To put it simply, keto is a diet that is very low in carbohydrates, adequate in proteins, and high in fat. When going on a keto diet, the goal is to put your body into a state of nutritional ketosis. When this occurs, your blood ketone levels increase, causing your body to stop burning glucose for energy and burning fat instead.
What Is The Ketosis Diet
This is one of the most common questions among those wondering how to start keto diet, but there isn’t an exact answer. So what is the ketosis diet? Some people are able to consume quite a bit of carbs while others have to limit themselves significantly to get the results they’re looking for. The consensus is that if you stay at or below 20g of net carbohydrates each day, you’re pretty much guaranteed to enter ketosis, although most people can manage up to 35g.
How To Tell If You’re In Ketosis: Nutritional ketosis occurs as a direct result of limiting the number of carbohydrates you eat on a daily basis. Once you’ve been doing this for several days, you’re most likely going to be in ketosis, but if you need more proof, there are some things you can look for.
A lot of people experience what is known as keto breath when they first go into ketosis. It typically leaves a metallic taste in your mouth as well. Fortunately, it is a temporary thing that chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help. Keto breath doesn’t happen to everyone, so what do you do if you still aren’t sure?
The answer is keto test strips. These strips measure the ketone levels in your urine and will let you know within seconds whether or not you are in ketosis. They’re a great way to give yourself the extra assurance that you’re doing everything right. It’s important to note that there are a LOT of keto testing strips on the market, but the best and most reliable ones I’ve found are made by a company called Smackfat. Not only are they reliable and accurate, they’re also very inexpensive.
Why Should You Do Keto?
Most people choose to start a ketogenic diet because they have weight to lose. The fact that the foods you’re eating are higher in fat will make you feel full quickly, causing you to eat less. Weight loss is just the start, though. When many people find out that keto has many health benefits, they turn it into a lifestyle instead of just another diet.
If you have trouble keeping your insulin levels in check, eating a lchf diet can help balance it out. According to The Diet Doctor, since the fat from the foods you’re eating are not being turned into glucose, your blood glucose won’t have nearly as large of a spike, leading to less reliance on insulin.
There are a number of other illnesses that a ketogenic diet can have a positive effect on. Authority Nutrition lists epilepsy, PCOS, autism, and some forms of cancer as being improved or even cured by eating keto. If you’re suffering from any illnesses and want to know if a low carb diet can help you, speak with your doctor for recommendations.
You can see more information about the benefits of a ketogenic diet by watching the video below:
What Can I Eat On A Ketogenic Diet?
Unlike most diets, you can actually eat more than an ice cube lettuce wrap when you’re eating keto. If you want to be technical, anything can be low carb if you eat it in moderation, but for the purposes of the diet and lifestyle, it’s smart to have most of your calories coming from these foods:
- Beef, poultry, pork, fish and other meats (the fattier the cut, the better it is)
- Leafy greens
- Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cauliflower
- Butter, heavy cream, cheese, and other high-fat dairy products
- Almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds and other varieties of nuts and seeds
- Coconut oil and olive oil
- Berries such as strawberries and blueberries
What Foods Should I Avoid On A Ketogenic Diet?
- Any products that have sugar added
- Grains such as oats, corn, and rice
- Vegetables that are starchy such as potatoes, carrots, and corn
- Fruit with high sugar content such as bananas, apples, and grapes
10 Ketogenic Diet Mistakes to Avoid
Instead of always looking at what to do, it might be easier to take a look at some of the most common ketogenic diet mistakes that people make when adapting to this lifestyle. By learning from mistakes other newbies made, you can avoid them, putting yourself ahead of the game.
Here are some of the ketogenic diet mistakes others have made when starting keto:
1. Not Eating Enough Fat
This is one of the ketogenic diet mistakes that people have a problem with the most. Everywhere we look, we are told that fat is bad and should be limited as much as possible. It’s important to remember that the same people telling us that are the ones who say we should be eating grains every day.
