The Most Common Keto Mistakes and Pitfalls – Konscious Keto

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The Top 3 Keto Mistakes (and 9 Simple Ways to Correct Them)

Here at Konscious Keto, we know firsthadn that going on the keto diet is a life-changer. Once you get your body using ketones as its primary fuel, you’ll find your weight will drop with ease, and your energy levels will skyrocket.

It all seems pretty straightforward, too—just eat a lot of fat, right? Well, sort of.

Getting your body into ketosis and maintaining that state requires a bit more diligence, but it’s all worth it in the long-run.

Like us, you’re likely to make a few crucial mistakes when starting out on the keto diet. These pitfalls will have you struggling to reap the diet’s full benefits and scrambling to stick to it altogether.

Fortunately, these types of slip-ups are quite easy to correct. Here, we discuss three of the most common keto mistakes and a bunch of easy ways to correct them.

When frustration kicks in or your weight loss stalls, these tips will have you getting back on track quickly and easily. You'll feel amazing in no time.

Mistake #1 - Not Supplementing with Electrolytes

Simply put, the ketogenic diet changes how your body uses water and minerals. 

You are going to be expelling more water than usual, and that liquid is going to have more minerals in it.

As you reduce carbs, your body’s glycogen stores become depleted. When this happens, your kidneys excrete any excess water—more than usual.

You need to up your water intake and supplement with electrolytes. 

If you don’t, you’ll be feeling extremely lethargic (this is the dreaded “keto flu”), even just a few days into the diet, and you may end up ditching it altogether.

Electrolytes are minerals, mainly sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium.

When combined with water, they work as electrical signals throughout the body to help regulate nerve and muscle functions (like your heartbeat), balance blood pressure, control body temperature, and help grow and repair muscle tissues.

Hydration is not just about water, but having enough of these electrolytes, too.

Some main symptoms of electrolyte deficiency include:

  • Racing heart
  • Feeling shaky or dizzy
  • A headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation and bloating

Another easy way to make sure you are well-hydrated is to check your urine color. It should be pale yellow. 

The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are—you’ll want to start drinking up and increasing your salts.

If you aren’t a natural water drinker, try zero-carb sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dash of sea salt. 

Bringing your daily water intake close to one gallon is ideal.

Below are some excellent ways to complement all that water with plenty of essential electrolytes.

Mistake #2 - Reducing Carbs in Favor of Toxic Sweeteners

There’s a lot of debate among keto followers about whether questionable ingredients like artificial flavors and sweeteners are allowed on the keto diet.

For example, some will recommend replacing regular sodas with their diet versions—they are, after all, zero-carb beverages. 

However, there’s controversy over the safety of these ingredients.

Such additives may zap your energy, cause you to gain weight, and lead to more long-term damage. 

There’s also proof that fake sweeteners can make you crave the real stuff even more (1).   

In the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2), researchers analyzed 37 studies on artificial sweeteners to see if they were successful for weight management.

The studies followed more than 400,000 people for about ten years.

Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials, a type considered to be the gold standard in scientific research.

Artificial sweeteners did not appear to help people lose weight.

Instead, Candian studies that looked at consumption over time suggested that people who regularly consumed them—by drinking one or more artificially sweetened beverages a day—had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

At Konscious Keto we recommend avoiding all artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, and sweeteners (look for ingredients like saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose).

Instead, do keto as naturally as possible. This is easy to do if you skip on the processed foods, even if they’re low-carb. 

Choose whole foods rich in healthy fats and protein that will keep you satisfied, satiated, and in ketosis.

See our What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet Plan for plenty of inspiration.

Mistake #3 - Giving Up as Soon as Your Fat Loss Stalls

We all know the feeling. Your weight loss is going swimmingly and then all of a sudden it just stops. 

And you get stuck on that same spot on the scale. And it JUST. DOES. NOT. MOVE. Why is this and what do you do?

There are many reasons why your weight loss may stall. 

Fortunately, there are also several techniques you can follow to get it moving again.

As mentioned above, you’ll lose quite a lot of water weight in the first few days of starting your keto diet. 

This reflects on the scale, but remember it’s only water. When you start losing fat, you’ll also likely lose muscle mass, too.

How much you lose of both depends on many factors, like how much you exercise, how stressed you are, how many calories you’re eating, and how much protein you’re consuming.

