Keto Diet And Palpitations

keto diet and palpitations

Some people do experience palpitations when they start on a keto diet. Palpitations are a common effect of the transition from carbohydrates to fats. So basically, the heart rate increases during ketosis. If you are on a keto diet, you should know a few things about heart palpitations, their causes, how to remedy and prevent them in the future.

What are Heart Palpitations?

Palpitations can be felt as a racing heartbeat or the sensation of a beating heart. There are several possible causes of palpitations, including stress, intense exercise, caffeine, hormonal conditions and medications. There are also causes that may be of medical concern, especially if you have increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. A condition called atrial fibrillation may also be a cause. So if you’re experiencing palpitations, it’s important to follow up with your doctor or cardiologist, even if you think it’s related to your keto transition. 

In the context of a keto diet, palpitations are one of the many symptoms of the “keto flu” and include a variety of unpleasant side effects that can occur when your body transitions from using glucose (sugar/carbohydrates) for energy to using fat for energy. Other common side effects include constipation, bad breath, muscle cramps (especially leg cramps), and fatigue.

Causes of Palpitations on Keto Diet

When adapting to keto, heart palpitations are major because of dehydration or a mineral deficiency. Here’s why:


When reducing carbohydrate intake on a low-carb diet, your body produces a small amount of insulin and uses its glycogen stores. When this happens, your body excretes more water along with the glycogen (which is why you tend to lose water weight quickly on a keto diet). The rapid loss of water can lead to dehydration, and dehydration can inspire heart palpitations.

Mineral Deficiency

So when you reduce your carbohydrate intake from a lot of carbohydrates to almost no carbohydrates, you produce a small amount of insulin (insulin processes the glucose in carbohydrates). Since you have a small amount of insulin in your system, your kidneys will excrete more sodium, which can throw your basic electrolytes out of balance. The main three electrolytes that can be lost during the transition to ketosis are sodium, potassium and magnesium, which are important for your heart health. They help regulate blood pressure levels.  Potassium and magnesium are essential minerals for excitability and contraction of the heart muscles.

Signs and Symptoms that you have Heart palpitations

If you’re on a keto diet and you can’t figure out what’s going on with you. There are several signs that can help you figure out the problem and indicate that your heart is racing:

  • Pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Brain fog and confusion
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dehydration

If the palpitations occur occasionally and disappear instantly, they are not a serious threat. In most cases, they go away quickly. If they recur, a doctor should be consulted.

How to Prevent Keto-related Palpitations?

The palpitations associated with keto are usually short-term and only occur when you transition to a keto high-fat diet. This is when your electrolytes are most likely to become unbalanced. This means that as you regulate and enter ketosis, these symptoms should resolve. However, part of regulation is bringing your electrolytes into balance, and there are very simple ways to do this:

Drink salted water

If dehydration is the cause, then hydration is the cure. Add Himalayan salt (a pinch) to your water; this will help maintain your essential mineral balance and may also prevent keto flu symptoms as your body adjusts to the new power source. You can also drink a little pickle juice for quick relief!

Snack on magnesium and potassium-rich vegetables

Cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and leafy greens are all keto-friendly vegetables that contain these important minerals. 

Consider taking a magnesium supplement to keep magnesium levels up

Magnesium is a mineral that most of us are deficient in and can be difficult to obtain from our diet alone, as modern soils are often depleted of magnesium (from pesticides and over-farming). Therefore, taking magnesium supplements can give you peace of mind that you are getting enough magnesium, especially if you are in ketosis and lead an active lifestyle, which can easily deplete magnesium.

Bottome Line

While experiencing heart palpitations on keto can be unsettling, know that once your body adapts to ketones for energy, it will pass. If you are unfortunate enough to experience this, remember to drink water throughout the day and keep your minerals balanced; balanced electrolytes help maintain normal heart muscle contractions and rhythms. If you have any serious symptoms, talk to your doctor about the situation.

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