These are the top 5 mistakes I see people making when trying a keto diet:
1. Counting Net Carbs
In the “internet keto” world, different brands and influencers teach keto in many different ways. The concept of net carbs emerged about 15 years ago when keto products started hitting the shelves. Manufacturers realized they could have a wider array of products by using the concept of net carbs. A few experts came together and suggested subtracting fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbs to get what’s called net carbs. However, in my clinical practice, I find that net carbs don’t work for a lot of people. Total carbs include fiber and sugar alcohols in the calculation, and many times, when people switch from net carbs to total carbs, they start seeing weight loss and metabolic changes for conditions like diabetes. So, if you’re counting net carbs, consider switching to total carbs. Aim for 20 or 30 total carbs per day as your target, and you might find that this way of doing keto works better for you.
2. Too Much Fat
Too much fat from oils, creams, butters, and other sources is a common mistake. There’s an internet urban legend that you can have as much fat and oils as you want because they turn into ketones and have no carbs. However, if you’re trying to lose weight or reverse type 2 diabetes, the amount of fat and oils you consume matters. The method we have studied and published papers on includes a section that limits the intake of butter, cream, cheese and oils. It’s not an unlimited amount. Consuming too many fats and calories can hinder your body’s ability to burn off your excess stored body fat. So, be mindful of your fat intake.
3. Not Learning an Entire Program
Nowadays, many people learn about keto from social media, which often provides snippets of information or advice from family members, neighbors, or coworkers. However, it’s important to understand the breadth and flexibility of a properly formulated and taught keto diet. Take the time to learn an entire program. This will prevent you from feeling stuck or like there’s nothing left to eat. Starting with just five foods recommended by a coworker or relying on sources like Instagram and TikTok might not provide you with proper nutrition or long-term success. Invest time in learning a comprehensive program that suits your needs.
4. Making Eating A Habit
It’s crucial to challenge the notion that you must have three meals a day with snacks or that breakfast is the most important meal. If you’re not hungry and you’re consuming great food, you don’t have to force yourself to eat breakfast or follow a strict meal schedule. Think of it this way: would you keep filling up your car with gas three to five times along the road when the gas tank is already full? Similarly, on a keto diet for weight loss or diabetes reversal, there’s no need to eat out of habit. Instead, ask yourself if you’re eating out of habit or genuine hunger. It may take time to relearn what true hunger feels like.
5. Trying to do it alone
The number one biggest mistake I see people making is thinking they can do it on their own. Having a social support system, whether it’s a support group or others going through a similar journey, is immensely helpful for most people starting a keto diet. If you’ve previously tried diets on your own, including the keto diet, and had trouble sticking to them, consider seeking support this time. Just like addiction medicine emphasizes the need for change with the help of others when dealing with sugar or ultra-processed food addiction, having support is crucial. Take advantage of social media support programs, face-to-face programs (in person or online), and other available support mechanisms as you embark on your keto journey.