So, while you may be dropping pounds, it may be more in the form of muscle than fat. That’s likely not your goal. 

This is where eating enough (but not too much!) calories, and protein is crucial when on a keto diet.

But what’s typically happening when you experience a fat loss stall comes down to your body’s smart evolutionary system. 

In general, as you lose more weight, your body requires less energy and your calorie needs to decrease.

If you don’t adjust your diet to meet these lowered needs, your weight loss will cease.

Another thing that happens is, as you lose more and more weight, your body will eventually kick into survival-mode: it doesn’t want you to starve, so it triggers some complex hormonal functions (like decreasing thyroid hormone production and increasing hunger) to keep your fat stored and get you to eat more.

So, how can you hack this powerful evolutionary system? Here are 9 tips to get past that dreaded fat loss stall.

Tip #1 - Try Fasting on a Keto Diet

The first thing you can do is try fasting. Fast for 12-24 hours at a time to deplete any glucose stored in your body. 

Or follow a structured intermittent fasting schedule, which allows you to eat for a set period daily.

This one tends to be a bit easier for people to follow.

One of the most popular methods is Leangains, which gives you 8-10 hours a day to eat, while you fast the remaining 14-16 hours. 

So, you could have an early dinner by 8 pm and then not eat until noon the next day.

Intermittent fasting can help improve your metabolism and kick-start your weight loss. 

It can also enhance your mental focus and clarity. It may even add a few extra years to your life.

It’s an ideal accompaniment to the keto diet since it can bring you into ketosis quicker and help you maintain that state more comfortable.

While you’re fasting, we recommend taking supplements like BHB exogenous ketones and MCT oil. 

Your body burns these fuels right away, giving you an extra boost in energy and weight loss.

Tip #2 - Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Calories

Many people simply don’t eat enough when on a keto diet. This often happens when they cut carbs but don’t replace the missing calories with more fats. 

This may also happen because ketosis suppresses your appetite.

It usually goes like this: You figure out how to get your net carbs under 20 grams, you get over that dreaded “keto flu,” and you start to feel all the fantastic benefits of being in ketosis.

Pounds are dropping fast, your appetite is under control, and you’re high on tons of energy.

Then your results just stop. For no reason. And you feel discouraged. 

This is the tricky part: one of the positive benefits of ketosis—appetite suppression—is actually to blame.

You may not be eating enough calories anymore, and you may not even realize it.

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you don’t eat enough calories, your weight loss will stall. 

Eating too few calories will also trigger that starvation response in your body, which leads to a slowed-down metabolism (3).

That said, you also don’t want to go overboard with calories. Downing big handfuls of nuts could quickly set you back a 1,000 calories. I know this can be easy to do! 

While you shouldn’t obsess too much over specific calorie counts while on a keto diet, you still want to control your overall consumption. 

A very mild caloric deficit will get your body back into its ultimate fat-burning zone.

Severe calorie deficits tend to only work for a concise amount of time, and they can put your body under a lot of stress, causing other long-term damage.

If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, it’s a good idea to start tracking your calories to make sure you’re getting enough.

There are keto calculators online to help you figure out exactly how many calories and specific macros you should be eating to reach your goal.

Tip #3 - Get in Plenty of Electrolytes

Correct mistake #1 by adding in plenty of those electrolytes you’re losing. 

You can start by adding more salt to your keto snacks and meals. 

It’s best to choose natural sea salts and pink salts, which are rich in a myriad of minerals.

There are also keto-friendly whole foods that provide significant amounts of specific electrolytes including:

  • Sodium: Salt, bone broths, naturally salty snacks like pickles, salted nuts
  • Potassium: Avocados, dark leafy greens, nuts, salmon
  • Magnesium: Fish, nuts, and seeds, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc.), leafy greens, cacao powder
  • Calcium: Dairy like whole-fat yogurt and cheeses, leafy greens, fish

Tip #4 - Use Only the Best Sweeteners, Sparingly

Mistake #2 might have you believe you can’t enjoy any sweetness on the keto diet. 

Thankfully, that’s not the case! 

There are a few sweeteners you can depend on, which is a lifesaver when you’re first starting keto.

Once you begin to wean off sugars, you’ll soon find you won’t even crave them anymore.

