but it's hard to imagine eating all of these things every day. Here are my questions:

    1. My annual blood tests showed normal potassium levels (4.1 on a 3.6-5.0 scale) even though my Cronometer intake at that time was averaging about 1400 mg/day (30% by Cronometer standards) over six months. How is it possible that 30% potassium intake resulted in normal blood potassium? My guesses are:
      a. 30% is actually enough and the recommended standards are too high
      b. Blood potassium is more than daily intake for some metabolic reason
      c. Cronometer is using a 2,000 calorie a day formula even though I only need 1,200 calories a day, so I should adjust my own requirements for each nutrient to fit my size and calorie consumption (60% of the standard maybe?)

    What's the real answer?

    1. I am a little concerned about the immense quantities of Vitamin A (close to 30,000 IU) I've gotten when trying to get potassium up . Eating that much on a daily basis seems risky for Vitamin A toxicity, but I understand that there are different absorption rates of Vit A depending on the form (my food-based form v. retinol). I've run into this issue even without trying for higher potassium, since I eat a lot of green salads. Should I worry about an upper limit for food-based Vitamin A?
  • @Lin

    You bring up some very important points.

    The first thing to keep in mind is that blood tests for vitamins and minerals are not always a good reference for nutrient adequacy. Case in point, calcium. Outside of disease, blood calcium will always be normal since bone is broken down if levels fall low. In the case of potassium, I wouldn't expect to see high levels unless someone suffered from kidney disease and were not able to excrete excessive amounts of this water soluble nutrient. Low potassium is tied to fluid loss in the body (i.e. dehydration from sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea).

    The requirement for potassium is an AI or "Adequate Intake"; this is the amount of a nutrient that nutrition scientists believe is sufficient based on the best available scientific information at the time. For potassium, the study that was used was correcting high blood pressure from a large dose of sodium.

    Most professionals agree that the current AI for potassium is higher than most people actually need. In my practice, I encourage people to aim for around 60-75% of the AI, depending on body size.

    When it comes to Vitamin A, there is no risk of toxicity from plant-based sources (known as carotenoids). I would only be concerned about excessive intake if it came from supplements or animal sources of vitamin A, such as liver.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Thanks so much for your insights, Susan. This is very helpful. So, a couple of short follow-up questions from what you're saying:

    What would 60-75% of AI based on body size look like? Would I take the standard AI for 2,000 calories a day (4,700 mg), adjust that to 60% to fit my 1,200-calorie diet (2,820 mg), then set my Cronometer targets for 60-75% of that adjusted AI number (1,692-2,115)?

    Also, should I be adjusting all of my nutrients to my body size caloric needs rather than taking the defaults in Cronometer? That would make my food balancing a lot less complicated. I already take half doses of some of my vitamins to balance out what I'm getting from food, so further adjusting them shouldn't be too hard.

  • Hello,

    Cronometer uses the Dietary Reference Intakes as a target in their database. These targets are specific to an individual's age, gender, and for females, whether or not she is pregnant.

    I recommend aiming for 100% of the target set out in Cronometer for each vitamin and mineral. This level of nutrient intake will meet the needs of 97-98% of the population. In the case of potassium, where it's okay to be under the DRI, I would aim for ~2800 (60%) to ~3500 (75%) of potassium per day.

    Hope this answers your question!

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Please bear with me, as I'm not sure I am understanding this correctly, Susan. Are you saying that we should all strive to meet 100% of Cronometer's vitamin and mineral targets as Cronometer has already adjusted them for age, gender, and state of pregnancy (except for potassium which is a special case), but our body size/mass has nothing to do with our intake? I.e., a woman my age who is 5'10" and 170 lb should have the exact same intake of vitamins and minerals as I do at 5'3" and 125 lb? This, like pain reliever dosage that is the same for everyone over 12, regardless of whether they weigh 50 pounds or 350, is counter-intuitive to me. But if that's really the recommendation then I will follow it. I just need that spelled out.

  • These are great questions, Lin! I’m 5’2” and 112 pounds, and have been wondering about many of the same issues. Thank you.

  • edited October 2017

    Correct me if I'm wrong but if they are based on RDA then they are not adjusted for an individual.

    RDA is an average to satisfy 97.5% of requirements for people of all ages, sizes and sex.

    "Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA), the daily dietary intake level of a nutrient considered sufficient by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine to meet the requirements of 97.5% of healthy individuals in each life-stage and sex group."

