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!
Biggest 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).
Click here to check out my Youtube channel for more information about the ketogenic diet and how to test to see if you are in ketosis.
In the end, if you are serious about changing the way you eat for the many benefits that the ketogenic diet has to offer, it is highly recommended to purchase one of these three options to be sure you are on the right path to a healthier way of life.
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
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 wholewheat breads and crackers, wholegrain breakfast cereals, unsifted 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 (hypokalaemia) and an excess (hyperkalaemia) 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.
Check out my 30Days 2Burn! Ketogenic program here, 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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What Does Dieting Really Mean?
In order to discuss this topic I need to explain what it means when I say "diet". I am referring to a reduction of calories from your normal metabolic rate. What the heck does that mean?
If your bodies daily caloric need is 3500 calories per day and you are trying to lose weight and are now eating less than this amount you are considered to be on a diet no matter what your macros are. Macros? Macros, short for macro-nutrients, that's how much protein, carbohydrates and fat you are consuming. If you are new to weight training or if you have had a long period of time lapse since your last training session, and I am referring to years not weeks or months, you may build muscle no matter what kind of diet you are on because your muscles have never experienced the weight training or resistance training movements and stress, so naturally it will try and adapt by getting bigger and stronger even when you are dieting. Now this doesn't happen over night but I have seen people gain muscle mass within months of following a weight training and nutrition regimen. For your convenience, I will provide you with an easy to use calorie counter at the end of this blog so please continue reading.
The myth behind the saying "you cannot build muscle while dieting" came about from the process of bodybuilders dieting down after being in a state of what they call "muscle building or bulking". Now, while in this state they are usually consuming a tremendous amount of calories, more than their body needs. Yes, they may be building muscle but they are also adding fat to their bodies and are bloated from inflammation and water retention. When they start to diet and reduce their daily calorie consumption, they not only loose body fat they get weaker in the gym. The train of thought behind the negative effects of this method was, "now that I am weaker I am not moving the amount of weight that I used to so that means I am not gaining muscle or worse I am losing muscle. This is completely false.
When you change the way you eat your body will change. Whether it gets weaker, stronger, gains fat or loses fat, there is change. This change when lowering calories changes the bodies hormones which causes the weakness in strength. In addition to that your muscles are trying to figure out what is happening so it reacts to this change. Once your body adapts to this change it should and usually does go back to it's original strength and may even get bigger and stronger depending on the type of weight training regimen you are doing.
Keep Off The Scale!
Many people use the scale to determine if they are losing body fat which may be a big mistake. You can gain muscle while losing body fat. In fact I prove this in my 30Days 2Burn! Fitness Program where my body weight stays the same but I look a lot leaner. One of the best and cheapest ways to determine if you are losing body fat is to use skin fold calipers or simply try on a pair of pants that may have once been tight on you. If and when you get down to below 20% body fat one of the best indicators is judging yourself in the mirror eery other day or weekly depending on the diet plan you are following. People tend to lose fat around the waist, butt or, if you are a woman, your boobs. So you have to stop stepping on the scale and make an investment in skin fold calipers. Do not get the cheap plastic one as they wear out and break easy. Below are my recommended calipers.
Why Macro Nutrients Are So Important.
If you are on a diet one of the things you really need to focus on is the amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates you are consuming. I hate and am not a big advocate of counting calories but if you can understand and know how much lean body mass you have, this would be a big help in assisting you in reaching your goals. When it comes to protein, most experts would recommend you consume .50 grams to 1 gram of protein per lean body mass. I recommend less but it all depends on what type of program you are following. This is where skin fold calipers can be very handy. The goal is to know what percentage of body fat you have this way you can reduce that percentage form your total body weight, this will determine how much of your weight is actual muscle tissue. I see people making this mistake very often. If they weigh 250 lbs they end up eating 250 grams of protein. This can cause some serious kidney issues and I do not recommend this. An example of doing this correctly would look like this; eat between 75 - 150 grams of protein if you have determined you have 75 lbs of body fat and your total body weight is 175 lbs. There are 4 calories per gram of protein, 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and 9 calories per gram of fat. It is very important to get an idea of what you are eating so you don't over eat. This will also aid you in eating the correct amount of daily calories required for you to reach your goal(s).
