If you are thinking about doing the keto diet, you’re in luck because it can be really great for you! However, it is not without its drawbacks, just like any other diet or lifestyle change you choose. Here are some common pitfalls and tips for avoiding them.
Not Planning Ahead
Another common mistake people make is not planning ahead. Keto is one of those diet plans where you really need to keep track of everything you eat. This makes it hard to just grab something without knowing how many net carbs it contains. It is best that you plan all of your meals and snacks ahead of time, and prep as much as you can so you aren’t grabbing for a high-carb convenience food just because you’re not sure what to eat.
Failing to Track Your Macros
The first thing you need to do when you are on the ketogenic diet is track absolutely everything you consume. A common mistake people make is assuming they know their carb amounts since they are eating a lot of low-carb foods, but are still going over those 20 net carbs a day. The only way to know for sure is to track your macros. This also helps you keep an eye on other macros like your protein, fat, sugar, and fiber. Don’t forget to also add in seasonings, oils, and flavorings as those sometimes contain carbs as well.
Not Eating Enough Low-Carb Vegetables
While some people can do the keto diet without any vegetables, it is not recommended. You need your veggies for vitamins and minerals, particularly for fiber and reducing your overall protein levels. Veggies help to keep you full and can combat some of your cravings. Try to have at least one serving of vegetable a day, but preferably with each meal.
Checking Your Ketones
When you are on the keto diet, you are trying to get into ketosis. This is what allows you to lose weight as your body begins burning fat for fuel. Many people need to know they are in ketosis so they will use strips and other monitoring devices to check their ketones. There are many reasons your ketone levels might be off on certain days, so the stress it produces is really not worth it. Just stick to your 20 net carbs a day, focus on healthy eating with the right macros, and you should be just fine with staying in ketosis.
Ignoring Your Electrolytes
If you ever feel ill, especially with flu-like symptoms like dizziness or muscle weakness, you might have what is called the keto flu. This occurs when you are not getting enough electrolytes due to the changes in your food. Here are some things to know about the important electrolytes you need to focus on when you are following a ketogenic diet.
The Electrolytes You Need
The three important electrolytes you need to make sure you get while on keto are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. With a traditional diet, the combination of food, particularly though higher in carbohydrates, give you enough of these electrolytes. However, when you start reducing your carbs dramatically, combined with keto being a natural diuretic, can cause the levels to be extremely low. You are going to aim for more sodium than you normally would, which you get from salt. Try to get at least 5000mg of sodium per day. With potassium, you want 1000 to 3000mg a day, and at least 300mg of magnesium a day.
Sodium is the most important electrolyte to focus on when you are on the keto diet. If you feel faint and lightheaded, it is often from your sodium level being too low. The best way to cure this is by having more salt on a daily basis. Not only should you be salting your food, but you should try making an electrolyte drink. This will allow you to add more salt, while also getting your minimum water intake at the same time. You can use regular table salt, but pink Himalayan salt is often preferred since it has other benefits as well. You can also get more sodium from broth or bouillon cubes, and pickle juice.
The next electrolyte you need more of is potassium. Mostly because you are no longer eating foods that would otherwise have increased the potassium level, like bananas. However, you can still get your potassium with low-carb foods while on the ketogenic diet. As long as you are following a balanced diet of meat and veggies, you’re probably getting enough. Some of the top foods with potassium are kale, mushrooms, meat like pork, and avocados.
There aren’t many foods you can eat on keto with enough magnesium, so the best option is to take a magnesium supplement. Get one that has at least 300mg per tablet, and all you need is one a day.