Did you ever wonder why low carbohydrate ketogenic diets are advertised as one of the easiest ways to lose weight?
Because if this were true, then why is it that so many people cannot lose weight on these types of diets?
The problem is that people easily overlook the most obvious and fundamental part of dieting.
The biggest oversight is that you need to control your diet, not let your diet control you.
There are many different mistakes you can make on a restricted carbohydrate diet that will actually hinder true weight loss.
Low-Carb Diet Mistakes
What we will discuss in this article are the five most common problems when it comes to a low carb ketogenic diet and then demonstrate how easy they are to fix.
1. Eat Too Much Protein
It turns out that many times the approach to the diet is the problem.
We tend to mistake a low carb diet with a high protein, or “protein only” diet that is virtually void of both carbohydrates and healthy fats.
And who’s to blame; they are often advertised that way.
A strictly “meat-only” diet not only gets boring, but can be dangerous if sustained over a long period of time.
Although studies have produced conflicting results, it is generally accepted that protein-only diets can damage your kidneys and may cause significant calcium loss.
This was the case in the late 70’s and early 80’s when the diet trend was to consume an extremely low calorie diet that consisted only of protein drinks to try and lose weight.
That is the reason you will see a warning on the labels of all protein powders that states “this product should not be used for weight reduction”.
A true ketogenic diet contains moderate levels of protein along with fiber rich vegetables and lots of healthy fats.
This type of diet is designed to help your body burn off the excess fat deposits while keeping the body’s metabolism engine running smoothly and maintaining overall health at the same time.
2. Lack of Balance
The second basic thing to establish in a low carbohydrate diet is balance.
The ideal dietary balance is one that is low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and is moderate to high in healthy fats.
Sometimes it’s hard for beginners to establish a good balance, but the more experienced you become with a ketogenic diet, the better you will get at it.
Let’s go over a few ways you can accomplish this first goal.
You need to keep the carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams of carbs per day to establish full blown ketosis.
Ketosis is the process where the body burns stored fat cells for energy when it runs out of carbohydrates in your system.
That is where you will start to lose existing body fat – and weight.
Ideally, you want about 12-15 grams of carbs to come from vegetables.
Fresh vegetables are always best, but remember that all vegetables are not created equally.
Be sure to check the carbohydrate content of each one before eating them.
Lettuce, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms and celery are all great examples that have very low carb content.
Having a salad at each meal will not significantly increase the carb count, but will give you a variety in your diet.
You also need to remember that too much protein works against you in the same way as too many carbs work against you.
Your body turns the extra protein into sugar for energy the same way it does with carbs.
Nuts, generally considered to be protein rich, are low carb unless you get the sugar coated ones.
But you need to remember that eating 10 or 15 nuts is good, while polishing off the whole can is not.
Again, the key to being successful on a low carbohydrate diet is low carbs, moderate protein, and high fat.
3. Not Eating Enough Fat
The third area that one needs to be cautious in is not enough fat.
That is not a misprint.
We have been programmed to believe that all fat is bad fat, and at one time that was generally accepted knowledge.
Unfortunately, when on a low carb diet we need to up the fat content!
Eating healthy fats gives the body fuel to burn off the excess fat in our body.
Think of it as a fat burning helper.
There are many different sources of “good” fat.
Avocados, wild caught salmon, chia seeds, cheese, nuts, Omega 3 eggs, and butter from grass fed cows (not margarine) all have good fat.
Even using extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil while cooking helps to increase your healthy fat consumption.
And forget all of the low-fat dressings for your salads.
Instead, get a full-fat dressing and enjoy that salad!
You can even start to enjoy having some eggs scrambled in real butter for breakfast.
A low carb diet definitely does not have to be a boring diet.
4. Not Staying Hydrated
The fourth area to focus on is to drink more water!
Because carbohydrates attract water and help your body to hydrate, a low carb diet can leave you dehydrated, putting stress on the kidneys.
So drinking more water helps keep your system flushed and your kidneys healthy.
