Top 10 Common Mistakes People Make on Keto
1. Only measuring keto weight loss on the scales
Top 10 Mistakes People Make on Keto. At number 1, you frequently become frustrated and feel like you’re not losing weight fast enough, despite faithfully following a keto diet. Your weight loss “stalls” or stays the same for several weeks.
However, the number on the scale is only one way to measure changes in your weight. Truthfully, it is not the best method to see your overall progress. Weight naturally fluctuates up and down and it is influenced by several things.
Fluid fluctuations – water weight is affected when on a keto diet. How much food is passing through your system on any given day and at any given time? Your weekly weigh-in does not give an accurate reflection of your progress and it never will. In fact, it can have a negative effect by discouraging you and making you feel like you have failed in some way.
The reality is that your weight can, and it will often fluctuate by anything up to 4 lbs (1.8 kg) over the course of a single day. Dependent on how much food and liquid you’ve consumed, and lots of other reasons.
Other reasons why the scales do not move on keto
There are many other reasons for the fluctuations. Increased oestrogen levels and other hormonal changes, particularly in women, can lead to more water retention. And that is reflected on the scales as a weight gain. It’s simply a number fluctuation and not a sudden increase in body fat.
When the number on the scale isn’t moving, you may still be losing body fat mass, but you are holding on to more water.
Increasing your activity level or working out for the first time in years means you can be starting to gain more muscle mass while losing body fat. Plus you will also be holding more water. Your body needs that water for muscle repair, after exercising.
When this happens, your clothes may start to feel looser, especially around the waist and thighs, but your weight doesn’t move much on the scales.
Remember that muscle is denser (not heavier) than fat. So 1 pound of muscle is smaller and takes up less space in your body. 1 pound of fat is larger and takes up far more space in your body.
Therefore, it makes more sense to measure your body size instead of relying on the scales alone.
Measuring your waist, thighs, and upper arms with a tape measure every couple of weeks is an excellent way to record your progress. As well as taking photos, these are far better ways to see when you are losing body fat. Even when that scale number doesn’t move, or even goes up!
Bottom Line: There are so many factors which can affect your weight number on the scales. Fluid fluctuations, muscle mass gain and the weight of undigested food. You may be losing body fat even if the scale doesn’t change much. Don’t give up now because you think it isn’t working! Forget those scales and keep going! Always look at the big picture.
2. Eating too many or too few calories when trying to lose weight
This is can be a divisive topic. There are many arguments on both sides of the fence. Especially in the keto world. The consensus is that a calorie deficit is needed for weight loss. Keto is not an excuse to eat high fatty foods in abundance without paying attention to how much you are consuming. Some people say, eat more fat, to lose more fat. Others say, eat less fat to burn more body fat. The second one makes more sense, right?
Personally, I have looked at the arguments on both sides of this. I have read many reports and research papers. As well as looking at the science behind it all. I changed my mind about it several times over the years! But, in my experience, reducing your fat intake, and therefore your calorie intake is needed when weight loss is the goal. We simply do not need as much fat as some keto experts claim.
The most recent research results show us that the calorie deficit needed by each individual varies from person to person. We all have different calorific requirements for a keto diet.
Some people start keto and think they are not eating very much. In comparison to their previous, usual eating habits, it can seem like that. Your portions may well be a little smaller than before. You may feel as though you’re not eating very many calories. But in fact, most of us have a tendency to underestimate just how much we eat.
When you change to a keto diet, you probably increase your fat intake. That means you can be consuming up to twice as many calories, gram for gram, as you would on a traditional high-carb diet. That’s because you are likely consuming more fat than before. Fat is higher in calories than carbohydrates. More than double! That means, you tend to eat smaller portions but still consume enough calories to support your normal bodily functions and brain activity.
Things to note on keto are that you may be consuming too many foods that are incredibly healthy but are also higher in calories. Things like nuts and cheese for instance. Watching your portion size is key.