  • Looking at the foods with highest amounts of potassium there's no way I can get a high percentage of my RDA (>=75%) on keto without eating excessive carbs or calories. I just ordered some potassium citrate and will try to get my potassium intake up to that level (75%).

  • @Lin and @Foodie

    This is correct; nutrient requirements for vitamins and minerals do not change based on an individual's size.

    I will add the caveat that nutrient requirements are set for healthy populations. In Canada, obesity is considered a chronic disease similar to diabetes or heart disease. Thus, it's possible that an individual with such a disease state may need more (or less) of a specific nutrient.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Potassium chloride and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt added to your water. 1 and 1/2 liters Pure water. (I do 1 t. each.) Daily.

  • Hello Susan_RD_101,
    Where could I obtain a list of RDI?
    Thank you

    Cape Town, South Africa

  • Hi @EileenJ

    The RDAs are country specific. Canada and the US use the same values which is also what Cronometer uses. In your diary, you can see the RDA for your age and gender by clicking on the percentage bar.

    If you are looking for more detailed information, you can view this document:

    Note that RDAs and AIs are the amount we need to aim for each day as an individual. These can be found on the above document, starting on page 2.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Thank you Susan for info. Yes, we do have our South African RDAs which I suspect are not far removed from the US/Canadian numbers.

    Cape Town, South Africa

  • I would love to see an example of a meal plan that actually hits the potassium targets

  • @keepthebeet

    Our nutrient targets are tied to calories so I usually see those who require more calories (i.e. 2000+ calories per day) meeting the potassium target. A dietary pattern that mostly includes plants would be the easiest way to meet the target for potassium.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi, This is my first comment as I'm having the exact same issues. I am also just starting with primal diet (not quite as low carb as keto) and trying to lose a little weight. Its very difficult getting 100% of everything when your only eating 1200 calories a day. Mostly I'm managing but my potassium is averaging around 50% although my ratios are about right every day. Getting more potassium while eating very low carb (15% of calories) is damn near impossible when you are on a diet of 1200 calories. :(

  • @Pooch14

    It really is! I find it helpful to supplement with nutrients at risk/a multivitamin whenever I work with someone on a calorie-restricted diet.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Just a suggestion for those looking to increase their Potassium on Keto. 1 Cup of Beet Greens, cooked, has 1309 mg of Potassium and only 3.7g Net Carbs, and 3.7 g of Protein. Now I can't say how delicious they are...but it is an easy way to get your Potassium up with a plant based source with little Carb and Protein action.
    Also they have 220% the daily for Vitamin A (mostly in Beta-Carotene) and 871% in Vitamin K, and a decent amount of Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, and a bit of Iron. Stir-fry them with some bacon and your good to go. ;)

  • Yes, I have been trying to source beet greens in the UK (without the beets attached as I couldn't eat that many beets! i'd need to eat the greens every day as you are right, they are the best source. No one seems to sell just the greens in the UK :( I don't really have the space to grow my own (in the quantities I would need for eating every day. The UK rda for potassium is a lot less than the USA for some reason so although I am eating the same amount, my target is lower so it looks like I am getting a higher % lol.

  • Thank you for asking this, this has been worrying me! I'm following a plant based keto diet of around 1500 calories (although I need to get getting down to less ideally - I'm very sedentary due to M.E, although I'm not overweight). I eat 7+ loosely packed cups of leafy greens/veg per day. According to Dr Berg on Youtube, this should give you 4700mg of potassium (the RDA), but according to Cronometer, this only provides 50% of that amount! I've been eating 1500 calories for over a decade and although I wasn't keto, I assume now that I must have been deficient in potassium that entire time! It's really hard to meet your RDA on less than 2000 calories! But it seems then that if I'm getting 50%, I just need to up it a little more to get 60% and that should be okay?

  • Cream of Tartar. 1tsp=495mg Potash. Use with moderation to balance nutes if a little off.

    I am keto/OMAD and I find that when my main protein is Salmon for the day, a lot of the nutrient gauges balance out naturally. Of course, there is a good bit of veggies involved. Ultima electrolyte packets also help Potassium noticeably.

    I'm always on the hunt for better, natural sources of Potassium

  • I mentioned this in another post, but I still think its hilarious, so I'll post it again.

    I am following a ketogenic diet, so when I "ask the oracle" I uncheck the boxes for suggestions from fruit and other similarly high carb categories.

    When I asked about potassium its top recommendation was Pepsi One!

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