Low-carb diets are known for helping with weight loss, better body composition, and a may offer a host of other health benefits. But you may have noticed that you’re not getting the results you hoped for on the ketogenic diet.
Maybe, after some initial success, you’ve hit a weight loss plateau. Or perhaps you don’t have the boundless energy you were expecting. Don’t worry — you’re not alone.
Plenty of people run into the same common keto mistakes and that doesn’t mean that keto isn’t for you! Read on to learn about the 12 most common keto mistakes and how to fix them, so you can start to feel all the benefits of a keto diet.
Top 13 Keto Mistakes And How To Fix Them
Getting into ketosis and staying there can take time and dedication. You may need to tweak your macros, change up your workout routine, or focus on getting more micronutrients before you really start feeling the benefits of a keto diet.
Regardless of your goals, you might benefit from making some small changes in order to see some pretty big results.
Mistake #1: Not Eating Enough Protein
There’s a common misconception that eating too much protein will trigger a metabolic response that spikes your blood sugar and kicks you out of ketosis.
It’s called gluconeogenesis and — contrary to some opinions — you don’t need to worry about excess protein on a ketogenic diet. Here’s why:
- Gluconeogenesis is always happening during ketosis. Regardless of the amount of protein you consume on a keto diet, gluconeogenesis is already happening because your body needs small traces of glucose to function.
- Gluconeogenesis only happens in small amounts. Don’t worry — even with a high-protein diet, it’s likely you’re still burning ketones as your primary source of fuel.
- Gluconeogenesis is actually good for you. Just as too much glucose is toxic, too little can kill you. Gluconeogenesis prevents hypoglycemia and helps fuel tissues that can’t metabolize ketones, like red blood cells, part of your kidney, and testicles.
Instead, it’s much more likely that you’re not getting enough protein. Amino acids from protein help build and repair muscles and other tissues. Protein also helps keep you feeling full and can aid in weight loss.
How To Fix It
If your appetite has gone way down since you started keto, it’s possible you’re not getting enough protein or enough calories in general.
Calculate your unique protein and carb requirements with this simple macro calculator.
Make sure you’re getting about .8-1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight — and up to 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight if you’re an athlete.
Browse our curated collection of fan-favorites and discover your new favorite snack or supplement.Shop Best Sellers
And don’t avoid protein because you’re afraid it will kick you out of ketosis. In fact, it’s better to get more protein than too little — especially if you work out regularly.
Mistake #2: Lack of Vitamins and Minerals
Insufficient micronutrients or micronutrient deficiencies can cause a laundry list of health issues from dry skin and poor wound healing to fatigue, depression, and weight gain.
A successful ketogenic diet plan should consist of a wide range of nutrient-dense, low-carbohydrate foods. And that probably means more vegetables.
Remember, not all foods have the same nutrient value. Restricting carbohydrates and putting coconut oil in your coffee may get you into ketosis, but it doesn’t mean your body is getting all of the micronutrients it needs to thrive.
How To Fix It
Prioritize foods with an array of micronutrients and try to vary your diet from one day to the next.
Eating according to the season can help, with plenty of leafy greens and summer squash during hotter months and veggies like pumpkins, mushrooms, and leeks during the colder months.
Here’s a list of ketogenic-friendly, nutrient-dense foods:
- Fatty cuts of steak like grass-fed beef or NY strip steak
- Organ meats
- Bone broth
- Leafy greens
- Broccoli sprouts
- More low-carb, nutrient dense veggie options
Finding it difficult to fit those low-carb veggies in every day? Check out Perfect Keto Greens Powder — an array of plant-based nutrients that will help on the days you don’t get enough phytonutrients.
Mistake #3: Not Getting Enough Electrolytes
This also falls in the micronutrient department, but it gets its own section because it’s so important.
If you’re experiencing keto flu symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, brain fog, and nausea, you might want to consider an electrolyte supplement.
Here’s why: When you first start the keto diet and your body is burning through stored glucose (aka, glycogen), you might find yourself urinating more. That’s because as you burn glycogen, you’re also releasing stored water.
An increase in urination is temporary, but it’s always a good idea to maintain your electrolyte levels, especially if you work out regularly.
How To Fix It
Electrolytes include the minerals:
Ensure you’re getting enough of these by:
- Adding a high-quality electrolyte supplement
- Adding more nutrient-dense, low-carb foods to your day, including leafy veggies, grass-fed meats, nuts, and seeds
- Add some high-quality sea salt to your morning water or drink lightly salted water before your workout
Mistake #4: Forgetting to Meal Plan
Maintaining a ketogenic diet is a lot easier with a little planning in place. Even having keto-friendly foods on hand is better than starting your week with an empty fridge.