Gram for gram, your macronutrients and calories:
Fat = 9 calories per 1 gram.
Protein = 4 calories per 1 gram.
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per 1 gram.
Alcohol = 7 calories per 1 gram.
Not enough calories?
Now, on the other hand, decreasing your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive. When we do not consume enough calories over a prolonged period of time, our metabolism can start to account for that. This can cause weight loss to stall and even stop completely.
Studies have proven time and time again, that people on very low-calorie low-fat diets can often end up with the loss of healthy, essential muscle mass and they significantly slow down their metabolism.
This is why low-fat diets are only effective short term and rarely lead to permanent fat loss. People tend to put the weight back on when they inevitably start to eat a normal, amount of calories again. Eating healthy sources of lean protein is what everyone should be basing every meal around.
Bottom Line: Consuming too many calories and too much fat can stop you from losing weight on keto. On the other hand, consuming too few calories or not enough fat can make you feel hungry, slow down your metabolism and reduce essential muscle mass. Eating well on keto prevents all these.
3. Not eating enough protein
Consuming enough protein is extremely important for everybody, and even more so when you are trying to lose weight. As we get older, we also need more protein on our daily diets. Protein has been shown to help with weight loss in several ways.
It helps to stabilise your appetite and can increase the feelings of being full. That in turn naturally decreases your calorie intake providing a small deficit for weight loss.
Consuming protein can increase your metabolic rate and of course, it will protect your essential muscle mass while you lose weight.
On keto, you typically get 20% to 25% of your calories from protein sources. In my experience, 25% to 30% is a good amount to aim for.
To optimize your keto diet and help with weight loss, make sure each of your meals contains a good portion of high-protein food. Protein typically comes from animal sources, so meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. As well as some plant-based sources, you should include protein in every single meal.
Bottom Line: Your protein intake on a balanced keto diet will ensure you protect your lean muscle mass, and achieve healthy weight loss by stabilising your appetite, helping you feel full, and increasing your metabolic rate.
4. Having unrealistic weight loss expectations
Having healthy goals for your weight loss, along with any other health-related goals, will keep you focused and motivated on keto. But if you have unrealistic expectations this can work against you.
Studies have shown that people who expect to lose the most weight, often end up quitting or going off their diet sooner than people who underestimate how much they will lose.
If you are realistic and adjust your expectations, this can help prevent you from getting discouraged and improve your chances for success. Think about your goals, then really think again and ficus on what you can realistically achieve. And once you smash those goals, set new ones!
Keto is not a quick-fix diet. If you go in to it thinking you will continually lose several pounds every single week, you will be disappointed. And that can make you feel like giving up too soon.
Bottom Line: Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and make you feel like giving up keto too. soon. Make your goals realistic and that can increase your chances of more successful weight loss. And be patient. Celebrate the small achievements.
5. Not reading labels
This is so important on keto. Reading ingredients and checking the carb content.
Many people do not actually know what is in their food. Numerous processed foods, even something as simple as a pre-packed, pre-cooked chicken breast, can be full of sugar.
Failing to read your labels can lead to unknowingly eating ingredients like sugar and flour, which you want to avoid while on keto.
One of the biggest culprits is pre-packed sausages. You would be forgiven for thinking they are just meat. Some good choices can be made but mostly, you should be avoiding them. Even your typical butcher sausages can be full of fillers so ask what is in them.
There are so many food products labelled with healthy-sounding names. They claim to be “low carb” on the front of the packet. Another common one that can be misleading is the “high protein” bars.
High protein does not mean it is low in carbs and is usually the opposite. These types of foods may give you a false sense of security when trying to choose healthy snacks.
To get to the real information, you must look at the ingredients list and nutrition label. These are usually on the back of the wrapper or container. And if you are in the UK, don’t rely on the “traffic light system” which is sometimes shown on the front of packets. It doesn’t;t break down the nutritional values or tell what the ingredients are.
