What is keto?

The keto (ketogenic) diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Eating this way forces the body to burn fats as fuel, rather than carbohydrates.

It’s no secret that a diet low in carbohydrates can be beneficial to people with diabetes. Whether you call it Atkins, Keto or simply low-carb, these diets are higher in fat and protein due to the restriction of carbohydrates. Typically the macronutrient breakdown is 70% fat, 20% protein, and 10% fat.

However, there is a right and wrong way to follow the keto diet. Here are five common mistakes people make when going keto and what to do instead.

Keto Mistake #1: Eating too much animal fat.

Cooking with animal fats like lard, butter, bacon fat, etc is not only unnecessary, it’s extremely high in unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Cholesterol is only found in animal fats and is not vital for our body to function properly. Consuming a diet high in animal fat can contribute to obesity and other health complications like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

What to do instead:

Try cooking with heart-healthy olive oil or heat a splash of stock in a skillet and cook oil-free.

Keto Mistake #2: Avoiding fruits & vegetables.

A diet without fruits and vegetables is unhealthy for any and everyone. If someone tells you to avoid fruits and vegetables, run the other way! Our bodies need these foods for their micronutrients, antioxidants, and countless other health benefits.

What to do instead:

Eat your fruits and veggies! Fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables and eat plenty of lower-carb fruits like berries, watermelon, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe and apples.

Keto Mistake #3: Relying on zero-carb foods.

Foods made to be zero-carb or zero-sugar are typically highly processed and void of nutrients. Although they can be great in a pinch, don’t build your diet around these foods.

What to do instead:

Eat whole, real, natural foods as much as possible. Plan your grocery lists and meals and you’ll be less likely to fall off track for convienence.

Keto Mistake #4: Eating too much red & processed meat.

Diets high in animal protein, especially red and processed meat, are directly  related to an increased risk of death due to heart diease and stroke. Processed meat especially, is linked to multiple forms of cancer. Consume very sparingly.

What to do instead:

Diversify your protein intake! Mix it up with other protein-rich foods like fish, quinoa, tofu, beans, seitan, mock meats, nuts, seeds, chicken, tempeh. Your body, and tastebuds, will thank you.

Keto Mistake #5: Eating too much dairy.

Dairy is high in animal fat and cholestorol, two things our bodies don’t need, espcially if you are working to control diabetes. Just as steering clear of foods processed to be zero-carb or zero-sugar, dairy that is processed to be low-fat or non-fat is still full of cholesterol and doesn’t contain any nutrients you can’t get elsewhere. Full-fat dairy is especially problematic for women at risk for breast cancer.

What to do instead:

Cut down on dairy and try plant-based dairy products. Swapping cow’s milk for almond milk is a great way to not only decrease the amount of carbohydrates, but also skip the cholesterol and unhealthy fats. You’ll be surpised to find more and more options of plant-based cream cheese, coffee creamer, yogurt and ice cream all at your local grocer.

How to get started:

A great way to get an idea of what you eat on a regular basis is to keep a food journal. Use a food-tracker app or simply log it in your phone, computer or paper. Do your best to track consistantly, and be sure to include things like sauces, snacks and drinks.

After logging your food for a week, look over your entries and see where your opportunity areas are. With proper planning, following a healthy diet can be easy and even fun.

Start slow and be patient with yourself. Eating healthy is a lifestyle change, not a switch you can just turn on. Find one thing to change and give yourself time to make the necessary adjustments. If you fall off track, just get back on! And always rememeber to celebrate your wins, no matter how small!