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7 Biggest Keto Mistakes Beginners Make On A Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that’s becoming popular with more and more people.

While the idea of cutting carbs and eating lots of fat may sound strange at first, a growing body of research shows that keto can be great for you. 

People who follow a keto diet enjoy a variety of health benefits, including weight loss, lower risk of heart disease, higher energy levels, and better mental clarity. 

Keto is an excellent way to eat, but it can be a little confusing at first. So, what are the biggest keto mistakes most people make when they just start out?

If you’re new to keto, this article will help. It covers how to avoid the seven biggest mistakes beginners make on a keto diet, to make sure you succeed with keto right out of the gate. Let’s get started with common mistake number one. 

1) Not Counting Net Carbs

If you want to succeed on keto, you have to track your carb intake — at least until you get a feel for how many carbs you should be eating each day. Our Perfect Keto macronutrient calculator will tell you exactly how many grams of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to have each day.

When you cut down on carbs, your body will shift into ketosis — you begin to burn fat as your main fuel source instead of sugar. 

Ketosis is responsible for the health benefits of a keto diet, but this metabolic switch only happens when you limit your carb intake. That’s why the first step to a keto diet is figuring out how many carbs you should eat. 

Get in the habit of checking the nutrition facts of the food you eat. You want to count net carbs — total carbs minus fiber. 

Keep your net carbs below about 50 grams per day, or follow the numbers in the macronutrient calculator. That should make sure you get into ketosis and start enjoying the many benefits a keto diet has to offer. 

2) Ignoring Calorie Intake 

biggest ketosis mistakes

A lot of people have amazing weight loss results with a keto diet, which makes sense. 

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When you’re in ketosis, you burn an average of about 300 extra calories a day[*]. Keto also suppresses your appetite, making it easier for you to eat less and still feel satisfied[*][*]. 

Basically, on keto, you feel full on less food, and you’re burning more calories each day. 

That’s a great recipe for weight loss, and it probably explains why so many people see success with keto that they haven’t had with other diets. On keto, you don’t have to be hungry all the time to lose weight. 

However, if a lower body weight is your goal with keto, you can’t ignore calories entirely. Weight gain is very much possible, even when you’re in ketosis. It’s just a lot harder to overeat and a lot easier to stay in a calorie deficit. 

You don’t necessarily have to count calories on keto. Several studies have found that people spontaneously lost weight when they switched to a keto diet, even when researchers told them to eat until they were satisfied[*][*]. 

that said, you should still pay attention to your hunger on keto. Only eat until you’re full, and if you aren’t seeing the weight loss results you want after a couple of months of keto, consider counting calories until you begin to lose weight. 

3) Not Preparing For Keto Flu

You’ve been burning carbs for most of your life, so when you suddenly cut carbs out, your body can get confused. 

It takes a week or so for you to get used to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs. Keto dieters call this period the “keto flu” — you may experience a few days of flu-like symptoms while your body adjusts to using fat as an energy source. 

Side effects of keto flu include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Trouble focusing
  • Headaches
  • Achy muscles

If you experience any of these symptoms during your first week on keto, don’t worry! It’s completely normal and it’ll pass pretty quickly. 

There’s also plenty you can do to relieve keto flu. Even basic things like getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water make a big difference during the keto flu period. 

Check out this guide to keto flu and how to get rid of it. It has simple, actionable steps you can take to smooth over your transition into ketosis. 

4) Not Getting Enough Salt

You’ve probably heard that eating too much salt causes high blood pressure and that it’s healthy to limit your sodium intake. 

That may be true on higher-carb diets, but on keto, your sodium balance works a bit differently. 

When you eat carbs, your digestion converts them to sugar. They get into your bloodstream and increase your blood sugar levels, and you produce insulin to bring your blood sugar back down. You also store sodium in your kidneys to help you process carbs and sugar. 

