The ketogenic diet, keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet focused on lowering your body’s insulin levels and relying on ketones, chemicals made in your liver that break down fat, to fuel the body. The diet quickly gained popularity, but its quick rise has made room for dieters to make keto mistakes. Stephen Riggs, MD, a family medicine provider at MercyOne Kimball Family Medicine and Pediatrics Care, shares three tips that will help you plan for a successful keto diet.
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What is the keto diet?
A keto diet focuses on eliminating foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars. A successful keto diet includes meats, leafy greens, nuts and seeds and foods high in both unsaturated and saturated fat.
Keto mistakes to avoid
Inadequate mineral replacement – Insulin causes your kidneys to retain salt and water. When a person follows the keto diet, the insulin level should drop which causes the kidney to naturally release water and minerals, especially sodium, potassium and magnesium. This can lead to the “keto flu” where you may feel fatigued and experience headaches and upset stomach.
“The antidote is to drink plenty of water and get more salt,” Dr. Riggs says. “It may seem counterintuitive, but on the keto diet, you actually need more salt!”
Therefore, salt your food liberally. If experiencing keto flu, eat a cup of broth or bullion once or twice a day. Look at this recipe for a healthy broth option.
Not watching your carb intake – Sugar and refined carbs are in many foods. You should be aiming to eliminate these from your keto diet.
“Try to keep your net carb content under 20 grams/day or total carbs under 30 grams,” Dr Riggs says.
Keep close track of your sugar and carb intake by reading nutrition labels. The nutrition label on food packaging will tell you how many grams of carbohydrates and sugar is in a serving size. If the food doesn’t have a nutrition label, look up the content of the food on the internet. Also, consider planning out your nutritional diet and meal prepping.
Keto Bars and “Fat Bombs” – With a rise in popularity, keto products are trying to meet the high demand. But not every keto product is healthy for you or good for your diet. It can be tempting to replace your cakes and cookies with sweet keto bars. However, the bars are loaded with sugar alcohol.
Sugar alcohol is an artificial carbohydrate used to sweeten foods. They have a lower calorie count than traditional sugar. They can be a source of empty calories in your keto diet. Keep a look out for ingredients titled erythritol, maltitol, isomalt, mannitol and sorbitol.
“They are just as nutrient empty as any other processed food,” Dr. Riggs says. “They keep your sweet tooth alive which is something you want to kill!”