#1 To get lost in the detail
Getting lost in the detail before the basics are in place
“I can not stand almonds, my husband does not like cabbage, I do not like blueberries, I do not eat cauliflower, I meet early for work, my supermarket does not have coconut sugar”
It’s all unimportant. Whether you eat almonds, cauliflower, avocados or anything else, it does not matter at all for your success with LCHF. The most important point to focus on in the beginning is that you should eat few carbohydrates.
I understand well that it can be impractical that there are things I eat that you do not like / tolerate, but now it is your life, it should be about, and not mine.
In fact, I do not think at all this is about whether you or your husband likes cauliflower or not.
Instead, I think it’s about you already covering yourself up before the start with reasons why it’s not going to work for you this time either.
And it hurts damn well just to write it. Because if it’s right, it means you have a lot of failed attempts in your luggage, and therefore have to protect yourself from another notch in the spout. And is that true, I want to give you a hug and tell you you’re doing damn well!
Keep it simple!
I think you can succeed here, because you will hardly find a simpler and easier diet than LCHF.
LCHF is vegetables, meat and fat. Repeat it once more: Vegetables, meat, fat.
A meal consists of 1 kind of meat, 1-2 times vegetables and some fat. It can be, for example:
- Meat: Chicken
- Vegetables: Steamed broccoli + possibly. peppers in sticks
- Fat: Melted butter to pour over the vegetables
There is nothing that is not available in Tesco or Wal-Mart.. And it is then excellent that fancy recipes can be made that are similar to what you used to eat, but already there we are moving away from the starting point.
LCHF is not your old bread-based diet, now just with baked goods made from “LCHF ingredients”.
Part of me even believes that your success rate increases in proportion to how simple you keep it.
Well, that’s too boring!
If you think it’s boring, we’re on the right track. Yes, straight track!
For that is food we are talking about and food is energy replenishment. The sooner you get rid of that food has to be something with emotions and something that activates your reward center in the brain, the sooner you get success. Long-term success.
We must eat to live. Do not live to eat.
And then there is also the fact that food with fat tastes good. So if the above gives you associations to ’90s low-fat chicken breast and broccoli, know that butter makes all the difference. Your food is tasty at LCHF, even if it is simple. But it’s not necessarily a party dinner.
#2 Not having control of carbs
My starting point has therefore always been that if you stick to the above-ground vegetables and do not go crazy in dairy products and nuts, then you land low in carbohydrate intake, almost no matter how you otherwise compose your LCHF diet. And for most, it’s plentiful.
But not for everyone…
And you can not troubleshoot without knowing what your starting point is.
- If you eat 50 g of carbohydrates a day but still experience that the good side effects you hear about are absent, my first piece of advice to you would be to lower your carbohydrate intake.
- Try 30 g for a period of time.
- Maybe 20 g. Give it time and do it systematically for a few weeks.
Where are the carbohydrates hidden?
Not infrequently I meet new LCHFs who do not know where carbohydrates are at all and who are surprised that there are carbohydrates in rye bread, oatmeal, fruit, etc. and when they then come and tell me that LCHF does not works for them, then we do not speak from the same starting point at all.
Start here: Beginner’s guide to LCHF and Keto
I do not expect all people to walk around with a carb table in their head or pocket, but if you base your diet on eating few carbs, it’s a good idea to know where those carbs are. You can try this free carb counter: www.webmd.com
You can also ally yourself with one of the many online calorie counters or apps. Just be aware that some of the foreign ones draw on American databases, which means that the fiber content is included in the carbohydrates, where fibers on en English nutrition declarations have been deducted already, as they are not included.
That does not mean you have to measure and weigh your food forever. It just means that it is a great idea just to get acquainted with where the carbohydrates are hiding. And that way you can learn that you can easily eat peppers and tomatoes, but that you get some more volume for the money by choosing cabbage and lettuce greens.
If the goal is 50 g of carbohydrate a day, it is probably not important. But if the goal is 20 g, you probably have to squint a little for it.
#3 To eat without being hungry
This thing about hunger is extremely subjective. Some feel satiated almost at the very moment they switch diets to LCHF, and they spontaneously reduce the number of meals they eat from three (or perhaps rather from six) to two because they simply can no longer eat.
