The ketogenic diet can be a very effective way to lose weight. Since you’re not giving your body carbohydrates to use as energy, it starts using the fat stores. Most people who follow the diet find that they lose weight at a consistent pace while still feeling satisfied and full.
However, there are times when it just doesn’t seem to be working. If you’re not losing weight while following the plan, you may be making a few mistakes. In fact, there are several misconceptions that can lead weight loss to stall.
Take a look at the following list to see if you are making some of these common mistakes. If you are, a few simple tweaks to your plan could put you back on the path to losing weight. You’ll be much closer to reaching your goals.
Eating Too Many Calories
If you’ve ever been on a diet that required you to measure portions and keep count the calories you ate, you probably like that the ketogenic diet doesn’t require you to count calories. As long as you stick to no- and low-carb foods, you should be losing weight. However, this is a bit misleading.
Ultimately, weight loss comes from using up more calories than you take in.
On a ketogenic diet, the fat and the protein are supposed to keep you satisfied enough that you end up eating fewer calories overall. This is the primary reason that the diet works.
If you’re eating a lot of high-calorie foods, you could have trouble losing weight, even if all of those foods are technically “approved” foods for the diet. In particular, nuts are a common problem because it’s easy to eat a lot of them in a short period of time. A single serving of nuts is a small handful, and comes in at around 200 calories. It’s easy to see how this can quickly add up.
While you don’t have to go crazy counting calories, it’s a good idea to spend a few days paying attention to what you’re eating. Add up those calories to see how much you’re eating. If it’s high, figure out which foods are sabotaging your efforts.
Not Eating Enough Fat
As a culture, we’ve been conditioned to see fat as the enemy. We’ve always been told that if you eat fat, you’re going to get fat. On top of this, a lot of people think of low-carb diets as high protein diets rather than high fat. This means that they’re eating foods that often look for foods that are high in protein and low in carbs without paying much attention to the fat content.
Fat is a really important part of the ketogenic diet. A description of the diet put out by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment states that you should be eating four grams of fat for every one gram of protein you eat.
This should be dietary fat, like you find in butter and full-fat dairy products. You can also add fats in the cooking process to help you meet your goals.
To be successful following the ketogenic plan, you need to follow the diet at all times. It’s not always easy to find keto-friendly foods in restaurants or at convenience stores, so you have to be prepared. If you don’t bring snacks with you to work or on a road trip, you might be tempted to eat something off-plan when presented with the choices in the vending machine.
If you haven’t thought about what you are going to order in a restaurant, you may be tempted to order your favorite dish or share in the dessert that your friend is enjoying.
Take time to plan what you’re going to eat every day, including snacks. Before you go to a restaurant, look at their menu and find things that are appropriate for a keto diet. Having this plan will make it easier for you to stay on track.
Most people eat for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger. You might eat more when you’re socializing with friends. You might eat more when you’re stressed or tired. You might eat because you’re sad or happy. You might just eat because you’re bored.
Even when you’re eating foods that are allowed on the ketogenic diet, you won’t lose weight if you don’t pay attention to your body. One of the keys to success is learning to stop eating when you are feeling full. Foods that are high in fat and protein help you to feel satisfied with fewer calories, but if you keep eating without thinking about it, you’ll be eating too many calories.
To prevent mindless eating, create set times when you’re allowed to eat. Be careful not to grab a cheese stick or a handful of nuts every time you go into the kitchen. Don’t eat while you are preparing dinner. Once you start to do this, you’ll probably be surprised by the number of times you have to stop yourself from reaching for food.
Even non-starchy vegetables contain some carbohydrates, so those who are really limiting carbohydrates typically avoid these foods, even though they may only have a few carbs per serving. For instance, you might opt for an extra serving of meat rather than a side salad or steamed vegetables.
This has two negative effects. First, you’re eating more calories when you choose a high-fat/high-protein food over some vegetables. Second, you’re missing out on all of the fiber that’s contained in non-starchy vegetables. This fiber can help you feel full and will also help your digestive system work more efficiently.
The first step to avoiding this mistake is to not think of vegetables as the enemy. Sure, you might want to avoid carb-heavy vegetables like potatoes and corn, but you shouldn’t avoid foods like broccoli, lettuce and cucumbers.
