Lean and Clean: Five Common Keto Mistakes
Mistakes You’re Making on Keto
The Ketogenic (or Keto) Diet was originally developed in the 1930’s as a therapeutic diet for the treatment of epilepsy.
It came into prominence as a weight loss diet in the 70’s with the publication of Dr Atkins ‘Diet Revolution’, and has since had a resurgence in popularity over the last few years, with both alternative health experts and celebrities singing its praises for its fat loss, cognitive function and hormone balancing benefits.
The Keto diet minimizes carbohydrates (usually between 20-50g a day for most people, although this amount can vary from person to person) and focuses on fat first, followed by protein. By limiting carbohydrates in the diet the body burns through its glucose stores, then begins to use stored fat for fuel by converting fat to fatty acids and ketones in the liver. When there are adequate ketones present in the blood we are in a state of ketosis.
Whilst the keto diet is definitely a low carb diet, it is not a ‘no-carb’ diet. The closet to a no carb diet is the Carnivore Diet, where just meat, fish and sometimes eggs are consumed.
A typical day on the keto diet could start with a coffee blended with butter and MCT oil (made famous by Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof executive, a proponent of a cyclical ketogenic diet), perhaps with some eggs or bacon. Lunch could be a salad with avocado, nuts and maybe some chicken or fish, and for dinner a large steak cooked in butter or coconut oil.
What are the most common mistakes on a Keto diet?
3) Thinking you can eat unlimited amounts of cheese, bacon and processed meats:
Whilst proponents of the Keto Diet rave about being able to eat bunless bacon cheeseburgers every day and still lose weight, in reality this could cause issues with inflammation and blood sugar levels. One of the benefits of a ketogenic diet is its ability to lower systemic inflammation, but processed meats and dairy can cause inflammation to rise, not to mention being high in sodium and nitrates. Consuming dairy products also cause a spike in our insulin levels, raising blood glucose, which is the opposite of what a ketogenic diet is intended to do.
For a healthier version of keto keep processed meats to a minimum, choose nitrate free options and ditch the dairy.
2) Jumping Straight Into Keto From a Standard American Diet
Switching straight from a diet high in carbs and processed foods into a strict Ketogenic diet is a disaster waiting to happen. A Ketogenic diet can be tricky to navigate for even the healthiest eater, so making gradual changes that will stick, eventually leading to a ketogenic diet is a more realistic option for success.
Transitioning through a Whole 30 or Paleo style diet, then going low carb, eventually switching to a ketogenic diet means the dieter learns a whole foods approach first, ensuring consistency and balance within their nutrition plan. Once these approaches are adopted then sticking to a Keto diet will be much easier, and symptoms of the ‘keto flu’ (nausea, tiredness, brain fog) should be non existent.
3) Not Tracking Carbohydrate Intake
With most people needing between just 20-50g of carbs a day to get into ketosis (this will vary from person to person depending on their size, activity level, body composition and insulin sensitivity) it can be very easy to ‘spill over’ and switch the body back to glucose burning mode.
Ensure the majority of carbohydrates come from leafy and non starchy vegetables (this will ensure the body doesn't become too acidic and keep the gut microbiome healthy), and limit carbohydrate containing keto staples such as nuts, seeds and avocados.
Using a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal can be incredibly useful, especially in the first few weeks of adopting the diet.
4) Not Measuring Ketones
How to tell if you are actually in ketosis? Testing your urine, breath or blood are the only real ways to know if you are producing ketones, with blood and breath testing being the most accurate. The Precision Xtra Blood Glucose and Ketone Monitor is considered to be one of the most easy to use and accurate ketone monitors, and a finger prick test once a day at the same time of day is the best way to ensure you are still in fat burning mode.
5) For Fat Loss, Calories Still Count
The dream of being able to eat unlimited amount of fat and still lose weight? Still a dream, even on the ketogenic diet. For the body to burn fat for fuel it still needs to be in a calorie deficit, meaning that even on a ketogenic diet if the body is receiving more fuel than it burns on a daily basis this fuel will get stored as body fat.
Again, tracking here is key, and is combing regular workouts (and a active lifestyle) with a targeted nutrition plan ensures efficient fat loss.