And LCHF is highlighted precisely for this: That it is a diet where you can lose weight without starving.
But often it starts a little differently.
Keto and LCHF recipes: easy keto chicken dinner or Very Easy dessert – Keto and low-carb for the family
Calorie deficit and hunger
The first time on LCHF it is normal to feel some hunger, I would say. This is not at all strange, as many are in calorie deficit from the start, because it actually requires a lot of added fat in the diet to bring home the lost carbohydrate calories. And most people are a little wary of the fat in the beginning.
Hunger associated with calorie deficit is not abnormal.
But what happens during the first few weeks at LCHF is that the appetite regulates itself.
Whether this is due to the stable blood sugar, the low insulin level that ensures access to the body’s energy in the body’s own fat cells or the appetite suppressant effect of the ketone bodies is not known with certainty. Probably a combination.
The important thing is that you respect the decreased appetite when it occurs, and stop eating if you are not hungry. And it can hardly be repeated enough times.
Some days you will be hungry again four hours after eating, other days you will feel like you never got really hungry. If you are not hungry, do not eat. Yes, now I said it just one more time.
“Not being hungry” is not the same as “being stuffed” or “not being able to squeeze a bite down if suddenly a plate of delicious food stood in front of you”. Not being hungry means that you can stop eating without constantly thinking about food and that your thoughts can be distracted if the food thoughts roam you.
Calories vs Carbohydrates
When it comes to weight loss, calories trump carbs. You are losing weight due to the calorie deficit. You succeed with the calorie deficit because you eat few carbohydrates.
And it may well be possible to eat LCHF for its balanced intake of calories. And we can say that it is a healthy and nutritious diet that can provide a world of benefits in terms of health, but if you are not in calorie deficit, you will not lose weight.
Therefore, some people still need to pay attention to the amount of calories burned inboard on LCHF to be successful with weight loss.
In my experience, it’s easiest if you clean up the calories that burn in between meals (a hump of cheese, a few cups of coffee with cream, a handful of nuts, etc.). There are often “boredom calories” and it does not take much before that calorie deficit is eaten or drunk.
Eat only when you are hungry
So get used to noticing whether you are eating out of genuine hunger, or whether you are eating because you are restless, bored, feeling alone, upset, or simply because the clock says mealtime. Real hunger I think should be rewarded. Boredom hunger and cravings must be silenced.
Also read: What is ketosis?
#4 To think that calories are irrelevant or do not matter
That you eat few carbohydrates is unfortunately not a carte blanche to eat unlimited amounts of food. At least not if you want to lose weight.
Low Carb ad libitum vs. Low Fat with Calorie Limit
This misconception stems from the fact that in studies, the Low Carb group is often asked to eat ad libitum with a focus on few carbohydrates, while those in the Low Fat group are asked to eat in a deliberate calorie deficit.
And when the Low Carb group so despite “ad libitum” loses more weight, it feeds the myth that only carbohydrates count.
But what really happens is that in the Low Carb group, they spontaneously reduce their calorie intake even though they eat their fill. They thus become saturated with fewer calories and therefore lose weight.
The same thing happens when you read the many LCHF weight loss stories and they say they had tried all the calorie counting diets in the world but only when they started focusing on the carbs did they succeed with the weight loss.
You are losing weight due to the calorie deficit. You succeed with the calorie deficit because you eat few carbohydrates.
The carbohydrate restriction thus helps to get the appetite under control, and that the appetite is under control should be point 1 in any weight loss attempt. Any weight loss method that asks you to learn to endure hunger will not give you a lasting result.
(by the way, you can get your appetite under control without eating LCHF, but now it’s just LCHF, it’s all about here)
The big fat confusion
After all, fat contains a lot of calories, and yet we eat a lot of fat on LCHF. And not infrequently I get questions from people about whether they should eat more fat if they have not eaten “fat enough” on any given day, or whether they should cut down on protein to make room for more fat.
And the answer to both is no. But that it is confusing, I understand that well.
