This is the second article in my series on the ketogenic diet. There are fad diets and then there are research-backed, scientifically-proven diets that tick the boxes of clean eating, whole foods and gut-friendly ingredients. Like Keto. In my 7 months on not-so-strict Keto (since mid-March 2017) I have come to think of it more as a set of guidelines for clean eating that brings about sustained weight loss. I am consistently at 52-53 kgs since the last four months.
A self-confessed diet hater, I ate pretty much what I felt like throughout my 30-odd years. I wasn’t particularly overweight so I never felt the need for “dieting”. However, a chronic health condition that refused to subside for a decade steered me in the direction of clean eating and the standard ketogenic diet (SKD). [There are other variations like cyclical and targetted keto].
SKD is essentially a high fat, low carb plan with some dos and a lot of don’ts. Not only did I lose more than 10% body fat in a couple of months, my belly was flatter, I had more definition in my shoulders and torso, I was pain-free and more mentally alert. I had more energy and was running or cross training every day. A big departure from my earlier, lazy ‘I-will-workout-tomorrow’ days.
What appealed to me was it doesn’t force you to chew on tasteless dishes – no grapefruit breakfast and bland skimmed milk here. Most days, I am eating two soft boiled eggs drizzled with real ghee or butter and fresh leafy vegetables. I savor every bite of the meal slowly. This practice of mindful eating keeps me grounded yet light.
What is a Ketogenic Diet?
The focus of ketogenic diets is to drastically cut carbohydrate (glucose) intake so your body goes into a state of ketosis and burns fat for fuel. After an extended period of low carb meals, the body goes into “nutritional ketosis”. Your body will start using ketones for fuels. Ketones are a kind of molecule produced by our bodies in time of restricted carb intake. It will burn stored fat for energy required for activities rather than the glucose it gets from carbs. There is rapid weight loss in the initial weeks since the first thing to go is water weight. You will also have fewer food cravings.
This short video from PictureFit explains the science behind keto visually:
Keto diets have a wealth of health benefits like I mentioned before. The idea is to eat high amounts of healthy fats, a moderate quantity of protein and a tiny bit of carbs.
The foods on the “allowed” list are tasty and satisfying. Bacon, beef, pork, chicken, fatty fish, cottage cheese, yoghurt, avocados, berries… you can have it all. Here’s what is “not allowed”.
What to avoid if you want to achieve ketosis:
- Vegetable oils
- Low-fat processed foods
- Cereals (even the healthy variety)
- Fruits and fruit juice
- All grains (bread, rice, pasta)
- Sugary foods
- Potatoes, and sweet potatoes