When a lot of people start keto, they think they can just leave out the carbs and be in good shape. That might mean having regular meals, such as grilled chicken, with your family but not eating the sides, such as breads, noodles, and rice. While cutting out the carbs is an important step when starting a ketogenic lifestyle, getting an ample amount of healthy fat is just as important.
If you’re focused on just eating lean meat, you may find yourself in a huge caloric deficit. While you definitely want a caloric deficit if your goal is to lose weight, being in too much of a deficit can actually cause your body to store the fat you’re trying to shed. Not getting enough fat in your diet can also leave you feeling sluggish, lightheaded and weak.
Since everyone has different goals, it’s best to use a keto macro calculator to find out how much fat you should be consuming.
2. Eating Low Fat Foods
While this could technically be combined with the mistake number one, I wanted to give it it’s own section because I think it’s very important. Simply put, if a food is advertised as being low in fat, put it back and look for the full fat version. Smother your vegetables in butter, eat delicious full fat cheese, leave the skin on your chicken thighs. Enjoy all the fats!
You may also notice that foods that are advertised as being low in fay often contain more carbs that their normal fat counterparts. That’s because when the fat is taken away, something has to replace it. That replacement is often things like sugar or flour.
3. Eating Too Much Protein
Next on our list of ketogenic diet mistakes is eating too much protein. Here’s yet another mistake that so many people struggle with. After being told that fat is bad and protein is good for so long, it’s hard to change that way of thinking. Now, I don’t want to say that protein itself is bad, because it’s not. Protein is a very important part of your diet, but you need to have it in the right amounts to get positive benefits from it.
When you first begin a ketogenic diet, you’re more than likely going to see a large drop in weight, especially for the first couple of weeks. Now most of this will be from excess water, but it will still be nice to see on the scale. After that initial loss, your body will eventually normalize itself and you’ll begin losing one to two pounds per week. This, of course, varies from person to person and is dependent on a number of things, specifically how much weight you have to lose.
If your weight loss is stalling and the scale isn’t moving, you should consider taking a look at your protein intake. Remember, no matter what your macros are, protein should only make up 20 to 25% of your daily calories.
4. Eating To Meet Your Maximum Macros
Your macros are so important to this way of eating, but you should not be treating them like a race to the top. Not a single day goes by when I don’t see the same questions on message boards and social media groups. They say things like “I’m not hungry, but I still need to eat 30 more grams of fat, what should I eat?”
Let me answer that question for you right now. Nothing. You shouldn’t eat a single thing. You know why? Because you just said you weren’t hungry. If you are not hungry, don’t eat. It’s that simple. The total amount of carbs, fat, and protein in your macros is just the maximum amount you should eat, not a number that you have to hit. What’s more important is that your ratios are correct, or at least close to correct, by the end of the day.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
I know that water is not the most exciting beverage out there, but it does so much good for you. Since this diet is high in fat and moderate in proteins, the water goes a long way to helping your liver and kidneys process them efficiently.
Just can’t stomach water or want something with some flavor? Consider adding some flavor enhancers. Mio makes great carb-free products. Click here to check out a variety pack on Amazon.
6. Regularly Drinking Alcohol
An alcoholic beverage every once in a while isn’t going to have too much of a negative effect on the lifestyle. The problem is that with low-carb diets becoming more and more popular, the alcohol industry is beginning to put out more products that are low in carbs. While this is a good thing, it does not mean you should be drinking it on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, regular alcohol consumption can have a very negative effect on your weight loss. I’m a strong believer in never drinking your calories and every single calorie you consume through alcohol will be empty, meaning it will have no nutritional value whatsoever.
Not only will these calories have no nutritional value, but it can also interfere with nutrients being absorbed through the foods you eat. This is because your body will naturally process any alcohol you drink first. This also means that fat burning is put on hold until every bit of alcohol is out of your system.
If you drink regularly and are stuck in your weight loss journey, consider cutting the alcohol.