On keto, your blood sugar stays stable and low because you aren’t eating carbs. As a result, you release very little insulin.

When you don’t release insulin, your kidneys expel sodium instead of holding onto it[*][*]. 

That means on a low-carb diet, you don’t have to worry about eating a lot of salt. You won’t store it in the same way and it’s much less likely to affect your blood pressure. 

In fact, you want to get a lot of salt on a keto diet, especially when you’re first starting out. 

It takes a lot of water to store carbohydrates, and as you transition into keto, you burn through your carb stores, releasing water as they deplete. Most people lose somewhere between 3-10 pounds of water weight during the first couple weeks of keto. 

When you flush out that water, it takes a lot of sodium with it, which can leave you dehydrated and contribute to the headache and fatigue that come with keto flu. 

So feel free to salt your food as much as you want on keto. Make sure you get plenty of salt — you’ll feel better for it. 

biggest ketosis mistakes

5) Not Drinking Enough Water

As you read a moment ago, it’s normal to lose several pounds of water weight during your body’s transition into ketosis. You’re burning through your carb stores and releasing the water you needed to store them. 

You want to make sure you’re replenishing that water, otherwise you’ll get dehydrated. So during the first few weeks of keto, pay extra attention to the amount of water you drink. 

Prioritize staying hydrated — it’ll help with keto flu and make you feel better overall. 

6) Forgetting To Eat Veggies

One of the best parts of keto is all the delicious food you can eat. Steak, bacon, butter, cheese, cream, olive oil — they’re all allowed on a ketogenic diet. 

With so many tasty options, it’s easy to forget your vegetables. Any nutritionist will tell you that greens are amazing for you, and getting your veggies is as important as ever on a ketogenic diet. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of micronutrient-packed, low-carb veggies to choose from. Good choices include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Olives
  • Fennel
  • Bell peppers
  • Hot peppers (jalapeno, fresno, etc.)
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Kale
  • Collard greens

And plenty of other vegetables. Just make sure you check the carb count on the veggies you eat — some of them have hidden carbs you wouldn’t expect to be there.  

7) Snacking On Too Many Processed Foods

As keto becomes more popular, a growing number of sugar-free, low-carb snacks are hitting the market. Many of them are keto-friendly.

But just because these snacks are low-carb doesn’t mean they’re great for you. A lot of them have artificial sweeteners and flavorings, sugar alcohols that are hard on your digestion, and nutritionally empty ingredients. 

To see the biggest health gains on keto, prioritize lots of healthy fats and high-protein whole foods. 

Keto snacks are just fine in moderation. In fact, they’re great to have for traveling or times when you aren’t sure if you’ll have other keto food options. That’s one reason we make Perfect Keto bars (which are also exceptionally nutrient-dense and free of junk ingredients). 

But if you wake up one Sunday and realize you spent most of the week eating keto gummy bears, pork rinds, hot dogs, and low-carb ice cream, it’s time to reevaluate your diet. You probably aren’t getting what your body needs. 

If you aren’t sure what to eat, we’ve got you covered! This free 7-day keto diet plan has delicious and varied keto recipes for every meal of the week. 

And, of course, you can sneak a few keto treats in here and there. They’re tasty, and having them now and then won’t hurt you. 

biggest ketosis mistakes

Final Thoughts On Keto Diet Mistakes

It can be intimidating to start keto, but it’s actually pretty simple. Cut way back on carbs, replace them with enough fat, meat, and veggies that you feel satisfied, drink plenty of water, and enjoy yourself. 

If you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide to the keto diet for beginners, or jump right in with a complete keto meal plan. Give keto a try and see how you feel.

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52 thoughts on “7 Biggest Keto Mistakes Beginners Make On A Keto Diet

  1. Thanks for this informative article!! Any advice on food substitutions/meal planning for someone trying to follow a predominately plant-based diet?