Fat is a tool we use to get energy and to feel achieve the long, nice satiety that makes us not have to eat as often and therefore automatically get to eat fewer calories.
So the benefit of eating fat is (also) in what we then do not eat, because we feel full and full of energy.
So yes, we eat extra fat. But if we want some of the fat that is burned to come from the body’s own stores, we eat less fat. Not Low Fat. Just less fat than we would if we were not to lose weight.
However, you can easily lose weight with Low Carb Low Fat, but it is the few who thrive so fantastically on it in the long run.
Keto and LCHF recipes: Keto beef tenderloin with bearnaise sauce
I fully understand that balance is hard to find, and all these calorie counting apps that help you track how many calories, carbs and fats you have eaten, I think contribute just as much to the confusion (but more on that tomorrow).
Calories in calories out
While I recognize that it takes a calorie deficit to lose weight, my attitude toward the whole calorie-in-calories-out mindset is still marked by some skepticism. Not so much in theory but in practice.
My personal experience is that I can eat quite a lot of calories without gaining weight when I am in ketosis. Maybe because my energy level is rising so I automatically move more.
#5 To overtrack everything from calories, carbohydrates, ketone to body weight
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. Crazy about the measure-roads mentality as a lifestyle in the long run.
If you measure and weigh everything you eat, or if you follow a diet plan meticulously, you risk getting out of step with your body’s own signals of hunger and satiety.
And it’s a shame, because the magic of LCHF happens when your appetite decreases and you therefore eat less – all by yourself. But it can be difficult to achieve if what you are going to eat is determined in advance.
At the same time, I know that there are people who have difficulty feeling the signals that the body sends. My point here is that I think it should be a goal to work towards eating more intuitively. Even if you do not necessarily master it after two weeks.
Body weight, ketone bodies etc.
Focusing on the number on the bathroom scale or ketone fabrics can easily be a nice motivation in the short run, and I think there can be a lot of good learning to pick up in both.
But since both will fluctuate, even if you “do everything right,” and we can not always explain why, be aware if these measurements end up demotivating you instead. Or stress yourself out. Stress is a known stumbling block in terms of weight loss, and you want to inflict less of it on yourself – no more of it.
And if you overdo it, you suddenly no longer do yourself a favor with all those measurements. Then, on the other hand, you quietly put in the bank until you choose to give up completely. And I want you to open your eyes to that before it happens.
An important note is also that both rash on urine sticks and blood test values will decrease over time, as the body keto-adapters. This is especially true of urine sticks, which measure ketone substances that the body gets rid of – and therefore not ketone substances that are used for energy.
At the same time, measuring ketone bodies breathes life into the myth that you have to eat a lot of fat, because the more fat you eat, the higher ketone substances you can measure. And suddenly the weight loss stagnates.
Ketone substances = calorie deficit. This is what it looks like when we talk about weight loss. If you use ketosis therapeutically, ie, to control diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, we can talk about that high ketone values are important. Ift. weight loss, nope.
Overtracking also very quickly becomes a sign of getting lost in the detail before the basics are in place, as we talked about in Part 1 of this series.
So are measurements and tracking the right thing for you? Only you can answer that. If they benefit you and help you reach your goal, then go for it! If, on the other hand, you find that it makes you stagger, then consider taking a break or turning down the measurements a bit.
Read more recipes: Keto and Low-carb
#6 To overconsume sweeteners
LCHF often attracts those who have difficulty with sugar. Therefore, a typical beginner question is also: “What can I use instead of sugar on LCHF?”
The thing is, you gain nothing by swapping your current sugar consumption 1: 1 with sweeteners. You gain by eating real food. Vegetable-meat-fat. It requires no (or mininal) added sweetening.
What is the problem with sweeteners?
But what exactly is the problem with sweeteners? Sukrin and Stevia do not affect blood sugar, so it is not good to use them?
Maybe there is no problem and if that is the case for you, then fine with me. I know of many who have had great success with LCHF and who have eaten sweeteners and drank light sodas throughout their weight loss.
But I have so sørme also seen my share of people who never had success because they never got rid of their old sugar habits.