This is especially important during the beginning of your keto journey when cravings are at their worst.
How To Fix It
Choose one or two days per week to go grocery shopping, prep your meals for the week and store them for later.
Having healthy food at the ready will keep you from ordering that pizza or running to the closest taqueria.
If you’re unsure where to begin, try this comprehensive keto meal plan.
Mistake #5: Not Calculating Your Macronutrients Correctly
Tracking your macronutrient intake is your number one key to success on a keto diet.
Your macronutrient needs won’t be the same as your partner’s or your brother’s, so it’s important to figure out exactly how much protein, fat, and carbs your lifestyle demands.
If you’re hitting a weight loss plateau or you’re not getting the full benefits of ketosis, it might be because you’re not getting adequate protein or fat, your eating too many carbs, or your calorie count is way off.
How To Fix It
First, calculate your unique macronutrient needs. Then, check in with the guidelines below to see if you’re on track.
#1: Make Protein a Priority
Protein can help you lose weight, keep you feeling satisfied for longer, and helps build and maintain muscle. Make sure you’re getting enough of it!
Here’s a handy guide[*]:
- Intense exercise — 1.6 grams protein per kilogram body weight (around 150 grams protein for a 200 lb person and 100 grams protein for a 140-pound person)
- Moderate exercise — 1.3 grams protein per kilogram body weight (around 120 grams protein for a 200 lb person and 80 grams protein for a 140-pound person)
- Minimal exercise — 1 gram protein per kilogram body weight (around 90 grams protein for a 200 lb person and 60 grams protein for a 140-pound person.
#2: Check Your Carb Intake
Reduce your carbohydrates to 20-50 grams of total carbohydrates, not net carbs.
Stay on the lower end if you don’t exercise often. If you’re an athlete, you can get away with the upper threshold of 50 grams per day.
#3: Fats Should Take Up The Rest of Your Calories
The final step in calculating your macronutrients is to fill the rest of your calories from healthy fats.
To find this amount, subtract both your daily protein and carbohydrate intake from your total calorie allowance. The remainder of your daily macros should be from fats.
Mistake #6: You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Not sleeping enough or getting poor quality sleep can drive your stress hormones through the roof[*][*].
And high cortisol can result in unwanted fat gain, cravings, and a total disruption of sex hormone production[*][*].
Getting adequate sleep is a must for anyone looking for more energy or to lose weight and recover from workouts.
How To Fix It
Yes, the number of hours you sleep matters, but the quality of your sleep matters more. Here are just a few ways to get deeper, more restorative sleep every night:
- Sleep in a chilly room at around 65-70 degrees
- Sleep in a completely dark room
- Supplement with sleep aids like melatonin and magnesium
- Use earplugs if you’re experiencing sound distractions
- Stop looking at screens at least one hour before bedtime
Mistake #7: Overeating High Inflammatory Foods
While the ketogenic diet is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, some low carb, high-fat foods can exacerbate inflammation.
For instance, it’s extremely common for keto beginners to eat processed meats and vegetable oils because the macronutrient ratio fits within the keto diet.
But you should avoid processed, poor-quality food as much as possible. Inflammatory foods like highly-processed vegetable oils and low-carb packaged foods will cause systemic inflammation and zap your energy[*][*].
How To Fix It
Replace any processed foods with fresh, pastured meat and organic low-carb vegetables. And replace low-quality oils like canola oil, soybean oil, and peanut oil with high-quality fats like:
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Olive oil
- Unrefined palm oil
- Fatty meats and fish
Check out this complete list of vegetable oils to avoid.
And for cravings that you just can’t kick — find a healthy ketogenic alternative to satisfy your craving.
For example, instead of opting for a Hershey bar, substitute it with a keto fat bomb. If you are in the mood for salami, consider eating grass-fed beef instead.
Mistake #8: Using Chemical Artificial Sweeteners
Sticking to your macros is important, but that doesn’t mean you should eat (or drink) whatever you want.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose may cause gut irritations, inflammation, and even mess with good gut bacteria[*][*].
To make matters worse, sugar substitutes seem to trigger the same reward pathways in the brain as sugar and even cocaine. This means that you’re firing the same responses in your brain when you eat non-caloric sweeteners that you do when you eat sugar[*][*].
This may increase cravings and make it harder to stay in ketosis.
How To Fix It
Instead of replacing sugary sodas with diet sodas, it’s best to start training your brain and body to stop craving sweets altogether. Substitute diet sodas with sparkling water or some exogenous ketones.
Mistake #9: Not Paying Attention to Hidden Carbohydrates
Hidden carbs are everywhere. If you’re not diligent about asking what’s in your dressings and sauces at restaurants or at your mom’s house, you may end up consuming more carbs than you think.
