The hottest diet of 2020 is getting popular by the day, but are you doing it right?
This high-fat, low carb diet is all the rage on Instagram with amazing before and after transformations and success stories that can inspire even the laziest of us into “going keto”.
The conflicting information on the internet and lack of long term research studies on keto – can cause it tough to know what the results of a high fat, very low carb diet will be.
But one thing’s for sure: The keto diet is super-restrictive, so it can be tough to get it “right.”
For instance, on this diet you’ll have to stop consuming starchy vegetables, limit fruits, and avoid grains, sauces, juice, and sweets. And, you’ll need to load up on the good fats. Doing so will kick you into ketosis, which is the metabolic state that triggers your body to burn fat instead of carbs, which will accelerate your weight loss.
But because carbs are a part of just about every food we eat and fats have good and bad types, it can be easy to make mistakes here, especially if you’re a beginner to the keto lifestyle.
Avoid the following common mistakes of keto to help ensure you’re following this approach as safely as possible :
1. You’re not counting your Macros right
Immediately cutting off carbs : One day you’re gorging on rice and pasta and the next day you decide to go keto and eat only 20 grams of carbohydrates a day. A medium sized apple has 25 grams of carbs, and this sudden radical change can lead to you not sticking to your diet and binge-eating your favorite high-carb highly processed junk food.
Eating too much protein : Keto calls for a high level of fats, a bit of protein and very low levels of carbs. But if the protein intake is too high, it can prevent your body from going into ketosis, as it will first use up the protein before running on fat for fuel.
Not Eating enough fat : 75% of the calories you eat should come from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs. Fat is satiating, so if you’re eating the right amount, you’ll minimize carb cravings, helping you stay in ketosis and promoting body fat burn.
What to do : Taper down your carb intake slowly, instead of quitting them immediately. Consult your nutritionist to do it right. OR Talk to us!
When following a keto diet, make sure that the majority of your calories are coming from good, healthy fats rather than proteins, such as butter or healthy oil – to be added to your meals and not just fatty meats.
A ketogenic diet is not a low carb, high protein diet. Fat should be the primary source of energy as ketosis is a delicate balance, and you can throw yourself out of it unknowingly.
2. Not taking your water intake seriously
Your focus might only be on what to eat and what not to. But water intake on keto is also equally important. The complete diet switch from carbs to fats can make you lose water and electrolytes. Carbs are stored along with water in the body, so as these stores are depleted, that water is lost along with them. And as the body flushes out ketones in the urine, water and sodium is lost too.
Water plays a very crucial role in helping your body systems functions properly. A low carb, high fat diet without enough water can lead to dehydration, constipation, dizziness and other symptoms of keto flu.
What to do : Drink a large glass of water as soon as you wake up and then sip water regularly throughout the day, keep a water bottle by your side at all times. In addition to drinking enough water, you can combat this side effect with broth or adding a little extra salt to your food.
Don’t let your thirst be the only indicator to have some water. If you’re thirsty, it means that you’re already getting dehydrated, and we want to avoid going down this path.
If your urine is on the yellow side, then drink up! It means that you are not drinking enough water. You want it to be light or pale yellow.
3. You did not plan for Keto Flu
As your body changes its fuel source from carbs to fat, you might experience “keto flu”. Symptoms such as muscle cramps, grogginess, nausea, aches, and fatigue during the first two weeks of the keto diet. (Please note : It doesn’t happen to every person who starts keto)
So, if you aren’t aware of this or prepared for this, you may think something is drastically wrong and give up the diet completely.
What to do : You can help yourself through the transition period of low energy by planning out your meals or meal prepping, eating foods rich in potassium, magnesium, and sodium, as well as hydrating to help ease keto flu symptoms. Take supplements to balance your electrolytes.
You can also go for the ACTIVeat Keto Meal Plan, so our in-house nutritionists plan your transition seamlessly.
4. Not choosing the right fats
Fats are the main star of the diet. But don’t just focus on cheeses and cream. Excessive calorie intake will never cause you to lose weight, no matter what diet you follow.
What to do : When choosing, always include anti-inflammatory fats like Omega-3s, the type found in salmon, sardines, flax seeds, chia seeds or even the fish oil supplements, if you’re not a fan of seeds and fish. Stock up on olive oil for healthy MUFAs and PUFAs so your body is at its optimum.
5.You haven’t thought about your veggies (and fruits)
Vegetables have carbohydrates. Although it does mean you have to watch how much of them you eat, you might want to skip them all together if you have to count every carrot or piece of lettuce you eat.
But vegetables are also an important part of your keto diet. It can be all too easy to make the keto mistake of filling your plate primarily with meat or fats, but vegetables are an excellent source of nutrition, including vitamins, and minerals. They also contain fiber that prevents constipation (a potential side effect of keto)
What to do : Go for non-starchy options in a rainbow of colors for a variety of nutrients, like leafy greens, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus.
Fruit also becomes the enemy for people following a low-carb diet. But, just like with vegetables, they are an important factor in your health. While some fruits are higher in carbs, there are also alternatives, such as berries, that are delicious and are low in carbs.
Eating your servings of whole foods, such as fruit and vegetables, is important. Don’t just rely on products that are marketed as “keto-friendly,” because chances are, they are also processed.
6. You’re not snacking correctly
Eating a lot of dairy : While a diet with 75% fats could make you want to eat all the cheese you can, there are cons to consuming too much dairy. Dairy can be pro-inflammatory and high in proteins thus halt or prevent weight loss in some people.
So, if you’re gorging on keto-friendly cream cheese all day for it’s fat content, you might be getting in a larger dose of proteins and some carbs too. Moderation is key.
Eating too many keto sweets : On your nutrition label if your store bought keto cookies and brownies if the net carb is low, you might think it’s a good idea to have a lot of them.