Maybe it’s because the sweet taste triggers, even if it comes from something that does not increase blood sugar, and in that way you are maintained in your old habit that everything should taste sweet. The sweeteners thus easily become a gateway drug, a slippery slope, and from here there is not far back to the old sugar habit.
Cakes and pastries
Foods made from vegetables, meat and fats rarely need added sweetening. It has yogurt breakfast, desserts, cakes and pastries, on the other hand.
And along with these, it’s easy to get into a collision with two of our previous beginner mistakes, namely the one about the carbs and the one about the calories.
And then there is really nothing to say if nothing happens on the scales…
Take a break from the sweeteners
So my recommendation is: Start with a break completely without sweeteners. Eat vegetables, meat and fats.
If you feel huge resistance just at the thought of having to do without the sweeteners, it’s just even more reason for you to do so.
Let your taste buds adapt to the flavors that are in real food, and if you want, you can then reintroduce the sweeteners later and see if it does good or bad for you.
I’ve worked with MANY lightsoda drinking people on my Kickstart teams, and they pretty much all describe how their previously beloved lightsoda waters taste awful after a period of resetting their taste buds and sugar habits. How have I ever been able to pour gallons of it into me, they say.
I think we can be 100% sure when we say that at least it does not hurt to take a break from the sweeteners.
On the other hand, it would be deadly annoying if you made every effort to change your lifestyle and then did not get the result you had hoped for because you were not willing to give up the sweet habit.
#7 Unable to complete the conversion phase
“You hear about people who change their diet to LCHF, and then they get more energy, fewer stomach problems and lose weight effortlessly. But when you try it yourself, you experience the opposite. The body is completely energyless, the legs are heavy as concrete, you have a headache from hell, the stomach stops, the weight does not shake, etc. It is easy to conclude that LCHF was probably not something for me.”
We often just forget to mention that for most people there is a period when it gets bad before it gets good when we talk LCHF. And if we think about it, it’s not so strange.
In the first time on LCHF, your body needs to adjust from using carbohydrates (glucose) as its primary fuel to using fat as its primary fuel. And if your body is like most people’s, it’s hardly had many days in your life where it’s not got a steady stream of carbohydrates to supply your body with energy from glucose.
To say that the fat burning engine is rusty is mild to say the least.
Now you remove the access to the fuel that your body knows and is optimized to use and put another in its place that it is not used to using at all.
Is it weird that your body reacts to it? No well?
How to get your body to switch to fat burning
To get your body to switch to fat burning, it is best to have a continuous period where you are quite persistent in eating few carbohydrates. It is unclear how long it will take. I usually recommend 4 weeks. For some it is more than necessary, for others it takes longer. It depends on your body and your starting point.
All this with eating LCHF like that but just eating a single bun for the birthday, a little sushi here and there, wine with the girlfriends etc. it does not do at first. These are things that one can add later once the body is fat-adapted.
It is important to understand that the goal in the beginning is to get the body to switch to fat burning. If it is the first, you can make deviations once in a while, and your body will then jump back on fat burning again in a day or two.
You become metabolically flexible, you could say.
But if you run LCHF for three days, one day with all-the-caaaaarbs and then back to LCHF, then you are not fat-adapting. Then you are instead stuck in such an intermediate station, where your body does not get enough energy from carbohydrates and also does not quite manage to use fat efficiently as energy. Low Carb Purgatory, some call it.
Transitional difficulties and symptoms
So understanding and accepting that headaches, malaise, lack of energy, fatigue, constipation and all sorts of other discomforts are actually normal in the beginning is quite important. Just as important as it is to know that they go over again if you hang in there.
Some people call the transition problem carbohydrate withdrawal, and in a way it is.
If you stop smoking, your body also reacts with abstinence, but that does not make you conclude that smoking is necessary for you, right?
So giving up before the transition phase is over is one of the most common beginner mistakes I see with LCHF. And that’s actually why I did my Kickstart course, where I help new LCHFs throughout the transition period. Because I recognize that it can be hard to stand alone with.
A lot of transition difficulties are also due to fluid or salt deficiency. And that’s what it’s about tomorrow.
