The ketogenic diet is a low carb diet that emphasizes on getting at least 60-75% of your daily macros from healthy fats. Yet, some people on the keto diet are scared of eating fats. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common keto mistakes and how to handle them.
If you’re just getting started on the keto diet, knowing why other people fail can help prepare you on what to expect and what mistakes to avoid. For example, some people end up eating too many calories and unintentionally eating too many carbs, both of which can sabotage weight loss on keto. Meanwhile, some people lose weight at a slower rate than expected because they set unrealistic weight loss goals.
Many of the keto mistakes can be blamed on a lack of adequate research before going keto.
Mistake: A lot of keto beginners make the mistake of seeing the ketogenic diet as a quick fix for weight loss. They see a bunch of before and after photos on Reddit or YouTube and assume they can get the same results within just a few weeks.
What you don’t see behind these photos are the tremendous struggles and the determination and effort those people put in to get results.
Keto is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Yes, it’s possible to lose weight fairly quickly on the keto diet, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. In order to understand when and how much weight you might lose, a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration.
Mistake: Some people attempt to cut their calorie intake to extreme lows in hopes of losing weight faster. Can it work for weight loss? Yes. Is it practical or safe? No.
In the early days of starting the diet, your chances of experiencing “keto flu” and carb withdrawal symptoms are much higher. You may feel tired, weak, and even dizzy occasionally. The last thing you want to do is to start your diet with an extreme calorie restriction to worsen your symptoms, likely causing you to quit keto faster than your started.
On the side of practicality, extreme calorie restriction can also increase your chances of developing some type of nutritional deficiency.
Mistake: A lot of people who start the ketogenic diet assume that weight loss will be a gradual journey where you constantly lose weight. That’s not entirely true of both keto and any weight loss method. In fact, it’s completely normal for weight loss to fluctuate throughout your journey, and to be completely honest, it’s what you should expect.
Even when you’re not trying to lose weight, you’ve probably overindulged a bit on special days or when out with friends. You’re certainly not alone - researchers have concluded that people tend to put on some weight during the weekends and lose it during the weekdays.
One 2014 study recorded the daily weight of 80 adults to see if any weight loss/gain patterns appeared throughout the week. They concluded that the participants’ weight fluctuated throughout the week - increasing during the weekend and decreasing from Tuesday on .
These researchers also suggested that weight fluctuations between weekends and weekdays should not be considered as true weight gain.
Mistake: Continuing with the scale theme, a lot of people confuse water loss with fat loss in the early days of keto. You’ll lose some “water weight” quite rapidly when you start making lifestyle changes.
Most people also tend to lose this water weight faster compared to actual fat loss, so remember this when you hear people claim that they lost 10 pounds or more in a single week.
Mistake: Neglecting to drink enough water is another common mistake made on the ketogenic diet. Although it might not sound like a big deal, even minor levels of dehydration can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue . Combine those problems with keto flu symptoms, and you can expect to feel pretty lousy on keto.
Mistake: By now, you’ve probably heard quite a few things about keto flu. Its symptoms typically occur as a result of carb withdrawal and electrolyte loss associated with it. Many people start the ketogenic diet without being aware that it tends to have a diuretic effect, which in turn means you’ll lose a lot of electrolytes (most notably sodium, potassium, and magnesium) via urine and sweat.
These electrolytes play crucial roles in your health. Potassium, for instance, plays a vital role in regulating fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve signals .
Since electrolytes are so vital to our bodily functions, a lot of people starting the ketogenic diet complain of having flu-like symptoms in the early days. They weren't aware of the loss of electrolytes and how they can impact your health.
Another reason you may experience symptoms is due to the sudden withdrawal of carbs. If you’ve been eating a high-carb diet, you’ll likely experience some symptoms when you suddenly lower your carb intake to 20 grams or less per day. That’s normal, and you’ll need to be patient with your body while it adapts.
Keto flu symptoms can be avoided and treated by replenishing your electrolytes.
Mistake: Voluntarily going to bed far too late every night and not getting enough sleep.
“Voluntarily” is the key word here (we know many people suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia). If you’re one of them, perhaps now is the time to seek treatment if you haven’t already.
Sleep plays a crucial role in your immune function, metabolism, memory, and other vital functions, and there’s even growing evidence that getting adequate sleep every day can enhance longevity .
Conversely, a lack of sleep can cause symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, forgetfulness, and lack of focus. It has also been associated with increased risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, and it can even decrease your life expectancy.
So, if you’re voluntarily sleeping late because of social media, Netflix, or something else that can wait until the morning, it may be time to make some changes. Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night can make it much easier to follow the ketogenic diet.