    1. From my experience it would lead to too many carbs…. so hard to get enough protein from vegetables but maybe there are protein supplements with no sugar or carbs to speak of? I am aiming for 40g /day (starting, day 11) and I had 1 cup of root vegetables at a restaurant thinking it was okay and found out it was about 34g carbs so that meant I was at 53g for the day 🙁 13 over :(. Now I think I have to fast for 24 hours after my morning workout tomorrow.

      1. Hi, remember it depends on the vegetables you are consuming – some might have high carbs but a majority of the carbs are dietary fibre and not net carbs. Dietary fibre is NOT broken down by the body in the same way as net carbs i.e. it can’t be easily broken down into simple carbs for the body to use as an energy source where what can’t be digested is passed to the gastrointestinal system (this is the fibre that keeps you ‘regular’. What this means is that dietary fibre also does not spike your insulin levels which is exactly what you do not want in ketosis. So do a quick check on what the net carbs are of the vegetables you are consuming and only count that as carbs. For example 1 avocado (201g) has 17g of total carbs which seems a lot right – but dietary fibre is 13g, therefore net carbs would be only 4g which is great!

    2. What plants are you considering as fat sources? Where will you get the essential amino acids that plants do not produce?

  2. Agree with Linda, very informative, but also very interesting and well written. Interesting in that it’s a diet that includes eating fat, big bonus there. I love fat. My personal interest is the nutritional and feel good value not the weight loss. Excited to learn more.

  3. Great article. Well written and not too “scientific”. I was able to follow and understand most of it ( I think)! What were your results after 6 weeks? Or 5 weeks (after fixing your mistakes) ?

  4. Very well written article. I have a lot of friends on the Keto diet, but didn’t know how to get started or what the process actually entailed. I am confident I can get started on my own now. Expecting my first shipment by the end of the week!

  5. I can’t find anything that talks about calories. I’m a pretty small person (but still some weight to loose) my daily caloric intake to maintain my weight is like 1480 calories.
    When calculating macros do I go based on that calorie level. I want to loose weight so I’m going based on 1000 calories so I can loose about a pound a week. But when eating mostly fats (at 9 calorie a gram) I really don’t get to eat much food per day at all!!!
    Not doing high fat seems so much better because I can have some substantial food.
    HELP!
    Do calories matter in ketosis the same way they matter in just low carb low calorie dieting ??

    1. 130 pounds 5’3. 20g carbs is my daily limit. 5g of sugar is daily limit. and between 90-100g of fat. protein I never go over 60g. eggs,spinach, cucumber, broccoli,cauliflower,bok choy. pork rinds and beef jerky for snack. real butter,coconut oil, mct oil, olive oil, sugar free jello, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts,pecans, ground beef, bacon,sausages, 35% whipping cream, real cheese, lunch meat, cream cheese, cottage cheese(in moderation), celery, mayonnaise, any meat with high fat (but watch for protein), and coconut flour for special occasions. blood keto monitor is most accurate to check ketones. that is my grocery list and I can get into ketosis very easily eating these foods. 1480 cals might be a little high depending on weight and height the base calories for your measurements is just a guide. follow what your body is telling you and drop calorie intake if needed.This is just from what worked for me hopefully this will help.Good luck!

      1. You are allowing sugar? As I understand it, sugar is absolutely forbidden in a keto diet. Is there some reason for the sugar?

      2. I’m guessing she means total daily dietary sugars — not actual table sugar.

    2. This is my issue too! My calorie intake to lose weight is 1199. 73% of that for the required fat is 882 calories or 98 grams. Protein at 20% is 237 calories or 59 grams. Carbs at 7% is 29 grams or 80 calories. I started the keto diet without knowing all these details to consider and lost 2 pound. Gained it back without deviating the diet and now have gained one pound. I am in ketosis according to the urine strip tests… HELP How in the world can I eat that much fat? Literally how would I do that?

      1. @ plc. Hi there! If not, how active are you currently? And if you do exercise, how much of weight training and how much of cardio?