However, a homemade keto donut, cookie, or fat bomb using a touch of one of these three keto-friendly sweeteners is acceptable:

All are low-calorie, low-carb, and score a zero on the glycemic index, meaning they do not affect your blood sugar and insulin levels (4).

Tip #5 - Carb Cycle on a Keto Diet

You can also modify your keto diet just a bit with a technique called carb cycling. 

This involves adding in high-quality carbs like sweet potatoes, once a week.

This seems to kick your metabolism up a notch and push your body into a deeper state of ketosis each time you do it. 

It will also assist your body in a natural weight loss rhythm.

The point here is to mirror a similar cycle your early ancestors would have had, living off the land. 

They were likely switching in and out of ketosis, depending on available food sources, as they traveled long distances and dealt with harsh environmental factors.

This is how it works: On your carb day, you’ll dedicate 60-70% of your calories to carbohydrates, 15-25% on protein, and 15% on fats. This type of carb cycling can help refill glycogen stores in your muscles (5).

Once you’re back in low-carb mode, your body will switch back into ketosis. Many have found that cycling in and out of ketosis like this can help break through a weight loss plateau.

There’s a good chance that your body reacts to an extended period in ketosis the same way it does with too few calories: it triggers that starvation response. But the more times you switch in and out of ketosis, the better the body seems to be at doing it.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can dedicate a whole day to engorge on sugary, carby treats, though! You’ll feel pretty awful if you do.

Instead, pick one day a week (let’s say Sunday) to eat more high-quality, low-sugar carbs.

This includes whole foods like:

  • Sweet potato
  • Whole grains
  • Lentils and legumes
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Plantains
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)

Tip #6 - Incorporate Low-Impact Cardio

Forget those sweaty, insane spin classes. Super intense cardio can have a similar effect to super intense calorie cutting. 

It can force your body into starvation mode, which means it’ll work overtime to hold onto your fat stores.

Instead, you’ll want to go low-impact when you’re following a keto diet.

Slow, consistent exercise while in ketosis is one of the best techniques to start burning up your fat reserves, far more than a long, non-stop intense cardio class.

At low-intensity, the body uses fat as its main energy source. This is different from high-intensity workouts when your body uses carbohydrates.

You can start by dedicating one day a week for a long hike.

Add in a daily walk, too. Other good forms of low-intensity exercise include:

    • Low-impact aerobic exercise: This is longer duration exercise at low intensity.
    • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): This may be high-intensive, but only in very short bursts. The average HIIT workout is just 20-30 minutes.
    • Yoga and stretching: This not only helps increase your flexibility, which can help support your joints and prevent injuries but is also a great stress-reliever.
    • Strength and stability exercises: These focus on movements that improve your balance, alignment, and strength, from the core outward.

Combined with a keto diet, these types of lower impact cardio exercises will help accelerate your weight loss.

Plus, you will be amazed at how much energy you’ll have. 

Better yet, many people find that as their body kicks into full ketosis, their exercise performance improves as well.

This is all very counter to that advice you used to hear about stocking up on carbs and working your butt off to full exhaustion!

Tip #7 - Eat Enough Fat on a Keto Diet  

So many of us underestimate the amount of fat we need. 

A lot of us are still scared of fat. This comes from decades of being told that it’s our greatest weight-loss enemy. 

Thankfully, you will never have to eat a low-fat frozen meal ever again.

Eating high-quality, nutrient-dense, brain-boosting fats is the key to keto. Fat should make up around 60-80% of your daily calories.

This can seem pretty mind-blowing when you first start on a keto diet, but you’ll soon find it’s quite satisfying and satiating to be consuming so many good fats.

If you’re finding it hard to eat enough fat, here are some excellent ways to incorporate it into your diet:

  • Blend fats like butter or coconut oil into your coffee or tea
  • Choose whole, full-fat foods, including dairy, keto nut butter, fatty cuts of meat, and oily fish (like salmon)
  • Cook with more fat like coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, and lard
  • Add more natural oils, sauces, or butter to your meals
  • Top your dishes with cheeses, avocado, olives, seeds, or nuts
  • Enjoy some of these Keto Diet Snacks, like fat bombs and chocolate avocado pudding
  • Supplement with MCT oil

Tip #8 - Go NEAT

Another technique to keep you burning fat is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT. 

NEAT can help significantly magnify the number of calories you burn in a day—and it’s quite simple. You need to move around more.

