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Ah, keto. You can’t go on Pinterest these days and not see something about the keto diet. Keto can be a very effective diet for weight loss but the benefits go beyond that. It’s a lifestyle change that makes you look differently at food and the way your body works. In the beginning, while you’re figuring it out it’s easy to make some keto mistakes. And some mistakes you might not even realize you’re making.
Don’t let it get you down! The most common keto mistakes can be easily corrected. Once you know what to watch for, you’ll be well on your way to success.
The key to keto is knowledge and balance. Eating the right foods and in the right proportions are going to give you the best chances for achieving your goals for the keto diet.
But there are some things that are easy to overlook and you probably don’t realize it’s having an impact on your result.
Common Keto Mistakes You Might Be Making
Keto Mistake #1
Using Pounds Lost As Your Only Measure of Success
Most people go on the keto diet to lose weight. And it’s proven very effective for weight loss. But there are so many other benefits as well:
- Improved mental focus and clarity
- Lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol
- Increased energy and a feeling of well-being
So yeah, shedding pounds is the most obvious benefit and the one that’s most visible. But if you’re not seeing the weight drop off as quickly as you think it should pay attention to how you feel. You may experience flu-like symptoms at the beginning, known as “keto-flu”, but after that has passed you’re probably feeling pretty good, right? That’s how you should feel when you’re getting rid of toxins and fueling your body with good food.
If weight loss is your ultimate goal, then try to resist the urge to jump on the scales often. Weigh once a week, at the same time. But just know that if the scale isn’t showing you the number you’d hoped for, that doesn’t mean you’re not benefitting from keto in other ways.
For more information on how the keto diet works, read my guide on the keto diet for beginners here.
Keto Mistake #2
Not Drinking Enough Water
Why is it so hard for us to drink the right amount of water in a day? It’s pretty easy to reach for any number of other beverages but water? Nah. This is one of the most common keto mistakes but it’s also one of the easiest to fix.
You’ll pee a lot on keto. Your body will lose a lot of fluids during the ketogenic diet so you need to stay hydrated.
The standard rule of thumb is one gallon of water a day. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right”. But if you break your day into sections and set a water intake goal for each section it’ll be a lot easier. If you’re tech-minded, keep track using an app. If not, something like a bullet journal or even a notepad helps you track it.
Do not wait until the evening to drink a bunch of water that you hadn’t managed to get in during the day. That’s a surefire way to get up about 5 times during the night to go to the bathroom. And that sucks.
Keto Mistake #3
Focusing Too Much on Carb Counts
It’s true that carb count is an important macro to track on the keto diet. But don’t obsess over the number of carbs in the food you’re eating to the exclusion of everything else. The right amount (and type) of fats and proteins are just as important.
Carbs are responsible for the production of glucose and subsequently insulin, which really hinders the fat burning process. But you also need to eat fat to burn fat. Once carbs are out of the picture, you need fat to replace the lost calories. And protein helps build muscle and provide vital nutrients we need.
Don’t think that simply cutting carbs is going to get you into ketosis. A successful keto diet is a balancing act between carbs, fat, and protein. 5% of your calories should be coming from carbs, 75% from fat, and 20% from protein.
Keto Mistake #4
Not Planning Meals Ahead of Time
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – meal planning is your friend while you’re on the keto diet. You’ll make things so much easier on yourself if you spend a little time researching and planning meals.
There are so many terrific keto-friendly recipes out there in the world just waiting for you to try them. Breakfasts, lunch ideas, quick dinner ideas, desserts, snacks – you name it and there’s a recipe for it.
Jump on Pinterest and make a list of the recipes that sound good to you. I know that once I start looking at ideas and recipes, I’ll get inspired and think of even more things to try. Plan your meals for the week from your list and go shopping!
You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re starving, have nothing planned and nothing on-hand to fix. It’s much more likely you’ll cheat because when you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything that’s handy. This is one of the keto mistakes that takes a little more effort to fix but it’s one definitely worth fixing.
Keto Mistake #5
Not Keeping the Right Foods Around
This is also related to mistake #4. It’s not just important to plan out meals. You need to keep stuff around to snack or nibble on if you’re that kind of person. I am. There are times when I’m working and I’m hungry but don’t want to take the time to prepare a full meal. I just need a little something to tide me over until mealtime. Pepperoni, string cheese, or homemade snacks are great for those times.