7. Not Buying Frozen Produce
When you make the decision to give up your healthy eating habits, one of the first things you might do is going into your refrigerator, freezer, or pantry and throw everything that will not work on a keto diet. When you do this, you obviously need to buy food to replace it. Unfortunately, the food you are throwing out is a bunch of processed food that is full of chemicals that make them non-perishable, or close to it. The foods you’re replacing them with are not processed, meaning they are very perishable.
So what does this mean? It means that if you go crazy buying fresh vegetables, you may end up throwing a lot of it out. Things like broccoli and cauliflower can start to go bad in just a few days. Other fresh produce may last a bit longer, but if you buy a lot at once, it’s almost impossible to eat through it all before it turns.
To prevent this from happening, consider buying frozen vegetables. Obviously, not every kind of vegetable will have a frozen option, but by buying the ones that do, you can focus on eating the fresh produce first and eliminating waste. It’s also easier to portion out, making this one of the easiest ketogenic diet mistakes to avoid.
8. Not Eating Enough Vegetables
Speaking of produce, it’s amazing to see how many people think of keto as a meat and cheese diet. Sure, you can eat plenty of both, but you definitely want to make sure you get enough non-starchy vegetables into your diet as well.
Vegetables such as peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower has tons of nutrients and fiber that you really need to be eating. Not only are these foods incredibly healthy, but they help fill you up without adding many calories to your meals.
9. Not Getting Enough Sleep
This is one that often catches people off guard. We live in a world that seems to get busier all the time and there doesn’t ever seem to be enough hours in the day to finish everything we need to do. Because of this, many people choose to simply get less sleep, thinking that they simply don’t need it. Unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
When you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep, your energy levels will begin to drop. Not only does this inhibit your glucose metabolism, but it also slows your leptin production, which is a hormone produced by your body to tell it that it is full and not hungry. Additionally, people who don’t get the sleep they need tend to store more fat around the abdomen.
Improving your sleep may require a bit of planning, especially if you’ve gotten into a habit of staying up late, but there are a few things you can do to get your sleep schedule back on track. First, you should be aiming for at least seven hours of sleep, nine if you can.
If you workout, finish your workout at least four hours prior to your bedtime. Finally, leave the electronics off. No television, laptops, tablets, or cell phones. Looking at the illuminated screen stops melatonin from developing in your brain, which is what’s responsible for telling you that you’re tired.
10. Not Avoiding Cheat Meals
For some reason, a lot of people want to reward themselves for losing weight by eating unhealthy food. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but a treat is by far the most common reward that people give themselves.
Here’s the thing that you won’t see from a lot of websites. There isn’t actually anything wrong with a cheat meal every once in a while. We’re only human and regardless of how long we’ve been on keto, there are times when cravings occur and you decide to indulge.
It’s bet to limit these meals to just a few times per year and focus the rest of your time on eating healthy. Weekly or monthly cheat meals do far more harm than good and that reward may result in taking a big step backwards in your progress.
These are some of the most common ketogenic diet mistakes that are seen among people who are new to keto. If you worry about making these mistakes and would like a structured keto program, we recommend Leanne Vogel’s The Keto Beginning.
It’s inevitable. At some point during your weight loss journey, you’re going to hit a keto stall. It happens to everyone and it might seem impossible to break. Sometimes a keto stall can happen for a short period of time, but sometimes it can last for months. This is often the most discouraging point during anyone’s weight loss journey but luckily, there are two simple tricks you can use to break your keto stall without even trying.
What is a keto weight loss stall?
A keto weight loss stall is defined as a period of time where you are not losing any pounds or inches for more than a few weeks. The reason I say pounds or inches is because it is normal for you to go through periods of time when the scale doesn’t move but you’ll notice you’re losing inches. Your clothes will fit looser and you’ll look different in photos.
The reason losing inches occurs is because your body is shedding fat and those fat cells are shrinking in size. In turn, you shrink, too! Pretty neat, nuh? Your body also needs time to catch up to all of the changes so there are periods of adjustment where your body is doing just that.
