5 Biggest Mistakes You'll Want to Avoid on the Keto Diet

The buzzy ketogenic diet is making headlines all over the internet lately. Endorsed by social influencers and experts alike, it's fair to say going keto is the new Paleo. Like with most diet trends, though, if you're not properly aligning the nutritional guidelines with your overall fitness goals, chances are, you won't see the results you seek.

The purpose of a ketogenic diet is to "hack" your body to use fat (instead of carbohydrates) as its primary source of energy. Basically, you eat fat to burn fat. The benefits can include a boost in mental clarity, a leaner body, increased energy, and more.

We consulted with a few nutrition experts to break down some of the most common mistakes people make when going keto to set you up for a successful and manageable journey to ketosis.

You're Eating Too Much Fat
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You're Eating Too Much Fat

According to brain food expert and New York Times bestselling author of Genius Foods, Max Lugavere, a diet too high in fat is where most people face issues when going keto. "In reality, low-carb drives ketogensis. Not high-fat," Lugavere told POPSUGAR.

Too many people focus on getting in high amounts of fat. Though a ketogenic diet focuses on consuming lots of healthy fats, like avocado and olive oil, it shouldn't be the primary focus. It's "circumstantial," according to Lugavere. The point is to reach ketosis through limiting carb intake.

This could also be why some people aren't reaching their weight-loss goals on a ketogenic diet, either.

"Many people push their calories to the point of not actually losing weight because they're consuming so many fat bombs." Achieving optimal health is more complicated than just the old calories-in versus calories-out model, but your caloric intake is still a key piece of the puzzle.

The main goal of the keto diet is to get your body into fat-burning ketosis. If you're overworking it with too much fat and not managing your carbs correctly, you could be getting in your own way.

You're Focusing on the Wrong Foods
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You're Focusing on the Wrong Foods

A lot people jump in thinking they should load up on lots of dairy, meat, and fats as part of the keto diet. The issue, however, is not being mindful of the quality of those foods and whether or not those foods will work well with your body type. We asked functional medicine practitioner and keto advocate Dr. Will Cole, D.C., to weigh-in.

"A lot of people in the keto world fill their plate with nonorganic and processed meats and dairy, which have been linked to many health problems, and avoid plant foods for fear of going over their carb limit — thus missing out on a vital range of essential plant phytonutrients and prebiotic food for the gut microbiome," Dr. Cole explained.

It's very likely that if you're adapting a ketogenic diet, you want to be healthier. By neglecting nutrient-rich food, you're depriving your body of achieving that optimal state. In addition, everyone's body will thrive on different types of foods, so simply following the "high-fat/low-carb" rule won't work for everyone.

Dr. Cole expanded by adding that some people won't necessarily do well by loading up on red meat or dairy products. For this reason, he wrote his book, Ketotarian, showing people that there are a variety of ways to adapt to a ketogenic diet. You have to customize it by fueling your body with the quality nutrients that it needs.

"I wanted to show people they can be vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian and still go keto!" It's all about finding the quality of foods that will work best for you, not just following the general standard.

You're Not Easing Into It
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You're Not Easing Into It

Many people jump right into a ketogenic diet without properly preparing their body. Especially if you're not used eating higher amounts of fat, it can be tough on your digestive system.

Holistic nutritionist Shauna Faulisi, who's helped keep high-profile clients like Gina Rodriguez in shape, agrees. For her clients, she advocates for proper nutritional counseling before jumping in. Especially for those who want to incorporate intermittent fasting, which she notes needs to be done very mindfully.

"There's an idea that intermittent fasting means not eating," Faulisi noted. "Many people try to jump right into intermittent fasting without setting their bodies up first. Not eating for 16 hours after a night of pasta is called starving, not intermittent fasting!"

It's best to do all of your research, know what foods work best for your body, and be sure to consult with a professional before diving in.

You're Not Setting Yourself Up For Success
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You're Not Setting Yourself Up For Success

On that same note, you also want to prepare your surroundings. According to wellness expert Nikki Sharp, the reason most people "fall off the wagon" when it comes to trying a new diet is because they're not doing any prior preparation. When you're stuck in traffic or you're not home and don't have easy access to keto-friendly foods, you're more likely to opt for more convenient, less healthy foods.

Low-carb veggies and packets of nut butter are great snacks to keep you fueled on the go and won't spike your blood sugar.

Sharp advises meal prepping and keeping healthy snacks for life's unexpected moment. A big philosophy in her book, Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss, is about managing your circumstances. When you're prepared, you feel empowered to stay on track with your new lifestyle.

You're Not Listening to Your Body
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You're Not Listening to Your Body

One thing each of these experts agreed on is that with any dietary or lifestyle change, you have to make sure it works for you. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health.

"Just because it's trendy doesn't mean you need to do exactly what it says," Sharp insisted. That same piece of advice rang true with Dr. Cole and Faulisi, both who focus on helping clients find the best path that works for them.

If you're trying keto but you're not seeing the results you'd hoped for, then maybe it's not right for your body. Or maybe you just need to adjust the foods you're eating, while following the ketogenic philosophy, like Dr. Cole's "keto-tarian" variation.

There are different ways to help your body reach ketosis. Find the one that works for you.