By Shaun Adams DC, DABCI

The Ketogenic diet remains one of the most popular weight loss diets for people to attempt right now. While we recognize there are some great benefits to the diet, especially for certain groups of people, it is not for everyone. However, if you’re going to try it, hopefully you’re educated on how to do it correctly. Whatever you may have heard, it’s not all cheese and bacon.

What is the Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.  The body/brain typically uses carbohydrates for fuel, but in the absence of it, fat can be converted to ketone bodies via ketosis.

Clean Keto vs Dirty Keto

Many people just think of the Keto diet as eating a few carbs and lots of fat but they neglect to eat their veggies. This is considered dirty keto. Dirty keto is following the keto diet and adhering to its carb restrictions without actually steering clear of unhealthy foods. Things like lots of meat, butter, bacon, and pre-made/packaged convenience food. That also includes seemingly healthy things like protein bars, shakes, and other snacks that boast being sugar-free and low-carb. The ultimate keto recipe isn’t taking cheese, frying it in butter, and putting bacon in the middle.

Clean Keto

Clean keto, on the other hand, is like a clean-eating version of the keto diet. It’s how the the keto diet is supposed to utilized. It focuses on whole, unprocessed foods that are high in fiber and low in net carbs-but are still packed with other nutrients-such as avocados, green vegetables, coconut oil, and ghee. Furthermore, when Keto is done appropriately, research has looked at the possible links between following a strict keto diet and management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), epilepsy, and other neurological diseases.

So now you know the difference between clean and dirty Keto, so what are the top 5 mistakes to avoid when eating clean?

  1. Eating too much protein

This is probably the biggest offender of them all. The keto diet is not just low carb, it’s high fat. Many people translate that definition to having no restrictions on protein and eat way too much! Excess protein is converted by the body into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. It is a natural process by which the body will convert energy from proteins and fats into glucose when glucose is not readily available. In a low-carb or ketogenic diet, gluconeogenesis will occur at varying rates to maintain body function. Our bodies don’t need tons of carbs, but some parts of the body need carbs to survive. Through gluconeogenesis, the body creates and can store extra glucose as glycogen in case its supply becomes too low.

As I mentioned earlier, a ketogenic diet isn’t a low-carb, high-protein way of eating, fat needs to be your primary fuel source and that means finding pure-fat sources that don’t include protein — such as healthy oils — to add into your meals. In other words, don’t exclusively rely on eating fattier meats to achieve your fat macro goals. This brings me to our next common mistake.

  1. Not eating enough fat

75% of the calories you eat should come from healthy fats, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs. Fat is satiating, so if you’re eating the right amount, you’ll minimize carb cravings, helping you stay in ketosis and promoting body fat burn. Remember though the 5% carbs, is net carbs (Total Carbs – fiber – sugar alcohol) and should mostly come from veggies!

  1. Hidden Carbs

There are lots of foods which appear to be low-carb, but aren’t. Hidden carbs can be found in condiments, sauces, and salad dressings. Always check the nutrition information before trying a new food, just in case it has hidden carbs or sugar. It only takes a second to skim the label, and it can be the difference between losing weight or not. Another great way of tracking this is using a food tracking app like MyFitnessPal. Just remember to consider net carbs and not total carbs.

  1. Staying Hydrated

Water is crucial to every bodily function, including burning fat. If you’re not drinking enough water, your metabolism will slow, halting weight loss. Drinking at least half your body weight in water each day helps your body circulate nutrients, flush out toxins, and burn fat. When you’re starting out the ketogenic diet, you may need to drink even more water because your body sheds water when you start consuming fewer carbs. It will also help keep your bowel movements more regular.

  1. Eating too much dairy

Let’s be honest, dairy can be delicious, but for some people, dairy can be pro-inflammatory and prevent them from losing weight. Dairy has fat, protein, and carbs (from the naturally occurring milk sugar, lactose). So, if you’re eating cheese all day as a “keto-friendly snack” for its fat content, you’re also getting a hefty dose of protein and carbs along with that fat. Stick to no more than 1-2 ounces of cheese or cream per meal.

There you have it! The basics of the keto diet and the most common mistakes made on it. Is keto for everyone? No, but it is good for several health conditions if utilized correctly. Here at Gateway Natural Medicine and Diagnostic Center, we sit down and figure out what dietary guidelines are going to be best for you and can even look at your genetics aid in those guidelines. Schedule a 15 minute free consult today! As with any dietary change, be sure to consult with your physician to make sure it’s a good choice for you and keep it clean!