Bottom Line: Your food labels will show you all the information on ingredients, and carb content. Make sure you understand how to accurately read labels.
6. Eating too much fat
Keto, or ketogenic, is very effective for weight loss. Studies show keto tends to reduce and stabilise your appetite and helps keep blood sugars stable.
Some keto diet plans give you the green light to consume unlimited amounts of fat. I “hope” it is with the assumption that keto naturally reduces your appetite and therefore you don’t tend to overindulge. This can be an approach you choose to take. But I don’t recommend it if weight loss is your goal.
However, many people, especially those who have spent years yo-yo dieting, can be leptin resistant. That is, people may not experience a strong signal to stop eating. You never feel quite “full” and you always clear the plate, even when you have already satisfied your hunger.
As a result, you may consume far too much fat and therefore too many calories to achieve your fat loss goals.
If you are adding extra portions of fat to your meals and you are not losing weight, then cut back on the fat. And get rid of the Bullet Proof Coffees. Drinking your calories is not going to help get you over a weight loss plateau. You want your body to burn the fat you consume AND burn off your stored body fat. So cut back on the fat consumed, to burn more of the body fat stores.
Again, this is a hot topic in the keto world. There are books, and research papers which show both sides of this argument. Ask yourself the question – Is it working for you? You can follow one person’s school of thought on keto, and not see results. Or you might get the results you desire, but your friend doesn’t.
There is no “one keto plan to rule them all”. Trust me, you will find what works for you, and you will see results. Open up to different opinions and make choices that work for YOU. For what it’s worth, I do not recommend too much fat on keto. You don’t need it. Yes, when you first start to change your diet to keto, increase those fats so your body gets used to it. But then start to cut back.
Bottom Line: Although low-carb and keto diets help reduce hunger, adding too much fat is not necessary, and may slow down or prevent your weight loss.
7. Not eating whole, single-ingredient foods
Keto, at its very basic roots, is eating real, whole foods.
One of the worst things you can do for both your general health and fat loss is to eat a lot of highly processed foods.
Convenient snacks and quick grab-and-go processed foods can be low in carbs and considered keto-friendly, but they are never as healthy as eating real whole foods.
One of the biggest causes of obesity and type 2 diabetes is high sugar and highly processed foods. Those which are readily available on your supermarket shelves. Research shows in both animal and human studies that processed foods are a major cause of both obesity and type 2 diabetes. As well as rising numbers of heart disease.
This could be put down to the negative effect processed foods have on our gut health and that they cause inflammation in our bodies. It is also very easy to overeat processed foods.
Keto on the other hand is a natural anti-inflammatory way of eating that can be sustained for life.
Bottom line: Although pre-packaged processed foods can be keto-friendly, you should, when possible, choose whole, single-ingredient foods that are minimally processed. Get cooking and learn how to food prep in advance so you don’t need to reach for convenience foods. Learn some keto bakes treats to help keep you on track.
8. Not tracking what you eat in any way
Nobody wants to feel like they are “on a diet”. But few of us are really aware of the accurate nutritional and calorie values in our meals.
Eating all the right balanced and nutritious keto foods is a good way to lose body fat. However, you might still eat too much fat or too many calories to lose weight.
You might not be eating adequate amounts of protein, or keeping your carbs low enough to keep you in ketosis to support your weight loss efforts.
Studies show that tracking your meals helps you get an accurate picture of your calorie and nutrient consumption. It also provides accountability and helps you learn about portion sizes.
Some people find tracking to be a chore and can make them feel like they are dieting rather than following a new healthier lifestyle.
But, you don’t need to track forever. You can use this as a learning tool when you first start out. You can then return to it periodically to help keep you on track as your appetite and lifestyle change and adapt. Kind of like a check-in. This is what I do, and I don’t get bored tracking from time to time. I use it as a guide to make sure that when I am “eye-balling” portions, it’s is still OK.
