Get up to speed on some of the challenges you'll be faced with when starting on a ketogenic diet.
So you’ve watched a few YouTube videos, read a few articles and have decided to embark on a ketogenic journey. Just eat fewer carbs and you’re all sorted, right? We've asked a keto expert - Dr. Kohilathas - to pass on some tips and medically certified advice!.
Ready for keto? Not so fast!
Starting and following the ketogenic diet, like any other diet, can be difficult and can feel particularly more complicated than its dietary counterparts.
To make sure you have the best chance of sticking with this new way of eating, I have outlined five common pitfalls commonly faced by those starting their low-carb journey.
1) Thinking 'going keto' is only about weight loss
Though amazing for its fat-burning and muscle-preserving abilities, keto is not and should not be viewed as a get-fit-quick scheme. It’s way more than that.
Ketogenic diets have been shown to increase “good” cholesterol, reduce appetite, possibly help lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar levels and can be effective at reducing stubborn tummy fat.
Ketogenic diets have also been shown to help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, improve polycystic ovary syndrome, possibly help slow tumour growth, possibly help those suffering from bipolar affective disorder and may even help you live longer.
All these keto benefits... how come?
Well, it’s because the ketogenic diet cuts out the constant intake of inflammatory carbohydrates and instead helps us use another form of cleaner and more beneficial fuel – ketones. Weight loss is just an added benefit!
2) It’s not a ‘diet’
Some people say keto is a health fad and unsustainable to maintain long-term. I say that any diet treated as a health fad is likely to become one.
The benefits of the ketogenic diet only occur if it is maintained for a long period of time. Think long-term.
Yo-yo is a no-no. Switching between eating low-carb and then high carb when you feel like it will not only halt your gains but is actually dangerous in the long term.
Yo-Yo dieting can increase your appetite, body fat percentage and even risk of diabetes in the long run.
See the ketogenic diet as a lifestyle instead.
A reset button of sorts. It’s a journey and a way to discover a healthier version of yourself.
3) You’re being too strict with yourself
It’s hard to be healthy nowadays and even harder to love oneself.
We have become a society of calorie-counting, self-victimising, weight-obsessed individuals.
I’m here to firstly say that it doesn’t have to be this way and secondly that it is not your fault.
Many people who begin the ketogenic lifestyle find themselves incessantly counting the carbohydrate content of everything they eat to get it below 50g (or 20g) a day. Though useful at the start as a means to learn what you can and can’t eat, I wouldn’t recommend carrying out this behaviour long term.
Counting the carbohydrate and sugar content of everything you eat can get tedious and takes the joy away from eating.
Though the ketogenic diet should be taken as a lifestyle, remember to enjoy it and not take it too seriously.
If you want that cake, eat it, but don’t dwell on it.
You’re doing this to get healthier and feel better, so why not enjoy the process?
Remember that you are worth it.
4) Not all carbs are created equally. Good carbs and... not so good carbs.
What do fibre, starch, polyols and sugar have in common? They’re all types of carbohydrate.
Though all part of the same family, only starch and sugars have the ability to dramatically shoot up blood sugar levels and thus best consumed minimally on a ketogenic lifestyle.
Glucose, fructose, and galactose are types of simple sugars and form other types of sugars (table sugar is a combination of glucose and fructose).
Starches are basically a group of sugars (glucose) strung together and commonly found in foods such as potatoes and rice.
Fibres are carbohydrates that cannot be broken down by our digestive system.
Heard about sweeteners? Well, a lot of sweeteners are polyols. These are types of carbohydrate that are sweet but don’t affect your blood sugar levels.
Be wary when looking at the back of packages. ‘Low sugar’ doesn’t always mean low carbohydrate and in fact, is sometimes a trick used by the food industry to get you to buy their product.
The number you should be focusing your attention on is the “net carbs“, which manufacturers typically use to refer to the carbohydrates that remain after subtracting the fibre and sugar alcohols in a particular food.
If the net carbs or sugars are particularly high, the safest bet is to stay away!
5) Stick with less processed foods
A lot of people think that those undertaking the ketogenic lifestyle solely consume fried eggs and bacon whilst bathing in buckets of melted butter.
Though it’s possible to successfully live a happy keto life eating these sorts of food, why not add some colour?
The quality of food will determine the quality of your health, so as well as all that good stuff, I would encourage the consumption of fruits like berries and fibre from leafy green vegetables.
The keto market is growing and with it, snacks such as low-carb ice cream, keto chocolate and low-carb crisps are becoming more available.
I believe these products are a godsend when feeling naughty and may help kick sugar cravings right before they reak havoc in our minds.
Though useful however remember to treat these types of foods as treats.
Processed foods have been linked with many diseases and even a reduced life expectancy.
A simple rule I use is making sure the bulk of my diet is made up of foods with five ingredients or less.
Or in other words, if it goes rotten easily, it’s probably good for you.
In conclusion - It’s a journey
Diets can be tough and frustrating. I find that the best strategy for success is preparation and perseverance. Prepare not only the food you consume but more importantly your mindset before you start.
Go in with a positive attitude and cultivate self-love. Persevere, and the results will come.
The ketogenic lifestyle is uniquely different to other diets because you will not only lose weight but begin to feel different too.
Watch out for these five pitfalls for a smoother ride to success!