This means that there are still sugar substitutes and carbs (read : calories) that you might be consuming. Also, constantly eating sweet foods may increase your cravings for carbs. While keto sweets are great occasionally, they shouldn’t be a staple in your diet.
Eating too much in-between meals : There is a ton of great stuff that you can enjoy while you’re keto-ing your way to a healthier you, like seeds, cheese, nuts. But they can be sneaky in giving your body excess calories and an easier fuel source instead of fat to burn.
What to do : Snacks should only be used if you have excessive hunger between meals; otherwise, allow your body to turn to stored fat for fuel between meals rather than dietary fat. Keto diet has a satisfying effect, which means when following this diet you must not crave for snacks. If you are still feeling hungry then make some tweaks in your diet or have snacks in moderation. You can eat seeds, cheese, avocado, and nuts. But do it only if you are feeling excessive hunger between meals.
7. The Hidden Carbs
There are a lot of foods in the markets that are marketed as healthy and “low carb” or “fat-free”, but the reality is, they aren’t. Hidden carbs can be found in condiments, sauces, and salad dressings (tomato sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise, etc)
What to do : Always check the nutrition information before trying a new food, just in case it has hidden carbs or sugar. It only takes a second to skim the label, and it can be the difference between losing weight or not.
8. You’re cheating too much
Your keto diet should be your one true love. So, that means, you cannot cheat on it, ever. This is because a cheat meal will typically be high in carbs. This will take you out of ketosis and then you will have to start all over again to get your body back into it.
But cravings do happen, and to ignore them can feel like deprivation and you might fall off the wagon in your weak moments and binge. So you have to be smart about your cheat meals. Like low carb versions of your favorite junk foods, or order a thin crust over a pan pizza.
If you do cheat, keep in mind that just a single transgression is likely to throw you out of ketosis, and you’ll have to begin the process again. It can take a minimum of two to four days to get back on track (make sure you test your ketones), so ask yourself if the pizza is worth it before you indulge.
What you can do : Try looking online for some keto recipes. You can also subscribe to the ACTIVeat keto meal plan and get a variety of meals and snacks everyday. You’d be surprised which foods have keto-friendly recipe adaptations. There’s even keto pav bhaji now!
Another way to have a cheat meal on the ketogenic diet is to actually make the meal worthwhile. Don’t just mindlessly snack, but really just eat something that you’re craving and enjoy every bite of it.
9.You’re not sleeping enough
Getting adequate amounts of rest is essential for any diet to work. Without adequate sleep, your body feels under stress which will result in a less effective metabolism and cause it to hold on to stored fat for extra support. Also add into the mix that when you’re tired, you might find yourself looking for that extra late night snack for energy, which could easily throw you off ketosis.
What to do : Aim for a good 6-8 hours of shut eye and know that your body is using that time to burn fat without you doing a thing.
The truth about Keto : You might see people saying that you can eat as much as you want on keto, as long as it’s high fat. Although we wish that were true, it’s misleading. Healthy fats should make up the bulk of your diet (75% of your calories), but if you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll only gain weight, no matter what you eat, since excess calories are stored as body fat. The average adult needs about 2,000 calories a day, but that varies based on a number of factors, including, gender, height, and activity.
The bottom line on keto diet mistakes
Before starting any kind of diet, it’s important to know what you will be putting your body through.
Be informed about keto flu, have the patience and give your body time to adjust, drink plenty of water, keep your diet balanced and remember that keto is not an excuse to eat cheese all the time.
You’ll also feel better if you eat low carb foods that are high in fiber (yay, avocados!), stick to the suggested macronutrient ratios, and work with a dietitian to talk about your long-term strategy.
The TL;DR list by the ACTIVeat CEO Pranay Jham :
1. Eat keto-friendly nutrient dense foods like :
Low carb veggies : Cauliflower, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Kale, Avocado, Cabbage, Zucchini
2. Fix your electrolytes
Electrolytes you need :
Ensure you’re getting enough of these by:
Adding a high-quality electrolyte supplement
Adding more nutrient-dense, low-carb foods to your day, including leafy veggies, grass-fed meats, nuts, and seeds
Add some high-quality sea salt to your morning water or drink lightly salted water before your workout
3. Calculate Macros correctly :
Intense exercise — 1.6 grams protein per kilogram body weight
Moderate exercise — 1.3 grams protein per kilogram body weight
Minimal exercise — 1 gram protein per kilogram body weight
Reduce your carbohydrates to 20-50 grams of TOTAL carbohydrates, not net carbs.
Fill the rest of your calories from healthy fats. The remainder of your daily macros should be from fats.
4. You NEED sleep :
Sleep in a chilly room at around 65-70 degrees
Sleep in a completely dark room
Supplement with sleep aids like melatonin and magnesium
Use earplugs if you’re experiencing sound distractions
Stop looking at screens at least one hour before bedtime
5. Choose high quality fats :
Replace any low-quality oils like canola oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil with high-quality fats like:
• Coconut oil
• MCT oil
• Olive oil
• Unrefined palm oil
• Fatty meats and fish
6. Know your hidden carbs :
• Dairy and non-dairy products
• Low carb packaged foods
• Peanut butter
• Protein bars
• Protein powders
• Sports drinks
7. Manage your stress levels:
• Light movement
• Deep breathing exercises
8. Food that are an ABSOLUTE NO on Keto :
• Artificial flavors including food colors and artificial seasonings
• Gluten (Wheat Protein)
• All types of sugar – White, Brown Sugar, Date, Cane, Invertor anything else
• Corn Syrup
• Artificial sweeteners such as Saccharin, Cyclamate, Acesulfame, Aspartame
• Partially-Hydrogenated Oils
• Partially-hydrogenated oils
• Soybean and extracted fats