Not convinced yet?
A 2010 study found that not getting enough sleep can lower the effectiveness of dietary changes when trying to lose weight .
Mistake: Even though most people starting the ketogenic diet are aware it’s a high-fat diet, some are still hesitant to eat adequate fat to sustain ketosis.
We don’t blame you - it’s a common fear. Most of us grew up believing that a low-fat diet is necessary for overall health benefits and to avoid putting on weight. While low-fat diets do work for some people, the ketogenic diet has proven that weight loss and improved health can come from a high-fat diet as well.
You’ll only put on weight if you consume a high fat-diet in a free-eating situation where you’re also eating high-carb foods.
There’s no need to be scared about eating more fat than you’re used to when you start the keto diet. Not eating enough fat on keto can also increase your appetite and the temptations to “cheat”. Make sure you’re choosing nutritious fat sources such as avocado, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil.
Mistake: MCT oil is a supplement containing medium chain triglycerides (typically extracted from coconuts). Pure MCT oil usually contains capric acid, caprylic acid, or a combination of both, and these components have been linked to many health benefits, including weight loss.
However, many blogs and articles tend to only talk about the wonderful health benefits of MCT oil and fail to mention that taking too much could result in side effects.
Some side effects of MCT oil include diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, and nausea. In some cases, it can even contribute to fat accumulation in the liver.
For instance, in a 2017 mouse study, subjects receiving 100% MCT oil experienced improved insulin sensitivity and reduced adiposity after 12 weeks compared to those receiving lard, placebo, and 25% or 75% MCT oil. However, the mice in the 100% MCT oil group experienced higher amounts of fat accumulation in the liver and altered lipid metabolism .
The ideal daily dosage of MCT oil is still unclear, however, 1-2 tablespoons per day seems to be a safe yet effective dosage.
Mistake: Intermittent fasting (IF) has proven health benefits, making it popular in the keto community. There are several different types of intermittent fasting and three of the most popular ones are:
Some people make the mistake of going for more extreme versions of intermittent fasting (such as 20:4 or One Meal A Day) when they’re just starting out on the keto diet. This can backfire and cause:
Mistake: Some artificial sweeteners can cause side effects such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Erythritol tops this list, and it’s the most popular sweetener used in keto dessert recipes.
Mistake: Opting for lazy/dirty keto because it feels “practical” and easy in the long run. The idea behind this approach is that you can eat whatever you want as long as you stick with less than 20 carbs per day.
While you may still lose weight, you’re likely to miss out on the other health benefits if you choose to follow this approach. Neglecting to focus on the quality of your food just for the sake of hitting macro goals can sabotage your health by triggering inflammation.
We’re not saying you should never eat fast food - there is certainly room in Mcdonalds or KFC for a decent keto meal. We know life can get in the way, and sometimes your circumstances might not allow you to cook at home.
We also understand the need for occasional cheat days. They can help you to stay sane and motivated when you’re feeling a little deprived
But would we recommend you stick with the lazy/dirty keto in the long run because it’s easier? Absolutely not.
Mistake: Taking advantage of occasional cheat days. Allowing “once a month” to become “once a week”. Too many cheat meals can kick you out of ketosis, and you’ll be right back where you started. What happens when you get kicked out of ketosis? You’ll probably feel like giving up.
Mistake: Some people make the mistake of eating too many calories on the ketogenic diet because they only count carbs.
For instance, a cup of shredded cheddar cheese contains roughly 455 calories but only 1.4 g carbs. Combining that with the calories from all other meals in a day can easily exceed your calorie goal and stall your weight loss.
Those who practice the dirty/lazy keto approach are more likely to fall into this trap.
Mistake: So-and-so has lost over 20 pounds in under 2 months, yet your scale is moving at a tortoise pace. Comparing your progress with the results of other people is one of the biggest mistakes you can make on anydiet.
Comparison can cause you to become discouraged when you don’t see results as quickly, and you may eventually decide to quit.
Mistake: Weight loss is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) reasons people begin the ketogenic diet. However, some people assume that’s all keto can do for them, and focus only on the scale.
This is often due to a lack of research before starting the diet. Maybe they see someone posting before and after photos on Instagram, and they decide to begin keto the next day. Although their intentions are good, these individuals are typically the ones who fall behind in their progress, whose weight fluctuate frequently, or tend to be constantly going in and out of ketosis.
A lot of people make one or more of the keto mistakes we’ve discussed above. Knowing how to deal with each using the tips suggested can help you progress successfully on the keto diet. Knowledge is power when it comes to keto, especially when you’re just starting out.