Many people reduce their water intake because they want to see immediate results on the scale.
That might work for a day or two, but the body then begins to fight back and may retain even more water.
You can enjoy your coffee in the morning, but then make sure that you are drinking enough regular, plain old water.
Make your daily intake at least ten glasses plus your usual caffeinated products.
It is also helpful if you stop drinking alcohol altogether – or at least moderate your alcohol intake while on the low carb diet.
Like most diets, not all types of alcohol are created equal.
While on the one hand we don’t want to stop enjoying our lives, on the other, watching what kind of alcohol we are consuming is wise.
Red wine, whiskey, or a lite beer is not a deal breaker for the occasional night out.
Just exercise restraint.
5. Eating Prepackaged Foods
Our fifth mistake is consuming the prepackaged “healthy” low carb meal replacements we see advertised everywhere.
Let’s face it; major companies have convincing marketing strategies that are aimed at your appetite.
We have busy lives, and it is so much easier to pick up a box of low carb protein bars to snack on at work.
But in reality, while they are a low carb food, they also have so many other ingredients that they end up working against you.
Oftentimes these prepackaged, low carb foods are loaded with sugar alcohol, an additive that can raise the amount of sugar in your system because they have a high glycemic index.
Using them for an occasional fix is okay, but if you are snacking on them all day it can be a weighty problem.
The solution? Plan your diet.
If you are short of time on most nights, plan some prepared snacks during the week.
Use your favorite sized plastic containers to put portions of nuts or celery to take with you to work each day.
You can prepare all of these snacks ahead of time at the beginning of each week.
An occasionally cheese stick now and then to add variety is far better than a box of low carb snacks from the grocery store.
6. Not Eating Enough Fiber
There are some things that you just can’t skip.
Let’s face it; protein, especially coupled with cheese, does not pass through your system as easily as carbohydrates.
So it’s crucial that you don’t skip the fiber.
Chia Seeds are a great source of the fiber you need and a double bonus because they are high in fat also!
You can also benefit by taking one of the many fiber supplements out there.
Fiber products that contain psyllium husk are the best for keeping your elimination system running smooth when your carbohydrate intake is low.
Just find a good source of fiber that works for you and make sure that you include it in your diet every day.
7. Not Exercising
Don’t skip out of establishing an exercise regimen either.
You might think that since you are dieting you don’t need to exercise – or even shouldn’t exercise.
The point is, don’t stop!
Exercise is important for helping burn any extra carbs in your system and is essential for causing the fat burning ketosis cycle to start up.
Can you slow down or speed up your exercise program? Certainly.
Anytime you change your eating habits, it will take your body a few days to get used to the new “norm.”
Just don’t become a couch potato because you are on a keto diet and think that it’s going to do all of the work.
And one last thing; don’t forget to monitor your sodium intake either.
If you are feeling tired, having a hard time concentrating, dizzy, or having leg cramps, you can attribute it to your diet change, so you might have to cut back if you are taking too much sodium.
There also may be times when you are not getting enough sodium either.
So in this case, it would be beneficial to get medical guidance to make sure you are staying within a “healthy” zone.
Basically succeeding on a low carb ketogenic diet is all about balance. Here is a re-cap:
- Keep that balance by making sure you don’t have too many carbohydrates, yet avoid overdoing it on the protein.
- Eating enough good, healthy fat in your diet is important.
- Drinking enough water to keep your body healthy and functioning properly is essential.
- Stay away from prepackaged low carb snacks. If you must eat them, do it in moderation and read the ingredient label.
- Get enough exercise.
- Keep tabs on getting sufficient amounts of sodium and fiber in your diet.
But most importantly, have the patience to keep up your diet long enough to see meaningful results.
Rome was not built in a day, and your body will not instantly lose all the fat in 24 hours; or even a week for that matter.
Give your body time to adjust, feed it properly, and keep it hydrated.
If you are not seeing any results in a week, then go back and reevaluate your low carb diet plan.