You probably already know that cutting out as much sugar and carbs as possible can be an effective way to shed pounds. But don’t be fooled—it’s not as simple as just avoiding carbohydrates! There are some common low carb diet mistakes I see people make over and over that can keep you from seeing the results you desire.
Ever wonder what you might be getting WRONG when it comes to following a low-carb or ketogenic diet?
Maybe you’ve been reluctant to try going low-carb because you’ve heard it’s unhealthy or just another fad diet that doesn’t work. Or maybe you’ve tried keto at some point (because, let’s be honest, who hasn’t?), but it just didn’t seem to work for you, and you have no idea why.
That’s why I thought it would be helpful to talk about some of the ways that people get keto all wrong.
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After all, it’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes rather than your own, isn’t it? Yes, mistakes are a fantastic teacher, but it saves so much time and effort to just do something right the first time.
So let’s spend a little time talking about all the things NOT to do with these 6 common low carb diet mistakes.
Low Carb Diet Mistake #1: Not Eating Enough Fat (ESPECIALLY in the First 4-6 Weeks).
I don’t know about you, but I grew up hating the word fat, let alone eating it. Do you remember seeing the words “fat-free” plastered on all the foods back in the 90s? I do!
Those of us who are children of the 80s and 90s grew up with this deeply ingrained idea that FAT IS BAD. So it’s not surprising that when people start eating low-carb, they might cut out the bread and pasta and sugar (which is a good first step), but then they eat mainly meat and veggies, and not nearly enough fat.
It’s just SO hard to wrap your brain around this idea that more fat is actually good for you—that fat is the HERO, not the enemy.
Why Fat is Crucial for Weight Loss and Health
Why is fat so important? Because the goal is for your body to become Thin Adapted—where it is burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. And that can only happen if you are giving your body enough support through the right kinds of fats.
Your body NEEDS fat to function well, especially if you are a woman. It is crucial to your overall health, from hormone production and balance to brain function.
Plus, when you’re trying to lose weight, FAT IS YOUR FRIEND!
It’s incredibly filling because it slows down digestion and helps keep blood sugar stable for hours after a meal. If you are eating too little fat, then not only will you feel hungry and deprived all the time, but you will also be more likely to crave sugar and starches.
When your body becomes Thin Adapted, which is the goal of our program, it burns fat instead of carbs for energy.
When you don’t eat enough fat, it has to get energy somewhere, so it starts to slowly eat away at your hard-earned muscle content. And that’s definitely NOT what we want.
The less muscle content you have, the slower your metabolism will be. All that hard work will add up to LESS weight loss. So to keep your metabolism running quickly and efficiently, give your body the fat it needs.
Easy Ways to Get Fat in Your Diet
If you are getting started with a low-carb or ketogenic diet for weight loss, then I definitely recommend that you focus on including quality fats in every single meal. A few great options are:
- Grass-fed butter
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Grass-fed beef (especially the fattier cuts, like ribeye or flank steak)
- Pastured pork
- Poultry (I recommend simple portable recipes like chicken tenders and chicken salad!)
Low Carb Diet Mistake #2: Only Eating Packaged & Highly Processed Foods.
I understand this temptation. If you’re anything like me, you already know how little time there is in the day.
Microwave dinners and grab-and-go keto snacks are so quick and easy. I get it. But so many of the processed “low carb” snacks and desserts are actually loaded with sugar alcohol, fake fiber, and other not-so-great ingredients that can actually kick you out of ketosis.
If you’re struggling to get into ketosis, take a look at your snacks and desserts, and see if they might be the culprit.
Beware of Net Carbs
In fact, KETO has become such a buzz phrase these days that a LOT of companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon.
They like to play a little game I like to call the “NET CARB” game. Spoiler alert—the only winner in the net carb game is the food companies, definitely NOT you.
Be on the lookout for foods that try to claim low “net carbs” by adding in a bunch of artificial fiber to their ingredient list. If the total carbs are still high, it’s best to stay away.
Want to know more? Here’s how to calculate carbs with Thinlicious.
Quick Snacks and Meals to Enjoy
That being said, a few packaged low-carb foods enjoyed in moderation every once in a while awhile are totally okay.
I love Real Good Foods for easy frozen meals I can feel good about.
