The ketogenic diet is definitely one of the most effective diets to manage weight and improve your overall health. But it can also be somewhat restrictive. This is not an eating style that you can half follow on the go. In order to burn fat and to get these magical health benefits, you need to go all in. And I know this from experience.
You may be deep in the keto diet for weeks now, but the weight doesn’t seem to move at all. You may be enjoying the morning bacon for months, but you don’t understand what’s the fuzz about the keto-flu? You don’t experience any flu symptoms. Or maybe you have enjoyed your first weeks of weight drop an increase in mental performance but the progress seems to be plateaued. What’s going on?
When these things happen, it can be very frustrating and it’s easy to start believing that keto doesn’t work or it’s just not for you. While mistakes are usually a good thing to learn from, in the ketogenic world, they can result in experiencing keto-flu over and over again. This will make the whole process way more painful than it needs to be.
Here are 7 common mistakes that are often overlooked so you can start burning fat again and enjoy the process.
1. Not eating enough fats
The keto diet is a high-fat diet. What a surprise, right? One of the hardest adjustments for newcomers is often making sure to get enough fats daily. This can be far harder than it seems in the first place.
You probably aren’t used to consuming fat in such large amounts, but this is required to enter and stay in ketosis. During the keto diet, 75% of your calories need to come from fats. From sources like salmon, bacon, and butter, to name a few. You’re probably used to avoiding fats as much as possible but now, the tables have turned. Fat is an awesome energy source–it removes carbs and helps you to enjoy ketosis.
2. Eating too much protein
At first glance, this seems to be a harmful thing to do. What bad can come from eating clean protein sources? Protein itself is not bad. The problem occurs when we eat too much of it. If our bodies have excessive protein, then the metabolic process called gluconeogenesis (GNG) starts. This is a process which converts excess protein into glycogen and keeps your body in a carb burning state. In simple terms, your body is smart enough, that it will turn excess protein into glycogen, that is a fast energy source for your body. But this will not help you with ketosis and fat burning. During the keto diet, only 20% of your calories should come from protein sources. Depending on your activity level and other factors, it’s generally suggested to aim for 0.8g of protein per pound of lean body mass.
3. Allowing cheat days
This is a deal breaker. The keto diet is not like a classical Western diet, where you can enjoy an occasional cheat day or two. There are no cheat days during the keto diet. The main question is, who are you cheating? Yourself out of results and health?
As the keto diet involves your body to change its fuel source and enter a metabolic state called ketosis, it takes time to adapt. Every time you cheat you will reset all your efforts and you can enjoy the dreadful keto-flu again. It’s just not worth it. The keto diet is the type of diet where you need to go all in. The positive side of that is, that you will see the results and far faster than you have ever hoped. So, if you have already cheated, then start over! Remove carbs from your menu and just follow the diet. The cravings will soon be gone, and you will feel like a million dollars.
4. Not getting enough electrolytes
Entering ketosis is an end result. Transitioning your body from carb burning mode to fat burning mode will take time and effort. This transitioning is often companioned by the keto-flu. This is not a bad thing, it’s a sign that you are on the right path and almost in ketosis. With the loss of water, your body will also lose precious electrolytes which will result in keto-flu. Don’t get scared! You can easily overcome these side-effects by ramping up your electrolytes intake. Just make sure you get enough magnesium, potassium, and sodium, and the keto-flu will be over in no time. Some electrolyte-rich foods include avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens, salmon, Himalayan salt and bone broth.
We all have tried a diet that required us to measure portion sizes and keep strict count of calories. Probably the best thing about the keto diet is that you don’t need to do that. Or at least not in that scale. As long as you don’t eat any carbs, and you stick to high-fat foods you should be fine. Keep in mind, that at the end of the day, your weight loss comes from caloric deficiency, not some mystical magic that no one understands. The main reason why the keto diet works are that the fats are very satiating and they will remove most of the cravings that usually ruin your dieting goals. Thanks to that you will eat fewer calories overall, which results in weight loss.
If in one moment your weight loss has plateaued, the case can be that although you are properly on the ketogenic lane, you are just eating too much high-calorie high-fat foods. As an example, nuts are a common problem. A single serving can be up to 300 calories. So imagine eating three small handfuls of nuts and your caloric intake will already be almost 1000 calories. You don’t need to go crazy about calorie counting, but it’s suggested to pay attention to the foods and the amounts you are eating.
6. Not getting enough fiber
Your gut health is another often ignored topic when it comes to the keto diet. As you remove all the carbs from your daily menu, you will also remove the fiber along with them. This, on the other hand, is vital for your gut health, to avoid constipation and other issues. To avoid uncomfortable constipation and other gut issues, including a lot of leafy greens to your diet. This will bulk up your food and make your gut happy. Another idea is to make creamed version – veggie smoothies. They are easy to make, delicious and good to take with you on the go.
7. Eating hidden carbs
Okay, listen up. Only 5% of your calories can come from carbohydrates. The fewer the better. There’s no wiggle room here! The main sources for your carbs should be leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. But be prepared, there are hidden carbs almost everywhere, and this can and will ruin your sweet ketosis journey fairly quickly. See, food companies are experts at hiding carbs in foods, to make them more “tasteful”. So always check the label first. Some ingredients to look for include sucrose, corn syrup, fructose, lactose, barley malt, honey, maltose and much more. These in small amounts don’t kick you out of ketosis but administered consistently will kick you out of ketosis and you can say goodbye to your six-pack as well.
Author and health enthusiast Alex Reed, started Bodyketosis.com with a mission to help you to take charge of your weight and health using the ketogenic lifestyle. Through personal experience and extensive research, he offers insightful tips for everything Keto.