Diet & Weight Loss
The ketogenic—keto—diet is an increasingly popular eating plan that promises big results. However, it’s not the easiest diet to follow, and these early mistakes can sabotage your weight-loss goals.
You don’t track your carbs
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to force your body to stop burning its favorite fuel—glucose from the carbs you eat—and start burning fat stores for energy. The body does this by converting the fats to ketones—a state called ketosis. Keto dieters accomplish this digestive feat by cutting way back on their carbohydrate intake. But to do it right, it’s not enough to just guesstimate your carb intake; you could get it wrong and undermine all your efforts. “If you are a beginner to the ketogenic diet, counting carbs is an absolute necessity to avoid frustration in the future,” says Justin Solar, a spokesman for Kegenix/Real Ketones, a keto supplement company. Track your food intake with an app like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, or just use old-fashioned paper and pen. What you learn may surprise you. “You may be wearing ‘carb-blinders,’ meaning you are unaware of how many carbohydrates you are really consuming in a day,” says Solar. “If you can’t see the number of carbs sneaking into your day, you may be eating many more than you think.”
The average daily goal for keto is 20 grams of net carbs. Net carbs are the total carbs in a given serving of food, minus the carbohydrates that are supplied by fiber. You’ll find carb grams quickly add up, even when you’re choosing the best low-carb foods, like spinach and avocado. Keeping your body in a quasi-keto state can be hard on you, warns Solar: “This will leave you feeling sluggish, foggy, and discouraged,” he says. “It will most likely cause a weight plateau, and maybe even weight gain.” Here’s what it’s really like to be on a keto diet.
You aren’t getting enough fat
Keto runs counter to many of the low-fat diet fads of the 1980s and 1990s: It actually emphasizes fat. “That is hard to comprehend because we don’t eat anything that’s pure fat, says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet. “We don’t eat a stick of butter or a spoonful of olive oil or even a nice cup of lard. That would be unpleasant, so we really have a hard time wrapping our heads around this concept of the ketogenic diet.”