The Two Most Common Struggles for Those Early in Their Ketogenic Diet and How to Fix Them
It’s important not to forget your roots. In the time it takes to become an “expert,” however, the early problem areas may be forgotten or an afterthought. When a person begins a keto diet, it’s often a big change in their life. Any diet can be particularly demanding, and one which upends conventional “wisdom” can be even more difficult. The following were my own 3 biggest problems switching to a ketogenic diet from a low-fat diet.
Eating Too Much Protein on a Ketogenic Diet
For those that have read our e-book, The New Rules of Keto, let me explain. The New Rules of Keto are designed to accommodate the needs of active persons with a ketogenic lifestyle. While you may be thinking, “Jordan, aren’t YOU active?!” Indeed, I am.
In this article, we are discussing problems encountered during the early days. Not only did this precede my conception of the New Rules, but it closely follows the One Rule to Rule Them All. Now, on to the good stuff.
Eating too much protein typically comes with eating too much meat/fish, dairy, and eggs. While that may sound like I’ve just eliminated half of the foods I would (and perhaps did) tell you to eat when you get started, and if you know me personally, I don’t necessarily “believe in” “too much meat,” I’m not telling you to stop eating these foods as a correction.
First, if you’re not, start tracking your macros. Second, see if there is basically an equivalent choice that has a better fat to protein ratio, as many times it’s simply the decision on which cut of meat. For example, pick chicken thighs over chicken breast, bacon over turkey bacon, ribeye over filet, etc. And if you’re still eating egg white, please stop that right away – eat the whole thing!
Third, get active! Once you’re adapted, if you’re keeping active – particularly if you’re training intensely – it’s pretty hard to accidentally eat “too much” protein. I’m consciously trying to eat 225+ grams per day and I wouldn’t call it easy. Increasing activity levels increases muscle protein turnover, decreasing the amounts of protein ingested that can be diverted to gluconeogenesis (turned into sugar by the body), and there is not much protein going that route to begin with.
Finally much of the time, it’s not “too much” protein that is the problem, it’s too little fat. Again, we’re faced with simple “correction” of choices. Which leads us to…
Eating Too Little Fat on a Ketogenic Diet
Eating too little fat stems from the concept of being “in” ketosis. Another caveat if you’ve read The New Rules of Keto, you know I say, “you are not your fvcking ketones!” A quote adapted from the movie, Fight Club.
Out of context, it sounds as if I’m against being in ketosis, but I am not. I am against obsessing over your “depth” – not in your character, but in your keto status. You just need to be adapted. You don’t need to be 1.0 or 5.5 or any specific number, just greater than or equal to 0.3 mmol/L BHB most of the time.
In order to have the materials necessary for the body to produce ketones, you need to supply it with enough fat! One of the biggest, and in my opinion funniest (in a tragic way), problems with newcomers to a keto diet is erasing the BS that has been programmed into our brains by big food/brother/pharma.
For someone’s first day, if I tell them eat bacon and eggs, and that’s all that I tell them, about half will eat turkey bacon and egg whites. They’re totally brainwashed! If they switch to pork bacon and whole eggs, problem solved! Step one is to be mindful. Mindfulness is a great skill to develop, and if you don’t currently practice mindfulness, doing so with your diet is a great place to start.
Next, we can borrow a rule from too much protein – make sure you’re selecting fattier pieces of meat. This doesn’t just cut down on protein but obviously increases fat as well.
Third, what are you eating with your source of protein? Are you having nuts, avocado, salad, or some other source of fat? I can’t quote myself, but I hope you quote me here: vegetables are a vehicle for fat. They move fat to your mouth; fat makes the otherwise not-so-delicious vegetables delicious; and we can then happily reap all the health benefits of veggies.
When in doubt, add some fat to your coffee or add some fat supplements. Or do both with Keto Café (COMING SOON!). Incorporate some “pure” fats in as snacks or with meals.
Balancing Fat and Protein on Keto
The name of the game is getting portions and proportions correct. One positive aspect of keto is how easy and simple it can be by providing a food list of “eat this, not that” and having it work well for the most part.
On the other hand, eating a lot of “this” filet mignon and none of “that” avocado can start to make things problematic! Simply by being conscious of your food selections – often ones that have little to no impact on taste or cost – you can likely optimize your ratios and more successfully implement your ketogenic diet.