It may seem like the internet is constantly buzzing about the reported health benefits of the keto diet, but it’s important to acknowledge that the diet can have some consequences for your health if it’s done incorrectly. To avoid unwanted keto fails, we spoke to experts about fixable keto-diet mistakes to keep in mind if you’re serious about giving the diet a try.
Below are some important things to keep in mind before you start researching keto-friendly meals.
You aren’t taking minerals to offset acid production in the body.
“Ketosis creates excess acid production, which starts to pull your pH down,” registered dietitian Suzanne Dixon said.
To maintain your normal blood pH, your body needs basic minerals, she explained. She suggested adding supplements to your daily routine to balance your pH levels.
You aren’t limiting your protein intake.
For the ketogenic diet to lead to a full conversion of metabolism (using fat and ketones for energy instead of carbohydrates), Dixon explained that you need to limit your intake of protein.
“If you are eating very few carbs, but are still eating plenty of protein, your body will use protein to make glucose,” she said. “Once you are making glucose, regardless of whether the source is carbs or protein, you’re not in ketosis anymore.”
You’re not eating enough fat.
For most people to reach ketosis, Dixon suggested getting at least 85% of calories from fat. “If you’re a relatively active woman trying to lose weight, you might aim for 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day,” she said. “That means you need to eat between 151 and 170 grams of fat per day.”
You’re only tracking carbs.
“If you only track carbohydrates, it’s very easy to overdo it on protein,” Dixon told INSIDER. Excess protein intake will thwart your best efforts to reach ketosis, she added.
You’re eating too much saturated fat.
“Many people use the ketogenic diet as a great excuse to eat bacon, cheese, and steak,” Dixon said. Although these foods can supply protein and fat, she explained, they aren’t the healthiest sources of these macronutrients.
You’re much better off getting your protein from very lean, low-fat protein sources, such as chicken and fish, she said.
You aren’t drinking enough water.
“Drink plenty of water to ensure you are flushing your system and keeping yourself hydrated,” Dixon suggested. Being dehydrated and in ketosis at the same time can cause unwanted kidney damage, she said.
You aren’t doing your research.
“The keto diet is a little more complicated than it sounds,” Lindsey Mathews, head trainer at IdealFit, said.
Before beginning, it’s important to know exactly what you’re going to eat, which foods you’re not going to eat, how long you’re planning to do it, and how you plan to reverse-diet out of it, Mathews said.
You’re solely consuming animal products.
“A person who is not including plant foods in their diet is missing out on important phytonutrients and is probably not getting enough vitamin C and fibre,” registered dietitian Summer Yule said.
Avocado and non-starchy vegetables (such as leafy greens and broccoli) can and absolutely should be a regular part of the keto diet, she advised. Higher-carb foods, she added, are harder to fit into your diet but can be added in portioned amounts.
You’re eating too many processed meats.
Instead, she recommended, choose organic and grass-fed animal proteins and wild-caught seafood whenever possible.
You think keto meals have to be bland.
“There can be a misconception that eating healthy or following a specific dietary plan means monotonous meal prep of bland protein and vegetables, but it’s important to have variety so you don’t get bored and want to give up,” Dana Murrell, executive chef at Green Chef, said.
When attempting a new diet, she said, it’s better to focus on the foods you can have and find creative ways to enjoy those, rather than focus on the foods you can’t have.
You’re consuming too much dairy.
Although enjoying full-fat dairy products is one of the tasty bonuses of a keto diet, licensed integrative nutritionist Kelly Boyer explained that you will still need to curb your calorie intake if you are trying to lose weight.
“Weight loss is achieved when you burn more calories than you consume,” she told INSIDER. “Dairy products should only make up a small portion of your daily intake.”
You aren’t exercising enough.
“Many people have made the mistake of restricting exercise while on a keto diet,” Boyer explained.
Exercise is vital on a ketosis diet, she said, as it stimulates fat loss, burns calories, and helps builds muscle.
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