  6. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  7. Learned this one the hard way. Finally did in-depth analysis of macros. I was averaging 145g-160g of fat, 130-160g of protein, and around 50g of carbs (I’ve tried going to zero and the 50g mark seems to be where I always land). No ketosis. Getting hungry every 2-4 hours was my other tip off from my high carb days. Once I noticed the 2-4 hour cycle, I knew I had to up my fat because the protein was too high. Adjusted to 50g carbs, 90-120g protein and shoot for 160-180g fat. Now I’m not hungry every few hours and I am finding the symptoms of ketosis. I’m far from being perfect on this, but since I’m only about 10 weeks into this diet and I’m making all the classic mistakes, point is to keep at it.

  8. Good article. So… I’ve been strength training for the last ten years or so, experimented with most protocols/diets, and have been running IF 19/5 for last year or so. Anyway, recently decided to go for a splurge on Keto, see if I can make it work for me for losing the last few bits of lower belly fat (I was probably about 10% when I started this Keto 2 weeks ago) I’ve definitely lost weight… My lifts are… not suffering… TOO MUCH. Although I feel good, not exhausted, my muscles are maxed out sooner, and it is definitely harder work… it’s hard to explain.

    Anyway, the point of this is to ask… My previous intake breakdown prior to keto, was around 200-250g protein a day, 3600 kcals. Sometimes 4. Now on Keto I have not had an issue keeping the carbs down to around 25 (from around 400 before keto!) and feel fine, however my protein is still around 150-70 per day, with 75% of the cals then from fats (about 300-330g).

    So in terms of percentages… its hitting the 75/20/5 markers. HOWEVER… so much conflicting info out there. Urine strips say I am in ketosis consistently (trace) and I rarely if ever feel hungry now. I have left my Kcal intake roughly where it was (slightly dropped it ) to around 3200-3500kcal (less on non trainin days) but is 170 still too much protein? It is certainly WAY over the SKD 0.8g/kg! However, I Cannot imagine gaining or even maintaining my lean mass/strength with such a low level (that’s 50g of protein a day!?!)

    Thoughts?

    1. Great questions with no easy answers! How do you feel? How are your results? Having “trace” in your urine doesn’t tell us much. Many times athletic folks are better at using ketones which means they’ll have fewer in their blood and urine.

      1. Hello,
        I feel as though I need to get this off of my chest, I feel Matthew and I are/were very similar however I did Keto for about 9 months. I started out doing keto to cut some fat. Im 5’10” and was about 195lbs (12% body fat), lifting weights 4-5 times a week and was eating a mix of p/c/f. As an ex-bodybuilder I always felt I needed to eat atleast 1 gram of protein per 1 lb pound of bodyweight; the rest coming from carbs and fats. When I converted to keto the biggest thing I noticed was that my hunger basically didn’t exist. In the past I tried IF on a mixed macro diet with decent results but enjoyed coffee with cream too much that it made it hard to skip in the morning. Nonetheless my point is on IF I would typically get hungry by the 16th hour. On keto I wasn’t, however I still forced myself to eat in the morning or at least have my keto coffee. It was hard fitting in 2500 kcal in the day (like I said my hunger was non existent). I stuck with keto for 9 months and I honestly have to stay I couldn’t get below 10% body fat. I cut my kcal as low as 1500 for a few weeks in a row to find no change in body composition and at that point was starting to feel very tired by the days end and my workouts were suffering. Not to mention I was frustrated by not getting the results. Over the 9 months I kept an average of about 2400 kcal with reverse dieting once back up to 3000kcal over the course of 4 weeks to try and stoke my metabolism and try to cut again, but still no major change in composition (not like I personally experienced with the typical bodybuilding diet). I still don’t know to this day why I couldn’t drop the body fat, but not all was lost keto had its perks. I must say I really enjoyed eating keto because it was so easy and convenient, eating nuts, cheese, butter, meat and heavy cream was easy on the palate. One thing I will note is that i could never get my blood ketone levels over 1.0. I had done both my blood ketone and urine tests during my keto experience. I too thought It was GNG but I went as far to eat only fat for 3 days and still only reading of .6-.8. The urine strips were different, super dark purple. I did some reading and some said that some people’s body will only produce enough ketones as it needs which doesn’t leave any free ketones in the blood. If someone can comment I would appreciate their input or similar experience. In closing of my long winded comment I must say keto has its place. I did feel great and the convenience and ease of eating fatty foods was nice. I might try it again someday or incorporate it for a couple months a year to give my body a break on eating so much protein. But for now I’ve switch back to a 45/35/20 ratio of p/c/f respectively and I can already see a composition change after 2 weeks. All the best to those who give keto a try or who make it a lifestyle.

