Transitioning to a ketogenic diet can be challenging for many. Before you begin, you’re likely to spend a lot of time planning what you’re going to eat, reading through do’s and don’ts as well as nutritional stats, all while figuring out how you’re going to stick to it without becoming overwhelmed!
The benefits of the keto diet make all the planning well worth it, but you should try to make sure you maintain a balanced diet while in ketosis so you don’t end up with nutritional deficiencies.
Here’s a list of the top 5 most common mistakes made while on the keto diet. Avoid them to reap the full benefits of the diet!
- Overeating Protein
It’s easy to overeat protein while on the keto diet; it’s not uncommon to hear people refer to the keto diet as a diet of just “bacon and cheese.” The truth is that you don’t want to overeat any sort of protein, including vegan or vegetarian protein, during the diet.
Protein can be converted into glucose as an alternative energy source for the body. During the keto diet, you want your body to be utilizing fats instead of glucose for energy, so overeating protein is counterproductive.
I’d highly recommend tracking your food intake with an app such as Carb Manager so you can ensure your macros are appropriate for what you’re trying to achieve. Aside from that, try using ketone test strips fairly regularly to make sure you’re staying in ketosis.
- Replacing Sugars with Artificial Sweeteners
Avoiding sugars is one of the roughest parts of the keto diet! Anyone who’s used to eating the Standard American Diet or even a hint of sweetness on a regular basis is going to want sugar alternatives to use during keto.
The problem with this is that we often reach for what we know, which may include Splenda (sucralose), Sweet -n- Low or Aspartame. All of these have unhealthy side effects when ingested long term and what’s worse is that many sugar replacers still spike insulin levels. The flavor alone triggers an insulin response despite there being no glucose in these products.
Try using more natural alternatives if you need to replicate that sweet flavor in some of your recipes. Use whole-leaf stevia (green stevia is preferable, since it is just the dried, ground leaves of the stevia plant), monk fruit, or a sugar alcohol such as erythritol (which is derived from natural ingredients and less likely to cause digestive upset compared to xylitol). Swerve is a popular, yet surprisingly good choice. Just make sure you keep sugar alcohols away from pets.
- Limiting Vegetables & Avoiding Fruits
Though it’s true that some vegetables should be limited since they’re higher in carbs, it’s important that you don’t go overboard and avoid them too frequently. The better option is to limit your portion sizes of vegetables and fruits that are higher in carbs, while eating a generous amount of low carb veg.
Fruits and vegetables contain important phytonutrients that may be essential for good health and lowering oxidative stress. They’re also anti-inflammatory, and high in vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, which isn’t found in any substantial amount in non-raw animal products like meats and cheeses.
To maintain a balanced diet while in ketosis, try to ensure you’re combining vegetables with protein when you plan your meals. Some recipes that are good examples of this, while still containing less than 10g of net carbs are:
- Keto Pumpkin & Sausage Soup
- Cauliflower Rice Sushi (Tip: Try adding cream cheese and/or shrimp to change it up)
- Low Carb Beef Stew
- Keto Broccoli Salad
- Eating Pro-Inflammatory Oils & Preservatives
Eating less carbs without switching to healthier, higher quality food is one of the most common, if not the most common mistake I see people make while on the keto diet! Of course you’ll probably get results even if you don’t nix the pro-inflammatory oils and/or preservatives in your diet, but you may be able to get even more benefits by lowering your intake of these ingredients.
An example of pro-inflammatory oils are often made from plants that are high in omega-6’s and are typically processed with the use of chemicals, such as solvents like hexane. Avoid soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, and peanut oil.
Instead, use extra virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed avocado oil, lard, tallow, extra virgin olive oil, or grass-fed butter. Try to avoid preservatives as much as possible too—which are often present in cured meats such as bacon, salami, ham, and other deli or pre-prepared meats. Check ingredients labels and try to stick to whole foods with limited or single ingredients.
- Counting Calories
The population as a whole is often consumed by the idea that calories matter, especially when embarking on a new diet. Tracking apps like MyFitnessPal have become popular for this very reason. The problem is that counting calories is one of the top reasons why people quit dieting when they’re trying to lose weight.
Less calories often means you’re going to be hungry and not so happy on a diet. With the keto diet, some of the foods may be higher in calories since they’re high in fats. This won’t be an issue though, as your body is going to be burning fats for energy. Plus, you often end up eating less during the keto diet because the foods are more filling.
Instead of counting calories, pay attention to your net carbs, fats, and protein intake. Keep an eye on nutrient density of the foods you’re eating, if possible. The most important diet is one that will not only help you reduce inflammation, but also one that will be balanced enough to keep you living your best life!
Did you make any of these common mistakes when starting the keto diet? Are there others we didn’t mention that you’d like to add to this list? Let us know by leaving a comment below!