Everything You Need To Know About The Keto Diet—As Told By A Nutritionist

Karishma Govil , 13 Mar 2019
The Keto Diet | Image Source: www.shutterstock.com By Nina Firsova
The Keto Diet | Image Source: www.shutterstock.com By Nina Firsova

A busy and hectic lifestyle calls for some amount of discipline. We have so much going on that we need to balance this hustle with a structured approach. Some people take a break often, some meditate, some exercise to keep the body fit while others maintain a healthy diet. Speaking of healthy diets, we hear about so many different types of diets all the time that we get confused about what we should follow. While the internet is often a friend, many a time it could mislead you and that can cost you your health.

My personal experience

Let me give you my own example. I wanted to discipline my eating habits and I thought the best way to do that is to get on a strict diet. While that wasn’t the worst idea, taking Google‘s word for it instead of going to a specialist was. I’m gonna back up for a second and tell you what I did and how it affected my body. I thought of trying out the keto diet for a month which is fine, but what the problem was, that I didn’t ask a nutritionist about it and just started it on my own with a little help from the internet. Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you a bit about the diet.

What is keto?

The ketogenic diet is basically a low-carb and high-fat diet. In this diet, you can eat all fatty foods like cheese, heavy cream, oil and you can eat lean meat, eggs and other protein. But one needs to stay away from high-carb foods like grains, sugary food, and high-carb veggies like potatoes. The whole point on this diet is to help the body burn fat for energy as opposed to using carbs. This metabolic state of the body is called the ketosis.

Keto Diet | Image Source: www.shutterstock.com By SewCream
Keto Diet | Image Source: www.shutterstock.com By SewCream

So, what happened to me while I was trying it out?

I started the diet last month and ate only high-fat and moderate protein foods like creamy chicken with veggies, cheesy omelettes and so on. I totally disregarded the carbs and quit cold turkey. I didn’t prep my body for keto and that had a massive impact on my body (and not in a good way). The first three days, my body was undergoing carb withdrawals. I felt weak, light-headed and fragile. The fourth day, however, I felt like I got a new life. I was energetic, proactive at work and enthu once I got home. I wanted to go out and party, but that’s what I did wrong. You see, when we go out to drink, the carbs we eat absorb the alcohol in our system in order to deal with a hangover. But since my body didn’t have any carbs, the alcohol affected my body drastically. Although I lost 3 kgs in 6 days, the day after drinking for me was hell. It wasn’t an ordinary hangover—I suffered from acute vertigo, my body went cold and my hands started to tremor. At this point, I had to stop keto instantly and give my body the carbs it needed at that point.

What I learned from this

The most important lesson I learned during keto is that no diet should be done without supervision from a professional. In fact, the body needs to be prepped for keto. One needs to go to a nutritionist to check if they are even legible for starting the keto diet in the first place.

We got in touch with Anupama Menon, Nutritionist and Food Coach to give you professional advice about the keto diet in case you’re planning to get on it.

Anupama on keto in India

The keto obsession started with the influence from the west that began as a dietary treatment for epilepsy. But why it gained so much popularity is because it helped people lose weight at the speed of light. Here’s her perspective of keto in India, based on our lifestyles and diet.

The keto was born in a country paying allegiance to refined flour. Bagels for breakfast, and bread for meals, pastries for treats and pizzas for birthdays. Their food ecology gains vibrancy from the phenomenal varieties of meats they consume. So, a keto diet works perfectly with their body’s ability to digest and metabolise what their inherent systems are trained to. Eliminating refined flour or even it’s healthier counterpart called the whole wheat flour works perfectly with their plan for better health. The other grains like rice and millet haven’t found much favour in their culture, cuisine or choice. India, on the other hand, has an extremely rich grain culture. From the steamed idlis of the South to the makai ki roti of the north. Bakris, theplas, aapams, pongal, bissibelebath, the chillas and the dhoklas, the biryanis and the muthiyas—no palette can escape this music! India does house a majority of non-vegetarians but of a different breed. Their choices are largely restricted to chicken and fish. In fact chicken in India is considered meat by most, in the West, it may well have been the doorkeeper! A significant point to consider here is also the frequency and quotient of non-veg consumed as compared to the west. while on an average a non-vegetarian would consume meat or fish 2-4 times a week for a meal a day, an American would eat as much in a single day, even his breakfast rounding off with sausages and bacon. Our bodies in most cases can digest and metabolize best the foods we have been used to eating as kids. Our stress levels are managed better when we connect with the food we eat, with food that gives us comfort. Our food has a strange equation with our psyche, not surprisingly though.

Healthy Salad Bowl | Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Healthy Salad Bowl | Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Keto is far from easy, especially if carbs have been a huge part of your daily diet. I strongly suggest you visit a nutritionist to guide you through this process. But what’s equally important is what your diet looks like when you’re off it. So, here are a few things Anupama told me on what one should keep in mind when they go off the keto diet.

1. Be patient

It’s really important to be patient. Don’t be too enthu and include all the foods you avoided to your diet in the first week itself. Spread it out.

2. Add fruits

During the first week, add only fruits to your diet, approximately 200gms a day, divided into 100g portions twice during the day.

3. Add carbs slowly

When you start adding in the carbs, do so very slowly starting off at 2-3 times a week. Simultaneously reduce some of the added fats like coconut oil or ghee by about 2 tsp a day from the quantity used in the keto diet.

4. Then add veggies

Add a variety of veggies by including about ½-3/4 kgs of veggies in your daily diet. This is the feed for your gut bacteria which will essentially keep your digestion healthy.

5. Don’t expect weight loss

The transition from a keto to a non-keto diet can take as much as 4-8 weeks. And also, do not expect weight loss during this period.

So, while the keto diet has been really effective for a lot of people who’ve tried it, we’re here to tell you that each and every single body reacts to it differently. Make sure to be well prepared for it and consult a professional before you decide to go for it. And remember to stay hydrated!

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