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science nutrition blog

science nutrition <strong>blog</strong>

By Steve Blechman


Is there a connection between low levels of potassium and belly fat? A new potassium weight loss study was published in the journal Nutrients on June 2, 2019, and shows that decreased body mass index (BMI) could be obtained by increasing dietary potassium to help encourage weight loss. The researchers in the study acknowledged that, “It is notable that the increase in dietary potassium was a stronger predictor of weight loss in this study than such well-established factors as a reduction in sugar consumption and in overall caloric intake.”

The researchers stated, “Dietary consumption of potassium in the general population in Western countries appears to be substantially lower than the Dietary Recommended Intake (DRI) of ≥4.7 g.[grams.]”

There is evidence that low dietary potassium intake may negatively be linked to obesity. A meta-analysis and epidemiological data reported that, “studies concluded that high potassium intake was associated with a decreased odds ratio for having obesity and the MS [metabolic syndrome.]” (Nutrients, 2016)

The researchers acknowledge, “The mechanisms through which higher dietary potassium may facilitate weight loss remain elusive. Putative effects might involve a reduction in inflammation and improvement in insulin sensitivity, subtle effects on serum potassium which modulate energy balance or neural routes which depend on gut sensing of potassium with beneficial effects on fat deposition/mobilization or energy balance.” (Nutrients, June 2, 2019; Nutrients, 2016; Am J Clinical Nutrition, 2014; Semin Nephrol, 2013)

Low-carb diets enhance the excretion of important electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium. Low-carb, ketogenic diets have a diuresis effect enhancing water and electrolyte mineral losses. Also, low-carb and ketogenic diets restrict the intake of fruits, which are rich in potassium. The best vegetable sources of foods, rich in potassium, on a ketogenic diet are spinach, nuts and avocados.

AML™ THERMO HEAT® FAT BURNING PROTEIN contains 750mg of potassium (from potassium citrate). In addition, 100mg of magnesium (from magnesium citrate) is included in each serving. Potassium citrate may help preserve lean body mass during dieting by reducing blood acidity in those following a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Also, recent research has shown that potassium citrate can help prevent kidney stones in those people following a low-carb or ketogenic diet! A study presented March 16th and March 17, 2019 in New Orleans at the Annual American College of Cardiology 68th Annual Scientific Sessions showed that low-carb diets can raise the risk of heart rhythm disorders like atrial fibrillation, in susceptible individuals. The loss of potassium and depletion of other electrolytes such as magnesium has an enormous effect on the functioning of the heart. Low serum potassium and magnesium is associated with higher risk of atrial fibrillation.

Increased potassium and magnesium intake promotes vasodilation by increasing nitric oxide and prostacyclin, leading to improved blood flow, endothelial function and lower blood pressure. Potassium and magnesium citrate have the capacity to bolster cardiovascular performance for improved endurance. Furthermore, potassium and magnesium citrate have been shown to improve exercise performance by buffering lactic acid buildup in muscle, further improving exercise performance, power and strength. Potassium and magnesium citrate act as a blood buffer by increasing pH in the extracellular environment and increasing the gradient between the blood and active muscle.

Magnesium is a mineral involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions. It promotes protein synthesis, regulates energy production, oxygen uptake, central nervous system function, electrolyte balance, glucose metabolism, insulin function and muscle activity, including the heart. Low potassium and magnesium levels may cause muscle cramps. A low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can also increase acid load in the blood. Urinary magnesium levels, urinary citrate and pH are decreased. Hyperacidity can cause chronic acidosis and enhance muscle protein breakdown and bone loss. Intense training and adequate potassium and magnesium citrate might protect against metabolic acidosis in athletes consuming large amounts of protein. As carb intake decreases, electrolytes are increasingly excreted from the body in the urine. Sodium is an electrolyte too, but you get all the sodium you need from your diet. In fact, most people get too much sodium intake in the diet. Too much salt in your diet can cause increase of hypertension, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

During the summer months, important electrolytes potassium and magnesium may be lost due to working out in the heat! Highly active people may develop magnesium and potassium deficiencies because of excess losses in sweat and urine! It is important to stay hydrated during the hot weather. You should also have adequate amounts of potassium and magnesium in your diet. 


  1. Increment in Dietary Potassium Predicts Weight Loss in the Treatment of the Metabolic Syndrome Brurya Tal, Jessica Sack, Marianna Yaron, Gabi Shefer, Assaf Buch, Limor Ben Haim, Yonit Marcus, Galina Shenkerman, Yael Sofer, Lili Shefer, Miri Margaliot and Naftali Stern. Nutrients June 2,2019, 11(6), 1256;
  1. Cai, X.; Li, X.; Fan, W.; Yu, W.; Wang, S.; Li, Z.; Scott, E.M.; Li, X. Potassium and Obesity/Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Epidemiological Evidence. Nutrients March 25, 2016, 183, 8. 
  1. Shin, D.; Joh, H.K.; Kim, K.H.; Park, S.M. Benefits of potassium intake on metabolic syndrome: The fourth Korean national health and nutrition examination survey (KNHANES IV). Atherosclerosis September 30, 2013, 230, 80-85. 
  1. Murakami, K.; Livingstone, M.B.; Sasaki, S.; Uenishi, K. Ability of self-reported estimates of dietary sodium, potassium and protein to detect an association with general and abdominal obesity: Comparison with the estimates derived from 24 h urinary excretion. Br J Nutr April 28, 2015, 113, 1308–1318. 
  1. Lee, J.; Hwang, S.S.; Kim, S.; Chin, H.J.; Han, J.S.; Heo, N.J. Potassium intake and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome: The Korean national health and nutrition examination survey 2008-2010. PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e55106. 
  1. Jain, N.; Minhajuddin, A.T.; Neeland, I.J.; Elsayed, E.F.; Vega, G.L.; Hedayati, S.S. Association of urinary sodium-to-potassium ratio with obesity in a multiethnic cohort. Am J Clin Nutr 2014, 99, 992-998.
  1. Youn, J.H. Gut sensing of potassium intake and its role in potassium homeostasis. Semin Nephrol 2013, 33, 248-256.

Effect of high potassium diet on endothelial function. Blanch N, et al. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 24, Issue 9, 983-989.

  1. Potassium-rich diet and risk of stroke: Updated meta-analysis. D'Elia L, et al. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 24, Issue 6, 585-587 
  1. Empiric use of Oral Potassium Citrate Reduces Symptomatic Kidney Stone Incidence with the Ketogenic Diet. McNally MA, Pyzik PL, Rubenstein JE, Hamdy RF, Kossoff EH. Pediatrics. 2009;124(2):e300-e304 doi:10.1542/peds.2009-0217