Common Mistakes to Avoid on the Keto Diet That Will Keep the Weight Loss Coming

(Last Updated On: November 30, 2017)

If you’re participating in the ketogenic diet, you may have learned that actually staying in ketosis or losing weight on keto can be a lot harder than a lot of other people talk about. The ketogenic diet is known to be a ‘restrictive’ diet, as there are a lot of rules to follow if you’re truly looking to be in a state of ketosis.

Whether you’re struggling to hit a state of ketosis or you’ve happened to hit your weight loss plateau, a lot of people may not realize the mistakes that they’re making on the keto diet, which is interfering with their weight loss. If a diet is this high maintenance, why would anyone want to try out ketosis?

Ketosis isn’t a diet fad, but rather it’s a state of your metabolism. You’re either in ketosis or you’re not in ketosis- there is no in-between.

Being in ketosis can not only help you with weight loss, but can also increase your energy levels, boost your mood, achieve better sleep, gain clearer skin, feel fuller for a long period of time, better your cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and increase your mental clarity. There is a whole list of benefits that come along with ketosis, not just some weight loss.

You’re only looking for a quick fix

If you’re only looking to participate in the ketogenic diet, you should know that this is not a quick fix diet, but a lifestyle change. If you’re only looking to go into the keto diet, drop a few pounds, and go back to how you were eating before, this diet is not the diet for you.

Keto is also a diet that is not for people who are only looking to put in a small amount of work. You truly have to commit and be determined to lose weight on this diet, because putting your body and maintaining your levels of ketosis is challenging. You’ve got to be all in or all out with this diet.

Not eating enough protein

Eating enough protein on the ketogenic diet is really important, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Adding protein to your diet may help you break through a long-lasting weight loss plateau. When you consume a meal that’s high in protein, your body releases glucagon which counterbalances insulin; glucagon plays a large roll in your satiety.

However, this does not mean that you should overeat your protein. Protein is not really an efficient source of fuel for your body and too much protein can actually spike your insulin levels. If your insulin levels are too high, you’re going to stop burning fat.

Not all sources of protein are created equally, as there are some protein sources and amino acids that may cause greater spikes in insulin. Eating slightly more protein will not kick you out of ketosis because not all excess protein sources convert into glucose.

Not eating enough fat

When following along with the ketogenic diet, you control the energy that your body produces by consuming enough fat, even if you don’t eat enough protein or carbs for the day. However, if you’re looking to lose weight, you need to keep in the back of your mind that you need to stay in a calorie deficit.

Your fat intake should be coming from fats are right in omega-3s, like fatty fish, extra virgin olive oil, and avocados.  Also ensure that you’re consuming enough Vitamin D, as chances on that you’re becoming deficient in Vitamin D, even if you are consuming a lot of foods that are high in Vitamin D.

Having too much Bulletproof coffee

Bulletproof coffee (also known as butter coffee) is very high in fat, while also being very low in any other nutritional value. While bulletproof coffee can suppress hunger for some people, you should be consuming your caloric intake from real nutritious foods that have vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins.

If you’re experiencing weight stalling and you drink bulletproof coffee every day, try cutting back your bulletproof coffee to once a week!

Snacking too often

If you’re following along with a nutrient ketogenic diet (or even low carb) you shouldn’t really be feeling the need to snack. Unless you happen to be someone who has hypoglycemia, you should just be consuming three main meals a day. Here a few tips to follow along with:

  • Only eat if you are hungry, even if that means that you’re skipping a meal. Once your body becomes adapted to the keto diet, you are going to find that intermittent fasting is extremely easy to do.
  • If you are hungry and feel the need to snack, this means that your meals were not nutritious enough. You should try increasing your portion sizing, while also adding a bit more fat and protein. Not enough protein will make you hungry, so make sure that you’re eating enough.
  • If you’re looking to feel full for a long period of time, make sure that you’re eating real, wholesome foods such as eggs, chicken, fish, and non-starchy vegetables.

Not knowing your macros

(Image from Perfect Keto) 

While some other blogs may lead you to believe otherwise, calories do count, even on the ketogenic diet. When you eat nutritious food that is low in carbs, moderate in protein, and high in fat, you are going to eat a smaller amount of food, because fat is very filling. This means that if you are someone who gets full quickly, you may not have to be super strict with counting calories on keto.

However, just because you’re following along with a low carb diet doesn’t mean you’re going to start losing weight. Make sure that you keep an eye on your daily caloric intake, as fat is very high in calories. It’s also extremely important that you eat enough protein while on the keto diet, just to keep yourself satiated, but also helping to prevent muscle loss.