      2. It could have been the protein. I know that was what is was for me. I started keto 2 years ago and I have pretty much perfected it for what my body needs. Fasting helped and keeping my protein down was key. I logged into myfitnesspal so i knew exactly how much fat,carb,sugar and protein I was getting. Too much fat for your weight could also effect it.Good luck!

  9. “Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!”

  10. I needed to thank you for this amazing read!! I definitely enjoying every small touch of it
    I have you bookmarked to check out new material you post.

  11. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful information specially the final section 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  12. We stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

  13. “I really like your writing style, good info, thanks for posting. “Let every man mind his own business.”

  14. Hi great article. Question; maintaining and building muscle is my goal so ensuring not too much protien is as you can imagine a different way of thinking… How do make sure I can reduce my body fat percentage and increase muscle when I am eating increasing fat consumption? Lastly I assume we have to moderate the exogenous ketones as we want the ketones in the body to be from my own body burning fat from my body correct?

  15. My biggest mistake was meeting the targets for the day, rather than by the meal. So i might get all my fat in the am, and then all my protein at dinner and totally meet my macoronutrient goals, but on an hour by hour basis i wasn’t in ketosis so not having the benefits. Now Im a keto-ninja.

  16. I’ve had a stall and i thought after about 3 weeks I didn’t need to meal prep for the week…wow so wrong! Back to basics lol and watching those macros 🙂 was so over the protein.

  17. I’m curious as to if the increase in your ketone readings had anything to do with the fat oxidation as they are a byproduct and not a decrease in your protein consumption. Fat intake has no real effect on ketosis as it’s a glycogen depletion thing.

  18. I’ve been on the Keto Diet for about 4 weeks now. My goal is to correct some health issues & losing weight is an added benefit. I had a hard time getting into ketosis so, I purchased Keto Base from Keto Perfect. Started taking that on Feb. 2nd – 1 scoop in the morning coffee & I am in Ketosis! I have also lost 10 lbs! So excited & not hungry!

  19. The problem I’m having is getting too much protein. I travel 95% for work so I have to get my foods from restaurants and sometimes I can grab a couple groceries to keep in the hotel fridge. I’m curious what others do to keep the protein in check while still getting enough fat. Thanks for the input.

  20. Started keto this week. Did homework. Got book. Following one month recipe plan. Checking carbs for things in the daily recipes and they appear to be much higher than they should be. Can anyone help.don’t like wasting time and money.

  21. Interesting information — I need to try this way of eating, but am curious if it will work for a 52 y.o. female who does not work out, no high level of exercise (just long walks), need to lose 60 lbs but also want to get stronger muscles. I guess I need to find the baby steps somewhere here.

    1. The informations is very good here. I have been more or less doing the keto diet and am 61 yrs. It has been a struggle to get into a deeper ketosis state for me…just getting everyting balanced out can be the chore…but once done and you get into ketosis even in a very low state as .6 you can lose weight. I have lost many inches while only losing about 15 lbs. I also do not work out but do like to walk and I also work an 8 hr day, am on my feet a good part of the day moving around but not any heart pumping rate. You just have to listen to your bodies needs and keep looking into any and all tips. Good luck I am sure you can do this.!

