The ketogenic diet isn’t always as easy as it seems. I tried for a long time, but not until I dove deep into the research and found out how to fix all of the common mistakes was I able to enjoy the full state of ketosis. This article is to help you avoid those same mistakes.
Why Try the Ketogenic Diet
First, why would you want to even try ketosis? I truly enjoy trying diets and eating methodologies to research what I like and what works for me. I’ve experimented with low-carb diets, high-carb diets, and everything in between, but I’ve never cut them out to the point to achieve ketosis. What’s most exciting about the ketogenic diet to me is that, yes, it’s amazing for weight loss, but it’s not just a “diet.” Ketosis is literally a state of metabolism. You are either in or you’re out.
I wanted to see and feel for myself the benefits everyone is talking about from going full Keto. My Keto Coach has a great line that goes like this:
I was sold and needed to try this and commit. If you are new to researching ketosis, a quick review of the popular benefits:
- Mental Clarity 
- Fat Loss 
- Feeling Full 
- Better Sleep 
- Better Mood 
- Better Skin 
The list goes on and on, including disease and inflammation reduction, better cholesterol, etc. For my purposes I didn’t care about weight loss or fat loss, I just cared about doing the diet the best I could, and to do that, I needed to prepare accordingly.
Preparation Stage – Learning the Keto Basics
Here is what I did to educate myself and prepare for six weeks of the Ketogenic Diet.
- Read Tools of Titans chapter on Dom D’Agostino of Keto Nutrition and copied his meal plan.
- Read Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore.
- Listened to Tim Ferriss’ podcasts on Keto.
- I got the Keto grocery list from reddit and stocked my fridge.
- I got exogenous ketones and I invested in the Precision Xtra glucometer.
- I stock piled the best Keto recipes… Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
- I picked a start date and spent $30 at In-N-Out burger on a massive send-off to carbohydrates.
A whole other post could be dedicated to the mistakes I made at In-N-Out. After this epic meal, it was officially time to begin.
Beginning Keto: Week 1
I failed the Keto Basics immediately in my first week. Here is a recap of what happened.
Day 1 – Thank goodness for exogenous ketones, getting me into ketosis right away.
Day 2 – Post-workout I rewarded myself with an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. Pork belly is keto right? Check. Is lamb keto? Check. But I ate all I could eat. Easily 125g of protein in one sitting. The next morning I felt truly awful energy and couldn’t bench press 75% of my normal.
Day 6 – I still was not in ketosis with any regularity. I was eating tons of fat and protein and zero carbs and was very confused. I was about to give up.
I am extremely stubborn but this failure finally got me to ask for help and pull up the internet to learn what I was doing wrong. I learned that the mistake I was making was the number one mistake in the ketogenic diet, eating too much protein.
One of the Biggest Ketosis Mistakes: Gluconeogenesis
Why is eating too much protein a mistake? Because our bodies have a metabolic process named gluconeogenesis (GNG).
Gluconeogenesis converts excess protein into glycogen and keeps you in glucose burning-mode (i.e. not in ketosis). 
The word gluconeogenesis has three parts to it,
Gluco – coming from the greek root glukos – literally meaning “sweet wine.”
Neo – “new”
Genesis – “creation.”
So GNG is how your body creates new sweet wine for your body. I’ve heard people tout that “You don’t need carbohydrates to survive.” This is only partially true. You don’t need to eat any carbs to survive, but make no mistake, your body needs carbs in the form of glucose and glycogen, and it will get this via internal processes.
Case Study of Gluconeogenesis
6 eggs in Kerrygold butter with provolone cheese. 60g Protein, 60g Fat. 0 Carbs.
Fasted blood ketone concentration: 0.4mmol (0.5 to 1.5 is considered mild ketosis)
1 Hour post-meal: Error message (Not even enough ketones to register)
Summary: I ate “Keto” foods, and did not get into ketosis.
2 eggs with pork belly, provolone cheese and butter. 28g Protein, 50g Fat, 0 Carbs.
Fasted blood ketones: 0.4mmol
1 Hour post breakfast: 1.2 mmol (Insert fist pump here)
Summary: I ate “Keto” foods and entered ketosis. Success. I passed the Keto basics. To say this another way, my biggest keto mistake was thinking that that low, and even zero carbohydrate intake would guarantee me ketosis.
Looking back, it was important to make this mistake so that I could make corrections and enjoy a successful remaining five weeks of my diet.
To Those Attempting Keto
To those of you learning about the ketogenic basics or attempting the ketogenic diet for the first time, remember the following:
LC ≠ K (Low-carb does not equal ketosis)
LC + HF + MP = K (Low-carb plus high-fat plus moderate-protein equals ketosis)
However, just knowing the equations above may not be enough. It surely wasn’t enough for me! Let’s discuss how to avoid gluconeogenesis in a bit more detail.
Avoiding the Biggest Ketogenic Diet Mistake (GNG)
- For me 25g at a time was plenty unless it was post-workout and/or my dinner. Keto is truly having your body run on fat.
Keep an open mind
- One of my mini-prayers to help me get over myself is, “Please help me let go of everything I think I know about this [insert person, place, or thing].
- Just because something is “Keto” doesn’t mean it will put you in, or keep you in ketosis. Think for yourself!
- If you really care about trying the ketogenic diet and are willing to commit to it, and not just hope for it – invest in a glucometer and ketone blood test strips and test yourself. Uncertainty causes anxiety. We can deal with change (like realizing I need to eat less protein) but we cannot respond effectively to uncertainty (not knowing where I stand or what I need to do next).
Also, we need to be honest with ourselves about how we are doing. The rubber meets the road when we look at the motives behind our actions. Let’s discuss what I like to call “the mistake behind the mistake” and how to avoid that.
The Mistake Behind the Ketosis Mistake
How could I read a book like Keto Clarity, with an entire chapter dedicated to GNG, and not heed the advice and science? Taking a closer look at myself, I honestly was hoping and wishing that it couldn’t be true and it wouldn’t apply to me because I think I’m special.
Rationalization is taking a thought or action that is unreasonable, and making it seem reasonable. It’s how we make insane thoughts appear to be sane, and it’s a pervasive defense mechanism to protect our ego and feel emotional security. Rationalization is also the downfall for many a diet because, as we all know, thoughts proceed and lead directly to our actions. But how should we address our tendency to rationalize?
How to Avoid the Mistake Behind the Mistake
“Put pencil to paper, and watch shit get real.” – Erykah Badu
The cure to rationalization is to put pen to paper. Write your plan, and your goal and periodically write your own self examination. Your pride will tell you, you don’t need to do this. Try it. If it doesn’t work you can give it up!
If nothing else, take this into your toolkit as you try the ketogenic diet:
LC ≠ K
So how about you, what’s your input? Have you made in ketosis mistakes in the past and how did you fix them? If not, post a question or something you’d like to learn more about! Thanks!
 Johnston CS, Tjonn SL, Swan PD, White A, Hutchins H, Sears B. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;83:1055–61.
 Murray RK, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harpers illustrated biochemistry. 26th ed. New York, NY: Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill,2003.
 Bender, DA. Introduction to nutrition and metabolism. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2002.
 Ezrin C, Kowalski RE. The type II diabetes diet book. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House, 1995.