You can find out what macronutrients you should be following along with by using a keto calculator.

Stressing too much

Stress is an incredibly significant factor when it comes to weight loss; when you are stressed out, your cortisol levels rise. Once your cortisol levels rise, your blood sugar rises, which lowers your ketone levels. In order to deal with elevated blood sugar levels, your body produces more insulin.

When this happens, you’re going to find it extremely difficult to get your body back into fat-burning mode (also known as ketosis). While I know it’s extremely difficult to reduce stress levels, here are a few tricks you can try out:

  • Stop exercising so much! Doing too much cardio increases the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol are linked to increased fat storage, especially around the belly area. Instead of cardio, try some strength training and yoga.
  • Don’t spend too much time online. Constantly checking your e-mail and your social media are both great stress factors, so try spending some time offline.
  • Trying to take a natural supplement that will help you relax, such a melatonin! Melatonin can help you to reduce your stress levels, as it’s a natural sleep hormone that your body creates!

Not sleeping enough

If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re going to have less energy. Less energy means that you’re more likely to have cravings, overeat, and less likely to exercise. On top of that, sleep-deprived individuals produce less growth hormone, have a decreased level of leptin, and have an impaired glucose metabolism, all which interact with the signals that our body produces to make our brain understand that we’re full.

Also, lack of sleep also creates an increased level of ghrelin, which is the hormone that tells the brain that we are hungry. People who don’t reach enough sleep every night are more likely to store higher levels of body fat. If you’re looking to reach lose weight, here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep every day
  • Don’t exercise 3-4 hours before going to bed
  • Don’t use your computer before heading off to bed
  • Turn off your television before going off to bed
  • Sleep in complete darkness; don’t keep your tablet, phone, or laptop in your bedroom
  • Don’t eat heavy meals before going off to bed.

Not eating vegetables

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Vegetables have a very important place in the ketogenic diet, but just make sure that you’re eating non-starchy vegetables. You should not be avoiding vegetables, bell peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, avocados, or berries.

These foods are extremely high in micronutrients, low in carbs, and aren’t going to slow down your weight loss progression. Unless you have a food sensitivity to a certain vegetable or vegetable group, you should be including vegetables in your diet, even on keto.

Eating products labeled ‘low carb’

A lot of products that are labeled ‘low sugar’ are actually extremely high in carbs, while products labeled ‘low carb’ have a whole lot of additives and can sometimes be higher in carbs than they claim to be.

It’s common practice to exclude all sugar alcohols from a carb count, but not all sugar alcohols are created equally; this means that some foods that claim to have a lower carb count are going to cause a greater insulin spike in your blood that you may have expected, which can risk kicking you out of ketosis (and encouraging cravings)!

Only focusing on your carbs                                                

When following along with the ketogenic diet, you have to reduce your carbohydrates to get into a state of ketosis. However, just because you reduce your carb intake, this does not mean that the fewer carbs you eat, the more weight you’re going to lose. A zero-carb diet does not mean that you’re going to lose fat or weight! Calories do count too, but it’s harder to overeat without the empty sources of carbs. Just be aware that the Keto diet is not a free-for-all excuse to eat bacon at every meal, or snack on fat bombs until your head explodes! Be aware of what you are putting in your body and make healthier choices, it’s not only about avoiding carbs, it’s about making better food choices too!

Having cheat meals

Consuming a meal with items that are on the avoid list, you’re actually setting up yourself for failure. The items that are on the ‘bad’ list are items that are high in carbs, so if you’re consuming meals that are high in carbs once a week or once a month, you’re taking yourself out of ketosis.

Once you’ve really taken yourself out of ketosis, you’re going to have to go through the entire process to enter Ketosis again; this includes going through the keto flu again, although your body does adjust quickly each time if you’ve been in Ketosis for longer.

However, this is not referring to times where your carb-up, consuming a few more carbs that you normally would just because you happened to expend more energy during your workout than you had already planned on.

Not exercising properly

When it comes to the keto diet, everyone seems to have their own opinion about exercise. I’ve seen some blogs claim that exercising is terrible if you’re on the keto diet because the extra energy you’re exerting will cause your insulin levels to spike, resulting in cravings. However, you should:

  • Choose the right type of exercise; light cardio has great health benefits for the heart and the brain, while weight training is great for muscle gain and long-term weight loss.
  • Avoid eating foods that are high in fat right after a workout. Instead, you should choose to eat foods that are high in protein right after you’re done working out.

Obsessing over your ketones

Constantly obsessing over your keto levels can be bad for your diet too, as nutritional ketosis is reached when your blood ketones are between 0.5 and 3.0 mM. Any levels that are higher than these levels don’t have any additional benefits and won’t help you lose weight any faster. It’s not just about your carbs and your ketones, but it’s also about making sure that you know your micronutrients.

