As we know in the 4 Hour Body Tim recommends supplementing “The Slow Carb Diet” with Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.
Today, I want to spend some time talking about Potassium, because this is a topic that is extremely confusing. When I was constructing my “Listmania for slow-carb diet supplements” on Amazon I was overwhelmed and confused by how many options there were. I prescribe potassium chloride often in the form of K-Dur, and I usually write for 20 mEq tabs. This is not available over the counter.
I have recommended over the counter potassium many times but have always been confused about the mg to mEq conversions. This is important, whether you are supplementing a low carb diet or using supplemental potassium for medical reasons.
Because low potassium (hypokalemia) is rare, there is no RDA or RNI for this mineral. However, it is thought that 1600 to 2000 mg (40 to 50 milliequivalents [mEq]) per day for adults is adequate.
- The total amount of potassium that you get every day includes what you get from food and what you may take as a supplement. Read the labels of processed foods. Many foods now have added potassium.
- Your total intake of potassium should not be greater than the recommended amounts, unless ordered by your doctor. In some cases, too much potassium may cause muscle weakness, confusion, irregular heartbeat, or difficult breathing.
A brief internet search on different types of potassium produced a lot of articles on Livestrong, which confused me even more. Plus, I don’t know if I should trust Lance anymore.
So I am going to save you time, this is what you really need to know: I have concluded, that in essence, your two main over the counter potassium TABLET options (Potassium Citrate and Potassium Gluconate) contain the same 3% daily allowance of potassium or roughly 2.53 mEq of potassium.
*This is despite the very confusing mg dosing on the bottles.
When you arrive at the vitamin isle there are several options but these are the two most common. I have included the prescription form (potassium chloride) as well for comparison.
- Over the counter Potassium Gluconate: Potassium Gluconate 550 mg or 595 mg Tablet
- Over the counter Potassium Citrate: Potassium Citrate 99 mg Capsules
- Prescription Potassium Chloride: Usually 20 mEq
To make this even more confusing you can find the above options in various different mg presentations. The supplement makers make very little effort to clarify the actual mEq of potassium. In fact I couldn’t find one that did. This is annoying, and makes me wonder who the heck is behind he packaging of these.
Anyway here is my breakdown:
- Potassium Gluconate (sold over the counter): A slightly more complex molecule than potassium chloride. It is roughly two times bigger than potassium chloride. Potassium gluconate is a loosely bound salt of potassium and gluconic acid. Gluconic acid is formed when glucose is oxidized. Because the bond between the potassium and the gluconate is so loose, the molecule dissolves easily in water.
- Potassium gluconate contains 4.3mEq per 1000mg
- OTC Potassium Gluconate 595mg/550mg is equivalent to roughly 2.53 mEq K+. If the bottle says 99mg Potassium Gluconate it is the same as the 595mg/550mg tab…Just labeled for confusion!
- Potassium Citrate (sold over the counter): Potassium citrate is produced by adding potassium bicarbonate or potassium carbonate to a solution of citric acid until effervescence ceases, filtering the solution and evaporating to granulation.
- Potassium citrate contains 9.8mEq per 1000mg
- It is sold over the counter as 99 mg but actually contains the same 3% daily value as the potassium gluconate (from 258.6 mg Potassium Citrate) is equivalent to the same 2.53 mEq of Potassium .
- Potassium Chloride: The chemical compound potassium chloride (KCl) is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. Orally, potassium chloride is toxic in excess; If given intravenously it is used to stop someones heart, just think the death penalty here!
- Potassium chloride contains 13.4mEq per 1000mg. K-lyte is Potassium chloride.
Of note: on Amazon you will find potassium iodide (think Chernobyl) and powdered forms of all of the above. This can be a good options if you need higher doses. For example one teaspoon of potassium gluconate powder is equal to 540mg, or again, roughly 2.53 mEq.
So how much potassium is in the elusive potassium rich banana?
Whole Food Sources of Potassium:
Here is Tim’s list of slow-carb options, in descending order of concentration.
Tim’s recommendation of potassium: 4,700 mg per day recommended for an average, healthy 25-year-old male.
- Lima beans, cooked, 4.9 cups (1 cup = 969 mg)
- Chard, cooked, 4.9 cups (1 cup = 961 mg)
- Halibut, cooked, 2.6 fillets (half a fillet = 916 mg)
- Spinach, cooked, 5.6 cups (1 cup = 839 mg)
- Pinto beans, cooked, 6.3 cups (1 cup = 746 mg)
- Lentils, cooked, 6.4 cups (1 cup = 731 mg)
- Salmon, cooked, 3.4 fillets (half a fillet = 683 mg)
- Black beans, cooked, 7.7 cups (1 cup = 611 mg)
- Sardines, 7.9 cups (1 cup = 592 mg)
- Mushrooms, cooked, 8.5 cups (1 cup = 555 mg)
Here is a more comprehensive list from the Mayo Clinic:
|Acorn squash, cooked|
|Potato with skin, baked|
|Kidney beans, cooked|
|Split peas, cooked|
|White navy beans, cooked|
|Butternut squash, cooked|
|Yogurt, low-fat, plain|
|Orange juice, frozen|
|Brussel sprouts, cooked|
|Zucchini, cooked, sliced|
|Collards, frozen, cooked|
|Milk, low-fat 1%|
|Broccoli, frozen, cooked|
I posted another list a while back here.
So there you have it. I hope I haven’t confused you more.
I created a pre-assembled slow carb diet supplement list on Amazon. This includes PAGG in combination with the 3 essential electrolytes, my choice of fish oil and vitamin D.
I will be discussing magnesium and calcium in a later post. Until then… Happy Slow Carb!