Starting out on any diet or healthy lifestyle change can be confusing at first.
There are bad habits to break, new rules to follow and a tonne of preparation to go through to make sure that you set yourself up for the best start possible. After all, getting healthy and losing weight is a serious business!
The ketogenic diet is no exception this. It’s easy to fall foul of a few misconceptions and make errors in judgement when you’re new to the world of ketogenic dieting.
Here are five of the main slip-ups that newbie ketogenic diets should avoid:
1) Being Impatient
When you start any diet or weight-loss regime, you usually want to see results immediately (even if there’s a part of you that knows that this just isn’t rational thinking). Although the ketogenic diet does lend itself quite well to speedy weight loss in comparison to other diets, it still takes time for the numbers on the scale to start shifting.
One common mistake among newbie keto dieters is not giving fat adaptation the time it takes to get going. This can be partly due to a limited understanding about what ketosis is, and how the ketogenic diet actually works. It also takes time to adjust to the way of thinking that is conducive to the ketogenic diet; fully accepting the fact that fat does not make you fat – but carbs do!
Another contributing factor that can lead new ketogenic dieters to give up at the first hurdle is the fact that the first couple of weeks on a ketogenic diet can be very tough. You will inevitably experience some side effects in one form of another if you switch up your nutrition intake, and it’s no secret that the ketogenic diet can lead to feelings of fatigue in the early stages.
Many people give up because of this – not fully realising that the effects of ‘Low-Carb-Flu’ (as it is known) are temporary, and that you can actually combat these symptoms by taking regular exercise.
Plus, for the particularly tough mornings when you wake up feeling a little groggy, you could pour yourself a cup of bulletproof coffee to help combat fatigue and keep those energy levels high in the first couple of weeks on the diet.
All that’s required is you have a little patience.
2) Being Fooled by ‘Healthy’ Foods
People that are new to the ketogenic diet often make this mistake when considering what foods to eat (particularly if it’s food that hasn’t been prepped at home). Just because something is branded as ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean that it actually is – and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to eat on a ketogenic diet.
Similarly, hiccups like this can happen when eating out at restaurants. When we look at the menu, we might think we are choosing a healthy option, by choosing a salad for example. Are salads allowed on a ketogenic diet? Absolutely! Are salads that are smothered with high-carb dressings and sugary vinaigrettes? Nope!
If you’re eating out, make sure you check what your dish actually contains. You’ll be surprised just how much sugar is in the condiments and garnishes that we love to throw all over our salads and other dishes.
3) Eating Too Little
A restricted diet can cause people to assume that they should be eating less. After all, there’s less on the menu, compared to what you might call a ‘regular’ diet, filled with carbs and sugars.
Also, not being able to reach for convenience foods and snacks often causes people to skip meals.
It’s important to keep your energy levels high, and keep your body fuelled and nourished. Don’t skip meals just because you don’t want to cook or prep your own food.
The key to this diet is preparation and planning (as well as hard work and commitment). There are tonnes of keto-friendly recipes out there – this blog has a tonne of them – so there’s really no excuse for not cooking yourself a tasty, satisfying meal that’s also perfectly acceptable to eat on this diet.
If you’re really struggling, try creating a meal plan for the week, or preparing your keto-friendly work lunches in advance so that you aren’t faced with the choice of either going hungry, or opting for whatever (probably) carb-loaded snack that’s readily available to you when you’re out of the house.
4) Avoiding Exercise
It’s a common misconception that the ketogenic diet makes you weak. This may be due to the fact that, yes, you probably will experience at least some fatigue during your first few weeks while your body adjusts to a diet that is limited in carbohydrates.
Remember, it takes time for your body to adjust and enter a state of ketosis, and for you to start burning fat for fuel.
Taking at least some form of regular exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Your focus here should be on your health – not your weight. Get healthy, and the weight loss will follow.
Strength training, steady-state cardio and high intensity interval training are all good options, and are perfectly suited to any low-carb lifestyle. Don’t believe all the myths you read about low-carb diets affecting athletic performance.
This simply is not true!
5) Falling Victim to ‘Hidden Carbs’
When you start following a ketogenic diet, you might find it difficult to get out of the habit of counting calories and beginning to count your carbs instead. In very general terms, if you restrict your carbohydrate intake and eat more fat – you will lose weight.
The only problem is that not all carbs are created equally.
Plenty of new ketogenic dieters get confused about carbs faced with the terms ‘net carbs’ and ‘total carbs’ – and not understanding that there is a difference between the two.
As far as the ketogenic diet is concerned, it’s the net carb count (which is the amount of carbohydrate minus the dietary fibre count) of foods that you should be paying attention to. Always be sure to read food labels thoroughly, and take note of the net carb count, so as to avoid any carb-related slip-ups.