Basing your eating on the clock

You don’t have to eat just because the clock says go; you should only be eating if you are hungry. Even if you are waking up in the morning and you’re not hungry until dinner time that evening! The clock doesn’t have any idea whether you’re hungry or not, so you should start listening to your body and eating when you are hungry. Listen to your body and hear what it is telling you.

Eating too much dairy

Full fat dairy is extremely common to eat on the ketogenic diet, but because the dairy is full-fat it’s higher in calories and easy to overeat. Dairy also has a specific type of protein that can lead to higher insulin spikes than other sources of protein.

If dairy happens to make your insulin spike, make sure that you cut back on high protein dairy foods like yogurt and cheese. You can continue to eat butter and cream, as these are lower in protein than other dairy products.

Eating too many nuts

While nuts are an okay thing to eat on the ketogenic diet, a lot of people actually happen to overeat nuts. If you happen to be experiencing a stall in your weight loss or even gaining weight, you should cut back on your nut intake. Nuts are not a high carb snack, they are a high-calorie food and are extremely easy to overeat.

For example, while 100 grams of macadamia nuts aren’t very high in carbs, this serving of nuts will have over 700 calories, with over 70 grams of fat, which is half of the fat intake that people who are trying to lose weight consume. I wrote an entire article about which nuts are better for Ketosis — Check it out here!

However, this does mean that you should be excluding nuts from your diet entirely. Nuts are actually high in insoluble fiber, which doesn’t have any effect on your blood sugar; this is one of the reasons that you shouldn’t worry about their high total carb count.

On the keto diet, you avoid eating peanuts on the ketogenic diet because while they are low in carbs, they contain lectins and phytates, which makes them extremely hard to digest.

Eating too many sweets

Even if you’re using stevia, you should not be consuming low-carb sweet treats on a daily basis, especially if you’re just starting out on the keto diet. Learning to get over your sugar addiction is one of the hardest part of the ketogenic diet for the majority of the population, especially because sugar is in so many of our foods.

Keto treats and low carb sweeteners do nothing but increase cravings and your appetite levels, when you should be avoiding these sweeteners when looking to lose weight. If you happen to have a sweet tooth, try going for a piece of 85% dark chocolate or a fat bomb.

Drinking alcohol

Alcohol is something that you shouldn’t be consuming on the ketogenic diet, for several reasons. First of all, drinking alcohol just adds extra calories to your daily intake, which is something that should be avoided if you’re looking to go into a calorie deficit to lose weight.

Secondly, there is no sugar or fat in alcohol; while it’s a great thing that there is no sugar in alcohol, it’s bad that there isn’t any fat in alcohol because your body can’t store it as fat. That means that your body has to burn the alcohol off, which means that your fat burning levels on the ketogenic diet; at the end of the day, that means your weight loss is going to slow down!

Not planning out your diet

 Planning out your daily (or weekly) meals can improve weight loss, while also helping you to achieve your goals such as meeting your macros or eating under a certain caloric intake. Planning out your meals in advance will help you to prevent any excessive snacking,

while also helping you to avoid any binging accidents. While this does not mean that you’re going to have to plan out your meals for the rest of your life, it will help you to avoid common mistakes that a lot of people make on the ketogenic diet.

Basing your change on a generic diet plan

While a generic keto diet plan isn’t bad to use when you’re first starting out to get yourself on track, they are in no way a plan that you should stick with for a long period of time.

Most diet plans are suitable for the majority of people, that does not mean that they will work for you personally. You may need to make small adjustments or create a diet plan that’s just specific to you and your lifestyle.

For example, if you happen to have any health problems, are allergic to certain foods, or struggle to stick to a diet, you will greatly benefit from a diet plan that has been specifically made for your personal needs; this specific diet plan can include your personal food preferences too!

Conclusion

Following along with the ketogenic diet isn’t easy, especially if you’re someone who is just getting started out. No matter what phase you’re in on the keto diet, make sure that you’re consuming enough electrolytes and salt to reduce cramping and increase energy levels.

You can drink chicken broth or pickle juice three times a day to ensure that you’re consuming enough electrolytes and salt. If you’re experiencing a weight loss stall or you’re gaining weight on the ketogenic diet, you’re more than likely making a mistake that all users of keto have made in their journey. Hopefully, now you can evaluate what you’ve been doing and can find your back to ketosis success!

About the Author

Health enthusiast, runner, protein nut. Owen likes to write about protein, particularly alternatve supplementation and supplement comparisons.

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