When individuals diet down and reach below 10% body fat, their muscles seem to be pretty resilient in maintaining themselves, that is the reason why they look so defined. Just because your muscle may be weaker from the reduced calories and loss of water, doesn't mean there was a loss of muscle. Many people drop carbohydrates when they diet, that reduction of carbohydrates causes your body to lose water. Every gram of carbohydrate you consume can hold about 3 grams of water. This is another reason people get weaker in the gym or feel that they have muscle loss, they are actually losing water that was held in their muscle now creating the look of a smaller muscle. This is precisely the reason why bodybuilders carbohydrate load a few days before they go on stage, it's to increase the volume of water they are holding in their muscle creating a more full muscle. Combine this with being very lean the muscle volume will stretch the skin creating a more vascular look.
When dieting down you are reducing calories, because of this reduction and change in macro-nutrients you will most likely be lacking the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. If this occurs your body will get what it needs from your muscle. Now, don't be too alarmed, you must be severely reducing the amount of calories for this to occur as it is very rare that your body will have a catabolic breakdown. This happens when people starve themselves for extended periods of time and because of this, their body actually starts breaking down muscle tissue. The process of catabolism occurs in patience that suffer from anorexia or starvation. You should not be starving yourself to lose weight, you should be reducing your overall calories based on your metabolic rate but not starving yourself. The calories that you are reducing should also be from carbohydrates. The process of restricting carbohydrates minimizes and/or prevents the hormone insulin from spiking. You want to prevent this because insulin is a fat storing hormone and once it spikes the fat burning process stops. This is where vitamin supplementation may come in handy. Under normal circumstances, the more muscle you have the more calories your body needs to sustain itself and the more fat you can burn. To sum this up you fist need to determine how much muscle you have by using skin fold calipers, you then need to determine your metabolic rate which will assist you in determining how many calories you need. From there you need to play around with your macroeconomic percentage to determine how your body reacts to those percentages. Another huge part to this is to know the macro nutrient make up of the foods you eat.
By knowing what the nutritional make up of the foods you are eating you will be able to determine what vitamins and minerals you are lacking. When following the ketogenic lifestyle the three main nutrients you may lack are potassium, magnesium and sodium. This is a great time to supplement with the vitamins and nutrients you are lacking in order to assist not only with muscle retention but also overall health, not to mention the money you will save by not taking the supplements you do not need.
If you are interested in learning more about the ketogenic diet click here for my free quick start guide
The Importance of Weight Training.
My last recommendation to prevent muscle loss while dieting is to weight train or do some sort of resistance training. Studies have shown weight training prevents muscle loss. People who want their muscles to look bigger an get stronger need to weight train. In order for the muscle to grow it needs a reason to. That is why I always recommend weight training sessions consist of sets to reach complete failure. This simply means you keep on performing repetitions until you cannot complete full repetition. Do not stop there, you want to attempt at least 3 more repetitions after you have reached failure. Those 3 attempts will give your muscle a reason to grow. If you don't force it to be used it does not need to grow. Ever see a persons arm or leg after being in a cast for 6 weeks? The muscles are not being used so the body reduces the muscle mass since it is not needed. Once the person starts using it again, the mass returns. The same process happens in weight training. The more you use it the bigger and stronger it will get, this is your bodies way of adapting to it's environment. Now don't go out and do this everyday, you should follow a system so that you do not get injured or over train.
I hope this article was useful to you. If it was please share it with a friend or family member, be sure to visit my YouTube channel for great videos that I am sure will assist you in achieving your fitness goals.
Don't forget to check out my 30Days 2Burn! Fitness Program where I take you through 30 days of my life and show you full days of eating and bodybuilding routines.
Here is a link to the calorie counter I promised you.
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