Next, look for ways to incorporate these foods into your meals. Serve veggies on the side.
Eat a big salad for lunch with a high-fat dressing and a serving of meat. This also allows you to eat a wider variety of foods so you won’t get bored.
Eating the Wrong Fats
We’ve told you that you should be eating more fat to do well on the ketogenic diet, but many people take this advice too far. The key is that you’re supposed to be eating a lot of dietary fat, not other types of fats.
Dietary fats are the types of fats that are naturally found in foods. It’s the animal fat in your meat, the fat in your butter, and the fat in an avocado. These are all good for you.
The fats that are not good for you are the ones that come from vegetable oils. Deep fried foods, for instance, might have a lot of fat, but they’re not what you should be eating a lot of on the ketogenic diet.
Focus your efforts on eating the healthier fats. Make sure that you’re buying full-fat versions of dairy products. If you want something that tastes fried, try coating it with olive oil and baking in the oven or pan frying on the stove in a small amount of coconut oil. This is better than deep frying.
Getting Stuck in a Rut
When you first started the keto diet, you probably made a list of your favorite foods on the approved lists and planned your meals around those foods. For instance, you might decide that you’ll eat eggs for breakfast, bun-less burgers for lunch and meat with steamed vegetables for dinner.
Even if you occasionally mix things up by having chicken for dinner one night and salmon another, this routine can start to get boring. When things get boring, you are more tempted to go off plan just to have “something different.”
To avoid this, make a pledge to try one new recipe each week. You may find a new favorite.
If you’re sticking with the plan most of the time, it might seem that the occasional cheat meal shouldn’t make a big difference. Maybe you wanted a piece of cake at your kid’s birthday party or felt bad about turning down a plate of your mom’s homemade spaghetti and meatballs.
Unfortunately, even a small amount of carbohydrates can put your body out of ketosis. If those “cheats” are coming more often than not, your body won’t be spending much time in its ketogenic state. This means you won’t be losing weight like you want.
Commit yourself fully to the ketogenic diet for a certain period of time. Don’t allow yourself to cheat. If there’s a big event coming up, think about how you are going to overcome the temptation. For instance, you might have a bowl of heavy cream with strawberries rather than cake or enjoy mom’s meatballs with spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti.
Not Listening to Your Body
Being able to eat “as much as you want” is part of the appeal of the ketogenic diet. What most people don’t realize, though, is that you’re really supposed to be eating as much as your body needs.
You shouldn’t feel hungry on the keto diet, but you also shouldn’t feel overly stuffed. You need to learn to listen to your body and eat only as much as it really needs.
Try using smaller plates so that you eat too much due to the pressure to clean your plate. Before you reach for a snack, ask yourself whether you’re really hungry or if you’re getting a snack because you’re bored or filling an emotional need. Tune into yourself and the weight will come off.
Choosing Pre-Packaged Foods
The ketogenic diet is supposed to be about eating healthy whole foods rather than the overly processed junk that makes up most people’s diets. However, this hasn’t stopped businesses to step up to the demand for keto-friendly versions of unhealthy favorites.
If you’re choosing a lot of these foods over real foods, you may find that you have trouble losing weight. Since many of these foods mimic sweet treats, you’ll find that they increase your craving for these types of foods.
On the other hand, if you stick with healthy foods and avoid using low-carb sweeteners, you’ll find that your cravings for sweets decrease significantly. If you avoid sweets for a few weeks, your taste buds will change and all those foods you once craved will taste too sweet.
Focusing on the Scale
Ketogenic diets appeal to people because they allow many people to quickly lose a lot of the weight. You probably started it after hearing about someone who lost 20 or 30 pounds in a short period of time. If you don’t get those same results, you might be frustrated.
However, the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. You can slim down without seeing much of a difference on the scale. Additionally, people who have more weight to lose tend to lose that weight quickly. If you only need to lose 20 pounds to reach your goal weight, it’s probably not going to all come off in a month.
Instead, focus on the way your body looks and feels. If you have more energy and your clothes are feeling a bit more comfortable, then you’re seeing success, even if it’s not showing up on the scale.
The ketogenic diet works well for millions of people, but it’s easy to make these mistakes that can stall your progress. Once you fix the situation, you should start seeing your efforts pay off again.