The more hidden carbs you eat, the longer you stay out of ketosis and the more likely you are to experience cravings and weight gain.
How To Fix It
- Always ask about the ingredients at restaurants. If your server is unsure, just ask them to put all the dressings and sauces on the side.
- Read nutrition labels. Even foods that claim to be low-carb or ketogenic may have higher carb counts. Make sure to check the nutrition label to see how many carbs it has per serving. For example, a low-carb cookie label may only contain 10 grams of carbs, but the cookie usually has 2-3 servings.
- Beware of ingredients like sucrose, fructose, agave, maltose, dextrose, honey, and maple syrup. Enough of any of those will kick you out of ketosis fast.
Common foods that may contain hidden carbs:
- Dairy and non-dairy products
- Low carb packaged foods
- Peanut butter
- Protein bars
- Protein powders
- Sports drinks
Mistake #10: Not Eating Enough Low-Carb Vegetables
Vegetables provide you with an array of nutrients, including precious micronutrients and fiber. But, many people who try a keto diet think they need to avoid veggies because they’re high in carbs.
How To Fix It
There are plenty of low-carb vegetables you can eat on a keto diet. In fact, it’s crucial that you do. Just avoid the higher-carb vegetables like potatoes, squash, corn, peas, and beans.
Instead, eat large amounts of low carb veggies like:
Mistake #11: Worrying Too Much About Ketone Levels
It’s satisfying to see those high ketone readings when you’re just starting out. Ketones are a great indication that all your hard work is paying off.
However, seeing high ketone levels on your urine strips or blood ketone meter is not your main goal on a ketogenic diet — especially long-term.
High ketone readings forever isn’t necessarily a good thing.
It’s common to see higher readings when you’re first starting out on keto. You probably have more fat to burn and your body isn’t used to burning ketones for fuel. This results in more circulating ketones.
Over time, however, your body does become more efficient at burning ketones, which means they’re not hanging out in your blood or getting excreted through your urine. That means lower readings, but MORE ketones are getting burned up as fuel.
How To Fix It
Stop obsessing over ketone readings and, instead, start tracking metrics like body composition and energy levels.
Mistake #12: Stressing Too Often
When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels rise. And high cortisol levels can affect normal hormone production and cause unwanted weight gain.
It works like this:
- Stress tells your adrenal glands to release cortisol so you’ll have the energy to run away from danger
- Cortisol releases stored glucose
- Your blood sugar levels rise
- At the same time, cortisol makes your cells less sensitive to insulin
- Glucose stays circulating in your bloodstream
High blood sugar makes it harder for your body to produce and use ketones[*]. Plus, chronic stress can severely throw off hormone production which can cause cravings, trouble sleeping, and much more severe hormone issues.
Adopting a low carbohydrate diet can place a relatively large amount of stress on your body at the beginning. So it’s imperative that you aren’t making any additional lifestyle changes until your body is accustomed to ketosis.
How To Fix It
To stress less, try avoiding:
- Starting any intense exercise programs while you’re just starting out on keto
- Sleeping too little
- Making drastic new lifestyle changes like moving houses or apartments
To manage stress, try:
- Light movement
- Deep breathing exercises
Mistake #13: Eating Too Much Dairy
It’s easy to eat a ton of dairy on a keto diet. It’s high-fat, after all!
But there are a couple of potential pitfalls when it comes to dairy, and they might be affecting your ability to lose weight.
- Many people are allergic or sensitive to dairy. Even if you don’t have any overt symptoms after you eat a piece of cheese, you could have a more subtle sensitivity that’s causing some inflammation
- You’re eating too much of it. Dairy is calorically dense. And delicious. And although the calories in — calories out model of nutrition isn’t 100% accurate, it’s likely you won’t lose weight if you’re taking in more calories than you’re burning.
- Dairy products — specifically milk and some yogurts — are actually pretty high in carbs.
How To Fix It
If you are stuck in a weight loss plateau, consider eliminating all dairy from your diet for two weeks.
Fix These Common Mistakes To Get The Most Out Of Keto
A ketogenic diet is an effective approach for weight loss, mental clarity, and so much more.
While it may seem simple to cut carbohydrates and eat tons of steak, bacon, and butter to start burning fats as an efficient fuel source, it takes a little more effort to get the most out of keto.
If you’re not seeing the results you hoped for, these tips should help.
READ NEXT: 9 Essential Keto Tips For Beginners
2 thoughts on “Top 13 Common Keto Mistakes And How To Fix Them”
Loved this article. It clarified a couple of things for me and has helped me focus more.
It helps to clarify why I was craving sweets and Ice cream is the biggest down fall I have. Thanks for the info