Common Mistakes When on a Keto Diet
The ketogenic diet has been growing in popularity over the last several years. People are going keto to lose weight, to manage chronic conditions, and to boost their performance. And with more people joining the keto community, we can expect more talk of the keto diet and ways to follow it in the media. Unfortunately, this often leads to a lot of misinformation being shared and mistakes being made.
But making mistakes due to being poorly informed will not only sabotage your success, it can also jeopardize your health. That's why it's important to learn as much as you can about proper ways to follow low-carbohydrate diets such as keto. To err on the side of caution, here are some mistakes people commonly make when on a keto diet and that you can avoid.
1. Not Eating Enough Fat
Decades of talk that dietary fat was the reason behind the obesity epidemic and heart attacks have led many to shun it and avoid it. Developing a new attitude towards this essential nutrient can be tough, and you may unintentionally avoid eating too much out of fear. But if you don't eat enough fat on a keto diet, you'll be in a severe caloric deficit, which can leave you feeling lightheaded, weak, and restless.
If you're on a 2000-calorie keto diet, then you need to get at least 65% of those calories from a variety of fats. That's around 150g of fat daily. Good sources of healthful fats include avocados, butter, olive oil, walnuts, macadamia nuts, bacon, pork rinds, Swiss cheese, and coconut milk.
2. Not Eating Enough Vegetables
Because all vegetables contain carbs, many keto dieters tend to eat too little for fear of going over their daily carbohydrate limit. Unfortunately, they also risk nutrient deficiencies and not eating enough gut-benefiting fiber. The trick is to eat low-carb or high-fat vegetables and watch your portions. Using websites like USDA Food Composition Database, SELF Nutrition, and apps like MyFitnessPal can help you keep your carb intake on track.
And as far as the choices of keto-friendly vegetables go, know that you have many options to choose from. Avocados are among the top keto vegetables to enjoy, containing around 2g net carbs in a 100g of raw produce. Other vegetables to include are broccoli, cauliflower, celery stalks, zucchini, kale, and cucumbers, all of which have fewer than 5g net carbs in a 100g serving.
3. Obsessing Over Numbers
From the numbers of carbs in your meals to the numbers on your scale and your ketone levels, there are many measurements that keto dieters can end up obsessing over. Yes, the ketogenic diet does involve lots of planning and measuring, but your end goal is to eat intuitively at some point in your diet. This will not only make your diet easier on you but also enjoyable. So, how does one actually go about this problem?
First, know that fluctuations in ketone levels and weight are normal and to be expected on a keto diet. Secondly, focus on getting enough fat and your chances of overeating on carbs will drop significantly. Establishing an eating routine with the help of weekly meal plans will also keep you on the right track without you having to think about food too much. And as far as measuring your weight-loss goes, throw the scale away and let your mirror be the judge.
4. Not Enough Electrolytes
The ketogenic diet is known to deplete glycogen stores, which subsequently leads to frequent urination. One of the consequences of increased urine output on a keto diet is electrolyte imbalances. Three electrolytes that are most problematic when starting keto are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you develop imbalances in these electrolytes, you will develop symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps, brain fog, and irritability.
To prevent and counteract electrolyte imbalances, Dr. Stephen Phinney, a keto diet expert and founder of Virta Health recommends taking 3-5g of sodium, 3-4g of potassium, and 300-500mg of magnesium. You can get these from table salt, bouillon cubes, vegetables, and electrolyte supplements. Also, make sure to balance out your electrolytes intake with your fluids intake since both are interdependent.
5. Not Watching Calories
You'll often come across claims that the keto diet does not necessitate calorie restriction to cause weight loss. This is simply not true. For any diet to work, the amount of calories you are taking in needs to be lower than the calories you're burning. Where keto does shine is in making calorie restriction easy because it suppresses appetite and in helping burn 400-600 calories through metabolic processes necessary to maintain ketosis.
What this all means is that keto is likely going to lead to you eating less, so you won't need to put too much thought into calorie restriction. But if you're an emotional eater or find that the keto diet is not curbing your hunger, then keeping a watch on your calorie intake is wise. Again, diet apps help with this.
6. Eating Too Much Protein
Another problem with restricting carbohydrates to less than 10% of your daily calories is that it's easy to go overboard with protein. There are two reasons this can be problematic on keto. First, too much dietary protein is linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, cancer, liver disorders, and arteriosclerosis. And secondly, too much protein can increase your blood glucose levels through gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic pathway that converts protein into glucose.
To avoid eating too much protein, focus on eating high-fat meat, fish, and dairy and avoid lean and skimmed products. Examples of food to include are sardines, minced beef, pork belly, and chicken thighs. Other foods with moderate protein content include eggs, nuts, seeds, berries, and keto vegetables.
7. Not Fasting
Skipping meals occasionally is acceptable and even good on a keto diet. What this does is deplete your glycogen stores, cause drops in blood glucose, and boosts ketone production. While you can definitely achieve deep ketosis with diet alone, most people benefit from an occasional fast. Studies have even found that fasting helps with weight loss and even increase longevity.
The most popular way to fast on keto is intermittently. Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you fast for a defined period of time, usually 8-16 hours, and eat food within a feeding window. Having your last meal at 8 PM, skipping breakfast, and eating again in the afternoon is considered IF.
Mistakes are common on any diet, but they're more frequent on restrictive diets such as keto. This diet, which reduces carbs to fewer than 50g per day, is difficult to follow. And if you listen to wrong advice and follow the diet incorrectly, you will fail on this diet miserably.
Make sure to keep these 7 common keto diet mistakes in mind if you plan on starting your keto diet journey. Learn from others' mistakes and your chances of succeeding become greater.