Going on a ketogenic diet can provide numerous health benefits including weight loss, improved mental clarity and more steady energy levels. However, there are several common mistakes that can kick you out of ketosis and interrupt these benefits. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the top culprits that can disrupt ketosis and provide tips on how to get back into fat burning mode quickly.
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What is Ketosis?
Before diving into what can knock you out of ketosis, let’s first briefly explain what ketosis is.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state where your body switches from primarily burning glucose from carbohydrates to burning fatty acids and ketone bodies for fuel.
This shift to fat and ketone burning happens when carb intake is very low, generally fewer than 20 grams per day.
As glucose becomes scarce, the liver ramps up the production of ketones from stored fat to fuel the brain and other tissues.
Some key signs you are in ketosis include:
- Bad breath or metallic taste in mouth
- Increased thirst and urination as the kidneys flush out ketones
- Weight loss from fat burning
- Improved mental focus and stable energy
Maintaining ketosis offers powerful benefits but there are some common mistakes that can knock you out.
Let’s explore those now.
Consuming Too Many Carbs
Consuming too many carbs is hands down the fastest way to get kicked out of ketosis.
As a refresher, here are some guidelines on daily carb intake for ketosis:
- Fewer than 20 grams net carbs per day
It’s important to focus on net carbs, which is total carbs minus fiber since fiber does not impact blood sugar or ketone levels.
Even if you’ve been solidly in ketosis for a while, eating over 20 grams net carbs for more than a day or two can quickly halt fat burning.
Your body will shift back to using glucose as the preferred energy source and stop churning out ketones.
Unfortunately, carb mistakes are easy to make. A few biscuits at breakfast, sweetened yogurt for a snack, beans in your salad – it all adds up fast.
Carefully tracking your food intake will help avoid accidental carb bombs.
Tips to Get Back Into Ketosis Quickly After Too Many Carbs:
- Fast for 12-16 hours after a carb binge to deplete glycogen stores
- Exercise to help burn through excess glucose in the bloodstream
- Drink extra water to flush out carbs and ramp up ketone production
- Limit net carbs to 20 grams or less
With a very low carb intake for a day or two, you can typically get back into fat burning mode quickly after falling off track.
Consuming Too Much Protein
While protein is important on keto, too much protein can also disrupt ketosis.
- Excess protein gets converted to glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis, spiking blood sugar and insulin just like carbs.
- Your body can use this glucose rather than ketones for fuel, taking you out of ketosis.
- Too much protein may suppress hunger hormones that signal fat burning like leptin.
Generally, protein intake should be moderate at:
- 0.6 – 0.8 grams protein per pound lean body mass
- 10-20% calories from protein
- Roughly 75-100 grams protein for most keto dieters
Consuming more than 35% of calories from protein makes it hard for most people to stay in ketosis.
Some signs you may be getting too much protein:
- Strong ammonia smell in urine
- Fat loss stalls
- Increased appetite and cravings
To re-enter ketosis if protein was too high:
- Lower protein intake to 15% calories, about 56-75 grams daily
- Increase healthy fats like olive oil and avocados
- Consider intermittent fasting for 12-16 hours to facilitate ketone production
Eating Too Many Keto-Friendly Treats
One common keto mistake is overdoing treats and packaged snacks marketed as “keto-friendly.”
Many of these products like protein bars, low carb ice cream, and sugar free candy still contain ingredients that may impact ketosis.
Watch out for:
- Excess protein as discussed above
- Alternative sweeteners like malitol that spike blood sugar
- Processed vegetable oils that may cause inflammation
While occasional treats are fine for most, relying too heavily on these products can stall weight loss and disrupt ketone levels.
To get back into fat burning mode:
- Avoid keto treats and processed foods for a few days
- Focus meals on single ingredient whole foods – meat, vegetables, eggs, avocado, nuts etc.
- Consider a 24 hour fast to reset hunger hormones and cravings
Taking a break from packaged keto foods and getting back to unprocessed basics will help restore ketosis quickly.
Not Enough Sleep
Failing to get adequate high quality sleep can also impair your fat burning efforts.
