We talk to a lot of people who are new to the ketogenic or low carb way of eating. As the fast weight loss success rates and other benefits of Keto become better known, more people are beginning a keto diet.
Unfortunately, some of those beginners are making common Keto Diet mistakes along the way. Without good information, this can slow down how long it takes to get into ketosis and make staying in ketosis more difficult than it has to be.
Let’s identify the most common keto diet mistakes and discuss how we can avoid those keto pitfalls, so you will know how to get into ketosis fast.
ProTip: Here is the Advantage Meals’ beginners guide on how to get into ketosis fast.
List of Common Keto Diet Mistakes Made By Keto Beginners.
- Not drinking enough water. Being in ketosis is a diuretic, which means you flush water out of your system. If you’re drinking coffee, that’s a diuretic, too. Water is also involved in the process of breaking down fatty acids for fuel, so you need more water when you are burning fat than when you are burning glucose. Make sure to include water throughout your day to stay hydrated.
- Not getting enough electrolytes. All that water that is getting flushed out of your system takes the electrolytes magnesium, sodium, and potassium along with it. All of these can be obtained from whole foods, including leafy greens, avocado, salmon, cacao, and more. Depending on your body and the number of carbs you’re eating, it may be tough to get enough through food alone. We use ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops every day, and if we don’t, we get muscle cramps within 24 hours. We also always salt our food with pink sea salt, which has sodium along with other trace minerals. Potassium is better absorbed from food than magnesium, so we rarely supplement it.
- Giving up too soon. The Keto diet is known for its quick results. For some people, the transition to becoming fat and ketone adapted is rough or takes longer than others. The Keto Flu is real. Not everyone experiences it, but for those who do, it takes commitment to make it through to the other side. Particularly if you haven’t been drinking enough water or keeping all your electrolytes up, you may feel pretty miserable. Read our article about keto flu, drink lots of water, and trust that it is all part of the process. You can do this.
- Not eating enough fiber. It’s easy to get caught up in eating some meat with lots of fat and then discounting the vegetables. You don’t want the carbs anyway, right? There are some people who practice a zero carb Keto way of eating and do fine. In our experience, though, not enough keto-friendly vegetables can lead to diarrhea and cramping. Not fun. The insoluble fiber that is in vegetables not only helps firm up your stool, it also feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Both of those will help improve your digestion and how you feel.
- Too much dairy. For people who tolerate dairy, full-fat cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, and sour cream can be great keto foods. Overdo it and you risk constipation, too many calories, and sneaky carbs (there are carbs in milk). If you don’t tolerate dairy well, you could have gas, bloating, diarrhea, inflammation, and weight gain, to name a few. Pay attention to how dairy makes you feel and don’t eat too much, regardless.
- Snacking. This is especially hard for people who are new to fat adaptation. The urge to snack is so ingrained in our culture and our habits, you don’t even question that it’s a necessity. The reality is that only sugar burners need to eat every few hours because glucose burns quickly. Once you’ve made the switch to burning fat for fuel, you can comfortably go longer between meals, without the need for a snack. But we’re all creatures of habit, and if you don’t consciously make the decision not to snack, the habit continues. If you’re truly hungry, by all means, eat. If you’re not, don’t. If you are going to snack, choose great keto snacks.
- Food quality. I’m not one for labels, and I think everyone should Keto in their own way. That being said, there is a portion of the Keto community that practices “Dirty Keto.” If that works for them, more power to them. For some, though, too many processed foods, additives, chemical preservatives, small amounts of gluten, and industrially processed oils can cause havoc. And your body prioritizes correcting that havoc over losing weight, gaining muscle, healing your gut, or any other benefits you’re trying to achieve. Eating whole foods, quality meat and fat and organic produce can help your body, which will improve the results you get from your ketogenic way of eating. If you can’t find great local meat or bone broth, check out our sponsors ButcherBox and Osso Good Bone Broth.
