When it comes to adopting a keto lifestyle, most people forget that it’s not an automatic change. Like other forms of personal development, it comes with a learning curve.
Embracing a keto diet is a process that’s bound to involve a few slip-ups along the way. For many, these slip-ups can lead to disappointment. But they don’t have to. If you’re willing to learn something from your mistakes, they don’t have to be a source of frustration.
With that in mind, here are ten of the most common keto mistakes, along with what you can learn from them.
JUDGING YOUR SUCCESS WITH A SCALE
If you’ve been on other diets, you may have a hard time giving up the idea that the number you see when you step on the scale is the sole indicator of how you’re doing, whether you’re succeeding or failing.
On a keto diet, that number is pretty insignificant, and worrying about it is only going to take up unnecessary mental energy. The scale will never show you the whole picture. Not to mention, your weight can easily fluctuate three to seven pounds in the span of a single day. Both gaining weight and losing weight take time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by relying on a scale to tell you how far you’ve come.
YOU’RE AFRAID TO EAT FAT
You might be surprised to learn how many people actively choose to adopt a high-fat diet, then can’t seem to bring themselves to eat enough fat. But it’s surprisingly common. After all, we all learn from a very young age that fats are bad. For most of us, eating fatty foods has long been something to feel guilty about. If this sounds like you, remember that making the switch from low-fat to high-fat doesn’t happen overnight. Even keto dieters who do manage to take in enough fat may feel weirdly shameful about it. To this, the only remedy is to learn to trust the science behind the keto diet. When your body is in a state of ketosis, it literally can’t get enough dietary fat.
YOU’RE EATING BAD FATS
Equally dangerous as not eating enough fat, is eating the wrong types of fats. In order to achieve nutritional ketosis, you want to opt for saturated fats—including animal fats, coconut oil, and high-fat dairy products, such as butter, Greek yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese. Fish oils, which contain protective omega-3s, and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts, are also good options on a keto diet. Stick with these choices, and you shouldn’t have a problem achieving ketosis.
YOU’RE EATING TOO MUCH PROTEIN
Given the confusion and guilt over unrestrained fat intake, it’s easy to start relying too heavily on protein. To be clear, a certain amount of dietary protein is 100% essential. Not getting enough protein will quickly lead to brain fog, weakness, and long recovery times. But taking in too much protein can get in the way of your efforts to reach a state of ketosis, and here’s why: for every 100 grams of protein you take in, your body can convert approximately 56 grams to glucose. So if you consistently take in too much, the excess will be converted into glucose, which will sabotage your efforts to achieve ketosis.
YOU’RE RELYING ON PROCESSED AND/OR FAST FOODS
This rule applies to pretty much everyone. Keto lifestyle or not, you should be eating real food. Whether it comes in a plastic wrapper, a bag, or a cardboard box, packaged and processed food is not a substitute for a meal made from fresh ingredients you have at home. Same goes for fast food, and a lot of restaurant food. That’s not to say that you should never eat out, or make a pit stop at a fast food joint for a burger. Think of it like this: most of what you eat should be made from real ingredients.
YOU ALWAYS NEED A “QUICK FIX”
Keto is a lifestyle. It’s not about losing weight quickly, or using quick-fix foods to “magically” help you shed a few pounds. If you’re trying a keto diet because you think it’s going to help you lose weight quickly, you’ve got the wrong diet. The keto lifestyle is for people who are looking for long-term health benefits—including achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
YOU’RE TIMING YOUR MEALS
This is another one of the unfortunate side effects of living in a world that leads you to believe that it’s only okay to eat a meal at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a few low-calorie snacks in between. The keto diet isn’t about adhering to a strict list of foods or timing and portioning your meals so that you don’t overeat. On a keto diet, you can choose to eat—or not eat—whenever you feel like it. You can even eat right before you go to bed. Scary, right? The keto lifestyle is about listening to your body. If you feel hungry, eat. If you don’t feel hungry, don’t eat. Simple as that.
YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS, SUCH AS SODIUM
The best advice that those adopting a keto lifestyle can follow is to opt for a wide variety of foods within the bounds of the keto diet. Your body still needs all the regular nutrients (e.g. sodium, magnesium, vitamin D, potassium, calcium, etc.) and you’ll get those by eating different foods.
Salt is a biggie, here. Though you may be used to watching your salt intake, not getting enough salt can be an issue for keto dieters. Why? High-fat, high-protein diets work by reducing insulin levels. Insulin plays a number of key roles in your body. It helps your fat cells to store fat, and it tells your kidneys when they need to retain sodium.
With less insulin in your system, your body will start to shed excess sodium, along with water. This can leave you feeling less bloated, but if you don’t consciously replenish your sodium levels, it can lead to a deficit of this important electrolyte. Luckily, this is an easy fix: simply add a dash of salt to your meals, or drink a cup of hot broth once per day.
YOU’RE JUDGING YOUR PROGRESS ACCORDING TO OTHERS
If you’re comparing yourself to other people who’ve adopted a keto lifestyle, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Everybody is different, and someone else’s progress is by no means an indicator of your own. Just because your gym buddy reduced his body fat by 10% in his first month on the keto diet, doesn’t mean you’re failing if you haven’t. Take your time and figure out what works for you. But keep in mind that you’ll never find your version of a balanced keto lifestyle by comparing yourself to others.
YOU HAVEN’T JOINED A COMMUNITY
Going keto is a lifestyle change that takes a positive attitude, perseverance, and support. A positive attitude and perseverance comes from you, but support has to come from others. People who understand what you’re going through can help you on your personal journey to success.