How to Avoid The Top 4 Keto Mistakes is a special guest post written for qk by Louise Hendon, co-founder of the keto summit.
Louise is passionate about making living a healthy lifestyle easy for everyone and here she shares her best tips for keto success. Check out her Essential Keto Cookbook for delicious recipes and tips.
The keto diet can be quite hard. You tell yourself that this diet will be different from the rest you’ve tried in the past. You start off excited and committed. Then some unexpected hurdles pop up. And two weeks later you’re scarfing down half of a large pizza, mad at yourself for giving up. It doesn’t have to be that way.
The great thing about the keto diet is that tens of thousands of people have gone through the same challenges that you’ll go through.
And I’ve figured out (in my own keto journey and through the experiences of thousands of other keto dieters) that there are four main keto mistakes.
I’m going to give you actionable tips to overcome those four mistakes.
What is the Keto diet?
Antya has already explained in great detail what the ketogenic diet is.
I’ll give you a quick reminder of the basics:
When you follow a keto diet your body shifts into a fat-burning, metabolic state called ketosis. And entering ketosis has plenty of health benefits.
But how do get into ketosis? When your body doesn’t have carbohydrates or sugars to use as its main energy source, it begins to break down fats to use for energy.
And what’s great is that fat is a more stable, long-lasting source of energy. So, you’re less likely to experience those sugar spikes or mid-afternoon crashes that you used to have. Plus, if your goal is to lose weight, there is no easier way than with keto.
What foods are allowed on a Keto diet?
Limiting carbs is the most important part. You’ll be eating less than 25g of carbohydrates per day. You’ll eat moderate amounts of protein and a lot of healthy fats.
Foods to EAT: low-carb vegetables like leafy greens, asparagus, celery, broccoli, or brussels sprouts, free-range meat, pasture hen eggs, wild-caught seafood, organs (like liver) from grass-fed and unmedicated animals, avocados, and non-processed oils/fats like butter, ghee, tallow, extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil. Low carb vegetables tend to be the high fibre ones, so you’ll improve gut health as well.
Foods to AVOID: all processed foods and artificial colorings/preservatives, all grains (corn, wheat, etc), high-carb veggies like butternut squash or potatoes, legumes, and high-sugar fruits like mangos, pineapples, or bananas.
How does a Keto diet benefit your health?
Below are four benefits keto dieters often experience.
1) Keto can help you lose weight.
This scientific study compared a group of people on a diet almost identical to keto (low-carb and high-fat) to another group of people eating a conventional weight loss diet (60% of calories from carbs, 15% of calories from protein, and 25% of calories from fat).
And the result?
“The low-carbohydrate diet produced a greater weight loss (absolute difference, approximately 4 percent) than did the conventional diet for the first six months.”
2) Keto can boost your energy.
People on a keto diet report feeling increased energy levels, more focused at work or school, and overall more clear-headed. One thing that almost all people notice on the keto diet is that they no longer deal with afternoon crashes, brain fog, or lethargy.
3) Keto can reduce overeating.
Let me clarify what I mean by this.
Keto doesn’t reduce overeating because it gives excessive restrictions on the number of calories you’re allowed to it.
Instead, when you switch to a keto diet your metabolism and hunger hormones are directly affected. And this often results in a lack of feeling hungry, which means you won’t overeat.
If you’re still skeptical, then hopefully this scientific study will help change your mind.
Researchers told a group of dieters eating a plan similar to keto that they were allowed to eat as much food as they wanted.
The dieters only restriction? They must stick to eating low-carb, high-fat foods.
The study determined that over time, a keto diet “reduces hunger and lowers food intake significantly more than do high-protein, medium-carbohydrate nonketogenic diets.” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
4) Keto can reduce your risk of heart disease.
This goes against everything you’ve been taught, I know.
You probably think that since the keto diet is very high in fat that it must increase your chances of getting heart disease.
This scientific evidence is one of the many demonstrating that a keto diet can lower high blood pressure, improve unhealthy cholesterol levels, and even lower triglyceride levels.
And with all its numerous health benefits, it was determined that the keto diet can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Now to the part that you’ve been waiting for…
How to Avoid the Top 4 Keto Mistakes?
Below are the top four mistakes that people make on the keto diet… and by implementing a few simple tips and planning ahead, you can avoid them!
1 – Not adding nutrient-dense foods into their keto diet
This is definitely the biggest mistake I see keto dieters make.
Focusing only on limiting their carbs. Not thinking about the quality of their food.
Eating tons of low-carb energy bars, TV dinners warmed up in the microwave, and drink 4 diet sodas a day.
Sure, they are probably in ketosis since they’re limiting their carbs. But just because they’re in ketosis doesn’t mean they’re setting themselves up for long-term health and wellness.
This is how I think about my keto diet:
Keto is a low-carb diet, yes. But eating low-carb isn’t the only important thing. Health and well-being must surely be the ultimate goal.
How to avoid this mistake:
Fill your diet with high-quality, whole foods.
Do this by always starting with whole, unadulterated foods. If every meal contains only whole foods (instead of processed low-carb pastas or meal replacement shakes), then you’ll have nothing to worry about.