Also read: Very easy Keto snack
#8 Underestimating the importance of salt (and liquid)
“Convincing people to eat extra salt is almost as difficult as convincing them to eat extra fat. But the thing is, Low Carb / LCHF / KETO drastically changes your body’s need for salt, and 9 out of 10 symptoms in the transition phase are solved by eating extra salt.”
Well I do not understand that I continue to be so tired / hungry / thirsty / have a headache / be dizzy / insert-yourself-more….
The answer is salt and Liquid.
Large fluid loss in the beginning
When we eat few carbohydrates, the body partially depletes its glycogen stores. Each gram of glycogen stores 3-4 g of fluid.
At the same time, the low insulin level causes the kidneys to excrete fluid (and thus salt) more efficiently.
On top of that, if you have had an inflammatory reaction to your old diet (sugar or refined carbohydrates, for example), your body can release an incredible amount of fluid the first time. I often see fluid loss of up to 5 kg in the first week.
The large fluid loss also means that there is an easier imbalance in the fluid and salt balance. And both are extremely important for your well-being (and your health).
If you eat too little salt but drink a lot of fluids, you risk “rinsing your body through”. It may sound nice and detox-like, but it’s not a good thing. This means that you flush out important minerals and salt, and you can thereby run out of potassium.
In its eagerness to achieve the coveted salt balance, the body will excrete potassium from the cell, and unless you get good amounts of potassium in through the diet, you will run out of potassium. You may experience potassium deficiencies such as fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, palpitations but also loss of muscle mass even if you eat enough protein.
So it can not be stressed enough times how important it is that you eat enough salt on LCHF / KETO.
The body may also be forced to reduce blood volume to maintain the concentration of minerals and salts in the blood. It gives the same symptoms as above and is obviously not a coveted condition either.
Salt in your new context
The reason you hesitate like that with the salt and tend to skip it is probably that for as long as you can remember you have learned that too much salt is dangerous or unhealthy for you. The seriousness of it may still be debatable, but in this post we stick to your new context.
It is important to understand that your LCHF / KETO diet gives you a new context. Just as an increased fat intake in a context of low carbohydrate and stable blood sugar is a completely different matter than a high fat intake in a context of high carbohydrate and high blood sugar, the same applies to salt.
The Danes get most of their salt intake from processed food. Processed food often has a high salt content, partly for the sake of taste but also sour for the sake of preservation.
Salt is an ancient preservative, and a high salt content can help food last longer. If you are a food producer, you are of course interested in your food lasting a long time on the shelves.
But we do not eat much processed food at LCHF, and only then have you made a drastic reduction in your salt intake. Add this to the fact that your salt requirement has increased due to the low carbohydrate intake, and you end up in deficit.
Drinking plenty of fluids and salting your food extra can be crucial to your success – especially in the beginning.
For many, however, a little extra focus is not enough, and here I recommend taking extra salt every day.
A few common tips on salt
- If you notice transition problems such as headaches, dizziness, lack of energy, insatiable hunger or unquenchable thirst, I would say that you should have more salt. Take 0.5-1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and wait 10-20 minutes and see if you have not gotten better.
- Is it summer and you sweat a lot, or do you exercise a lot, you need more salt. Get used to always taking extra salt before training. 0.5-1 teaspoon in a glass of water one hour before training. Always.
- A general advice for more salt may be to drink 1-2 glasses of broth every day. Homemade broth cooked on bone is an eminent source of both salt and minerals. Use this recipe, for example.
- You can also just choose to take 0.5-1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of water 1-2 times a day and make it a habit morning and evening.
- You can also take some cucumber slices and sprinkle salt on them with a very loose hand if it seems more humane than drinking salt shots, as if it were tequila.
For best results, use unrefined sea salt, Himalayan salt or similar. (as opposed to the cheap table salt) as these will have a natural mineral content. You can also make and use this recipe for super salt.
How long to take extra salt?
Hard to say but at least in the first few weeks where you eat completely strict. After this, it may be that you can just salt your food extra (which for many comes all by itself). But it still applies that you feel dull, tired, dizzy or the like. then it’s on with the salt shaker again.
Read all about LCHF and Keto – Start here: Keto and LCHF
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