The principle of a low-carbohydrate diet is simple but there are some common mistakes which can happen and hold you back from enjoying the benefits of the diet.

In this article, we’ll look at the mistakes that can be made and therefore areas you can address. Make sure you also see our guide on how to follow a healthy low-carb diet

In this guide we’ll look at:

  • Not getting good sleep
  • Too much snacking and grazing
  • Eating more carbs than you think
  • Eating too much protein
  • Having fake low carb foods
  • Treat days

See also our guide on why a low-carb diet is not working

Missing out on good sleep

Sleep is something that can be taken for granted but a good night’s rest is necessary for the body to recharge and heal itself between each day.

Good sleep helps reduce inflammation and this has positive effects all through the body from lower stress to lower risk of heart disease. [186]

If you’re getting too little sleep this will affect hormone levels and it can throw your metabolism out of balance. [187]

Poor sleep can lead to lapses in healthy eating and can often increase the likelihood of snacking between meals or craving the wrong types of food.

Snacking and grazing

The problem with snacking is that it keeps levels of insulin within our body too high between meals and this is precisely what we want to avoid if looking to lose weight.

Insulin is the fat storage hormone so high insulin levels through the day will mean too much fat storage going on.

Unless you have reason to be worried about being too underweight, then you’ll want to reduce snacking as much as possible.

Eating more carbs than you think

It’s relatively easy to fall into the trap of eating too many carbs without realising it, especially if you’re underestimating the carb content of foods consistently.

It’s good to put time in to look up the carbohydrate value of different foods. To give you a head start, we’ve put together a guide on some of the foods that commonly catch people out.

Read more on the sources of carbohydrate that can catch you unaware

Eating too much protein

It’s certainly possible to overdo the protein on a low-carb diet. For most people, protein intake should be moderate on a low-carb diet.

If you are tracking your energy intake, you can regard around 50-60g of protein as moderate. [188]

The problem with having too much protein is that it can prompt the liver to produce more glucose (process known as gluconeogenesis). More glucose production ultimately means higher sugar levels and more need for insulin (from your pancreas or injections if you take them).

The follow-on effect of this is that it can stall ketosis and prevent weight loss occurring.

Note that some sources of natural fats, such as cheese and nuts, are also fairly rich in protein.

Fake low carb food

Packaged foods branded as low-carb or keto can be deceiving and are usually something of a magic bullet. They’ll make big claims but underneath all the show it’s just sleight of hand.

We’ve seen so called ‘keto bars’ which pack more carbs in than a Coco Pops cereal bar.

The truth is that the people who achieved great results on a low-carb diet have done it by simply sticking to good sensible eating and not looking for short cuts.

Treat days

Treats can be fine within certain parameters, however, they can get out of hand for some of us.

Treats are better when they’re small so dedicating a whole day to treat foods is asking for problems, particularly if you’re aiming towards weight loss.

For a more thorough info see our guide having treats and how treats can get out of hand

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