By the time you realize that you’re in a keto stall, you may be wondering how long you’re going to be stuck at your current weight. It’s normal to think that, but there are a couple of things you can do to break your keto stall.
The first and most important thing to keep in mind is to never give up. No matter how bad you might want to, don’t do it. If you look around on the internet, there are tons of stories where people lost a decent amount of weight, got stuck, quit and regained it all back plus some more. Don’t be that person. Stay strong and follow our tips below to break your keto stall so you’ll get right back into seeing that scale in a steady decline. Dedication and commitment will pay off in the long run.
One popular method to breaking a keto stall is intermittent fasting or IF. Intermittent fasting consists of limiting the amount of time you eat per day or restricting when you can consume food. The most common method of IF is to do 16/8. That is 16 hours of fasting and only allowing yourself an 8-hour window to eat during the day.
This schedule seems to work well for most people as it easily allows you to have lunch while at work and dinner when you get home. By doing this, it helps control the amount of calories, carbs, fat and protein that you consume during the day. This can be very beneficial to those who either frequently or occasionally snack, and for those who have a tendency to overeat.
By restricting the time frame in which you can consume the food you eat, most people tend to eat less and stay within or below their macros.
If you’re allowed to have 1,700 calories per day, it’s going to be difficult for you to go over 850 calories per meal with the two meals you’re allowed to eat during that time window.
Those are some pretty big meals to be that many calories so it’s unlikely you’d consume all of your food or if you did, you’d be stuffed and unable to eat another bite.
The great thing about IF is that you can set your own schedule and do whatever works for you. If you prefer to do 14/10 or 19/5, it’s completely up to you. Just be sure to get in the correct amount of fat per day so your body has enough fuel to run on.
Another trick to breaking your keto stall is carb cycling. Everyone has their own method and you can play with this to see what works best for you because you know your body better than anybody else. The basis to carb cycling is to alternate your daily carb intake. Doing this confuses your body and keeps it guessing, much like it first did when you started keto.
You can choose to keep your 20g of net carbs to set days, such as Mon., Wed., and Friday or you can just do every other day, or you might try “carbing up” two days per week. On your “carb up” days, there’s no need to go overboard so don’t hit McDonald’s or KFC’s drive-thru.
Again, depending on your body and what works for you, you might want to up your carbs to 50g per day or maybe even 100g per day. One tidbit to keep in mind is your activity level. The more active you are, the more you may be able to increase your carb intake on your off days.
Your body has been in a constant state of fat burning and by doing carb cycling, it helps out your body into a catabolic fat burning state during your low carb days.
The primary reason for this is because the carbs help boost your body’s metabolism and when it runs out of carbs to burn, it switches right back into a powerful fat-burning state, just like it did at the beginning of your weight loss journey.
One Word of Caution With Carb Cycling
There is a fine line between carbing up to confuse your body to break your keto stall and overdoing it. Ideally, the carbs you consume should come from whole foods and not processed foods. A good example of this would be brown rice instead of a candy bar or a baked potato instead of a pack of cookies.
Another thing to keep in mind to help break through your keto stall is to stay within your macros, meaning calories, fat and protein. Just because you’re having a carb up day doesn’t give you the green light to consume double the calories or fats because doing so might impede your progress.
Additional Ways to Break Your Keto Weight Loss Stall
- Cut out dairy and artificial sweeteners- these are the two biggest culprits in keto stalls
- Decrease your protein intake- not only is too much detrimental to weight loss but it’s also hard on your kidneys
- Increase your fat intake- If you’re not eating enough, your body will stall
- Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Not only does it keep you hydrated but it also helps your body flush fat.
- Don’t overeat your caloric budget. This is still a numbers game and you must have a caloric deficit in order to lose weight.
- Put on lean muscle mass by lifting (heavy) weights. You don’t need the ability to do a Hulk Smash but muscle burns fat.