We’ve also recently released our own Thinlicious Magic Protein bars and will soon be releasing our snack bites in two different flavors.
As much as I love having those available for a quick snack here and there, especially when I’m on the go, a major low carb diet mistake is to make those kinds of foods the foundation of your diet.
Instead, focus on real, whole foods like meat, full-fat dairy, low-carb vegetables, healthy fats, and low-sugar fruits. These are the kind of foods that will nourish your body from the inside out.
Want even more ideas for quick ways to fuel your body? Here’s a list of the best snacks to enjoy on the go!
Low Carb Diet Mistake #3: Not Getting Enough Water and Electrolytes
Let’s be real. People who AREN’T eating low-carb don’t drink enough water. So this isn’t really a surprising discovery. But the REASON this is an issue might surprise you…
Dehydration becomes a MUCH bigger issue when you eat fewer carbs. Here’s why: when your body becomes Thin Adapted, it produces ketones that burn fat for energy instead of carbs.
Great, right? BUT these ketones are also a diuretic, meaning they make you have to pee more often. And more pee means less fluid in your body….you get the picture.
Not only that, but eating carbohydrates causes your body to store more sodium. So when you STOP eating carbs, you lose a lot of that sodium, which means your body needs more. A lot of times, the dreaded keto flu you feel in the beginning is actually a result of not getting enough salt.
So make a plan to drink as much water and electrolytes as you can. I highly recommend this easy & delicious electrolyte drink recipe. I’m also a big fan of the LMNT brand electrolyte powder.
Low Carb Diet Mistake #4: Trying to Just “Wing It”
For the record, I’m not talking about chicken wings (which are actually keto friendly, in case you’re wondering). Nope, I’m talking about trying to just eat low-carb without a meal plan or food tracker.
Eventually, when you get to the maintenance phase, you’ll know your body well enough that you might not have to put everything into a food tracking app. But during those first few months, staying within your macros is critical.
Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to eat the right amount of protein and fat without making a weekly meal plan.
Why Planning Ahead is Crucial
Planning ahead is SO important as you are just getting started. When you plan out your meals for the entire week (and maybe even do a little meal prep in the fridge a few days ahead of time), you CAN just grab and go.
That little bit of planning will help keep you on track, even when your days get hectic.
Even if you can’t plan out your whole week, then at LEAST make a plan for the DAY.
Think about what you’ll eat, and plug your options into your food tracker just to make sure you’re not going to feel like you blew it come bedtime because you didn’t account for that cocktail hour or dinner meeting and you ate all the wrong things.
Low Carb Diet Mistake #5: Not Getting Enough Calories.
Yes, not eating enough is actually a problem! I honestly think this goes back to the fact that so many of us have been on that yo-yo diet cycle for so long.
We’ve been ingrained to believe that the only way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories and completely deprive ourselves of all that is good in the world.
It SUCKS, right?
Believe me, I know because I spent YEARS making myself miserable with every restrictive fad diet imaginable.
Stop Counting Calories (Yes, Really!)
Even though most have us have been taught that weight loss is just a matter of calories in and calories out, the reality isn’t that simple.
The number of calories we are consuming doesn’t matter nearly as much as the makeup of those calories and how those calories are affecting our blood sugar and insulin levels.
If you cut out sugar and carbohydrates and all those foods that elevate your insulin levels and instead fill your diet with healthy fats and nutrient-dense proteins, you can and SHOULD actually eat a lot more.
You should literally eat as much as it takes to feel full and satisfied without really worrying about it. Because this basically tells your body, “I’m okay. I’m getting what I need. I can burn the excess.”
When you RESTRICT your calorie intake, your body goes into crisis mode. It starts thinking, “Uh oh, there’s a food shortage. I need to conserve energy. I need to protect all my vital organs.”
That’s when your metabolism starts to slow down as your body goes into protection mode. And that will happen even when you’re eating a low-carb diet but not getting enough calories and essential nutrients.
Give Your Metabolism a Chance to Recover
If you, like so many women, have spent years of your life yo-yo dieting, going from restricting to falling off the wagon to restricting again, it may take a little while for your metabolism to recover and for your body to start functioning the way it should.
That’s one of the reasons it gets harder and harder to lose weight as you get older and why all those things that used to work just don’t anymore. It’s basically just one crisis too many for your body to handle.
