How many of us wish to lose weight without stopping to eat our favourite food items and without making too much of an effort? Well, no marks for guessing that the answer is “almost everyone”. In our quick quest to lose weight, we try various exercise regimes, various diet plans, mostly focusing on reducing fat intake and reducing and burning calories. However, despite our efforts (many a time half-hearted because of our eternal love for good food), we mostly meet with moderate success before we give the plan up and move to another regime, another diet.
The battle of the bulge isn’t won easily, and this often leads people to skipping meals or giving up food items they like, such as sweets. It’s pretty normal for a person on a diet to feel unsatiated due to eating insipid food, or feel hungry, or even pretty fatigued. However, with the right diet plan, you can not only lose weight quickly but also do so without skipping or eating tasteless meals, and without affecting your physical strength negatively.
This is where the low-carb, high protein diets like Paleo and Atkins come in. These are popular diets and are similar to ketogenic or “keto” diets. However, a true keto diet centers on fat instead of protein to provide the body with energy.
How does keto diet work
The human body relies upon sugar (glucose) that comes from carbohydrates (such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits) as the preferred fuel source for energy. The keto diet, on the other hand, focuses on increasing calories from fat, while significantly reducing the carbohydrates consumption.
By limiting your carbs intake to just 50 grams per day, the keto diet relies heavily on fat to supply as much as 90% of your daily calories. After you follow the diet for a few days, your body enters ketosis. Ketosis is a normal, metabolic state in which the body burns fat to provide most of the fuel for the body. This occurs because your body doesn’t have enough carbs to burn for energy and it starts breaking down stored fat into molecules called ketones, which it releases into the bloodstream to generate energy.
Most cells prefer to use blood sugar, which comes from carbohydrates, as the body’s main source of energy. Simply put, the keto diet forces your body into using a different type of fuel, and thus helps you reduce weight by burning fat.
Keto Diet and its Benefits
A keto diet uses the body’s own fat-burning system to help people lose significant weight in as little as 10 days. That’s faster than any other diet known so far.
Research shows that people undergoing a keto diet comprising very low carbs show faster weight loss compared to those on a more traditional low-fat diet, or even on a Mediterranean diet. The weight loss for people starts within two to four days of starting the plan. However, since it relies on ketones, it is a highly individualized process, and may vary from person to person.
A ketogenic diet has also been shown to improve blood sugar control for patients with type 2 diabetes, at least in the short term. Anyone with type 2 diabetes can benefit from a reduced-carb keto diet because it not just causes weight loss, but also improves insulin sensitivity.
A keto diet is known to be helpful for Parkinson’s patients. An everyday benefit can also be felt by youngsters who are suffering from acne.
Additionally, there is enough scientific evidence to demonstrate that a ketogenic diet reduces seizures in children. It has been found to be particularly effective with children with refractory epilepsy, although experts are not quite sure of how it works. In fact, the ketogenic diet has been used as a treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s – that’s a 100 years ago!
How healthy is a ketogenic diet?
First and foremost, the keto diet does not starve you to lose weight, nor does it make you eat unappetizing meals to drop those pounds. It simply alters your meals to reduce carbs, using food items that you enjoy eating to help your body lose weight, while still providing your body with enough nutrition and energy.
The keto diet requires people to eat fat at each meal, and a daily 2,000-calorie diet might comprise 175 grams of fat, 75 grams of protein, and as less as 40 grams of carbs. So, apart from being invitingly delicious, keto diet also reduces your hunger pangs by making you feel satiated and also helps you maintain muscle.
More and more celebs are openly praising its weight-loss benefits, and Vanessa Hudgens recently said that she follows the diet, while posting a keto-friendly “fat bomb” snack on her Instagram account. Halle Berry is another of the many devout celebrity followers of keto diet, who swears by the ketogenic diet – both for weight management and managing her diabetes – and regularly shares her favorite keto-friendly meals and recipes on her Insta page.
So, what all can you eat?
Keto diet actually encourages people to eat according to their appetites. The keto food list is fairly exhaustive and pretty rich in proteins and fats, and typically includes plenty of meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and fibrous vegetables. In fact, saturated fats from oils (coconut, palm) and butter constitute a prominent part of the diet plan.
But what about fruits and vegetables – they’re rich in carbs? Can one eat them on a keto diet?
Well, yes, but you have to be a bit restrained there. While you are allowed to have certain fruits (usually berries), they have to be in small portions. Vegetables also have some restriction, but there is still a wide variety to choose from including cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, garlic, cucumber, leafy greens like spinach, asparagus, and bell peppers.
When it comes to Indian cuisine, rich in carbohydrates, it may seem to be a big challenge to prepare a keto diet. However, an Indian keto diet meal plan can include a variety of items which are low in carbohydrates and blend quite well with the keto diet plan. Cottage cheese (paneer), gram flour (besan), white butter, fish, chicken, vegetables like bottle gourd (ghiya), round gourd (tinda), brinjal (baigan), beetroots (shaljam), and spinach (paalak), are all extremely nourishing keto foods which aid in rapid weight loss.
So, when it comes to a keto diet, especially a nutritious Indian keto diet, remember – fat is always very welcome! Fat like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, butter, cheese, paneer, fish, lamb, eggs, and chicken are the foods that you must have. In veggies, the ones to ignore are those that contain starch (like potatoes) as they contain a lot of carbs. Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds are also your good friends in losing weight. Fruits, howsoever juicy and tempting, are best avoided because they contain a lot of sugar. You can find a comprehensive range of really lip-smacking Indian keto food products on ketofy.in
Unlike most other diets, the keto diet is far from deprivation and is actually pretty crave-worthy. In the words of Halle Berry herself, “You can eat all the food you want. You just can’t have the baked potato.”
Can keto be unhealthy or a health risk?
One obvious concern always on the minds of people wishing to lose weight is their overall wellbeing while being on a diet. So, it is important to understand that while it is such an amazing way to lose weight, is keto diet safe?
Even though it is such an interesting and appetizing way to lose weight, like other diets, the keto diet has its pitfalls – the biggest being that it can be fairly hard to follow for some as it is heavy on red meat and other fatty, processed, salty foods that are notoriously unhealthy.
Since it’s also high on saturated fats, it is linked to an increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol, and may lead to heart disease in the long term.
Also, while keto diet doesn’t cause muscle loss, it is also not recommended for people trying to gain muscle.
Other potential keto risks include:
- Nutrient deficiency: Vegetables, fruits, and grains micronutrients, including selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins B and C. If you’re not eating a wide variety of fruits & vegetables, you may suffer from nutrient deficiencies.
- Irritability and mood swings: The way our body is conditioned, our brain needs sugar from carbohydrates to function. By virtually starving our body of carbs, the keto diet may cause confusion, irritability and cause people to be ill-tempered at times.
- Constipation: The keto diet is low in fibrous foods, which help our metabolism. Lack of food items like grains and legumes in our diet can affect our digestion and cause constipation.
- Kidney problems: The kidneys help absorb & process protein, and the protein-rich keto diet may overload them, causing certain problems.
- Liver problems: As the largest gland in the human body, the liver performs over 500 critical functions. One of them is metabolization of fat, making it easier for digestion. With so much fat to breakdown, keto diet could impact any existing liver conditions negatively.
Overall, keto diet works differently for different people. What works wonders for someone may not be so great for the other. To make sure that you are ready for the keto diet and are on the right plan, you must ideally consult a doctor or a dietitian before starting on the plan.