  22. I have started the keto diet but I do not think I am in ketosis.
    I hurt my back so I am not exercising. For breakfast I have 3 eggs and 4 pieces of bacon and the bulletproof coffee. At lunch I eat a salad
    with cheese and blue cheese dressing. By dinnertime I am not hungry so I fast until breakfast. Am I doing this wrong. Also,is it really important for me to drink all of that water??? Please help I am so confused.

  23. How much protein is TOO MUCH protein? I mean, I find that in my macros I’m a little over my protein percentage but my carbs are still low and my fat the highest. Should I still worry about glucogenesis? I’m finding my first week on Keto rather confusing.

  24. If I can’t get my carb intake to the level your supposed to on a vegan keto diet should I lower my fat and protein intake.I can’t get my carbs low to save my life.

  25. Very informative for the Ketos beginner. I made the same mistake the first week by eating to much meat protein. I corrected that mistake by limiting my protein intake to 4oz per serving thereby keeping daily protein meal level to 75%.

  26. I have to call you out that you are using scientific journals that’s not relevant, or even against Keto diet.I actually went over there and read the journal, and NOWHERE it shows that gluconeogenesis kicks you out of ketosis, MUCH LESS ITS EVEN MENTIONED! The article studied the difference of effectiveness in regualr low carb vs Ketogenic low carb, and the result was insignificant.
    I myself have done keto for more than a year, but as a person who studies food science, I find your citation misleading as hell.

  27. I’m confused. In another article, I quote: “You don’t need to shy away from protein — it won’t kick you out of ketosis like you may have heard. The belief that excess protein triggers gluconeogenesis (glucose production from non-carb sources) and therefore lowers your ketone levels is just a myth.”

    Source: https://perfectketo.com/not-losing-weight-keto/#1

    What to believe?

  28. @R seems to be a lot of conflicting articles on here about gluconeogenesis. I tend to side more with protein not kicking you out if you get enough fat and keep carbs low. The founder seems to believe this as listening to his podcast he states many times over that eating high protein won’t kick you out and that it’s a myth. In fact his latest podcast episode is about carnivore diet which is all protein and fats! I wish the blogs would be more consistent with their info, and I think this is an area where perfect keto could do better! Otherwise their products are great.

  29. Do not mislead readers!!! Did you know that you can enter ketosis if you didn’t eat anything at all? In that sense, these equations are perfectly invalid:

    LC ≠ K (Low-carb does not equal ketosis)

    LC + HF + MP = K (Low-carb plus high-fat plus moderate-protein equals ketosis)

    As long as there are no carbs in your body to consume, the body WILL use ketones to generate energy. Which is why you often get bad breath when fasting too.

    As long as it your body is fueled by day and fat alone, you WILL be in ketosis.

    Please fact check before writing a post.

  30. I have only just started, so doing a lot of reading. I had set my foods for the day to ensure I had the right percentages and met the calories I need, and from reading these comments, I realise that I may need to change my meals. Seems that I need to make sure each meal has the ratios, not the end of day totals. Glad I found this out sooner than later and makes sense. My mind was so cluttered with all the information out there, that a simple mistake could end up making me give up if it didn’t look like working for me. It obviously pays to have the right information and good to learn from the mistakes that others are sharing. Thank you. Sue

  31. Hi all

    I have just started the keto diet I had Addison disease and giving it a go to lose a few lb’s.

    I have come across an app on the play store called carb manager (I’m not affiliated with it) that’s free and really effective.

    In a nutshell it records accurately, by inputing brand of food/type of food how much fat, carbs, protein etc you are eating. It’s a really good way to keep a record. I have been on the keto diet for nearly one week now and so far so good.

    Thanks for the information in the article.

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