In simple terms, NEAT refers to all of the calories you burn when you are not working out.

This includes everything from walking to your car to playing with your kids to vacuuming your living room. That’s right, calorie-burning is not just reserved for the gym.

Still, many of us think that losing weight requires long, strenuous, exhausting workouts. But this type of exercise puts a heck of a lot of stress on your body.

There have been many studies to show that being more active throughout the day can be more useful (and way less hard on your body) than going from being a stagnant desk jockey to a crazed gym bunny.

So, if you sit all day then hit the gym super hard—yes, even if you do all those spin classes, leaving a giant puddle of sweat every time—your risks for anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression are still high.

Studies focused on cultures who live the most extended, healthiest lives, typically find that their secret to longevity doesn’t lie in the gym, but in being more active in their everyday lives.

But there’s even more behind the power of NEAT, and it goes beyond just burning calories. 

NEAT has also been linked to an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). This enzyme plays a critical role in converting fat into energy.

Remaining stationary for long periods of time can reduce levels of LPL.

Conversely, using NEAT to move consistently throughout the day can sustain LPL levels and help the body maintain its ability to burn fat.

In one study, mice forced to lie down saw a decrease in LPL activity, while mice that stood around all day had LPL levels that were ten times as active. That’s quite an incredible difference (7).

When I talk about this, I can’t help think about a friend who struggled to lose weight. He was addicted to Crossfit and trained almost harder than anyone I know.

However, he was also a truck driver and would sit for long periods of time. 

After hearing about NEAT, I realized that his time at the gym wasn’t enough to offset his job as a truck driver, where he would work long hours being completely stationary.

He wasn’t able to keep those LPL levels up. This can be the same for someone who drives to work, sits at a desk for most of their day, then drives back home.

Once you start increasing NEAT, though, you’ll soon realize how much better you feel, and how easy it is.

I try not to sit down for more than 30 minutes without getting up and moving around—even if it’s just to make a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water.

One of the best things you can do is get a pedometer that measures your steps. Aim to increase your steps each day gradually. 

If weight loss is your goal, my recommendation is to consistently aim to get over 15,000 steps a day if you’re a woman, and over 12,000 if you’re a man.

Here are some other ways you can incorporate NEAT ASAP:

  • Take your phone calls standing up
  • Work at an adjustable stand-up desk
  • Park your car further away from your destination
  • Stretch while watching TV
  • Play with your kids!
  • Bike to work
  • Fidget more
  • When working at a desk, set the alarm every 30-60 minutes to alert you to get up and move around for at least 2-3 minutes.
  • Take a walk after lunch or dinner, even if it’s just around the block.

These are all ways of tapping into the power of NEAT. All these little bits of movement add up. You’ll be burning a lot more calories throughout the day with minimal effort.

Tip #9 - Switch Up Your Diet

Lastly, if you are hitting a weight loss plateau you might want to experiment with tweaking some things in your diet. 

It’s easy to get stuck eating the same things, especially when you get on a good routine and pattern with your keto diet.

However, this sort of monotony can also stagnate your weight loss, and it could be because of certain foods you may be eating.

Some people don’t deal well with dairy. Others have issues with nuts.

Sensitivities to certain foods can end up blocking your weight loss efforts. This is because food sensitivities or intolerances cause inflammation and stress on the body.

If you think this might be the cause of your weight loss stall, try eliminating a particular food for a few weeks to see if that helps shift the numbers on the scale.

Remember that a plateau can also occur if you’re purely surviving on a diet of only butter and bacon. Sure, it’s got all the fat you need, but overall it lacks vital nutrients.

Variety is essential, not just for getting in a wide range of nutrients, but for your sanity, too!

Experiment with different foods and flavors. Remember that most vegetables and all herbs and spices are acceptable and highly recommended on the keto diet.

Also, try to avoid low-carb processed foods. They may be “keto,” but they’re not nourishing.

If you do keto as natural as possible, with high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, along with the purest supplements, you’ll find it much easier to meet your goal.

We All Make Mistakes!

Don’t let these easy, common mistakes have you giving up on all that the keto diet has to offer.

As you can see, there are plenty of tips and tricks to get you right back on track.

It just takes a few diet tweaks, a healthy dose of patience, and a whole lot of good fats, of course!

Resources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/   
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468415   
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289851/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477352/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672014/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003152/ 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003157/

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