The essence of a ketogenic diet involves a reduction in carbohydrate and an increase in fat. In theory this should be straightforward, however, there are a number of stumbling blocks that people often run into leading to sub-optimal results and frustration. But before you decide to throw in the towel, check out these common keto mistakes which, when corrected, could completely change your outcome.
1. Fear of fat
For the past 50 years or so it has been drilled into us that fat is bad and therefore it is understandable that a real fear of fat exists. However, to be successful on a keto diet you have to learn to embrace fat. If you try to go low carb and low fat you are simply setting yourself up for failure. If you don’t eat adequate amounts of fat, you will get hungry, feel terrible and ultimately you will give up. There is no scientific evidence to support a fear of fat and therefore my advice is to get stuck into healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil and tallow.
2. Eating too many carbs (often unknowingly)
In order for your body to begin burning fat as opposed to sugars (carbs) we need to restrict carbs to approximately 50g per day (or less). Anything more than this and we will not be able to tap into fat and we will not reach a state of ketosis. Practically what this means is getting rid of all sugary and starchy foods from your diet plus the majority of fruits too. To be successful on a ketogenic diet, carb can only really be provided from above ground veggies and a few berries.
3. Not replacing sodium (salt)
When going very low carb, one of the outcomes is reduced insulin level (which is a good thing). When this occurs your body gets rid of excess fluid together with sodium. Initially you’ll feel great, as reduced bloating is an outcome of this. However, if we are losing too much sodium and not replacing it, we can begin to feel lethargic, lightheaded and may develop headaches. It is therefore important to consciously add good amounts of salt to your food. Pink Himalayan salt added when cooking and at the table or using stock/broth within sauces or gravies is a great way to meet your requirements.
4. Avoiding veggies or not eating enough veggies
It is important to know that a ketogenic diet is a LOW carb diet and not a NO carb diet. In order to meet all of our nutrient requirements, in particular vitamins, minerals and fibre, vegetables are an important part of this way of eating. Of course, we need to select lower carb veggies but when going keto every meal should include an array of colourful veggies representing a variety of nutrients.
5. Eating too often
A ketogenic diet is not only about WHAT you eat but also about WHEN you eat. One of the key elements of going keto is keeping your blood insulin levels as low as possible. Lower insulin means that you can access and burn fat more readily. Every time we eat our bodies respond by releasing insulin. If we are eating regularly, like 5-6 x per day, we cause an insulin spike 5-6 times per day reducing the amount of time we can burn fat over a 24-hour period. By reducing the frequency of eating, we reduce the number of insulin spikes and fat burning will be boosted. When going keto you should aim for 2-3 meals per day and NO snacking.
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