There are many obstacles that people tend to encounter while on a ketogenic diet. These can lead to negative effects and especially unsatisfactory results.
Indeed, cutting back on carbs is not enough to end up in a state of ketosis and reap all the metabolic benefits of a low-carb diet. If you didn’t get the results you wanted on this or any other low-sugar diet, you may have made one of these 5 common mistakes.
1. Eating too many carbohydrates
There is no precise delineation of what constitutes a “ketogenic diet”. Some would say that 50 grams of carbohydrate (which is already a lot less than in a standard Western diet) are enough.
But if you want to go into ketosis, with an abundance of ketones flooding your bloodstream (to provide your brain with an efficient source of energy), then this amount may be too high.
Indeed, each person has their own limits that need to be assessed with urine strips (for example). This personal limit depends on many parameters and it is not uncommon for a person to need to limit their intake to less than 35 grams of carbohydrate per day to enter and stay in ketosis.
2. Eating too much protein
Proteins are a very important macronutrient, many people lack. Compared to other macronutrients, it has the power to improve satiety and increase fat burning. Consuming more protein should normally help you lose weight and improve your body composition.
But this rule that works for most people does not apply to people who are on a ketogenic diet. In fact, consuming too much protein can backfire!
In fact, when you consume more protein than your body needs, some of the amino acids in protein are converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis.
This can be problematic on a ketogenic diet and prevent your body from going into true ketosis. A ketogenic diet should therefore be low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and “moderate” in protein.
3. Be afraid to eat fat
Most people get the majority of their calories from carbohydrates in food. When you remove this source of energy from your diet, you have to replace it with something or you will be starved.
Unfortunately, some people think cutting back on carbs is a good idea, and cutting back on fat and carbs could be even better. This is a big mistake. You have to get energy from somewhere and if you don’t eat carbohydrates then you necessarily have to bring in fat to compensate. Otherwise, you will be hungry, you will feel bad and you will end up giving up this diet.
4. Not getting enough salt
One of the main consequences of the ketogenic diet is the reduction of insulin levels. Insulin has many functions in the body, such as making fat cells store fat.
But another thing insulin does is send a signal to the kidneys to conserve sodium. With a ketogenic diet, insulin levels decrease and the body also eliminates excess sodium and water. This is the reason why people often get rid of bloating within days of eating a low carbohydrate diet.
With that said, sodium is a crucial electrolyte for the body and it can become problematic if the kidneys pass too much of it. This is a big part of the side effects of low-carb diets, such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and constipation.
So the best way to solve this problem is to add more sodium to your diet. Nothing could be simpler, just put a little more salt in your food.
5. Don’t be patient
The body is designed to burn carbohydrates as a priority if they are present. In other words, if they are still available, this is what your body will choose to use for fuel. But if you cut back on carbohydrates drastically, the body will have to turn to another source of energy… fat, which comes from your diet or your body fat stores.
It may take a few days for the body to adjust to burning mostly fat rather than carbohydrates, and during this time you may feel a little less well.
This can take 3 to 4 days, but a complete adaptation, the famous “keto-adaptation”, can take several weeks. It is therefore essential to be patient and scrupulously respect the dietary rules from the start so that this metabolic adaptation can take place as quickly as possible.