The ketogenic diet isn’t the easiest to follow. You have to be careful to eliminate certain foods and ingredients like wheat and sugar, which like to hide in sometimes surprising foods, and you have to stick to your percentages of fat, protein, and carbs. People don’t even think about certain things when they start out, which can make the diet harder or not as beneficial. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid (and what to do instead):
Mistake #1: Not planning ahead
You decide to go on the ketogenic diet and dive right in. Unfortunately, you still have a kitchen full of foods not allowed on the keto diet and no idea what to make for meals. You also don’t know what restaurants have keto-friendly options, or what brands you should look for at the store. This makes your new diet very difficult, and you always feel at a loss and tempted to break the diet. As soon as you make the decision to go keto, get rid of everything in your house that isn’t keto-approved. Look up recipes and start meal-planning, so you know exactly what to get at the store. You’ll feel much more prepared and less overwhelmed.
Mistake #2: Not anticipating the keto flu
The keto flu is what happens when your body transitions from burning carbs to burning fat. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and nausea. While most people get through it without too much trouble in a week or two, it can be uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t prepared for it. If you go about your normal routine and don’t know what to do when symptoms hit, you may start regretting your choice to go keto and back out. You’ll feel discouraged and disappointed in yourself. If you accept that the keto flu is coming, however,
you can do things to make it easier. Staying hydrated is very important since you lose more water during this phase of the diet. You should also eat as much protein and fats as you need, without worrying about the percentages, and be sure to replenish your electrolytes (especially sodium) by drinking chicken broth with salt. If your symptoms are especially bad, it’s okay to eat some clean carbs (like a sweet potato or high-carb fruit) to make the adjustment easier.
Mistake #3: Not adjusting your exercise routine
Some people worry that they can’t build muscle on the keto diet, but you definitely can. You just have to adjust your routines and possibly the diet slightly to make the most of your workouts. Anaerobic exercise, which is intense and interval-based, isn’t improved by the keto diet because it relies on carbs. You can still do this type of exercise, but you should eat 15-30 fast-acting carbs before and after a workout. Aerobic and cardio exercise, however, can improve with the keto diet and doesn’t require any adjustments to your carb intake.
Mistake #4: Ignoring your electrolytes
Electrolytes are necessary for good health. On the keto diet, you lose them more than on other diets, especially during the first weeks of ketosis. Many people neglect these minerals, which can lead to potentially serious health problems. Be sure to get sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium through food or supplements, if necessary. Talk to your doctor about testing your levels, and be aware of how much you need per day for your best health.
Mistake #5: Not getting good sleep
Sleep is just as important to the body and mind as good food. Without good
sleep, your health will suffer. A lot of people have terrible sleep habits, like getting distracted by their phones and computers in bed, never getting up at the same time, and so on. There’s a lot you can do to improve your sleep quality. Make sure the room is completely dark and free from electronic blue lights, which have been shown to disrupt good sleep patterns. Start winding down a half or half-hour before bed, and turn off the TV and keep away from your phone and computer. Give your mind the chance to settle and prepare the body for sleep.
Mistake #6: Not finding support
When you change your diet dramatically, it will be hard. Lots of people believe they can do it alone, but they’re soon overwhelmed and discouraged. It’s very difficult to do anything by yourself; humans are built for community. To ensure long-term success, find a good support network, whether it’s people who are going keto themselves, or are just really good listeners and cheerleaders. Consider looking online for a group on a website like Meetup. You should also be clear with your family (if they aren’t going keto with you) about what you need from them in terms of support. That might mean asking that they keep treats out of the house or that they agree to eat only keto meals if you’re cooking. With good support, you’ll find the motivation you need to stick to your diet.