- Not enough fat. When coming from a worldview that demonizes fat, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the amount of fat you need to eat to support your body. But a diet that is low carb AND low fat is a recipe for failure. Incorporating good quality fatty meats, so the fat is wrapped up with the protein, making sure to put high quality butter on your vegetables, and cooking with fat all help. Fat bombs (here is our Pinterest Fat Bomb Board where you can find dozens of keto fat bomb recipes) can help you incorporate more fat while feeling like a treat – be careful, though, as these are easy to over do. You can also look to Keto Fat Boosters to help you hit your fat macro target.
- Too much fat. Can you say fat bombs? I know I can. I also know that you can gain weight while eating a ketogenic diet if you over do the fat bombs, taking in way more calories than your body has a way to deal with. We process fat differently than carbs, so there is more of a grace period than there is on a carb-heavy diet, but you can still take in more than your body has options for other than fat storage.
- Thinking calories don’t matter. Closely related to the above and the snacking. Even if your carbs are super low, you can still eat more than you need. Ketosis works so well for weight loss because you train your body to use your stored fat for fuel, which reduces your appetite, which makes it easier to eat less and go longer between meals, which leads to burning more fat stores and losing weight. Eating too much negates this effect.
- Too much protein. Protein can cause a rise in insulin similar to carbohydrate. Insulin starts a hormonal cascade that leads to fat storage instead of fat loss. If you’re eating a large amount of protein, it could interfere with ketosis and weight loss.
- Not enough protein. Conversely, some people need more protein due to activity, individuality or healing. If you’ve limited yours too much, your body will break down your muscles to get the protein it needs, which is detrimental to your long term health. If you don’t feel quite right, have skin or hair issues, are losing muscle mass, and you want to eat steak all the time, you may need more protein. Find yourself a steak, some chicken or some eggs, stat.
- Following someone else’s system. A lot of the items in this list seem contradictory. Obviously, not all of them apply to everyone. That’s because your body is unique, and we all have different needs, react differently to foods, and live in different environments. Listen to your body. Make adjustments to make Keto work for you. You don’t have to do it like anybody else.
- Not enough tracking. You don’t have to track your macros or keep a food journal in order to get into and stay in ketosis. If you follow the basic template for a Keto meal that is a serving of meat, a handful of non-starchy vegetables, and at least a couple of spoonfuls of fat for each meal, you’ll be eating ketogenic and producing ketones in no time. However, if you are not currently tracking and you are having troubles staying in ketosis or you have reached a weight plateau, tracking your food intake for a few days (preferably a week or more) can really help shine light on sneaky carbs or the total amount of food you didn’t realize you were eating.
- Too much tracking. For some people, tracking can become obsessive. If you are not enjoying your food, don’t like to attend social functions because you can’t control your food, analyze every spec of food every day, all day, maybe it’s time to take a break. Follow your intuition and listen to your body for a few days. You might find that loosening up helps you find a healthier rhythm.
- Focusing only on weight loss instead of all the benefits and how you feel. The scale is not the end all be all. Non-scale victories can be huge. You can lose inches without losing pounds. You can clear up food intolerances. You can improve your blood markers. You can have less pain, arthritis, and inflammation. You can balance your hormones. You can think more clearly. You can sleep better. You can reduce the amount of medication you take. Your body might prioritize any or all of these and more before it moves on to weight loss. And that’s ok. Your body knows best what it needs to be healthy. Trust it.
- Quitting After Cheating. One carb-heavy meal, one carb-party day, or even a week-long tour of great craft breweries will not destroy all of the hard work that you put into your keto diet. It’s just a short period of time when you won’t be burning fat. In the long run, your episode of cheating on your keto diet might even propel your keto gains to new levels.
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Founder Advantage Meals
Angela earned her Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition 14 years ago and began her lifelong journey of nutrition and wellness learning. She began keto meal planning and cooking over a decade ago when she began working with local clients who were under the direct supervision of a medical doctor. Angela is the author of No Cook Keto, the easiest keto meal plan available.
Disclaimer: I am neither a licensed nutritionist nor a medical professional. I never prescribe diets. I only share my personal experiences and those of my clients for informational purposes only. Nutrition details are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical nutritional data. You should consult your medical professional before making any major changes in the way you eat.