With so much information out there regarding the hot new ketogenic diet, it's hard not to get excited about starting this new way of eating especially after hearing the spectacular weight loss and other health benefits people have been getting after a following the required meal plan for such a short period of time. But don't just jump right into it, do your research and avoid my top 5 biggest mistakes beginners make when starting the ketogenic diet!
Mistake Number 1
Not Counting Macros.
There are three macro nutrients; fat, protein and carbohydrates. This is important to know because the ketogenic diet requires you to divide your total caloric consumption into these three percentages; 70% Fat, 25% Protein and 5% Carbohydrates. Yes, that is correct, only 5% carbohydrates. You may be thinking this is crazy! Well it goes against the grain of what you and I have been trained to think for many years, especially if you are someone who has been trying to pack on lean muscle mass. You may have been told in order to build lean muscle mass you need to consume 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Or, Increase your carbohydrate consumption before and after you work out to have a better work out. Another was to carbohydrate load before you go on a long walk or run so that you will have plenty of energy to last through the whole run.
You will be surprised to hear, studies have now shown that this may not be the case. When following a ketogenic diet, studies have shown, individuals who consume high fats lower protein and virtually no carbohydrates were able to spare the breakdown of muscle tissue and in many cases have increased their lean muscle mass while following a resistance training plan. As of the time of this post, the debate is still out there if an endurance athlete can perform better on carbs vs healthy fats.
It's important to know one gram of fat consist of 9 calories while one gram of protein and carbohydrate each consist of 4 calories. Knowing this will assist you in determining how to break down your total daily caloric intake. An example of this; if an individuals daily caloric consumption goal is 2000 calories, 1400 calories should come from fats, 500 from protein and only 100 from carbohydrates. As you can see this is completely opposite from what most people know as the norm.
Although this may be a great starting point, many people have played around with this percentage until they found what worked best for them. I recommend starting with this and checking your results. Ultimately the best plan is the plan that you can stick to and not quit. Keep you macros on point and your ketogenic diet plan should work great for you.
Mistake Number 2
Not Knowing When You are In Ketosis.
I receive emails every day from people saying "the keto diet doesn't work", they haven't lost weight and when I ask them how long have they been in ketosis? They don't even know. What's worse, they don't even know if they are in ketosis because they haven't been testing with the available tools that show you when you are in ketosis. You have to understand, your body has been functioning for many years on sugar, now you are trying to switch that energy source to fat and this takes time and is a bit taxing on the body at first. Everyone's body changes to this new fuel source at a different pace. It took me 3-4 weeks to get into ketosis. I new this because I was testing with the Smack Fat urine test strips. I will post a link to this below.
There are three options when it comes to testing for ketosis. Testing your urine, breath and blood.
Testing your urine is the most economical way to check to see if your body is burning fat. Without enough insulin, the cells in the body can't absorb glucose and go into starvation mode, breaking down fats for energy. Ketones are a by-product of fat breakdown. Ketone testing strips check for the presence of acetoacetate in urine. This is a great way for beginners to test for ketone body levels however, after a few weeks or so, and everyone is different, the acetoacetate diminishes therefore preventing the test strips from being effective.
The second way to test for ketones is through a breath testing device. A popular one on the market is called Ketonix. The ketones in your breath is not the same as the ketones measured in blood. Breath ketones are a real-time indicator of using fat as fuel, which is a huge advantage compared to measuring for ketones in your urine. The testers are measuring for acetone which is a source from ketones. From the research I have done and from the reviews I have read, one negative aspect to this method is the consistency of the readings. The amount of force or lack there of from each breath should be consistent during each test to maintain accuracy. If you breath too hard or too soft compared to the prior testing a different result may occur.
Testing ketones through blood samples sounds like the most inconvenient and scary way to test for ketones but have been known as the most effective. You are required to prick your finger to draw blood so the test strips can pull the blood into the meter, the meter then tests for the level of ketones that are in your blood. The meter is actually testing for beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
Mistake Number 3
Not Eating Enough Fat.
When first getting started on the ketogenic diet, many newbies understand the concept of the eating requirement but for some reason just can't bring themselves to actually eat 100, 150 or even 200 grams of fat. The required amount should be based on your metabolic rate and body weight. At first, it can be uncommon to eat this amount of fat and many people still won't do it. Well guess what? If you don't then you are not following the ketogenic diet. In fact you are putting yourself at a higher risk for medical issues due to the fact that combining carbs and protein at the same time may cause the hormone insulin to spike more so than a traditional high protein diet, which defeats the purpose of wanting to follow the keto diet plan in the first place. When eating fats, it is very important to be selective on the types of fats you are consuming. Known as "the healthy fats", avocado, coconut oil, nuts, olive oil, whole eggs, just to name a few of the preferred healthy fats that should be part of the meal plan. It is very important to know how much healthy fats you should be consuming on a daily basis and knowing what types of healthy fats to consume is as equally important. Knowing this information is key to a successful transition for your bodies fuel source. I highly recommend being prepared and educating yourself with the proper fats you should be consuming, after all, 65%-80% of the foods you eat will be of these healthy fats.
The Ketosis Cookbook is packed with keto friendly meals and tools that you can utilize to be sure you are properly prepared.
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Mistake Number 4
Consuming Too Much Protein.
