How I Fixed The Biggest Ketosis Mistakes

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:

“Ketosis makes you feel like superman, but in reality, it’s just our natural state. We are born in a state of Ketosis.”

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 [2]
  • Fat Loss [2][3][4]
  • Feeling Full [1][2]
  • Better Sleep [1]
  • Better Mood [1]
  • Better Skin [4]

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.

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). [1]

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.

Breakfast B

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)

Moderate protein

  • 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!

Test 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!

[1] 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.

[2] Murray RK, Granner DK, Mayes PA, Rodwell VW. Harpers illustrated biochemistry. 26th ed. New York, NY: Lange Medical Books/McGraw-Hill,2003.

[3] Bender, DA. Introduction to nutrition and metabolism. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2002.

[4] Ezrin C, Kowalski RE. The type II diabetes diet book. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House, 1995.

Ketosis is now easy

Lose weight and obtain optimal overall health — in an easy and natural way.

Shop Ketones

What to read next:

keto diet types
Keto diet plan

Responses (21)

  1. Thanks for this informative article!! Any advice on food substitutions/meal planning for someone trying to follow a predominately plant-based diet?

  2. Agree with Linda, very informative, but also very interesting and well written. Interesting in that it’s a diet that includes eating fat, big bonus there. I love fat. My personal interest is the nutritional and feel good value not the weight loss. Excited to learn more.

  3. Great article. Well written and not too “scientific”. I was able to follow and understand most of it ( I think)! What were your results after 6 weeks? Or 5 weeks (after fixing your mistakes) ?

  4. Very well written article. I have a lot of friends on the Keto diet, but didn’t know how to get started or what the process actually entailed. I am confident I can get started on my own now. Expecting my first shipment by the end of the week!

  5. I can’t find anything that talks about calories. I’m a pretty small person (but still some weight to loose) my daily caloric intake to maintain my weight is like 1480 calories.
    When calculating macros do I go based on that calorie level. I want to loose weight so I’m going based on 1000 calories so I can loose about a pound a week. But when eating mostly fats (at 9 calorie a gram) I really don’t get to eat much food per day at all!!!
    Not doing high fat seems so much better because I can have some substantial food.
    HELP!
    Do calories matter in ketosis the same way they matter in just low carb low calorie dieting ??

  6. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I’m very glad to see such fantastic information being shared freely out there.

  7. Learned this one the hard way. Finally did in-depth analysis of macros. I was averaging 145g-160g of fat, 130-160g of protein, and around 50g of carbs (I’ve tried going to zero and the 50g mark seems to be where I always land). No ketosis. Getting hungry every 2-4 hours was my other tip off from my high carb days. Once I noticed the 2-4 hour cycle, I knew I had to up my fat because the protein was too high. Adjusted to 50g carbs, 90-120g protein and shoot for 160-180g fat. Now I’m not hungry every few hours and I am finding the symptoms of ketosis. I’m far from being perfect on this, but since I’m only about 10 weeks into this diet and I’m making all the classic mistakes, point is to keep at it.

  8. Good article. So… I’ve been strength training for the last ten years or so, experimented with most protocols/diets, and have been running IF 19/5 for last year or so. Anyway, recently decided to go for a splurge on Keto, see if I can make it work for me for losing the last few bits of lower belly fat (I was probably about 10% when I started this Keto 2 weeks ago) I’ve definitely lost weight… My lifts are… not suffering… TOO MUCH. Although I feel good, not exhausted, my muscles are maxed out sooner, and it is definitely harder work… it’s hard to explain.

    Anyway, the point of this is to ask… My previous intake breakdown prior to keto, was around 200-250g protein a day, 3600 kcals. Sometimes 4. Now on Keto I have not had an issue keeping the carbs down to around 25 (from around 400 before keto!) and feel fine, however my protein is still around 150-70 per day, with 75% of the cals then from fats (about 300-330g).

    So in terms of percentages… its hitting the 75/20/5 markers. HOWEVER… so much conflicting info out there. Urine strips say I am in ketosis consistently (trace) and I rarely if ever feel hungry now. I have left my Kcal intake roughly where it was (slightly dropped it ) to around 3200-3500kcal (less on non trainin days) but is 170 still too much protein? It is certainly WAY over the SKD 0.8g/kg! However, I Cannot imagine gaining or even maintaining my lean mass/strength with such a low level (that’s 50g of protein a day!?!)

    Thoughts?

    1. Great questions with no easy answers! How do you feel? How are your results? Having “trace” in your urine doesn’t tell us much. Many times athletic folks are better at using ketones which means they’ll have fewer in their blood and urine.

      1. Hello,
        I feel as though I need to get this off of my chest, I feel Matthew and I are/were very similar however I did Keto for about 9 months. I started out doing keto to cut some fat. Im 5’10” and was about 195lbs (12% body fat), lifting weights 4-5 times a week and was eating a mix of p/c/f. As an ex-bodybuilder I always felt I needed to eat atleast 1 gram of protein per 1 lb pound of bodyweight; the rest coming from carbs and fats. When I converted to keto the biggest thing I noticed was that my hunger basically didn’t exist. In the past I tried IF on a mixed macro diet with decent results but enjoyed coffee with cream too much that it made it hard to skip in the morning. Nonetheless my point is on IF I would typically get hungry by the 16th hour. On keto I wasn’t, however I still forced myself to eat in the morning or at least have my keto coffee. It was hard fitting in 2500 kcal in the day (like I said my hunger was non existent). I stuck with keto for 9 months and I honestly have to stay I couldn’t get below 10% body fat. I cut my kcal as low as 1500 for a few weeks in a row to find no change in body composition and at that point was starting to feel very tired by the days end and my workouts were suffering. Not to mention I was frustrated by not getting the results. Over the 9 months I kept an average of about 2400 kcal with reverse dieting once back up to 3000kcal over the course of 4 weeks to try and stoke my metabolism and try to cut again, but still no major change in composition (not like I personally experienced with the typical bodybuilding diet). I still don’t know to this day why I couldn’t drop the body fat, but not all was lost keto had its perks. I must say I really enjoyed eating keto because it was so easy and convenient, eating nuts, cheese, butter, meat and heavy cream was easy on the palate. One thing I will note is that i could never get my blood ketone levels over 1.0. I had done both my blood ketone and urine tests during my keto experience. I too thought It was GNG but I went as far to eat only fat for 3 days and still only reading of .6-.8. The urine strips were different, super dark purple. I did some reading and some said that some people’s body will only produce enough ketones as it needs which doesn’t leave any free ketones in the blood. If someone can comment I would appreciate their input or similar experience. In closing of my long winded comment I must say keto has its place. I did feel great and the convenience and ease of eating fatty foods was nice. I might try it again someday or incorporate it for a couple months a year to give my body a break on eating so much protein. But for now I’ve switch back to a 45/35/20 ratio of p/c/f respectively and I can already see a composition change after 2 weeks. All the best to those who give keto a try or who make it a lifestyle.

  9. “Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It is the little changes which will make the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!”

  10. I needed to thank you for this amazing read!! I definitely enjoying every small touch of it
    I have you bookmarked to check out new material you post.

  11. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful information specially the final section 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  12. We stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I might check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page repeatedly.

  13. Hi great article. Question; maintaining and building muscle is my goal so ensuring not too much protien is as you can imagine a different way of thinking… How do make sure I can reduce my body fat percentage and increase muscle when I am eating increasing fat consumption? Lastly I assume we have to moderate the exogenous ketones as we want the ketones in the body to be from my own body burning fat from my body correct?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *