Have you decided you want to shed a few pounds, but popular diets like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig don’t appeal because you know they aren’t healthy? A Ketogenic diet is gaining lots of attention lately because many people have seen tremendous health benefits from it. If you’ve wanted to start eating more low-carb foods but get frustrated thinking about how much of each food group to eat, we’ll break down the science and make it easy. Here are the common low-carb mistakes to avoid so you achieve your health goals faster.
If you’re on a keto diet, you don’t want to quit too soon. When you drastically lower your carb intake, your body will go from burning sugar to burning fat. It can take several days to weeks for your body to adjust to this new fuel-burning method, and this is when a lot of people give up and quit. There are also unpleasant symptoms of carb withdrawal, that’s commonly referred to as the Keto flu. You may experience fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irritability. (1) To remedy this, give yourself some time to adjust to the new way of eating. For these symptoms, you can also use electrolytes that include sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which will help. Staying hydrated is crucial for everyone, but can be especially helpful during those first few weeks of keto when your body is getting acclimated.
Many people focus on eating when it comes to weight loss or making healthy improvements but neglect to drink enough water. Dehydration is often a problem when eating a keto diet. When you change how you eat, it can cause a shift in your fluids. That is why we mentioned using electrolytes to restore the proper balance. Your body will also flush out a buildup of ketones in your urine, which will deplete your water supply. The fix for this is simple. Drink a big glass or two of water first thing in the morning. Then drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and feel your best.
That doesn’t mean you have to measure your protein amounts for each meal. What you should know is that consuming more protein than your body needs may convert the amino acids into glucose. That can be an issue if you’re trying to eat a very low-carb diet because it can prevent your body from going into ketosis, or a fat-burning state. You typically want to aim for about 30% protein to 60% fat. It’s easier when you use an app in the beginning, to learn about how much protein you’re getting and what you may need to adjust. (2)
If you’re on the keto diet, there are low-carb veggies you can eat that are filled with nutrients. You want to avoid starchy vegetables, but choosing options like asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts all have lots of vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy. When you’re eating low-carb, you don’t want to cut out all the carbs. You want to reduce the number of processed foods and starchy carbohydrates. (3)
Too often we become obsessed with the scale. If you’re eating keto to lose weight, it can be a very successful lifestyle to give you the results you want. However, you should understand that weight loss isn’t always the same as fat loss. Early weight loss from keto is typically water retention, so don’t get discouraged when every week is not the same. Progress is what you’re aiming for, not perfection each day. If you want to keep an eye on your weight, a good recommendation is to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, once a week.
Yes, we know the grocery store is filled with tons of keto treats that promise you won’t be breaking your diet by eating them. Occasional snacks are fine, but you don’t want to eat too many of them because even low-carb snacks contain some carbs and they can all add up before you know it. (4) If you have a sweet tooth, take a day of indulgence now and then as opposed to every single day. That will give you something to look forward to without depriving yourself and ruining your results.
If you aren’t seeing the results you want on a low-carb diet, you may be eating the wrong foods. Consider your food choices before eating. When you want to optimize the keto diet, opt for whole foods rather than processed foods. There are tons of nutrient-dense options, like meats, veggies, and low-sugar fruits. Try to avoid processed foods that can cause inflammation and don’t contain many, if any, nutrients.
When you aren’t prepared, you leave yourself open to bad choices. We know meal prepping may be a little harder, but it’s worth it if you want optimal results from a keto diet. Try batch cooking and have several meals ready ahead of time. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Get some meats and veggies portioned out in containers, and for those days when you don’t have time to eat, take a healthy keto shake with you. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to those last-minute drive-through meals!
If you don’t eat enough fat when cutting your carbs, your body will let you know. You’ll begin to have cravings and may not feel satiated. That can lead to more eating than you want and derail your goals. Fat goes a long way toward making you feel full and satisfied. It’s also a delicious way to get the healthy keto fats your body needs. Some of the best fats for low-carb eating are butter, ghee, cheese, full-fat yogurt, and olive oil. (5)
Eating a low-carb diet is not an excuse to stop physical activity. You need regular exercise to stay healthy. During your first few weeks, you may feel fatigued, and you won’t feel up to beginning a strenuous workout routine. Eating enough fats and consuming electrolytes will help, but after a few weeks, you’ll feel better, and exercise won’t be a problem. Take it slow and work up to higher intensity exercise as you’re able, but even walking moderately for thirty minutes is a great way to use movement for your health. (6)
One of the main things to avoid when eating a low-carb diet is not listening to your body. It will let you know when it’s hungry, needs to be fed, needs more water, and needs more movement. Don’t ignore the symptoms your body gives you. Everyone is different, and you may need to adjust the amount of protein, fats, and carbs you eat. Sometimes the keto diet will vary depending on your physiology, so don’t compare yourself to others. We know changing your lifestyle can be hard, and we’d like to help you on your health journey. We have lots of resources available to encourage and prepare you for success. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today to find out more about our wellness courses and what we offer from a functional nutrition standpoint.