If you have assembled enough courage to dabble in fitness, you might as well give ketosis a chance to shape and tone your body as per your requirement. Modern-day approaches for weight loss have everything to do with shedding maximum flab in minimum time, only to pile on to your confusion as to what to choose and what kind of dietary plan would do the trick for you. The ketogenic diet is one of the many diets that centers on weight loss but, now here is the catch, without starving yourself! Let’s understand what is, in fact, a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet, also called LCHF wherein the body generates ketones in the liver to be used as energy. In a high carbohydrate diet, the body produces glucose(the primary source of energy) and insulin leading for the fats to be stored. Reducing carb intake allows our body to operate in a state called ketosis. The idea is depriving yourself of just the carbohydrates to get the best results and not of all food.
Moreover, it works around the appetite increasing hormone called ‘ghrelin’. After eating, this hormone drops, varying inversely with how overweight one is. So whenever we lose weight in a carb diet, the ghrelin levels rise and the body feels starved resulting in their inevitable failure. However, this is not the case in a keto diet.
Aabha found the answer to her problems in the keto diet and let’s see how she accomplished her goal of getting a perfect figure.
I have been living in Mumbai for a while now and all the people around me, my friends are super fit. Not that I was fat to begin with, certainly not from Punjabi standards, it is just one of those things you feel when you are in the company of extremely fit people. They kind of inspired me to maintain a figure and keep a toned body.
How did you discover keto diet?
I got to know about keto from my friends who had successfully tried this diet. When I went to the gym for the first time, there was no treadmill to my astonishment. I had avoided cardio initially and the fact that there was no cardio in the gym helped reinforce my resolve to pursue what I sought out to in that gym itself. Keto is 70% diet and 30% workout. So it’s mainly diet centric and a very flexible one. You can eat almost everything except carbohydrates and sweets.
Why did you choose keto diet over other diets?
Like I said, I am averse to mainstream dieting. I cannot starve my way to a perfect body. Instead, I would choose a diet that amalgamates all kinds of nutrients. I had seen positive results with my friends and they encouraged me to go for it. Also, it does not restrict me to a specific diet plan. I can eat anything at any time. One thing was clear to me that I wanted a perfectly toned body. I had this vision and keto diet helped me realize it in almost no time.
How has keto diet changed your life?
To be able to lose weight whilst not starving myself was something I was not familiarized with prior to this experience. Undoubtedly, keto has changed my life and for the good. I need to eat every three hours. I can eat everything from chicken to paneer. Even when I go out for dinner with my family or my friends, my diet allows me to eat anything I want with the exception of carbohydrates. So I am practically eating everything. I love my body right now and I plan to continue doing it for as long as I can.
How to get started with keto diet / How you started with keto diet?
It was all in my head when I started working out. I began with the mindset that it was a difficult road ahead. But it was only after a span of two weeks that I got the hang of it and thereafter, there was no looking back. I absolutely love going to the gym now. You do not have any particular diet to follow. All you need is a carbohydrate-free diet and you are good to go. The workout is a must. My focus was on inch loss since I was never really that fat. More than weight, I wanted to shed extra inches. And keto diet came in extremely handy. As of now, I have lost 3 to 4 inches from every part of my body and this is quite an achievement for me.
Did you experience keto flu or did u feel tired/dizzy/weak while doing this diet? How did you handle it?
Yes, I did experience all of these. Initially, keto diet is incredibly intimidating to follow and naturally so. I have been taking carbohydrates all my life and to cut down on them all of a sudden is bound to have consequences. Anyway, it takes 18-21 days for the body to get acclimatized with keto. Once you are past this period, half your battle is won! The positive results will also drive you towards continuing keto. Personally, the results got me so excited that I do not like to go back to carbs now. When you do feel dizzy or weak, drink lemon water with salt. This will give you some energy. Drink a lot of water. I have 3-4 liters of water every day. You are advised to do the same.
Do you count and track macros strictly
Initially, I had to. I was allowed to have 50 gms of protein. So, I would keep a track of the amount of protein I was having. After a point of time, my body was habituated of it and it accepted only 50 gms of protein. I did not need to measure it after that.
How long did it take you to get into ketosis state? How did you find out you were in ketosis state or not?
In keto, u start seeing the change after 20 days. Initial 20 days u won’t feel the difference but after that, there is a difference every week. Generally, it takes 15-20 days. The color of my urine changed. It became more like mango yellow. If at the beginning you feel tired more often than it is a sign that you are on the right track. However, once your body adjusts to the carb-free diet, you will notice the opposite effect. You will feel high on energy after the body has accustomed to the keto.
Did your weight loss stall suddenly or did you ever encounter a plateau? If so, how did you get over it?
