This is a guest post by Louise Hendon, co-host of The Keto Summit and author of The Essential Keto Cookbook.
The Keto Diet can be a useful and effective tool to improve your health.
But be careful –
If you’d like to get the full benefits of the diet?
You’ll need to steer clear of some common pitfalls.
And in this article we’ll walk through you the most common mistakes to avoid making…
We’ll also recap what keto is, how keto can benefit your health and a few tips for starting your keto diet.
What is Keto?
A quick recap on what the keto diet actually is:
The main aim of the keto diet is to put your body into nutritional ketosis.
That’s a powerful metabolic state where your body burns more fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates/sugars. (More on the health benefits of that in the next section).
It breaks this fat down into ketones. That’s why you can tell if you’ve reached nutritional ketosis by measuring the level of ketones in your blood.
What do you eat on keto? Plenty of healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and very few carbohydrates.
- Good foods include: leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower, seafood, meats, organ meats, avocados, olives, coconut oil, ghee.
- Foods to avoid: peanuts (and peanut butter), legumes, soy products, grains like wheat/oats/corn, processed vegetable oils and diet sodas.
4 Health Benefits of Keto
These are a few of the health benefits you can expect from a successful keto diet:
1 – A keto diet can help you lose weight.
A study comparing a conventional weight loss diet (low fat, calorie restricted and high carbohydrate) with a diet similar to keto (high fat and low carb) found participants on the keto-style diet lost significantly more weight.
2 – A keto diet can reduce your risk of heart disease.
By lowering your levels of bad cholesterol, decreasing your triglyceride levels, and increasing your levels of good cholesterol; the diet reduces your overall risk of heart disease.
(Check out a study which provides evidence here).
3 – A keto diet can stop you overeating.
There’s evidence that keto affects the hormones which regulate your appetite (see this study for more info) and that could be why so many keto dieters report feeling less hungry.
It’s even been proven in a study that folks on a diet similar to keto naturally decrease their food intake even when they’re allowed to eat as much as they want.
In addition, fat is more satiating compared to carbs. Having higher fat content in your meals will help you feel full longer, thus reducing the likelihood of over eating.
4 – A keto diet can help increase your energy levels.
Lots of folks who are on keto report feeling clearer-headed, more focused and more alert throughout the day.
Top 5 Mistakes Made on Keto and How to Avoid These Mistakes
These are the five big mistakes you should avoid making on the keto diet:
Thinking food quality doesn’t matter.
Even if they are low carb, that doesn’t mean you should be eating processed junk foods (like energy bars, diet sodas and meal replacement shakes). While you may be eating less carbs, you might not feel too great by putting in bad fuel into your body.
What to do instead: focus on including as many high-quality nutrient dense foods in your diet as possible. Try to eat as many whole foods as possible and whipping up your own recipes from scratch!
Increasing fat intake too quickly.
Adding more healthy fats to your diet is an essential part of keto. But if you’re not used to eating so much fat? Adding too much fat too fast can give you digestive issues and even lead to constipation.
What to do instead: increase your fat intake gradually over time to avoid problems with digestion.
Becoming too fixated on high ketone levels.
Having really high ketone levels isn’t essential for weight loss – and higher ketone levels aren’t necessarily better, it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
What to do instead: Focus on how you’re feeling and the improvement you’re seeing, and check out our guide to optimum ketone levels to determine the right ketone level to aim for. If you’re really concerned about whether or not you’re in ketosis, you can always try using keto strips.
Not preparing for keto flu.
When you first start keto, your body needs to adapt to burning fat instead of carbohydrates. That can result in some uncomfortable flu-like symptoms which may last for up to a week. Too many folks start a keto diet without preparing for this.
What to do instead: make sure you drink plenty of fluids and take in plenty of electrolytes during this period (Powerade Zero, or any zero calorie sports drink will help), and keep your schedule light as you’ll be a little more tired than ususal.
Forgetting that what you eat isn’t everything.
Starting a keto diet can be a great way to boost your health, but it’s important to take care of yourself in other ways, too! Don’t forget about all the other aspects of self-care and expect keto to work miracles.
What to do instead: remember you need to get enough sleep, manage your stress levels, and make time to exercise if you want to keep yourself healthy.
Tips for getting started on Keto
And last but not least, here are a few practical tips to get your keto diet started:
- Clear out your non-keto food and then restock your kitchen with keto-friendly options. You’ll find it easier to stick to your diet if you don’t have non-keto foods around to tempt you.
- Pick one meal to skip each day and you’ll only have to think about making two keto-friendly meals each day instead of three. Remember; keto decreases your appetite anyway, so you may find it easier than you think.
- Start off by eating unlimited protein/fat but make sure to keep your daily carbohydrate intake under 25g. It’s best to keep things simple when you begin and tweak your protein/fat ratios later.
- Consider getting some health tests before you start to make sure you don’t have any underlying issues to address like autoimmune conditions, gut infections or vitamin/mineral deficiencies. By fixing these first, you’ll get the full benefits of the keto diet once you start.
The keto diet can be a great tool to boost your health.
But it’s important to do keto the right way.
And that means using keto as part of an overall healthy lifestyle –
By focusing on filling your diet with healthy whole foods, getting enough rest, managing stress and taking time to exercise.
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