PART 1 of The Definitive Guide To Keto Mistakes. Is the Ketogenic Diet not working for you? Maybe you aren’t losing weight or are feeling weak and tired. Perhaps you’re struggling to reduce your carbohydrate intake as much as you need to. Or maybe you just miss your carbs and feel like snacking all the time.
It takes a while to transition to a ketogenic diet. The quicker you try to do it, the more likely you are to have issues. This is because there are a number of trip points that can make or break your results. The quicker you get down to a carbohydrate intake of 20-50g, the more of a shock it will be to your body. It is also difficult to take on some of the subtle principles of the diet which can have a huge impact on how you feel. It also affects whether you stick with the keto lifestyle and get to enjoy its many benefits. Most of the fixes are simple to implement and can have an instant effect on your mood and energy levels.
This post will kick off by exploring 3 of the most common trip-points that come up for ketogenic dieters. It is the first of a series of posts this month, which will cover how to fix some of the common issues people face on ketogenic diets.
If you have gone through the posts in this guide and it’s still not working for you, then it may not be right for you. It won’t suit everyone as we all have different physical and metabolic make-ups.
The Definitive Guide To Keto Mistakes
Keto Mistake #1 Not Consuming Enough Salt
This sounds strange as we are constantly being told to cut back on salt in our diet. When you reduce carbohydrates dramatically in your diet, insulin levels drop. When insulin levels drop, your kidneys release sodium. The body will then lose water along with the sodium causing an electrolyte imbalance or sodium deficiency.
This can cause unpleasant side effects such as headaches, constipation, fatigue and dizziness. It’s commonly referred to as “keto flu”. You will probably notice that you feel quite thirsty when you start reducing carbs, so be sure to drink lots of water.
Fortunately, sodium deficiency is an easy problem to fix. Extra salt can be added into your food when cooking or to drinking water. I typically add 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt to a couple of glasses of water during the day to replace sodium. Another idea is to drink a cup of broth or stock every day.
The other reason that sodium needs to be added to your diet is that as you reduce carbs and increase fat, you typically stop eating a lot of processed foods. These processed foods contain lots of sodium that we are often not aware of. When you stop eating processed food, you inadvertently reduce your salt intake.
In Summary : Keto Mistake #1 Not Consuming Enough Salt
Solution : Add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (fine sea salt or pink himilayan salt) to each glass of water you drink (200ml), add extra salt to food and/or drink a cup of bone broth or stock (bouillion) each day.
Keto Mistake #2 Eating Too Many Carbs
Another common culprit for the ketogenic diet not working is eating too many carbs. When you start out on a low-carb diet, it takes a while to get to know the rough carbohydrate content of different foods. That is unless you enjoy studying carbohydrate counters.
When I first started out, I didn’t realize that there were any carbs in milk at all. I was merrily enjoying my milk before I discovered that there are 11g of carbohydrate in a cup of milk. The carb content is similar for whole milk and 2% fat milk. Actually non-fat or skim milk has a slightly higher carb content of 12g per cup! You don’t need to cut milk out altogether but it’s worth knowing that too much can add up.
Some other common culprits that can catch you out if you eat too much of them are nuts, yogurt and vegetables like carrot, sweet potato and pumpkin or butternut squash.
Products that you don’t think of as food like chewing gum, cough syrups, cough drops and mints usually contain sugar or other carbs. So watch out for them.
Tracking what you are eating is also useful as it helps you to know if you have cut back your carbs enough. I use a free app called MyFitnessPal, which keeps track of your carbs (by gram, calorie and %), protein and fats. If your carb intake is too high you can have a closer look to see which foods are the problem.
In Summary: Keto Mistake #2 Eating Too Many Carbs
Solution #1 : Watch out for sneaky higher carb foods like milk, nuts, yogurt, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin or butternut squash. Classic non-foods such as chewing gum, cough syrups, cough drops and mints can also be high in carbs.
Solution #2 : Use a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal to track your food daily. This will allow you to drill in and see which foods are pushing up your carbs. See our post on how to set it up for the Ketogenic Diet.
Keto Mistake #3 Not Eating Enough Fat (Because It Just Feels Wrong)
What? You don’t like bacon but want to try the Ketogenic Diet?
You don’t usually eat the skin on chicken or fat on meat? After years of eating low-fat you probably have a list of banned high-fat foods that you avoid.
This pretty much describes me. I am not a big fan of bacon (I know I am in the minority here) and have never liked eating chicken skin. When I would eat steak, I would carefully cut off every last bit of fat. I even remember attempting to cut all the fat off chicken thighs. This took about half an hour. When I finished my precision job, there was hardly any chicken left to cook!
While I have got over my fear of chicken thigh fat (buying organic or pastured produce helps), I still don’t eat bacon much.
You can still eat keto or low-carb without these classic high-fat foods like bacon. I get my fat from other sources such as avocado, butter, eggs, coconut oil and MCT oil, cream, cheese, olives, nuts and olive oil. The diet also allows lots of fresh vegetables.
Focus on eating the types of foods that you enjoy and work around them to reach the levels of fat that you need. You can download our free printable list of 100 Ketogenic Foods here for easy reference.
You certainly shouldn’t feel that you need to eat bacon or organ meat or anything that you don’t like. Having said that, it may be worth trying some of these foods. You might discover that you like some of them after years of telling yourself you can’t eat them because of the low-fat message we have had drilled into us for years.
Fat should make up 75-85% off your diet by calories. It sounds like a lot but because fats are more calorie-dense than carbs, it is less than you think.
To find out more about the macro % for the ketogenic diet* (fat, protein, carbs) see this post. It also explains how to go about working out the ratio of fat/protein/carbs (the simple answer is to use a free App like MyFitnessPal!)
If you are eating low-carb (roughly 50-100g net carb per day), your fat % (of calories) could be lower at 65-70%.
* Ketogenic diet – 20-50g net carbs per day
In Summary: Keto Mistake #3 Not Eating Enough Fat (Because It Just Feels Wrong)
Solution #1 : Focus on eating the types of foods that you like. There are plenty of great non-bacon food options to increase your fat intake such as avocado, butter, eggs, coconut oil and MCT oil, cream, cheese, olives and nuts. Check out the following lists:
(i) 11 Healthy High-Fat Foods For The Ketogenic Diet (below)
Here’s my go-to list of foods that are high in fat. They are ideal if you need to increase the fat content in your diet.
11 Healthy High Fat Foods For The Ketogenic Diet*
- Avocado 77% fat
- Black olives 79%, green olives 88% fat
- Macadamia nuts 88% fat (little fat bombs!)
- Almond Butter 79%
- Walnuts, brazil nuts 84% fat
- Cream cheese 88% fat
- Butter 100% fat
- Heavy cream 95% fat
- Sour cream 86% fat
- Coconut cream 86% fat
- Olive oil, MCT Oil 100% fat – for cooking, salad dressings
* These foods have a calorie content greater than 75% from fat
For the full series of posts in the Definitive Guide To Keto Mistakes: