Are You Setting Yourself Up for Keto Failure?
We’ve already mentioned that the Keto Diet is among the most sparing and user-friendly (so to speak) where restrictive diets are concerned. You have to cut out MANY of what may have been staple foods from your diet, but in the end, you’re allowed a variety of both animal-based and plant-based products, spices and condiments to excite your palette and, with the rise of Keto popularity, even things like Keto bread, Keto chocolate, and Keto beer are becoming more accessible.
Yet, many people fail the Keto Diet. Yes, it’s by no means easy, because no restrictive diet ever is – but hearing people recount their awful Keto experiences is often heartbreaking because I can easily see why they failed and just how easy it would have been to avoid.
I see it because I’ve been there too.
For many of us, finding the Keto Diet often feels like finding a cheat code. Like some big secret has finally been revealed to us. The only thing we need to do now is to follow it to a T and all of our problems will be solved.
But there’s no cheating involved – and approaching Keto with the wrong attitude is already setting yourself up to fail.
Strike #1: Do not make the change too drastic.
Here’s one of the first things people learn when adapting to the Keto Diet: carbs can be sneaky. Cutting out bread and pasta oftentimes is just half a job. Most processed foods contain carbs in one way or another and they can add up during the day.
Thus many decide to simply switch over to a clean whole-foods based-diet in one fell swoop and keep their carb intake less than 20g to boot, to ensure their bodies go into ketosis.
And they fail. Not because they’ve done something wrong – whole foods and less than 20g of carbs a day is the ideal version of the Keto Diet – but because they find such drastic change unsustainable long-term.
Try to make the changes gentler. While cleaning out your fridge and pantry and stocking them with Keto-friendly meal options is a good idea, eating something more carb-y when you’re out is still not a tragedy. Decrease the amount of carbs gradually: start at, say, 100g a day and cut 10g every couple of days (or find some other regimen that works for you). Keep to the higher end of the allowed carb amount (around 50g) for the first few weeks after entering ketosis and, if you find yourself uncomfortable with cutting out even more? Don’t. The objective is to force your body into making ketones, not cutting down to 0g of carbs a day. If at 50g of carbs a day you’re actively in ketosis? You’ve done a good job.
Strike #2: Do not set unreasonable expectations.
If you’re expecting to lose 5 pounds in a week then I’m sorry to say this but you’re gonna be disappointed. While the Keto Diet is an optimal weight loss diet, optimal is the keyword here. Most Dietitians would tell you that slow and steady wins the race when… pretty much any diet is concerned, and Keto is no exception.
Remember that your body is unique: it has its own pace and requirements. Some people may adapt faster and lose more weight at the beginning, then stall later. Some may have trouble at the beginning but pick up the pace with time. And some may start steady and continue in the same vein until their body reaches an optimal weight level.
This goes not only for the weight loss but for every other expectation you might have set: improving your hormone balance, cleaning up your acne, helping with cholesterol levels, even simply feeling better overall will take time. Most of the problems our bodies deal with are complex. A shitty diet is often one of the reasons we’re feeling terrible, but cleaning our acts up won’t fix what’s wrong in a day or a week.
So get ready to be like the tortoise and not the hare from Aesop’s famous fable. Rushing won’t bring you to the finish line, the commitment will.
Strike #3: Do not be too hard on yourself.
Slipping up is not the same as failing (and failing, by the way, is not a reason to give up). I cannot stress this enough.
Imagine: you’ve just started your Keto diet. You’ve been doing well for a couple of weeks now. Then comes a friend’s birthday party and you make a mistake. Maybe you put some store-bought high-sugar BBQ sauce on your steak. Or drink a fruity cocktail. Or, you know what, maybe you just eat a piece of cake because it’s your friend’s birthday and you just wanted it so damn much.
Do you know what you do next?
Instead of bullying yourself and stressing over things you cannot fix – you wake up, measure your ketone levels and start a new day with a fatty Keto breakfast.
There are people who’ve been doing this for years that still slip up from time to time. Their success comes not from the military discipline (although I’ve heard it makes things much easier :D ), but from their ability to concentrate on the things that are important – i.e. not letting a stray French fry make them feel like their efforts are futile.
Keto might take you some time to get used to. Be kind to yourself while you’re getting there.
Remember – Keto isn’t supposed to be a short-term diet to lose the extra 5 pounds. It’s supposed to be a lifestyle to improve your overall health and well-being. Starting Keto means making a long-term commitment. Thus, your emotional comfort is just as important for your Keto success as cutting out carbs: if you keep stressing about and putting too much pressure on yourself, you’ll turn what is supposed to be a hard journey, the pros of which are worth the cons, into torture. And no human would be able to keep up with something like that.
Summary: Rushing into the Keto Diet too drastically, setting unreasonable expectations and then stressing over the fact that you’re not meeting them will most likely set you up for failure and make you drop the diet. Pace yourself, find a transitional regimen you’re comfortable with and do not punish yourself for slipping. Keto is a journey – you can only succeed if you commit and accept that making its magic work will take some time.