Here’s why sleep and ketosis are linked:
- Poor sleep increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers glucose production and works against ketosis.
- Lack of sleep tends to increase cravings and hunger, making keto adherence harder.
- Short changing sleep harms insulin sensitivity and blood sugar balance needed for ketosis.
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to optimize ketone production.
Establishing good sleep hygiene practices like a consistent bedtime routine, limiting blue light exposure in the evenings, and blocking out noise and light from the bedroom will help get your sleep on track.
Focus on winding down 2-3 hours before bed by doing relaxing activities like reading, meditating or taking a bath.
Avoid stimulating activities like exercise, work, and screen time right before bed.
If you are struggling with sleep quality, experiment with supplements like magnesium, glycine or melatonin.
These can help induce relaxation and tiredness before bed.
Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
Many keto dieters rely heavily on artificial sweeteners as a replacement for sugar. However, these low calorie sugar substitutes may potentially disrupt ketosis.
Artificial sweeteners including aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose have all been shown in some studies to possibly impact insulin and blood sugar by:
- Increasing insulin resistance
- Altering gut bacteria linked to glucose intolerance
- Triggering the release of gut hormones that affect glycemic control
While findings are mixed, some sensitive individuals may find artificial sweeteners stall their weight loss or kick them out of ketosis.
To potentially improve results:
- Try eliminating artificial sweeteners for 1-2 weeks to see if it makes a difference
- Satisfy sweet cravings with small amounts of Stevia which has minimal effects on blood sugar
- Focus on reducing reliance on sweet flavors in general
Transitioning to less sweet tastes over time can help curb sweet cravings to make keto more sustainable. But enjoy the occasional sweet treat if needed, just account for any carbs.
Alcohol in Excess
While moderate alcohol like dry wines and spirits can be enjoyed in small amounts on keto, drinking in excess can definitely jeopardize ketosis.
Here’s why too much alcohol and ketosis don’t mix:
- Alcohol gets preferentially metabolized by the liver and halts fat burning until it’s processed
- Heavy drinking causes blood sugar spikes and may increase insulin resistance
- Alcohol lowers inhibitions which can lead to poor food choices and carb binges
To quickly bounce back from an alcohol induced drop in ketones:
- Sip water between drinks to stay hydrated and dilute alcohol’s effects
- Choose lower carb mixers like soda water or diet soda
- Avoid beer and sweet cocktails high in carbs
- Take a break from drinking for a few days
With consistent keto eating and more moderate alcohol intake, you should be back in fat burning mode within a couple of days.
Not Enough Calories and Fat
While a moderate calorie deficit is needed for weight loss on keto, cutting calories too drastically can backfire and disrupt ketosis.
Consuming too few calories, usually under 1200 per day, can cause problems by:
- Slowing down your metabolic rate as the body tries to conserve energy
- Increasing hunger hormones like ghrelin
- Reducing ketone production as the liver starts preserving body fat
Eating adequate calories and fat is also crucial to maintain energy levels and stay satiated on keto. Getting insufficient fat can also impair ketone production.
Aim to reduce calories by only 20-25% below your maintenance level. This is typically a deficit of 500-800 calories for most people looking to lose weight.
Ensure you are eating at least 70% of calories from healthy fats like olive and coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. This provides energy and the building blocks for ketones.
If overly restricting calories or fat stalled your progress:
- Boost calories from fat sources like oil, butter, nuts and avocado
- Incorporate intermittent fasting which works well with keto for fat loss
- Move more to allow for higher calorie intake
With a moderate calorie deficit plus optimal fat intake, you’ll be back in ketosis burning fat in no time!
Achieving and maintaining ketosis requires consistency with very low carb intake, adequate but not excessive protein, and plenty of healthy fats.
Falling out of ketosis is common in the first few weeks as you adjust your diet and learn to avoid these common pitfalls. Being prepared with troubleshooting strategies helps you identify issues early and quickly course correct.
Sticking with whole single ingredient foods, proper portion sizes, and effective stress relief will set you up for long term keto success.
Keep fine tuning your approach and be patient through the ups and downs. You’ve got this!