For more ideas for snacks, check out my post on keto snacks.
Also, if you’re really not a planner you’ll need to stock up on ingredients so you can make keto-friendly meals whenever you need to. Low-carb veggies, chicken, ground beef, cheeses, eggs, butter, and almond or coconut flour are some basics to keep around. There are example food and shopping lists in my keto diet guide for beginners.
Keto Mistake #6
Striking the Right Balance with Fat and Protein
It can be difficult to wrap your head around the fact you need fat in your diet. It goes against everything we’ve been told for years about healthy eating habits. This is one of the most common keto mistakes for that reason. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar and processed crap will. We don’t need carbs to survive. We do need fats and proteins.
70%-75% of your calories should come from fat. Like I mentioned before, once you’re not eating carbs you need to replace those calories with fat so your body can function at its best. If you’re finding it hard to get enough fat, try some fat bombs. Fat bombs are small goodies that contain mostly fat, and only a little protein and carbs. They’re an excellent (and tasty!) way to boost your fat intake.
Keep in mind that just because something has a high fat percentage doesn’t make it a good fat. Stay away from processed fats and stick to more naturally occurring fats from animals and plants. Think of it this way – the less they had to do to your food before it gets to you the better. If there’s a complicated process behind it involving chemicals you should avoid it.
Protein is the other component of the keto diet that’s important. But don’t eat too much protein or else it’s going to have the opposite effect of what you want. If you’re eating more protein and not enough fat, your body will turn the extra protein into fat and store it. 20% of your calories should come from protein and that’s it. It’s flipping the script on what we’ve been told about fat=bad, protein=good but it’s necessary to keep the balance if you want to get and stay in ketosis.
Keto Mistake #7
Vegetables are the unsung heroes of the keto diet. No, they’re not flashy like fats or protein, but the right vegetables provide so many vitamins and macronutrients that you’re not going to get from fat and protein alone.
Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, celery, and cucumbers are all good choices.
Can we just talk about fiber for a minute? Fiber keeps you regular and you know that’s a good thing if you’ve ever been severely constipated. But besides helping your bowels, fiber helps you to feel full and has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Cheating. It happens. We’ve all been there. You’re at a birthday party and there’s a delicious looking cake in front of you. You don’t want to be “that person” and not eat any so you grab a slice. Or it’s the holidays and you just can’t resist partaking of some holiday goodies because they’re EVERYWHERE. Potential keto mistakes are all around us, all the time.
The keto diet is not like other diets where you’re allowed cheat days or can bank points to use at the end of the week. Keto is a total lifestyle change that many people stick with long after they’ve met their weight loss goals because they feel so much better.
Cheating on keto means that you’re probably going to kick yourself right out of ketosis. You’ll have to start all over again to get your body back on track. If at all possible, resist the urge to cheat. Don’t rely on others to accommodate your dietary needs. Carry your own keto-approved goodies if you have to so you’ll have something to eat in any situation. You’ll be in a much better position to resist the urge if you’re prepared for those situations.
Expecting Too Much Too Soon
The keto diet isn’t a quick-fix solution to drop a bunch of weight quickly. It’s true you may lose quite a bit in the beginning but keto is more of a long game. That weight loss you see at first may not continue after a week or two. More than likely it’s water weight, both from the increased amount of water you should be drinking and the decrease in daily calories.
Everyone is different. You may read about other people who lose quickly and continue to lose quickly. Get out of the comparison trap. Don’t get discouraged if you hit a plateau. You’re retraining yourself and your body to treat the food you eat differently.
It sucks to hear this, I know. But over time you will lose the weight and see the results from the many benefits of keto if you just stick with it through the rough patches.
These Keto Mistakes Are All Reversible
If you find that you are guilty of one or two, or even all, of these keto mistakes, do not freak out. It’s completely within your power to turn this around. You know yourself better than anyone. You know what systems you need in place for you to succeed at something. Whether it’s journaling, an app, a buddy, or a chart hanging on the wall, put those systems to work for you.
Getting the hang of keto is a lot like learning a foreign language. It takes time and practice to learn it. After a while, you won’t need to be so reliant on reading labels or need to look up the nutritional values for foods. You’ll remember and pretty soon you’ll become fluent in keto.
It’s natural that you’ll make some keto mistakes along the way. Learn from it and you’ll be the best version of yourself before you know it.
For more articles on keto, check out these posts!