When starting a new diet, it’s naturally to want to make sure you avoid any mistakes and pitfalls that other’s have run into. There are many common low-carb diet mistakes you can avoid by being aware and prepared.
If you haven’t started a low-carb or keto diet yet, you can learn from the mistakes below. But if you’ve already encountered some issues – lack of weight loss or low-energy, for instance – you might find some solutions to your problem below.
For a hassle-free, healthy transition into a low-carb diet, make sure you’re avoiding these common mistakes.
>> You might want to check out 10 Simple Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet (Without Losing You Mind.)
Mistake #1: Not Giving Your Body Enough Time to Adjust
Jumping into anything is hard to adjust to at first. Adopting a whole new way of eating, which eliminates foods you’ve been accustomed to for a long time, can be very difficult, both for the body and the ind.
You need to give your body time to adjust to this new style of eating. A week or two will suffice to adapt to your new eating regimen.
At first, you may have cravings, or feel a bit tired and sluggish. These are normal side effects, which are referred to as the “low carb flu.” All of this is normal because your body is adjusting to burning fat for energy instead of carbs.
Mistake #2: Not Eating Enough Vegetables
In a low-carb or keto diet, you eliminate carbs from starch and sugar, but you’ll still be eating carbs in vegetables. Vegetables are a very important part of this diet, to keep you healthy and consuming the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
It is a mistake to not eat enough vegetables, as they are all part of a successful low-carb plan. They are a great source of fiber and other key nutrients, which is something that can be easily overlooked when starting a new diet.
Focus on eating leafy salad greens and other non-starchy vegetables, like asparagus, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. These vegetables provide the body with the most antioxidant protection and fiber in combination with the fewest grams of carbs.
Mistake #3: Eating Too Much Protein
While protein intake is important in a low carb diet, intake should be moderate and not extreme.
Some people hear the words low-carb diet and assume they need to increase their protein intake. However, eating too much protein puts a lot of stress on the kidneys since they have to work double-time to get rid of the excess nitrogen from all that protein.
Another issue is that excess amounts of protein are converted to glucose inside the body and this process can kick you out of ketosis. Protein is both 46% ketogenic and 58% anti-ketogenic, as some protein will convert to glucose in the bloodstream and inhibit ketosis.
Everybody is different, so figuring out what amount of protein works for you is key. This can depend on your size, activity levels and most important your lean body mass index.
- Sedentary lifestyles should consume 0.69 – 0.8 grams of protein per each pound of lean body mass
- Mildly active should consume 0.8 to 1 grams of protein per each pound of lean body mass
- Heavy strength training/bodybuilding and exercise: 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per each pound of lean body mass
You can use any of a number of online lean body mass calculators to figure yours. Keep in mind these are just general guidelines.
Read More About a Low-Carb Lifestyle
Mistake #4: Being Afraid of Fat
Fats have been given a bad rap for so long that the fact that there really is something called “healthy fats” (really!) is often overlooked.
Healthy fats are a necessity in a low-carb eating style. The main premise of a low-carb diet is to use fat for energy instead of carbs, a process known as ketosis. Therefore, you need those fats for energy and to sustain the process of ketosis.
On a keto diet, when in doubt eat more fat!
Additionally, if your diet is lacking in the right amount of fats, your body will go into survival mode. Basically, it fears for its existence and decides to preserve as much fat as it can; hunger sets in and fat loss slows down – the exact opposite of what any diet wants to accomplish.
Our bodies need fats to function. Our brain tissue is made up of nearly 60% fat and a diet low in fat robs the brain of all the healthy material it need for proper function. There are a significant number of vitamins, which need the presence of fat in order to be transported by the body.
Even our skin, lungs, and immune system can’t do their jobs if there is not enough fat in the diet. The key is to eat the right fats.
What are healthy fats?
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Cold-pressed or expeller-pressed canola, peanut, and grapeseed oils for stir-fries
- Pure Unrefined Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- Nuts (in moderation)
Mistake #5: Not Replenishing Sodium
A main function of the hormone insulin – besides all the other jobs it has going on – is that it tells the kidneys to hold on to sodium. Since insulin levels drop when you go on a low-carb diet, your body will start getting rid of the excess sodium and water in the body.
That’s why people feel lighter, with a reduced “bloaty” feeling when they reduce carb intake. It is naturally diuretic.
To avoid a sodium deficiency, with side effects such as fatigue, headaches, and constipation, as the body adjusts to ketosis, a little extra salt might be needed.
Make sure to increase your sodium intake accordingly in order to avoid any future complications. The recommended sodium intake is 3400 mg, which comes out to about a little more than one teaspoon (1 tsp = 2300 mg).
