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10 Common Keto Mistakes Beginners Should Avoid


Eating fewer carbohydrates can offer many health benefits and help you reach your goal of losing weight — but like other diets, committing keto mistakes has negative effects.


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For this reason, it’s important to educate yourself about following the diet correctly before you get started. This includes knowing how many macros you need, paying attention to food quality, and consulting your doctor, especially if you’re diagnosed with a medical condition and are taking medication.

In this guide, we’ll cover the top keto mistakes that would likely prevent you from seeing results and the steps you can take.

Signs You’re Doing Keto Wrong

Shortly after starting keto, you might have noticed these telltale signs that the diet isn’t working to your advantage:

  • Not in ketosis
  • Not losing weight
  • Increased food cravings
  • Low blood pressure (if you’re currently taking blood pressure medication)
  • Hypoglycemia (if you’re currently taking insulin and other diabetes medications)
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Feeling very exhausted and unable to sustain a workout
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation

What Happens If You Don’t Do Keto Correctly?

Besides the short-term effects, such as not entering ketosis and persisting flu-like symptoms (also called the keto flu) — following the keto diet incorrectly can harm your health.

One is that this leads to micronutrient deficiencies, which could ultimately result in a wide range of problems, from increased infections to an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer (*).

The setbacks you experience as a result of doing keto wrong will also likely cause you to quit the diet. As mentioned previously, education is key to implementing it successfully, along with ongoing support from a healthcare provider.

10 Common Keto Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A lot of people focus on limiting carbohydrates without considering other aspects of the keto diet. Don’t start keto without knowing which common keto mistakes to steer clear of. Check out the list below:

Common Keto Mistakes

1. Starting the keto diet without talking to your doctor

While many individuals can make big changes to their diet on their own, some with an existing medical condition, such as diabetes or hypertension, may need to consult with their doctor. This is because certain medications might require adjustment.

These medications may need to be reduced on a very low-carb plan:

  • Blood glucose lowering medications: Those taking insulin and SGLT-2 inhibitors, for instance, will be at risk of hypoglycemia when on a keto diet. Since reducing carbs lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin resistance, decreasing medication dosage (and sometimes discontinuing some of them) may be necessary.
  • Blood pressure medications: Carbohydrate restriction also results in reduced blood pressure, which is beneficial for your health, although it increases your risk of hypotension while you’re taking anti-hypertensive medications (*). Examples of these medications include diuretics and ACE inhibitors.

Make sure to talk to the doctor who has prescribed these medications before embarking on a keto diet.

2. Not calculating keto macros correctly

The basic rule of keto is to keep carbs very low (less than 50 grams of carbs), protein moderate, and fats high. More specifically, these ratios need to be followed: 5-10% of calories from carbs, 20-30% of calories from protein, and 70-80% of calories from fat.

Note that getting the right amount of macros is crucial for helping your body function optimally on keto. Moreover, your macros won’t be the same as someone else’s macros — which is why you should calculate how much you need.

Keto macros vary based on different factors, such as your calorie intake (depending on whether you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight) and physical activity.

First, determine your exact keto macros using a keto calculator. It’s good to track your macros closely at the beginning of your diet. Doing this helps you get better with portion control over time. Soon enough, you’ll be able to eyeball your serving sizes like a pro!

3. Not preparing for the keto flu

When you switch from glucose (carbs) to ketones (stored body fat) for energy, you experience a group of symptoms called the keto flu. These are flu-like symptoms, such as weakness, headaches, muscle soreness, intense food cravings, and digestive issues — and they start within 24 hours or a few days of cutting carbs.

Since keto flu can disrupt your routine and even cause insomnia, it’s important to prepare yourself for it. The following tips will reduce keto flu:

  • Replenish electrolytes: Consume slightly more salt (e.g. salted butter, a glass of water with a pinch of salt, and bone broth) and take a keto-friendly electrolyte supplement.
  • Eat more fat: Check your recommended fat macros and be sure to meet them. You can cook with butter, beef tallow, or coconut oil, and eat fatty cuts of meat.
  • Get more rest: You may need to do lighter exercises, such as yoga or walking, instead of intense workouts. Also, getting plenty of sleep and keeping a consistent sleep schedule will effectively reduce fatigue.

Reminder: Keto flu symptoms are temporary and eventually go away as your body acclimates to its new fuel source, which is ketones. Understanding what causes keto flu and taking action helps you get rid of it as soon as possible.

4. Eating too much protein

Dietary plays many roles, from building and repairing tissues (thanks to amino acids) to stabilizing blood glucose and promoting weight loss. It goes without saying that a lack of protein can lead to many problems.

On the contrary, consuming more protein than you need on keto — above 20-30% of your calories — might prevent you from maintaining ketosis. The concern is that there could be increased glucose production through gluconeogenesis. However, some would consider this a myth.

Furthermore, it would be difficult to overeat protein for the reason that protein is very satiating. Many studies have shown that foods high in protein are more satiating than those that are high in carbs or fat (*).

If you notice that you’re getting knocked out of ketosis after eating a certain amount of protein — given that your meal is truly low-carb — then try reducing the serving size. Then check if that makes a difference in your ketone readings.

