Is the keto diet good for weight loss? A nutritionist and dieter weigh in

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Here is a recommended breakfast that seems to turn all my years of received diet wisdom on its head. Two large eggs fried in salted butter, two rashers of bacon and a cup of mushrooms and spinach sautéed in generous amounts of olive oil. What’s more—you’re supposed to lose weight by eating this breakfast. Welcome to the Keto diet, where fat is good for you. But don’t rush in if you aren’t sure.

“I started the keto diet about four months back,” says author and media professional, Anuradha Roy. While I had managed to keep a control of my weight by following regular diets like low-fat and low-sugar, lately they had stopped working for me. Keto is more of a lifestyle change. In four months, I have lost around nine kilos, going from 66kg to 57kg now. There is a fear that the high-fat diet might be unhealthy for the heart. However, a blood count done after four months of the diet reveals I have a good lipid profile, with improved numbers. Also, my D3 levels improved. For me, the keto journey has been quite a happy one because it started showing results quite soon.” The results, especially with the permitted fat sounds unbelievable, but there is a scientific reason behind this diet.

Keto diet 101

The keto diet—short for ketogenic—works on the principle of ketosis, a process by which fat is converted into energy resulting in weight loss. The keto diet is based on medical research for childhood epilepsy and diabetes conducted in the 1920s. It was found that a very high fat, low carb diet could actually work on insulin control and seizure management. Now the interest in keto comes from fitness buffs and people looking for weight loss and losing belly fat. On a hard-core keto meal plan, you will eat a diet that is 75 per cent full natural fat, 20 per cent protein and 5 per cent carbs (The Paleo diet in comparison is easier with a ratio of 40, 40 and 20).

The body, with few carbs to convert to glucose and energy, starts converting fat into energy. It may sound simple, but you need to maintain the ratios of the three groups. Dr Siddhant Bhargava, co-founder and nutritionist, Food Darzee, a health and nutrition service that delivers tailored keto meals, throws more light on this. “The ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein and an extremely low carbohydrate diet. Typical inclusions would be fat sources like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee and butter, avocados, nuts like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, dairy products like cheese, full fat cream and malai paneer. Protein sources include eggs, all kinds of meat (white and red), seafood and dairy products and tofu for vegetarians. Fibre-based inclusions would be green leafy vegetables. Absolute no-nos would be anything carbohydrate or sugary in nature—pulses, grains, breads, most fruits, root vegetables and most importantly sugar, jaggery, maple syrup and honey form. Cheating is an absolute sin because you are tricking your body into forgetting insulin spikes and that’ll work against it.

How does the keto diet affect women

One of the issues with the keto diet has been its suitability for women, since most of the research has been done on children and male athletes. Women’s bodies process and store fat differently and we also have different hormonal patterns to deal with. Hormones tend to go out of whack with sudden dietary and lifestyle changes. Keto ‘flu’ is a condition doctors warn us about—dizziness, nausea, brain fog and anxiety when our bodies are deprived of its regular food routine. If you want to go on keto, look for a doctor or nutritionist who understands that this diet may have to be customised for you. Keeping the alkaline balance stable before starting on a keto diet is supposed to be very helpful for women.

“Yes, we vary the diet for women”, says Dr Bhargava. “Women have a higher body fat percentage and lower lean muscle mass. Due to this, their calories and in turn their fat and protein quantities in the diet also vary. But the framework of the diet still remains the same. There is no ingredient-wise alteration unless of course there is a certain medical condition involved.” Online health nutritionist and counsellor, Shawn Mynar hosts several podcasts on Keto for Women including ones on menopause, keto and sugar cravings and keto diet plans during menstrual cycles.

Long-term effects of the keto diet

“It’s a good idea, advises Roy, “to carry Keto-friendly snacks like nuts, salad or cheese along with you because one learning has been that it’s tough to get carb-free snacks when you’re on the go. Especially when you’re stuck in a never-ending meeting and biscuits, sandwiches and pizza are the most common snacks doing the rounds. Another really important thing is to drink lots and lots of water. The water helps in flushing out the toxins that could build up because of a high-fat and protein diet. The water also aids the weight loss because when we’re not drinking enough water, the body tends to get into water retention mode, thus increasing your weight. With keto, while the body draws fat as a source of energy, it tends to draw fat from our skin as well. An extra glug of water every now and then helps keep the skin hydrated.”

But there are caveats. It is a difficult diet to follow and many people will settle for modified versions but you need to maintain ratios for your body to get into fat-burning mode. Sodium, magnesium and potassium levels need to be monitored. You may be advised supplements too. Dr Bhargava warns, “Cholesterol and triglycerides reports need to be assessed before advising this on a long-term. Research shows a decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels on the diet but certain individuals do not react in the same manner. Blood profiling is very important on the ketogenic diet. In a carbohydrate-dominant society like India, staying away from carbohydrates becomes a little difficult. Hence, compliance on the ketogenic diet becomes an issue. We usually advise people to be on it for as long as three months, inch closer towards a healthier future, take a break for a while and come back again to continue their journey towards a fitter life.” is a news aggregation service that brings you best of world articles to you for your consumption.

Author: Geeta Rao
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