An easy way to increase salt intake is to drink 1 to 2 cups of broth daily or add some additional salt or soy sauce to food.
Mistake #6: Allowing Boredom To Sabotage Your Efforts
One thing that’s inherent in all human beings is the need for change. We get bored, and like to change things around every now and then.
So if you feel like you’re starting to get bored from eating the same foods day in, day out, then it’s time for a little variety in your diet. It makes it more interesting. Also, a varied diet is better for you, from the nutritional aspect.
Did you know there is an unlimited combination of low carb meals and recipes online? Check out all of our recipes.
We love french fries, but there are tons of healthier low-carb alternatives.
A great way to maintain interest is to plan ahead. Having a well-researched and varied meal plan will help you turn low carb into a healthy way of life.
Additionally, knowing your choices ahead of time will help kill off negative habits like grabbing the closest thing when you’re hungry without thinking of its nutritional value.
Mistake #7: Not Exercising
Exercise should always be an integrated part of your life, whether you’re simply going for a walk in the park, or doing a full 20-minute HIIT workout at the local gym.
Yet, it’s quite easy to forgo exercise all together when you find yourself losing weight without breaking a sweat. However, even though that may be the case in the beginning with the low-carb diet, fat loss will eventually start slowing down as your body starts adapting to the new eating regimen.
Besides, exercise is good for the heart and a great way to stay fit and tone muscles so when that fat comes off you will have a much nicer look to your body.
If you are worried about the lack of carbs needed to fuel workouts, don’t be. A good MCT oil supplement with the highest concentrations of caprylic acid, or medium chain triglycerides will you give you a quick burst of intense energy without the necessity of a carb load before a heavy workout because of how quickly it is metabolized into available energy, much faster than sugar as it skips the liver in the metabolization process.
With MCT oil, you can fuel your workouts without the surge in insulin and blood sugars and it is also a high quality fat that is recommended for a low carb diet plan. This is good for both cardio/HIIT workouts and weight lifting.
If you’re into regular intense workouts, there are also 2 alternative versions of the ketogenic diet, the Cyclical Ketogenic Diet and the Targeted Ketogenic Diet. In both, carb intake fluctuates around workouts.
Mistake #8: Listening To Hype And Friendly Advice
It is human nature to want to give advice and even judge. Don’t be surprised if people in your life look down on your new low carb lifestyle, tell you you’re weird because you wrap your burgers in lettuce or advise you that you need whole grains to live.
Letting this type of negativity get into your head when the lifestyle is working for you and you are losing weight is a big mistake that can only sabotage your good efforts and ongoing results.
The truth is many people simply do not understand the value of low carb or how it really works. The only opinion that matters is yours, and the only valuable gage of what works is results.
Thousands of people have changed their lives, and lost significant weight when they switched to a low carb lifestyle, and several large scientific studies have shown low carb diets to result in more weight lost than low fat diets and as being better indicators of a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.
If you are lacking support in your personal life, go online to the several low-carb diet forums, where people understand and will support your new lifestyle.
Mistake #9: Not Eating Enough
Low carb eating naturally suppresses the appetite. One reason this happens is that blood sugar levels are stabilized resulting in the eradication of out of control cravings and uncontrollable hunger.
Another reason is that low carb diets reduce triglyceride levels in the body, allowing the hunger hormone leptin to reach the brain and register satiety, greatly alleviating hunger, and allowing for a natural reduction in caloric intake through natural satisfaction.
Many who follow a low carb diet report not feeling hungry, and sometimes this can result in not eating enough food. You still need to eat enough to support a healthy metabolism.
Mistake #10: Being Afraid To Eat Out
Going out is a part of life, and since low carb is not some temporary fad diet that should make you miserable, but instead a lifestyle that you sustain over the long term, going out to eat is a part of the lifestyle.
Unless you feel that your new low carb lifestyle is not yet solidified enough to resist temptation, feel free to go out. Just make sure to choose wisely from the menus.
Just remember the rules:
- No sugar
- No starches
- Stay away from bread, pasta, potatoes
There are hundreds of ways to enjoy low carb at restaurants and even fast food joints when you learn to make the right choices. Get your burgers lettuce wrapped; enjoy grilled meats and fresh vegetables, order salads and straight spirits instead of sugary cocktails.
Don’t be afraid to ask how food is prepared and for substitutions, such as a side salad instead of rice, fries or potato side dishes.
Don’t let these common low-carb diet mistakes get you off track. Knowing about them and being aware that they can lead to lower weight loss and ultimate success is a great step to making sure they don’t derail you.
Share your tips with us below. What mistakes have you made that you now know to avoid?
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Laura is an avid home cook and recipe creator. She shares her favorite low-carb recipes here that are both easy to make and full of flavor, so you don’t even miss the carbs.