Though the keto diet is not the most complicated diet out there, it does take some time to get used to such a drastic change in eating habits. Even if you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job, you may hit a snag once or twice along the way.
So, what do you do when you have a problem while following the keto diet?
Take a closer look at your diet and lifestyle to see what is causing the problem. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common problems people have when getting started on the ketogenic diet and we’ll talk about the different methods to test for ketosis, so you can monitor your progress.
Addressing Common Problems with Keto
If you’ve stopped losing weight while following the ketogenic diet, or if you’re having trouble getting into ketosis in the first place, you’re probably doing something wrong. It may not even be a major mistake, but there is probably some aspect of your diet or lifestyle that needs to be tweaked. Here are some of the most common problems with keto and how to fix them:
- Eating too many carbs. The key to the ketogenic diet is to keep your carb intake low. You can cancel out the fiber content of carb-heavy foods, but you still want to stay under 5% of your daily calories. If that doesn’t work, try reducing it to a maximum of 20g to 25g net carbs.
- Not eating enough fat. You should be consuming at least 70% of your daily calories from fat, making sure to include healthy fats like omega-3s and MCTs in your diet. If you’re not into ketosis yet, add some MCT oil or coconut oil to your daily intake to give you a boost.
- Eating too much/not enough protein. Your body can only utilize so much protein at once – any extra will be excreted with your urine. On the other hand, not eating enough protein could interfere with ketosis. Aim for 20% to 25% of your daily calories to come from protein.
- Not eating enough fiber. Though it is important to keep your carbohydrate intake low on the ketogenic diet, you still need to include low-carb fruits and vegetables in your diet. In addition to providing essential micronutrients, these foods also provide the fiber you need for digestion and nutrient absorption. Include some low-carb veggies like leafy greens at every meal.
- Eating too few calories. Even if you’re trying to lose weight on the ketogenic diet, you want to avoid restricting your calories too much – if you stick to your macros, you’ll burn fat (and calories) anyway. You may still want to count calories but it’s more important that you stay within the recommended range for fat, protein, and carbs than to hit a daily calorie goal.
- Not sleeping enough. Adequate sleep is essential for good health and it is important for weight loss. When you are sleep-deprived, your body starts to shut down and it may devote more of its energy to essential processes instead of burning fat. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Eating too many sweets. Though there are certainly keto-friendly sweeteners out there, you shouldn’t overindulge in them. Keto sweeteners like stevia and erythritol are low or devoid of calories but they can still affect your body and your digestive system. Use sweeteners in moderation and enjoy treats as an occasional indulgence.
Take a look at each of these problems and ask yourself whether that might be the reason you’re having trouble. Make the necessary adjustments to your diet to get back on track and test your ketones along the way to see if things are improving. If not, take a closer look at your diet or talk to your doctor.
Three Ways to Test for Ketosis
The goal of the ketogenic diet is to switch your body into a state of ketosis in which it starts burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. The key is to reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your fat intake, giving your body no choice but to make the switch.
The thing you need to remember is that there are different macronutrient ratios you can try to enter and maintain ketosis. Everyone’s body is different, so you may feel better at 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs than you do at a higher fat, lower protein ratio. It also depends on your ketone levels – your diet has a direct impact on that as well.
But how exactly do you test your ketone levels? There are three ways:
- Breath acetone meter
- Urine ketone test
- Blood BHB test
Bad breath is a symptom of keto flu caused by higher levels of ammonia that occurs as fats and proteins are broken down in the body. You can use a breath acetone meter to test your ketone levels, just know that this is not the most accurate measure of ketosis. Urine ketone test kits are a more accurate way to test for ketosis and they are both affordable and easy to use. Simply dip the strip in urine and compare the color to the included charge to see what range your ketone levels are in.
The most accurate way to test for ketosis is to test your blood. You can use the kind of blood meter used by diabetics, but you’ll need special keto test strips which measure for BHB, the most predominant ketone in the human body. You’ll have to prick your finger to obtain a sample which can be unpleasant, but it is the most accurate way to measure your ketone levels to see whether you’re in ketosis or not.
The closer you stay to your macronutrient ratio, the sooner you’ll enter ketosis and start reaping the benefits of the ketogenic diet. If you run into a snag along the way, use the troubleshooting tips you’ve learned here to get back on track. Best of luck!