So you’ve started the keto diet and everything is going great…Until one day, you give in; you couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge in a good old-fashioned piece of grandma’s apple pie.
While it tasted amazing, you were likely overwhelmed by feelings of remorse soon after you swallowed the last bite. Intuitively, eating too many carbs is one of the major keto diet mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.
But what are some of the other keto diet mistakes that you should watch out for? Read on as this article addresses this very issue and details some foolproof tactics to ensure you stay on track with your keto plan.
5 Keto Diet Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid
1. Eating Too Many Carbs (Duh!)
Intuitively, you must limit your carbohydrate consumption significantly when you’re on the keto diet; otherwise, you won’t encourage your body to adapt to fat as a primary fuel source and you will not be in ketosis.
Eating too many carbs is indubitably the most common of the keto diet mistakes many people make (especially for newbies).
In most cases, people aren’t even aware they are eating too many carbs when they start the keto diet. How can this be?
Watch out for Hidden Carbs
Firstly, there are hidden carbs that sneak their way into people’s diet unbeknownst to them. For example, using excessive amounts of brand-name “no-calorie” sweeteners is one way that high-glycemic carbs can tally onto your carb count without you knowing. With that being said, there are specific ways to find the hidden carbs.
Splenda, a common non-nutritive sugar replacement, is actually a mixture of dextrose, maltodextrin, and sucralose; each packet actually provides about 0.5 grams of sugar.
Naturally, consuming many packets of Splenda per day can quickly increase your carb intake in a sneaky manner.
If you need help selecting appropriate sugar substitutes on the keto diet, check out our Guide to Keto Sweeteners.
Weigh out Your Food Portions
A second, more obvious culprit of eating too many carbs is simply neglecting to weigh out your food portions. If you’re a novice to the keto diet (and measuring out foods), you should certainly invest in a food scale and become familiar with how much food you are actually eating.
You’ll be surprised at just how skewed perceptions of food portions might be. Chances are you’re using too many servings of sugary condiments or sauces (trust us, two tablespoons of ketchup is not a whole lot in terms of volume.)
However, once you become accustomed to portion sizes of the foods you eat, you can guesstimate most of your servings without hampering your keto efforts.
Nevertheless, during the initial phases of cutting carbs, it’s best to be meticulous about tracking your portion sizes. As the saying goes, “You’re better safe than sorry.”
How Many Carbs Should I Be Eating on the Keto Diet?
Firstly, if you are trying the ketogenic diet to treat or remedy a clinical condition – like epileptic seizures – then you should follow the protocols of a licensed physician. They will be able to properly guide you and decide how many carbs you should eat on the keto diet.
For the rest of the population, how strict you need to be about your carb intake on the keto diet is a bit variable from one person to another. Some people might need to keep their total daily carb intake under 30 grams to maximize the benefits of ketosis.
For example, a one-week clinical trial of obese patients with type-2 diabetes demonstrated that their urine ketone values were 27-fold higher than baseline values when they limited their carb intake to less than 20 grams per day. Pretty crazy, isn’t it? Just one week and they were already in a “deep” ketosis.
Moreover, people who are highly active and larger overall might be able to eat upwards of 70 grams of carbs per day and still maintain beneficial amounts of ketone production.
Nevertheless, once you get into ketosis, you can use some trial and error by slowly adding (very) small portions of carbs to your diet. If you do this, be sure to use a form of ketosis testing to ensure you’re still sustaining a nominal amount of ketone production.
2. Skimping on Your Fat Intake
When you restrict carbs, eating ample amounts of dietary fat is ultimately what promotes the creation of ketone bodies (and thus, you enter ketosis).
As a general rule-of-thumb, you should be eating no less than 60% of your total daily calorie intake in the form of dietary fats.
Moreover, you need to make sure you’re eating the right types of fatty foods. This means consuming generous amounts of things like avocado, seafood, beef, coconut, MCT oil, nuts, butter, etc. To help you out we have created a list of the top ten ketogenic diet foods.
If you find it hard to meet your fat macro needs on the keto diet, we highly suggest trying out some of our fat bomb recipes!
However, eating superfluous amounts of dietary fat isn’t necessarily better for ketosis. There comes a point where your body simply won’t produce more ketones just because you’re eating more fat.
