Keto diets are all over the place lately, touting all of the benefits that low-carb eating has to offer. The ketogenic diet is backed by research that shows that eating low-carb will boost your energy, help you think more clearly, and help you drop pounds faster than any traditional weight-loss plan.
However, despite the fantastic benefits that the keto diet can bring your way, there are also plenty of ways the diet can go wrong. Below are six of the most common mistakes made by those who are new to the keto world. Steer clear of making these same mistakes to avoid feeling miserable and frustrated with the diet.
1. Not Accounting for an Adjustment Period
The first few days of any diet are hard, and the first few days on the keto diet are no exception. The first few days on the Keto diet can be pretty miserable, with common side effects being headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
The reason that you feel so miserable can be easily explained. When you reduce your carb intake to below 50 grams a day, your body will enter a state of ketosis. This is the goal of the keto diet. When your body enters this state, your cells convert from burning the energy from carbohydrates, or glycogen, to burning ketones. Ketones are an alternative energy source for your body that the liver makes from the fat in your body. This means that you are asking your cells to do something different than what they have always done in the past. Suddenly, you are depriving them of the fuel they are used to using, which can result in a period of brain fog while your body figures out how to use your fat cells for energy.
Additionally, in the first weeks of the keto diet, your body is shedding large amounts of stored water. This happens because the body is breaking down the glycogen that is in your muscles and your liver. The additional water you are peeing out can lead to you becoming dehydrated or low on necessary electrolytes such as sodium or potassium. This large amount of fluid loss can also contribute to you feeling the flu-like symptoms listed above.
2. Not Getting Enough Water
Staying hydrated is always necessary. When you are following a keto diet and losing all of the additional fluid and minerals, your body is used to having, dehydration is a real risk. Keep track of your water and ensure that you are getting at least 64 ounces of water a day. If you are still thirsty after drinking that amount, continue drinking. You aren’t likely to suffer any ill effects from drinking water when you are thirsty.
Take extra care to ensure that you are replenishing the electrolytes that you have lost. This can be done by choosing foods that are high in potassium and magnesium. Some great foods to consider include avocado, nuts, tomato sauce, salmon, and spinach.
3. Only Eating Meat – All the Time
If you believe that keto diets are all about protein intake, you are mistaken. Eating keto is actually about consuming fat. When you follow a ketogenic diet, you are basically swapping out the calories you usually get from carbs and getting them from fats instead. The number of calories that come from protein should remain about the same as when you were following your regular diet, in the 15 to 20 percent range
This means that the goal isn’t to pile your plate with meat like chicken or steak. Instead, you should be choosing three to four ounces of protein that has been cooked in fat, like butter or oil. Alongside that, you should choose half of a cup of non-starchy vegetables and two servings of healthy fat. Healthy fats can include olive oil or avocado.
4. Neglecting Fiber Intake
You’ve been eating keto for a few days, and suddenly you are backed up and bloated. Don’t worry. You aren’t alone in experiencing this. When you are putting all of your focus on consuming enough fats, it’s easy to forget that you also need to consume fiber. Once you stop consuming enough fiber, it only takes a hint of dehydration, and you are experiencing constipation.
Most foods that are high in fiber also tend to be high in carbs. This means that the foods you would usually rely on for your fiber intake, such as fruit and beans, are no longer acceptable options. Instead, you want to get as many high fiber vegetables into your diet as you can while staying within your carb limit. Some good choices include artichokes, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Sneak avocado into as many of your meals as you can, as well. It is one of the only fat courses that also gives you fiber. Also, keep drinking the water.
5. Not Monitoring Your Carbs Accurately
Once your body has adjusted to eating keto, you are perfectly fine to partake in a cookie or a slice of pizza here and there. However, research has shown that it can take thirty to sixty days before your body and cells have fully adapted to using fat for fuel and not sugar. So, if you increase your carbs before that point, you are likely going to wind up cycling in and out of ketosis, which means that you will be experiencing the nasty side effects over and over.
To avoid this, keep your carb count below the threshold for at least sixty days before you indulge in a carb-filled treat. Once you have been on the ketogenic diet for a long enough period, your body will have adapted to the point of being able to switch between burning either fat or carbs for fuel without much effort.
6. Sticking with it Long Term
Switching to the keto diet is a great way to drop weight fast. However, many experts are wary of the idea of sticking with the diet for an extended period. The long-term data doesn’t exist to show what happens to the human body when it spends long periods in ketosis.
It makes sense that staying in ketosis for an extended period would be detrimental to your health, as there are essential nutrients in higher carb foods.
If you are planning on switching to a keto lifestyle, consider first talking to a registered dietician. This will enable you to learn how to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet and prevent any possible health problems that might arise.