Get Keto right and it can be the key to unlocking your true health potential. But get it wrong and you could do yourself more harm than good.
A Brief Introduction to Keto
The Ketogenic or “Keto” diet is not only a popular choice for those looking to shed excess weight but is also a growing lifestyle trend.
A Keto diet has been shown to promote overall health and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. It provides a whole spectrum of benefits and so hasn’t gone unnoticed in the health and wellbeing community – with the popularity of Keto soaring in recent years.
A keto diet is pretty simple to follow if you stick to the basic principles – overall intake should be low-carb, high-fat and adequate protein.
This holy trinity of macronutrient splits will guide you to eat a certain balance of foods which encourages your body to breakdown fat for fuel. In short, it is this which provides most of the amazing benefits of a Keto diet - through the metabolic state of Ketosis.
In this article we are going to explore how to do Keto badly, in attempt to expose the myths around Keto and what some people are doing wrong on their Keto quests! But if you’d like to know how to get it right, then our beginner’s guide is here to show you the ropes!
Five Ways to Do Keto Badly!
1. Guess your carbohydrate
To get Keto right you really must keep on top of your macro intake, making sure your very low carb diet is in fact a very low carb diet! There are so many different types and sources of carbs that it is near impossible to get to know the net carb content of each.
Sure it’ll get easier with practice, but if you’re serious about ketosis it pays to track your macros with a macro calculator or app, you’ll be amazed at the hidden carbs you’ll find in some of the least suspecting foods, especially if you are new to Keto and starting out Keto for the first time!
2. Swap sugar for sweeteners
One major benefit of following a Keto diet is that it will eliminate refined sugar, a major source of dietary carbohydrates. Sugar is packed with empty calories, it messes with our metabolism and consuming too much is a huge risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes.
But reaching for artificially sweetened foods isn’t the answer to get your sweet fix. Most foods and drinks containing sweetener aren’t good for us, they’re often artificial and contain no nutritive value! What’s more, sweeteners have been shown to morph our perception of sweetness and create cravings for even sweeter foods.
Instead, choose fruit and veg which are also low in carbs such as bell peppers, courgette, asparagus or berried. You can also add sweetness through vanilla, berries or a more natural sweetener on the rare occasion such as Inulin or Erythritol and still follow Keto.
3. Prioritise protein over fat
Remember the Holy Trinity of Keto? That’s right; low carb, high fat, adequate protein. When switching to a Keto diet it’s all too common to replace carbs with protein as the ‘main’ element of your meal, it’s something which has been drummed into us as part of the Eatwell Plate and historic low fat diet preaching.
However, prioritising protein as a main source of fuel is something which has been heavily criticised by experts and advocates of Low Carb diets. Again, use a macro calculator to learn about the balance of a Keto diet and get to grips with this high fat lifestyle.
4. Consult your crystal ball to find out if you’re in ketosis!
To judge your current state of ketosis simply close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and listen to your body - just kidding!
It can be difficult to know if you have managed to reach ketosis or not. There are many signs and symptoms that indicate you have, but it's far more accurate to monitor levels of ‘ketone bodies.’ More commonly known as 'ketones', the liver produces these in high amounts as a by-product of metabolising fatty acids.
In other words, the more ketones present the more likely you are to be in ketosis. You can find out if you’re in nutritional ketosis by measuring ketones in your blood – the most accurate method – or by using a urine strip test – the easiest and most convenient method. You don’t have to do this forever but it’s really useful when just starting out.
You can learn more in our article which ranks and rates the best ketone test methods.
5. Think all food which is low in carbs is Keto
One of the biggest mistakes people make when going Keto is consuming food which is not so good for us but happens to fit the low carb high fat criteria.
It can be all too easy to prioritise quantity of macros over quality of food. Before you know it, cheese singles and processed burgers are creeping their way into your diet and endless plates of bacon.
Instead, be sure to choose healthy and nutritious foods which fit in nicely with the rest of your real food lifestyle. Grass fed meat, good quality dairy and Low Carb veggies should be Keto staples - and anything heavily processed should be off the menu. Especially those calorie free, sugar free, chemical laden substitutes - YUK!
Dirty Keto: dirty by name, dirty by nature?
Like any other diet, the ketogenic diet is open to individual interpretation and has evolved into various not-quite-keto substrates over the years. One variation of the Keto diet that has been causing a stir in the health and wellbeing community is something known as “Dirty Keto.”
Dirty keto has risen from the ashes of bad lifestyle choices, giving not-so-healthy eaters a get out of jail card and a pass into the world of keto. Another one is Lazy Keto, those who follow a Dirty Keto diet claim they achieve ketosis without worrying about the quality of the foods they are eating. Incorporating grains, legumes and refined sugar into their lifestyle - whilst lowering overall carbs may support weight loss initially a true "Clean" Keto diet is the best way to improve your health long term by avoiding foods like grains, refined sugars, inflammatory oils such as seed or vegetable oils and opting for nutrient dense real foods.
Lazy Keto is following a Keto template without tracking macros, this can mean you could be way off your carb/fat goals and can be very difficult for newbies to the Keto diet.
Is Dirty Keto healthy?
Anything dubbed to be dirty is unlikely to fit the bill for clean eating! And by clean we don’t mean raw food and green smoothies – simply Real Food that’s real good for you.
The Dirty Keto diet promotes an unhealthy approach to eating that favours macronutrient balance over overall quality and nutritive value of foods. You may have already guessed it but “Dirty Keto” is certainly not the Keto we know and love, nor is it anything we would recommend!
Learn How to Follow a Successful Keto Diet that Works for You
So, not all Keto diets are created equal it seems and some could cause more harm than good! But that shouldn’t give Keto a bad name – when it comes to the amazing benefits of a Keto diet the evidence is clear.
Getting it right could have an amazing effect on your weight, metabolism, energy levels and overall health – so it’s worth doing your homework to make sure you’re playing by the rules.
We’ve covered how to do keto badly, but how do you do it PERFECTLY?! Luckily, we have just the thing you need to conquer your Keto and reap the benefits! Check out our article on how to follow a successful Keto diet that works for you.