The standard Indian diet is known to contain excessive amounts of carbohydrates, which eventually causes you to develop insulin and leptin resistance, paving way for metabolic syndromes such as diabetes. As a result, you tend to gain excess weight, develop inflammation and become more prone to cellular damage.
Mobiefit’s in-house nutritionist, Shwetha Bhatia says that the best way to avoid this is inducing a state of nutritional ketosis, a condition where your body burns fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose (read carbohydrates as the primary source). In order to reach this stage of nutritional ketosis, you must strictly follow a ketogenic diet. But, what exactly is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet, Shwetha says is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high fat consumption – the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. When carbs are extremely low, it keeps insulin low allowing fat to be mobilised. This, in turn, forms the ketone bodies which can be used by most organs. The liver and red blood cells depend on glucose which can be furnished from some amount of protein getting converted to glucose by a process called gluconeogenesis.
• Weight loss: If you’re trying to lose weight, then a ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to do it because it helps maintain lean mass while burning fat.
• Anti-inflammatory: By eliminating sugar from your daily food consumption, you’re decreasing your risk of developing chronic inflammation in your body which is the main cause of chronic diseases. A keto diet has also known to help with pain and anxiety levels.
• Lowering risk of cancer: One exciting discovery about the ketogenic diet is how it can help prevent cancer. All of your cells (including cancer cells) use glucose as fuel. However, cancer cells do not have metabolic flexibility and cannot adapt to using ketones as energy, while your regular cells can.
• Lowers Appetite: By reducing carbohydrate consumption, a keto diet can subsequently reduce hunger symptoms as fat and protein keep you feeling full longer.
• Lowering Insulin Levels: When you consume carbs, they are broken down into glucose in your body. In turn, this causes your blood sugar levels to rise and leads to a spike in your insulin. Over time, you may develop insulin resistance, which can progress to type 2 diabetes.
• Digestive disturbances: Since most carbs are eliminated, gluten and lactose being known to wreak havoc in your gut, a keto diet eliminates unnecessary disturbances and maintains good gut health.
What to eat: Sources of protein, carbs and fats
Eliminate sugar from your life
Flush down whatever sugar you have at home. There is no bigger culprit for all that unnecessary fat around your waist than those sweet white enticing crystals. They are the worst offenders. You could go for alternatives such as Stevia, however, it is recommended that you learn to overcome your Sugar cravings to practice Keto as it’s meant to be.
Drink water like there is no tomorrow
Brace yourself for a heavy protein diet, so naturally, you will need a substantial amount of water intake to flush down those ketones and keep your kidneys well-hydrated. Consuming at least 2-3 gallons of water will not only keep you hydrated but will prevent you from having nausea and the dreaded kept smell. Keep a bottle handy and keep sipping water on an ongoing basis.
Stock up on those eggs
While on Keto you will be having a lot of eggs. And you will likely save more if you buy them in bulk. A whole egg contains about 6.3 grams of protein. It is also packed with Vitamins A, D, E, B6, and B12. Given its high density in minerals like calcium, zinc, iron and selenium, it is the go-to food if you need an energy boost. What also makes it a gym favourite is the amino acid content which is crucial for muscle recovery and growth. Besides this, it contains dietary fats like Omega 3 and Omega 6 which promote better cell development.
Learn to count your macros
Regular things which always seemed healthy may very well become the reason to kick you out of your Keto routine. Tomatoes, capsicum, onion and even garlic have a substantial amount of carbs, which is a big no-no in Keto. You will have to regulate their intake to ensure that you don’t throw your diet out of the window. Starting by googling food items which you think you might get away with having while in Keto; you will be surprised knowing most of them don’t fit the bill because of the carbs in them.
Get kitchen friendly
It is advisable that you start preparing your own meals to closely monitor what goes into your body. If you have never stepped into the kitchen except to check the refrigerator, now is the time to change that. If you are a cooking novice then start by learning how to boil eggs and then slowly graduate to making proper meals. Learning to cook is the best skill you can acquire when going through a Keto. Bonus: It’s an important life skill to have.
Don’t say no to dairy
Though dairy products are usually shunned in a keto diet, it should be used in tandem with your other meals. However, don’t go overboard with your dairy consumption and maintain a moderate level as the higher the number of carbs, the less you will want to consume. The larger chunk of your meal should be coming from protein, vegetables, and added fats/cooking oils. Some of the dairy products you can eat on a keto diet are greek yoghurt, mayonnaise, spreads (cream cheese and mascarpone) and hard cheeses ( cheddar, parmesan, and feta).
Master the spices
The food you have during Keto might be limited but there is no restriction on the spices you can eat. This is the best time to experiment with the variety of spices you always wanted to try but just didn’t have the right recipe. So be it black pepper, nutmeg, dried onions, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, rock salt or any fancy Italian spice mix; experiment and try different combinations to change up your paneer or chicken dish.
Duration and side effects
This diet can and should be made a way of life. There are no side effects but one must maintain caution, especially if:
1. You already have high cholesterol, triglyceride or uric acid levels, get yourself tested after 5 weeks to check how you respond to a keto diet.
2. If you are a Type 2 diabetic, frequent monitoring of blood glucose and altering of medications may be needed.
3. You have digestive issues or elevated liver enzymes.
4. You suffer from kidney stones.
5. You suffer from constipation, you will have to keep hydration and fibre intake up.