You may also want to consider adding nutrient dense foods you’ve never eaten before. Try adding organ meats, fermented foods (such as kimchi and sauerkraut), or bone broth to your weekly routine (make sure you choose products from grass-fed animals who did not receive preventative or augmentative medication such as antibiotics and hormones.
But the most important tip for you to take away from this: always stay away from low-carb, processed junk food!
2 – Not preparing for keto flu.
You’ve probably heard of the keto flu.
When you first switch to the keto diet, your body isn’t used to limiting its carb intake. And your body goes into a bit of a shock since you’re taking away its main source of energy.
You’ve probably also never used fat as your primary source of energy, either.
So it makes sense that you might find yourself experiencing some flu-like symptoms for the first week that you start your keto diet.
Don’t worry, though. These symptoms are actually a good thing!
It’s a sign that your body is adapting to burn fat for fuel.
And your keto flu symptoms will be less severe if you plan ahead, stock your house with some keto-flu mitigating supplies, and implement the tips below.
How to avoid this mistake:
During your first week of switching to keto do your best to keep your schedule extremely light. You’ll be more tired than usual.
While you’re resting, make sure to drink lots of fluids (especially bone broth) and eat foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and sodium. This helps fight dehydration.
Here’s another tip that works really well:
Ease your way into the keto diet.
Instead of immediately limiting your carb intake to less than 25g per day, make a gradual reduction.
This will give your body time to adapt and should mitigate keto flu symptoms.
3 – Constantly measuring and stressing over ketone levels.
You’re doing the keto diet to see results, not to see increased ketone levels.
Besides, there’s a lot of conflicting guidance out there on what ketone levels you should be aiming for, how to measure them, and how often to measure them. It can be overwhelming.
So while I measure my ketone levels every once in a while (maybe once every couple of weeks), I now mainly listen to how my body is feeling.
I think this is much more important than ketone levels:
If you’re more energized, sleeping throughout the night, and losing a couple of pounds each month, then who cares about ketone levels!
How to avoid this mistake:
I recommend you stop measuring your ketones completely for the next couple of weeks.
Instead, focus on how you feel each day.
What I often recommend is for folks to write in a journal each night before bed. It’ll take about 60 seconds. Write how you felt that day – were you sleepy and lethargic? Was your mood elevated? Did you have any stomach pain?
If you notice after a week or two that your journal entries are steadily positive, then your keto diet is going well and there’s no need to measure your ketone levels!
If your journal entries reveal that you’re not feeling better, then you may need to make modifications to your diet. At this point measuring your ketone levels makes sense to determine if you’re actually in ketosis or not.
An easy way to do this is to use our guide to optimum ketone levels, which shows you the right ketone level for you and how to measure your ketones.
4 – Thinking that a healthy life is only determined by the food you eat
Food is a critical component to improving your health. But it’s not the only thing.
If you’ve got chronic stress, only sleep 4 hours a night, are struggling with family and relationship problems, and you’re not physically active, then you shouldn’t expect to reach optimal health.
Health is holistic. Make sure your lifestyle is as healthy as your diet.
How to avoid this mistake:
Consider some sort of mindfulness practice to reduce your stress, take up a hobby, go to the gym or go for a walk/run outside a couple times per week, and always make time for your family and friends.
Eating healthy isn’t enough. It’s a great step, but combining healthy eating with a healthy lifestyle is where you’ll see incredible results.
3 Tips For Anyone Starting A Keto Diet
If you’re new to keto or considering trying it out, check out these tips below. I wish I new about these when I started keto.
1 – To start, lower your carbs intake to under 25g and eat as much protein and fat as you want.
After a couple of weeks on your keto diet, reduce your protein intake to moderate levels and raise the amount of fat you eat. Be guided by your keto macros, but also what works best for you.
2 – Get rid of all non-keto food in your house and then fill your house with keto-friendly foods.
If you only have keto ingredients and delicious keto snacks readily available, then you’ll be forced to eat keto.
It’s important to find keto foods that you enjoy eating – otherwise you’re much more likely to fall off the wagon.
3 – Prepare, or be prepared to fail. Prepping and storing meals and snacks in advance is absolutely key to keto success, especially if you live a busy life. You don’t want to get caught out with nothing to eat, or not enough time to cook.
4 – Create some sort of accountability before starting keto.
Without accountability, it’s easy for you to give up or quit on your keto diet.
Take a look at these accountability tips below that’ll push you to reach your keto diet goals:
- Commit to your keto diet publicly through social media. Let your friends know that you’re determined to stick to your diet for a certain amount of time. After declaring something like that, it’ll be much harder to give up.
- Convince a friend or family member to do keto with you. Having someone that you care about on the journey with you will make both of you stronger.
- Use an accountability app like this one. It’s structured so that you put your money on the line. If you don’t reach your goals, then you have to pay.
If you follow the tips from this article to steer clear of the common keto pitfalls, then you’ll set yourself up for long-term health.
Create a plan for yourself and then stick to it.
Keto isn’t a magic pill, but it can help you build healthy eating and living habits for life.