Per example, a 3-week clinical trial of 11 healthy adults showed that ketone values were essentially the same regardless of whether subjects ate 80% or 90% of their total daily calories from dietary fat.
Also, remember that dietary fat contains the most calories of the major macronutrients. Hence, it’s easy to overshoot your daily calorie needs if you’re eating excessive amounts of fat.
As with carbohydrates, be sure to monitor your fat intake scrupulously when you first begin the keto diet.
3. Not Exercising (Enough)
Crazily enough, not exercising (enough) is one of the major keto diet mistakes. While exercise is not necessarily required to get into ketosis, you certainly will benefit by keeping active when you make the switch to low-carb life.
It goes without saying that exercise is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for your health and longevity. However, this doesn’t mean you need to turn into a hardcore meathead or train like a pro athlete just to keep in good shape.
In fact, even modest amounts of walking or other low-impact forms of exercise can help you stay in ketosis. Moreover, intense exercise, like heavy resistance training and sprinting, forces your body to burn your glycogens for fuel.
When you significantly deplete glycogen stores while exercising, the liver compensates by increasing ketone body synthesis. Naturally, you need to make sure you’re restricting carb intake as well.
Contemporary research also shows that the body inherently elevates ketone synthesis if you workout while fasting. In many ways, ketosis works similarily to fasting (physiologically speaking).
4. Not Using Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is quite a trendy topic in the world of health and fitness as of late. If you have never heard of intermittent fasting, it basically is a method of abstaining from food/energy intake for short periods of time (generally about 16-18 hours), then consuming several snacks/meals throughout the rest of the day.
As an example, let’s say you nod off around 9 PM and get up at 5 AM (the time you spent sleeping is considered “fasting”). After you wake, instead of eating breakfast right away after you wake, you will keep fasting until 1 PM – then you will “break the fast” and eat your first meal, and you would eat all of your food for the day between 1 PM and 9 PM. This comes out to be a 16-hour fast and 8-hour “feeding window.”
Research demonstrates that intermittent fasts encourage your body to use adipose tissue (body fat) for fuel and even create more ketones.
And don’t worry, you don’t need to fast for 16 hours every day just to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting; even once or twice a week can help accelerate fat loss and enhance ketosis.
5. Neglecting Protein Intake
Not eating sufficient protein is yet another one of the major keto diet mistakes people make. Your body needs protein and amino acids to synthesize tissues – especially skeletal muscle – and carry out vital cellular processes.
Along with fat, protein is an essential macronutrient and should not be overlooked.
Similar to fat intake, protein is beneficial up to a point. The key is to eat enough protein without going overboard. Eating exorbitant amounts of protein can lead to a host of side effects, including bloating, flatulence, loss of appetite, dyspepsia, and others.
Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic process that occurs in your body in order to produce glucose from non-sugar substrates (e.g. protein-derived amino acids); this generally takes place when you greatly reduce both carb and calorie intake.
The good news is that if you are consuming sufficient amounts of dietary fat and adequate protein, you won’t have much gluconeogenesis taking place as ketones are being created to help energize your body.
Also, the amount of protein you would need to eat on the keto diet in order to negate the effects of ketosis is rather absurd.
Considering all of this, you could consume upwards of 2.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day, which is way more than enough on the keto diet, and still not have much to stress about with regards to ketosis.
For most people, though, 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day is plenty.
Getting Back on Track: Recovering from Keto Diet Mistakes
We are all human and life happens; if you were at a party over the weekend and had one too many beers or a few slices of chocolate cake, chances are you’re stressing over how to bounce back from making keto diet mistakes as quickly as possible.
First and foremost, don’t worry about the short-term setback! You’re going to make some mistakes on the keto diet but in the grand scheme of things they are valuable learning lessons and not detrimental (as long as you don’t keep making them). Failing is a powerful teacher if you heed the lessons.
Now, if your main concern is simply to get back into ketosis as fast as possible, then the prudent option is to do a short-term fast (maybe 18-20 hours long).
You could also try a 3-4 day fat fast; if you’re not familiar with fat fasting, we have a comprehensive Guide to Fat Fasting.
If you put away enough carbs for a family of six as part of your “mistake,” then pair the fasting with high-intensity exercise (e.g. resistance training, sprinting, etc.).
This will help burn up the glycogen stores you built up from all the carb intake and hasten the process of getting back into ketosis.