It will get better, but it might take a little time. However, calorie restriction is not the answer. Just trust me on this one.
Low Carb Diet Mistake #5: Not Focusing on the Mental Game
Basically, not doing this is self-sabotage.
If I’m being totally honest, this is probably the thing that I see derailing people more than anything else when it comes to actually changing your life and your body and your habits.
The program itself is actually pretty simple. The concept is simple. At least in theory. Eliminate sugar and carbohydrates. Eat lots of healthy fats and whole foods. Get enough protein.
It’s not rocket science. There’s not some magical secret code that makes it all work. It’s just changing the way you eat, nourishing your body with the right foods, and in the process, stabilizing your blood sugar, healing your gut, and balancing your hormones.
Know That This is a Process That Takes TIME and CONSISTENCY
You have to stick with it. You have to keep at it. And you have to let go of the idea that all these changes will happen overnight. Don’t allow yourself to get frustrated or to go off the rails when it doesn’t feel like the change you want to see is happening fast enough.
The truth is, life gets busy, and there may be days or weeks when you feel like you don’t have time to plan. There are vacations and holidays, or you’ll go out with friends, and that little voice starts to say, “Go ahead, eat that pile of fries, this isn’t working anyway.“
Make no mistake, that voice WILL show up. It will show up in those moments of weakness, but it will also show up when you’re doing great. It will show up when you least expect it. And sometimes, it will totally derail all the progress you’ve made.
Because one “cheat” leads to another one, and then another, and then another, and before you know it, you’ve found yourself totally off track.
But like I always say, big goals NEVER happen all at once. They are only the result of small steps taken consistently over time. That’s why it’s so critically important to master the mental game!
How to Master the Mental Game
Focus not just on changing the way you eat, but changing your mindset. It starts with changing the way that you think about food and letting go of all those preconceived beliefs that you’ve been taught.
Next, you’ve also got to examine your own limiting beliefs around food and your body, and what you are capable of. You may even need to deal with the deep psychological reasons of why we tend to self-sabotage ourselves.
Not only that, it’s SO important to put support and accountability in place, along with a healthy rhythm that will keep you focused and on track—even when life gets busy and even when you sometimes do find yourself slipping up or getting off track.
Honestly, I think that’s probably the biggest reason why our Thin Adapted System is so amazing and why we’ve seen such a huge amount of success from our clients.
Because we don’t just talk about food—we talk about mindset. We talk about self-sabotage, and we set you up for long-term success with incredible coaching and support, an amazing community, and ongoing accountability.
The way that our program is structured, there’s also a healthy rhythm to keep on track. Once a quarter, we do a four-week challenge that helps you get refocused on your health in a way that is fun and engaging.
So if you’re doing great, it’s the perfect way to step it up, but if you’re struggling, it helps you to get back on the right path.
It really works.
That’s why we’ve seen SO many women be successful this past year when everything they’ve tried up to this point has been an abysmal failure. We’ve seen women lose 20, 40, 60, even 100 pounds over this past year. It’s amazing!
But it’s not just the weight loss—it’s the change in attitude and in confidence. It’s the change in deep-seated beliefs. And it shows what getting your head in the right place can do.
So that leads to mistake #6.
Low Carb Diet Mistake #6: You Have to Avoid Self Sabotage
Don’t be your own worst enemy. Because the only one who can hold you back is YOU.
Here’s the biggest truth of all: switching to a low-carb lifestyle is one of the very best things you will ever do for your body and your overall health.
Even so, there is still a learning curve at first. The low carb diet mistakes I talked about today are easy to make, and they’re all pretty common.
So whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been doing this for a while but have been feeling frustrated that something just seems “off,” hopefully, you had at least a few “aha!” moments today that you can apply moving forward.
Not plugged into TAS yet? Well, GET READY because we’re going to be opening up a few spots for enrollment on Monday, July 24th, and there really is nothing else like it available online.
Our program is so solid, SO in-depth, and so well-laid out for you, but you also get all the support and coaching and encouragement and MINDSET work that you need to actually be successful.
So once again, mark your calendar for July 24th so that you can join us this time around. I promise it will literally be the best thing you ever do for your health.
Want to hear more? Listen to this podcast, HERE!
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