The end goal each person sets when starting a keto diet may be different, but one common goal remains: to keep your body in a state of ketosis.
While not unique to being on the keto diet, ketosis is a metabolic state where your body creates ketone bodies, which are used as fuel instead of glucose. It also causes your body to use fat as fuel, which can lead to weight loss or simply help with weight management.
Remaining in a true state of ketosis can be challenging, as you have to mindfully balance your intake of carbs, fats, and proteins (also known as macros). A few too many carbs can quickly bounce your body out of ketosis, forcing you to start the process over again.
There are other common mistakes, too, ranging from sleep issues to insufficient nutrient intake. To help you stay on track and avoid keto diet mistakes, read this useful guide to prevent five of the most common pitfalls.
1. Poor Meal Planning
Eating on a keto diet requires significant preparation, from planning on-the-go food to the time it takes to prepare meals. In fact, insufficient meal planning is probably one of the most common keto mistakes.
Many people start off strong with meal planning and meal prep, but after a couple weeks, lose their motivation. If you don’t have a keto-friendly snack ready, you’re more likely to settle for a quick fix of carbs, throwing off your keto diet.
Here are a couple of easy tips to stick with your meal planning:
Pick your shopping and prep days: They may not be the same days but setting aside specific times and days to shop and prepare can help you stay committed to your plan.
Create a weekly menu: Whether you need meals to take to work, or want easy dinners, spend time charting out your daily meals. It’s helpful to choose meals with similar ingredients to cut down on prep time.
Do your research: Part of creating a menu that not only fits your lifestyle, but adheres to keto principles, is knowing what works on the keto diet and what doesn’t. Whether you read books or blogs, or chat with experts, learn about what best supports your keto lifestyle.
2. Not Calculating Your Macros
Macros, or macronutrients, are large nutrient groups: carbs, fats and proteins. Ketogenic diet mistakes often boil down to incorrectly calculating macros, leading to and over- or under-abundance of one major group.
On a keto diet, macros are particularly important because it requires a delicate balance of fat-to- protein-to-carb ratio. Each person will have different macro needs, so you’ll want to calculate your individual macros, not rely on someone else’s. If you feel like you’ve hit a keto plateau, this is a good time to revisit your macros.
Here a few things to consider if you want to avoid this keto mistake:
Exercise may affect macro needs. The more you exercise, the more protein you’ll need. This is particularly true if you are heavier. Protein will also help your body maintain muscle mass as you lose weight.
Keep carbs low. This is obvious, but carb intake can fluctuate based on your personal goals, exercise and nutritional needs. Generally, a true keto dieter should not exceed 20 grams of carbs per day. If you are on a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF), you shouldn’t exceed 50 grams per day.
Eat sufficient fat. The majority of your calories should be from fat. Once you know your target carb and protein intake, you know the remainder can be made up of healthy fats.
Eating Too Many of the Wrong Foods
A very common keto mistake, especially for first-time keto dieters, is eating poor-quality foods. It’s exciting to think about a diet that helps you lose weight and eat things like cheese, but the reality is that too much can promote unhealthy changes in your body that may lead to adverse health conditions.
To keep your body functioning well, and to boost energy, keep your diet focused on:
Unprocessed foods without chemicals and additives
High-quality fats like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and fish
Organic meats and vegetables
Nutrient-dense vegetables like leafy greens
4. Lacking Electrolytes
Feeling tired? Have you reached a plateau? Achy? Brain fog? All of these are typical signs of keto flu, often felt during the initial days of the keto diet.
As your body is burning through its glucose, it’s also getting rid of water. Rather than increasing their electrolyte intake, people may make a common keto mistake of reaching for the carbs.
When your body feels exhausted, it’s natural to reach for sugar; it’s accessible and quickly boosts your energy. Yet, once you do that, your body falls out of ketosis. Instead of going for a quick sugar fix, try replenishing your electrolyte stores with supplements or saltwater before a workout.
In addition to electrolytes, it’s important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle filled and ready throughout the day and incorporate unsweetened herbal teas or carbonated water to give yourself hydration options and avoid keto mistakes.
5. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you’re tired, what does your body want to do? Get fuel to wake up! The quickest way to get that fuel is through carbs due to their higher glucose1 content, but this may lead to ketogenic diet mistakes. Lack of sleep also elevates cortisol levels (stress hormones), which may increase cravings and induce weight gain.
To help you avoid feeling tired, especially in the first few days and weeks of your keto diet, be intentional about getting enough quality sleep. Here are a few easy tips that may help you get the sleep you need:
Set a bedtime: Get to bed in time to make sure your body has seven to eight hours to rest.
Avoid electronic devices before bedtime: Cell phones, tablets, computer screens and TVs can all disturb sleep due to their blue light.
Try earplugs: If you’re a light sleeper, or you live in a place where noise disturbances are common, use earplugs to improve sleep quality.
Keep room temperature cool: A hot room or cold room can affect your sleep, causing you to reach for the blankets or the fan. Keeping the room between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit can help you stay sound asleep.
Don’t eat right before bedtime: For some people, eating just before sleep can cause disturbances. If you notice this, avoid eating an hour or two before bedtime, and definitely avoid eating carbs or alcohol before sleep.
1 Many carbs, such as starches and table sugar (sucrose) appear to have little to no glucose, but the body very easily converts these foods into glucose, so you should consider them to be high in glucose.
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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.