In addition to tracking your meals and saving your recipes, most apps allow you to log your daily exercise and link to your fitness watch as well. So it’s not all about keeping a strict record and counting every time you eat. Love it or hate it, not tracking your food intake is one of the Top 10 Mistakes People Make on Keto.
Bottom Line: If you’re not tracking what you eat, you may be consuming more carbs, fats, or calories than you think. Or you may be missing out! You may be getting less protein than you think. It’s good to find out and learn about portion sizes.
9. Not Intermittent Fasting or eating too often, even when not hungry
This definitely deserves a mention in the Top 10 Mistakes People Make on Keto. For decades the conventional advice has been that we need to eat every few hours in order to prevent hunger and keep our metabolism moving. More small meals, more frequently. But this tends to lead to people overeating over the course of the day and you never truly feel full.
Keto is a way of eating that satisfies your hunger and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. That’s the key. Sustained energy levels throughout the day. And during periods of exercise.
Studies show that keeping blood sugars and insulin levels low and stable means your body keeps burning fat for energy in a constant cycle between body fat and dietary fat.
The recommendation to eat breakfast every morning, regardless of whether you actually feel hungry or not, is very misguided. One study found when people skipped breakfast, they took in more calories at lunch than when they’d eaten a morning meal. However, they ended up consuming fewer calories in the day overall.
Eating when you’re hungry and only when you’re hungry has been shown to have the most positive results for weight loss while on a keto diet. People do not tend to snack between meals on keto, and they don’t tend to overeat in general.
It is the times in between your meals, and overnight while sleeping, that your body is burning off the most body fat. So curb the snacking and eat adequate amounts at meal times to keep you feeling full and energised.
Do not let yourself go hungry! That’s when bad decisions are made. Allow your body to tell you when you are hungry. Also, check that you aren’t simply feeling thirsty. A glass of water may be what your body is craving and not that extra chunk of cheese.
Intermittent Fasting can be as simple as eating your last meal of the day at 6 pm. Then nothing until 10 am, or later. Plus, remember that the time you are sleeping counts too. Here’s some examples of Intermittent Fasting schedules:
- Skipping meals – Usually, people skip breakfast, and some people prefer to skip lunch.
- Eating Window – Eating all your meals/macros in a 4 to 8-hour window. For example, eating only between 10 am and 6 pm, 1 pm and 7 pm, 2 pm and 6 pm, or 4 pm and 8 pm.
Bottom Line: Eating too often can slow down your fat loss. Intermittent Fasting helps boost your metabolism and helps your body tap into its own fat reserves for energy. Eat only when you’re hungry.
10. Overestimating how many calories you burn during exercise
How many times have we been told that exercise boosts our metabolism and speeds it up? Although exercise does increase our metabolic rate a bit, it’s probably less than you think.
Studies have shown both healthy weight and overweight people tend to overestimate the number of calories they burn during exercise, often by a significant amount. And as a result, they end up eating more because they thought they would burn it all off.
Of course, any kind of exercise or simply moving around more is good for us and it helps our overall health and well-being. It will help improve our mental health as well. It will boost your weight loss but it is simply not as effective as we have been led to believe.
This is one reason why keto is so effective for fat loss in people who have limited mobility. Keto uses fat to make energy and even while we sleep, our bodies continue to make the energy to carry out basic body functions and maintain our healthy brains.
Bottom Line: Studies show people tend to overestimate the number of calories they burn during exercise. So do not think you can eat lots more because you did that 3k walk or managed a full-on spin class.
10 common mistakes people make on keto when trying to lose weight
I hope this was helpful! The Top 10 Mistakes People Make on Keto. Now you know what to look out for and how easy it is to avoid them.
Maria & Craig Emmerich “Keto” – mariamindbodyhealth.com/my-books
Dr. Steven R Gundry MD – Unlocking the Keto Code: The Revolutionary New Science of Keto