Losing weight, for most people, is a Sisyphean task. Just when you think you are going to reach your goal, you land up having a cheat day and lo behold you are back to square one.  Innumerable diets and weight loss tips only add to a sense of perplexity and despair.

Understanding Ketogenic diet: Health Benefits, Ramifications, and Indian Context 

Keto diet is one such new, highly recommended diet which encourages eating fats…..yes you read it right…..the alleged devil of all weight gain foods. The diet works on the principle of the human body producing two kinds of fuel – sugar fuel and fat fuel. You produce sugar fuel by burning carbohydrates and fat fuel (ketones) by burning fat. 

A ketogenic diet makes you lose weight by burning fat for fuel

On a carbohydrate-rich diet, your body converts carbs and not fats into glucose. As a general rule, glucose is the currency of energy. Any intake of carbohydrates causes an “insulin spike” which is responsible for inducing the cells to take up glucose. 

As you lower your carb intake your body goes into a state of ketosis. This implies that as the glucose levels in the body lower, your body, in turn, burns fat for fuel. Fat and not glucose becomes the new source of energy for your body.

In a keto diet, your body becomes starved of carbohydrates and gains efficiency in burning fats for optimal nutrition. Through the keto diet, your overall health improves as it brings about weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity and spurs neurogenesis

Who can follow the ketogenic diet? 

The diet has become quite popular among athletes as it helps to boost performance. It has also become quite a fad with people looking to lose weight.

The biggest selling point is, of course, the rapid weight loss and a general sense of well-being. This diet is particularly effective for folks with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, women battling PCOD or menopausal symptoms or with anyone having a lot of weight to lose due to metabolic conditions.

You must, however, remember that following this diet requires a complete lifestyle change and it can be a real test of your willpower.  It is generally safe for an average healthy person but like all diets, it has its caveats. You need t to evaluate your fitness before commencing with the diet.

Be careful if you have a frail constitution or suffering from any major health issue. In that case, you must consult an expert as some people find it difficult to cope with the adjustments that the body makes when it is deprived of carbs

Long-term ramifications of the ketogenic diet on your body

The immediate symptoms you may suffer from including Keto flu (feeling run down), fatigue, irritability, muscular cramps, kidney stones or gout, sleep issues, constipation or Keto rash.  These symptoms may be because of lack of bile to handle the fats coming out of the liver.

For more information read Soulguru’s article on Gallbladder and bile  

Also, you can alleviate these symptoms by the consumption of two main types of nutrients – B vitamins and electrolytes (minerals like potassium, calcium, sodium, and chlorides).

Surprisingly, physical symptoms like frequent urination, dry mouth, bad breath reduced hunger, and increased energy actually indicate that you are on the right track with the diet.

For those, for whom this diet has worked, swear by its immense benefits which go way beyond weight loss. They face cravings and hunger pangs, have better memory, improved blood sugar and cholesterol, more energy and an amazing skin along with improved mood and sleep plus reduced inflammation.

For following ketogenic diet make sure that you only include healthy fats in your diet such as omega-3 fatty acids, ghee butter, cheese, nuts, coconut, and olive oils.

Application of the ketogenic diet in the Indian scenario 

Our everyday Indian cuisine largely comprises of fats and carbohydrates as we cannot imagine a single meal without potatoes, rice, rotis or some other fried food. However, for the keto diet, the nutrient intake should be around 70% fats, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates.  Keeping that in mind, you are free to consume all types of meats and eggs. Green leafy veggies are a must. Vegetarians can balance their protein intake from paneer and cheese. Most nuts, except pistachios, are allowed and berries can be consumed with ease.

Water is extremely important and the intake needs to be doubled to aid the process of flushing toxins. All tandoori preparations are a blessing and can be experimented upon with a variety of adjustments in seasonings and the marinades. Commonly made nonstarchy vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, all gourds, okra, and green leafy vegetables etc. are all keto friendly. Buttermilk or masala chaas is a great mid-meal option. Your craving for chappatis or rotis can be satiated through rotis made of almond flour or coconut flour. If you do find yourself hungry throughout the day, you can snack on nuts, seeds, cheeses, or peanut butter to curb your appetite. Fruits like bananas, avocados,  berries (particularly blueberries and raspberries) are keto friendly. 

Though the diet may initially seem difficult to follow, with enough motivation, determination and a little creativity you can achieve targets you set for yourself.  

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