The fitness industry has a diet for every need of yours, whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle mass, detox, or simply have fun. Amidst these options, a popular weight loss diet is the ketogenic (keto) diet.
The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein diet that improves fat metabolism. In order to optimize the results of this diet by avoiding common mistakes, it’s important to first understand what the diet is all about.
What Is The Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet works by starving the body of carbohydrates which are the body’s primary source of energy. By doing so, your body is forced into a process called ketosis.
Ketosis is the “survival mode” of our bodies which occurs when it’s low on food, particularly carbohydrates. In this process, the body runs on fatty acids and burns fat instead of glucose. Hence, your muscle development and fat metabolism improve.1
But, like most other diets, keto diets might fail due to a few mistakes. Here are a few common ones that you should avoid to get the best results from this diet.
Common Mistakes Made On A Keto Diet
1. Being Impatient With Adaptation
This diet demands patience. This is because the road to getting your body used to and metabolizing fat instead of carbohydrates is long and winding.
Your body might take up to a week to adapt and 3–4 weeks to fully adjust to a low-carb diet. Hence, if you find yourself losing motivation, remind yourself of the time it takes for your body to settle into this diet.2
2. Having Too Much Or Too Little Protein
While protein is an essential macro nutrient in this diet, it’s important to maintain a balance when it comes to its consumption. If your protein intake exceeds 25% of your daily energy expenditure, then you might experience side effects like lack of energy, and headache. Excess protein might also suppress ketogenesis, the process by which the body breaks down fatty acids.3 4
Low protein intake, on the other hand, is linked to loss of functional lean tissue and a loss of physical performance. The ideal protein intake on the keto diet is 1.2–1.7 grams per kilogram of your bodyweight.5 6
3. Not Exercising At All
Most people are low on energy during a keto diet, and hence refrain from exercising. However, this has little to do with the diet and more to do with mistakes associated with it.
Inadequate protein intake as well as the lack of potassium and sodium are associated with lowered aerobic performance. If you find yourself cheating your diet by consuming carbohydrates every now and then, then it might affect your ability to exercise as well.7
While low carbohydrate intake does affect your ability to do anaerobic exercises like weight lifting, if followed properly, the diet doesn’t affect your endurance. In fact, aerobic activity on a ketogenic diet might increase fat metabolism, reduce body mass and fat content, and decrease post exercises muscle damage. So, don’t hesitate to get a little work out in when you’re on this diet.8
4. Eating Too Little Fat
Considering the fact that you’re replacing carbs with fat, it’s important to eat enough good quality fats. While you might be hesitant to eat foods high in fat, considering that you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to remember that a high fat diet leads to greater ability to oxidize fat.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
While it’s good for your health to drink enough water, it’s especially important to do so on this diet. Studies indicate that people show signs of dehydration within the first 4 weeks of this diet.
This condition is especially true for those who fast before the diet. Hence, it’s important to up your water intake and stay hydrated throughout the course of the keto diet.11
6. Not Having Enough Electrolytes
The process of ketosis has a dehydrating effect on the body. This is because it leads to the excretion of three of the body’s primary electrolytes namely magnesium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals regulate muscle contraction and heart function.
In order to avoid complications related to loss of electrolytes, including muscle cramping and heart disorders, ensure that you take supplements. However, the amount you need to make up for depends on your body and other medical conditions, so be sure to consult a medical practitioner before you opt for supplements.12
7. Not Eating Enough Fiber
Another common side effect of this diet is constipation. This might be caused due to reduced fiber intake and increased gastrointestinal absorption of foods.
In order to avoid this, you could eat a salad with fibrous vegetables while maintaining your carbohydrate limit for the day. Alternatively, you could opt for a sugar-free fiber supplement.13
When done right, the ketogenic diet has shown long term benefits.14 Initially, the task of keeping up with your nutrient intake might seem daunting. But, seeing this diet through might just be worth it when you consider the results.
|↑1||Krilanovich, Nicholas J. “Benefits of ketogenic diets.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 85, no. 1 (2007): 238-239.|
|↑2, ↑4, ↑6, ↑7||Phinney, Stephen D. “Ketogenic diets and physical performance.” Nutrition & metabolism 1, no. 1 (2004): 2.|
|↑3||Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Not by bread alone. Macmillan, 1946.|
|↑5||Davis, P. G., and S. D. Phinney. “Differential effects of two very low calorie diets on aerobic and anaerobic performance.” International journal of obesity 14, no. 9 (1990): 779-787.|
|↑8||Zajac, Adam, Stanisław Poprzecki, Adam Maszczyk, Miłosz Czuba, Małgorzata Michalczyk, and Grzegorz Zydek. “The effects of a ketogenic diet on exercise metabolism and physical performance in off-road cyclists.” Nutrients 6, no. 7 (2014): 2493-2508.|
|↑9||Paoli, Antonio. “Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe?.” International journal of environmental research and public health 11, no. 2 (2014): 2092-2107.|
|↑10||Schrauwen, Patrick, Anton JM Wagenmakers, Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt, Wim HM Saris, and Klaas R. Westerterp. “Increase in fat oxidation on a high-fat diet is accompanied by an increase in triglyceride-derived fatty acid oxidation.” Diabetes 49, no. 4 (2000): 640-646.|
|↑11||Duchowny, Michael S. “Food for thought: the ketogenic diet and adverse effects in children.” Epilepsy currents 5, no. 4 (2005): 152.|
|↑12, ↑13||McDonald, Lyle. The Ketogenic Diet: A complete guide for the dieter and practitioner. Lyle McDonald, 1998.|
|↑14||Dashti, Hussein M., Thazhumpal C. Mathew, Talib Hussein, Sami K. Asfar, Abdulla Behbahani, Mousa A. Khoursheed, Hilal M. Al-Sayer, Yousef Y. Bo-Abbas, and Naji S. Al-Zaid. “Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients.” Experimental & Clinical Cardiology 9, no. 3 (2004): 200.|