Eight typical keto mistakes beginners make, plus advice on how to avoid them

You might be wondering what effects—weight loss or otherwise—a high-fat, extremely low-carb diet like keto would have.

The keto diet is extremely restricted, and it can be challenging to follow it “right.”

For instance, you’ll have to forgo starchy vegetables, restrict fruits, and stay away from grains, sauces, juice, and sweets on this diet. You must consume a lot of fat, according to the normal keto meal list. According to the Cleveland Clinic, doing so will put you into ketosis, the metabolic condition that leads your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates, potentially speeding up weight loss.

However, because there are carbohydrates in almost everything and different types of fats (not all of which are beneficial) exist, it may be simple to err here, especially if you’re new to the keto diet.

To ensure you’re using this method as safely as possible, avoid the following typical keto mistakes.

1. Cutting your carbs and upping your fat intake too soon.

According to a study reported in Frontiers in Nutrition in July 2021, one day, you may be eating cereal, sandwiches, and spaghetti, and the next you might decide to start the keto diet and consume less than 50 grams (g) of carbs per day, which is frequently the amount advised at the beginning of the keto diet. To give you an example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] states that a medium apple comprises 25 g of carbohydrates. That can be a major adjustment for your body. Think about easing in. According to Lara Clevenger, a ketogenic dietitian-nutritionist with a private practice in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, “individuals may benefit from tapering down their carbohydrate intake, instead of reducing carbs cold turkey, before starting a keto diet.”

2. Consuming Insufficient Water

Don’t overlook what you’re drinking despite all the attention on what you’re eating. On a ketogenic diet, dehydration is more likely to occur. “Your fluid and electrolyte balance may change as a result of the ketogenic diet’s significant reduction in carbohydrate intake. Alyssa Tucci, RDN, a nutrition manager at Virtual Health Partners in New York City, explains that because carbohydrates and water are stored together in the body, when these reserves are depleted, so is the water that was stored with them. She further claims that the removal of the accumulated ketones in urine by the body depletes it of salt and water. All of this is to say, “Drink up.”Aiming to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, Tucci advises waking up to a big glass of water and sipping on it frequently throughout the day.

3. Failing to prepare for the keto flu
You can suffer what’s known as the “keto flu,” or flu-like symptoms that start just after you start the diet and subsequently go away when your body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fat. According to Harvard Health, the precise cause of the keto flu is unknown.

Just so you know, not everybody gets it. However, in a study published in the March 2020 issue of Frontiers in Nutrition that examined online forums where people reported their symptoms of the keto flu, people described 54 different symptoms of the condition, with the most common ones being headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, brain fog, GI distress, decreased energy, faintness, and changes in a heartbeat. These symptoms began a few days after starting the keto diet, peaked after one week, and subsided after four weeks.

If you’re not ready for this sensation, you could assume something is seriously wrong and stop trying to stick to the diet. Clevenger also advises meal planning and preparation to assist you get through the transitional time of low energy. To lessen keto flu symptoms, she advises consuming meals high in potassium, magnesium, and salt as well as staying hydrated. You may rehydrate with electrolyte liquids that will help you restore your sodium, magnesium, and potassium levels, the expert adds. According to a ketogenic diet book written by StatPearls, consuming these electrolytes and drinking fluids will alleviate some but not all of these symptoms.

4. Forgetting to Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Rich Foods
Don’t limit yourself to bacon, cheese, and cream even if fat is the main component of the diet. On the keto diet, there are both healthy and harmful fats. Aim to add more anti-inflammatory omega-3s, particularly EPA and DHA, the kind of fat found in salmon, sardines, oysters, herring, and mussels, when making your own, advises Clevenger. (If seafood isn’t your thing, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends taking cod liver oil or krill oil.)

If you haven’t loaded up on avocado, olive oil, and seeds like chia and flaxseed, do so right now. Other healthy fats are also a wonderful option. According to the American Heart Association, they deliver heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in addition to being keto-friendly.

5. Not adding enough salt to your food

You probably aren’t used to hearing the recommendation to consume more salt given that people are ingesting more sodium than ever thanks to a diet high in processed foods. However, it’s essential for keto. According to Tucci, as ketones accumulate in the body, they are expelled through urine, which also excretes water and salt. Additionally, you might be consuming significantly less table salt now that you’ve eliminated the main source of salt in the typical American diet: packaged, processed foods like bread, chips, crackers, and snack mixes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Table salt is made up of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. (There are several packaged keto meals available right now; Despite the fact that they shouldn’t have a significant impact on your diet, they might make it easier for you to stick to your macronutrient requirements. Check the salt amount on the label if you’re eating these.) If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you probably need to make most, if not all, of your meals and snacks from scratch. In that case, just add salt, advises Tucci.

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6. Not Discussing the Diet with Your Doctor and Going It Alone
Many people who try the ketogenic diet do so in the hopes that it may treat a medical issue. If that is you, Clevenger advises that you first consult your physician to get their approval of your plan, particularly if you are also on medication. As your signs and symptoms go better, your doctor may need to change certain drugs, she adds. One such instance is insulin, which may now require a lower dosage given your strict carbohydrate restriction.

7. Ignoring your intake of vegetables
Veggies contain carbs. You must thus be careful with how much of them you consume, even lettuce. You might eat too many carbohydrates and force yourself out of ketosis if you aren’t careful or are eating them in a free-for-all manner. On the other hand, if keeping track of every small carrot starts to become too challenging, you could be avoiding vegetables completely. But it’s crucial to eat enough veggies, watch your quantities, and carefully measure your carbohydrates (vegetables include the fiber that will avoid constipation, a possible side effect of keto). For a range of nutrients, choose nonstarchy foods in a rainbow of hues, advises Tucci, such as leafy greens, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, and asparagus.

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8. Getting Obsessed with Carb Counting and Ignoring the Importance of Food Quality
When significantly reducing carbohydrates seems to be the only purpose of the keto diet, everything else may seem like an afterthought. “Reducing your carbohydrate intake is great, but when your budget allows, switching to higher-quality products will also help improve your health,” claims Clevenger. This entails selecting grass-fed, local, or organic meats; meals high in omega 3s, such as wild salmon; and whole foods for snacks rather than prepared keto-friendly dishes. It also involves including as many nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables in your diet as you can in order to maintain a balanced diet. Because it might result in dietary deficits, many qualified dietitians are not supporters of the keto diet. Working with an RD personally while adhering to keto might help you prevent this. Visit EatRight.org to find one.



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