5. Not eating enough fat

Remember that dietary fat is fuel on the keto diet. Fats are intended to replace the calories from carbs, which are now limited. Insufficient amounts of fat can lead to the following issues:


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  • Vitamin deficiencies: Fat is vital for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K — which are fat-soluble. Being deficient in these vitamins may lead to night blindness, bone pain, muscle weakness, and easy bruising.
  • Low energy levels: Besides the fact that fat provides the most calories among the three macros — 9 calories per gram — fat can help increase ketone levels, supporting a keto diet.
  • Hormone deficiency: Without enough fat on keto, your body may struggle to produce hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. According to a 2021 meta-analysis, low-fat diets appear to reduce testosterone levels in men (*).

Figure out how many grams of fat you need on keto, which should comprise 70-80% of your daily calories. Opt for healthy fat sources, such as omega-3 fats from salmon, tuna, sardines, oysters, and shrimp.

6. Eating too many carbs

Not entering a state of ketosis and failing to lose weight are common signs you’re doing keto wrong. Carbs fill up your glycogen stores, which means you’ll have to burn through them to produce ketones.

While carbs need to be decreased to 20-50 grams or even lower, unfortunately, they can sneak into your keto diet in many ways. Sources of hidden carbs that will keep you from staying in a fat-burning mode include nuts, packaged snacks, salad dressings, sauces, condiments, and processed meats.

The solution? Record the foods and beverages you consume each day. Try to identify which of these items are adding more carbs to your diet. Eliminate them and find substitutes. For example, instead of habitually snacking on nuts, you can replace them with steak bites or hard-boiled eggs, which contain next to zero carbs.

When grocery shopping, it will help to read food labels to know how many carbs per serving a packaged food has. Reading these labels allows you to have better control over your carb intake.

7. Not drinking enough water and electrolytes

Starting a keto diet can increase your hydration needs. This is because reducing carbohydrates also lowers the amount of insulin in your body, resulting in the increased excretion of water and electrolytes through your urine.

Combined with limited carbohydrates, some keto dieters exercise, which means they lose body fluids through sweat. Diarrhea as part of the keto flu also plays a role.

Maintain proper hydration on the keto diet by drinking water throughout the day. Water should be your focus, although you can include beverages like bone broth, unsweetened almond milk, and keto-friendly smoothies.

Additionally, incorporate electrolytes to replenish sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium. It’s easy to find electrolyte beverages with very few to no carbs nowadays — on top of eating avocados, nuts, seeds, and non-starchy vegetables. These are also sources of electrolytes.

8. Not getting enough micronutrients

Micronutrient deficiency can happen on the keto diet as a result of eliminating a wide range of foods high in carbs. Grains, potatoes, bananas, and corn are examples of carb-rich foods that provide many nutrients.

From fat-soluble vitamins to B vitamins and minerals, these micronutrients are needed for optimal health. Moreover, they support common keto diet goals like losing weight and building muscle.

However, note that micronutrient deficiencies occur only if these micronutrients are not replaced in your diet. So, when you omit high-carb foods, you should always make sure to find alternatives.

A lot of keto-friendly foods are excellent sources of micronutrients. Below are some examples:

  • Vitamin A: spinach, Atlantic salmon, beef liver
  • Vitamin C: broccoli, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries
  • Vitamin D: egg yolk, mushrooms, tuna, swordfish
  • B vitamins: beef, chicken, turkey, nuts, eggs
  • Iron: spinach, oysters, broccoli, organ meats
  • Folate: avocados, leafy greens, eggs, dairy

Here’s a thorough discussion about vitamins and minerals on the keto diet, and how to avoid deficiencies.

9. Forgetting that food quality matters on keto

Doing keto right isn’t just about cutting carbs — getting those 20-50 grams of carbs as well as your fat and protein from high-quality foods also matters. This would mean choosing mostly unrefined and whole food items, regardless of whether these are meals or snacks.

Processed foods, on the other hand, lack many important micronutrients while containing more calories and added sugars. Focusing on them may also increase your risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes (*).

So, if you’re not losing weight on keto, you might want to review the quality of your foods.

This doesn’t imply that processed foods can no longer be a part of your keto diet — because let’s face it — you may not always have the time to prepare meals from scratch.

However, becoming aware of the impact of processed foods and making an effort to eat cleaner can make a huge difference. Learn more about the clean keto diet in this article.

10. Not exercising on keto

While you can lose weight doing keto without exercising, the reality is that exercise provides many benefits that will help the diet work to your advantage.

For instance, combining keto and exercise improves metabolic flexibility, which is basically your ability to switch between fuel sources — glucose and ketones. When you’re metabolically flexible, you have more energy and more stable blood glucose levels.

As a beginner, you may feel the need to reduce your exercise intensity during the keto flu. Over time, your body adapts and you’ll be able to do HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and last longer in the gym.


Join 90k+ people who are losing weight with Keto Kickstart, our doctor-developed program designed to give you real weight loss results.

The Bottom Line

It takes more than keeping carbs low to get the most out of the keto diet. Avoid these common keto mistakes and notice yourself progressing. Stick to the basics and tweak your diet when necessary. As a final note, speak with your doctor before going on keto if you have a medical condition.

5 References

J Prev Med Hyg. Main nutritional deficiencies. 2022 June

Wei L. et al. Low carbohydrate ketogenic diets reduce cardiovascular risk factor levels in obese or overweight patients with T2DM: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. 2022 December 13

Manny N. The role of protein in weight management. 2008

Joseph W. et al. Low-fat diets and testosterone in men: Systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. 2021 June

Felipe M. et al. Ultra-processed food and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. 2022 August 10


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