As I mentioned earlier it is very important to get in the proper percentage of macro-nutrients. As important as it is to keep fats up and carbs down, I see many people keeping their protein intake too high as well. The percentage of protein consumption should only be 25%. With that being said, you can't eat steak and salmon all day because they are both high in protein. This is where the oils, nuts and butters need to play a crucial role. Oils such as coconut oil, olive oil and even vegetable oil is high in essential fatty acids that are very good for your body. When eating meats and seafood opt for the types that are high in fats such as ground beef that is a 80%-20% ground mix. Also be careful about how much and what types of cheeses you eat as some are higher in protein and carbs than others. Did you know skim milk is high in carbohydrates? If you need to drink milk go for the whole milk. If you want to put it in your coffee, I recommend switching to a heavy whipping cream where the protein and carbohydrate percentages are very low and the fat is very high. One thing to understand while on the ketogenic diet, your body has switched it's fuel source from sugar to fat, because of this if your body ever needs sugar, which it certainly does, it will convert the high protein that you may be consuming into sugar through a process called gluconeogenesis. Eat too much protein on a consistent basis and you will be kicked out of ketosis.
Mistake Number 5
Poor Electrolyte and Vitamin Supplementation
(read blog post, all about electrolytes)
The most important electrolytes are calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. To recognize their importance we need to consider their most important functions and the recommended quantities that we should eat on a daily basis. When following a low carbohydrate meal plan, combined with high water consumption, you are flushing these vital nutrients out of your system so therefore need to replace them through foods or manufactured supplementation.
People are generally aware of the fact that most of the calcium in the human body is found in the skeleton and the teeth (99%), but what may not be as well known, is that the remainder occurs in our bodies as ionized calcium (an electrolyte). As a cation, ionized calcium is called the “second messenger” which means that it reacts to changes in calcium levels inside the cells. It regulates cell function, the heartbeat and blood clotting (Mahan et al, 2012).
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium is between 1000 and 1300 mg per day (Mahan et al, 2012) which can be supplied by milk and dairy products (our richest sources of readily available calcium), green vegetables such as collard greens, nuts, tinned fish if one eats the bones, and calcium-extracted tofu which is made from soy beans.
Sodium is the most important ion in the fluid outside the cells and therefore regulates the volume of liquid inside the cells and also the volume of plasma in blood. Sodium is vital to both nerve and muscle function and it helps to control and maintain the acid-base balance of the body. When patients develop severe hyponatremia (low sodium levels) they may suffer from seizures and coma, and they may even die due to a lack of sodium (Mahan et al, 2012).
At present there is no RDA for sodium, but the Institute of Medicine in the USA has published so-called Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) of 1.2 to 1.5 gram per day (Mahan et al, 2012). Most people obtain much higher quantities of sodium from their diets by way of table salt, salt-containing foods and also medicines that contain sodium. Because excessive sodium intake is linked to development of high blood pressure or hypertension and other diseases of lifestyle, it has been recommended that the upper limit of sodium intake should not exceed 2 g per day which represents a sodium chloride (table salt) intake of not more than 5 g per day (WHO, 2012). In countries such as South Africa, it is now mandatory that manufacturers must reduce the salt (sodium) content of certain foods (Government Gazette, 2012).
Most of the magnesium in the human body is also located in bone, but about 1% of magnesium is found in the fluids outside the cells. Magnesium is regarded as one of the most important cofactors in enzyme reactions, so if our magnesium levels are dangerously low, it can have life-threatening consequences (Mahan et al, 2012).
The RDA for magnesium varies between 310 and 420 mg per day depending on age and gender. The most important sources of magnesium in the diet are green leafy vegetables, legumes (cooked or canned dry beans, lentils, peas or soybeans) and unprocessed or whole grains and cereals and products made from these grains such as whole wheat breads and crackers, wholegrain breakfast cereals, un sifted flour and brown rice.
Potassium is the most important cation in the fluid inside the cells. Together with sodium, potassium is responsible for maintaining both the acid-base balance, and the water balance of the body. In regard to maintenance of the water balance it is important to prevent dehydration on the one hand and water intoxication on the other hand. Potassium together with calcium, helps to regulate nerve and muscle activity in the body. Insufficient potassium intake can interfere with the storage of glycogen (the primary source of energy for muscle activity) (Mahan et al, 2012).
A deficiency (hypokalemia) and an excess (hyperkalemia) of potassium can have severe and even fatal effects on the function of the heart.
No RDA has been specified for potassium, but an intake of at least 4700 mg per day has been suggested for adults. Potassium is found in most foods with fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy products acting as primary sources of the mineral. Despite the fact that potassium is found in such abundance in common foods, research indicates that up to 50% of adults in the USA do not obtain the suggested 4700 mg per day from their diets (Mahan et al, 2012).
It is important to maintain sensible electrolyte and water intakes so that you ingest neither too much nor too little of these vital components that keep our bodies in balance.
In conclusion and as you can see, there are many key components that need to be followed when changing your bodies fuel source. If not prepared you may experience symptoms such as the keto flu or keto rash. I always recommend following a system that can take you trough this process so that you can maximize your results while minimizing or even preventing the negative side effects that may occur.
30Days 2Burn! Keto Bodybuilding program, where I show you how to lose weight and build muscle at the same time. In fact I even show you how I lose 8 lbs. in 1 week.
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