No, this was never an issue for me. My weight is 45 right now and it fluctuates between 45-47. Again, losing weight was never my priority. I wanted to be in shape so the question of encountering a plateau is immaterial.
Do you exercise? What does your workout routine look like?
- I go to the gym six days a week.
- I only do CrossFit and weight training.
- The workout routine is pretty random. Every day, I encounter a surprise. My trainer makes sure that things stay interesting and exciting.
- Drills like tire flip, short knees, and high knees, bear crawl are some of the exercises that my trainer makes me do. Then there are rope exercises as well.
- I also do deadlifts.
- Basically, my trainer works on increasing my strength. Crossfit helps you gain a lot of stamina. So, I like to work on my internal strength.
I start my day with lukewarm water with lemon and cinnamon powder in it. Then, I have black coffee before going to the gym at 10 a.m. After coming back, I have eggs along with veggies followed by green tea in an hour. After a gap of two hours, I again eat something, anything that I can find at my home. In the evening, almonds are a must-have. While on keto, almonds are almost like a wholesome food. At night, I generally have either grilled chicken or tandoori chicken. Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, asparagus, spinach, basically all the green veggies are allowed barring the peas because they are sweet and keto strongly repels sweet.
Do you take any supplements?
I take only multivitamins and no other supplements. My motive is not to be muscular so I don’t really need supplements. Whatever amount of nutrients are required, my diet and multivitamins fulfill that.
What is your motivation to keep on track and stay focused?
I would say the relatively faster results I got. I was so happy with my body that nothing else mattered. Right now, I want my body to be toned a bit more so I am continuing with keto. The people I am surrounded with are super fit and I have seen the results of this diet on them and now even on me. So, the positive results are my biggest motivation.
Is this diet healthy especially for women? Not all fats are created equally, how do you keep a track of everything?
I am not doing this forever. It may be unhealthy if done for a period longer than say, six months, at one stretch. As a matter of fact, nobody can do keto for more than 2-3 months. I was also on keto for 2 months and then I took a break wherein in the afternoon, I had bread or chapati and rice with dal, a low-fat diet basically. During this period, you can have carbohydrate but then you should not be having them at night. That is a strict no as your body would get out of its conditioning that it has achieved in the two months. After this break, I again got back to my keto diet.
Isn’t cutting out carbs from your diet and sudden high intake of fats bad for you?
This low carbohydrate diet is never for a lifetime. Even for someone who is fat can only continue it for six months and not more than that. After your transformation, you can start with carbohydrates again but in a measured and monitored way. So, I am not cutting out on them from my diet forever. It is only for a limited period until I have reached my goal.
Keto diet raises cholesterol and increases the chance of heart attack. Do you think you are successful in the keto way of eating?
Being a Punjabi, my food is any way cooked in a lot of ghee. Plus, the diet is not to be followed for a very long period of time. So, there is no case of increased risk of heart attack. I think my results speak for themselves. I reckon I am successful in keto way of eating. Keto has pretty much been shaping me for the last one year and I am more than happy to have started it. I would recommend it to everyone.
Ketosis promotes water and electrolytes lost. How do you make sure that you meet your daily requirements?
I drink 3-4 liters of water every day. My body reacts well to ketosis. There have been no signs of retaliation by the body and it seems to be accepting the diet I am on. Just make sure you drink enough water to compensate for the electrolytes loss and lack of micronutrients. My diet is rich in fiber and proteins and so far everything has been close to perfect.
How did you manage to travel/eat out/go to parties on this diet?
The best thing about the ketogenic diet is that you can never run out of things to eat. I can literally have anything when I am out; chicken, paneer, mushroom, etc. Just no carbohydrates and everything else! So, I am never really out of options. My friends would not believe that I was on a diet as I could eat almost everything.
Did your family and friends support this diet?
Initially, my mother did express her misgivings about it. But when she saw the transformation in me, she was fine with it. In fact, she encouraged me to continue my keto diet. So long as they see positive results, my family does not mind me following the keto diet. They would object if there wasn’t any transformation or maybe when the progress was stagnant but not otherwise.
How occasionally do you cheat on this diet?
I cheat after 1.5 months. I take one weekend wherein I cheat. My favorite cheat meal is dal khichdi, rajma rice or even kadi rice since I get to eat everything else when I am on keto but this. So, I crave for home cooked food.
Intermittent fasting, is often recommended along with a keto diet? Is IMF good for women?
I am not on intermittent fasting as of now. Nevertheless, it is recommended. While on keto, it is important to know that your success rate is not measured only by the fact that you have a high fat and low carb diet but also by when you eat, how you eat, how much amount you have of fats and other nutrients. Intermittent fasting is a dietary practice of restricting your food consumption to a specific span of time. A popular intermittent fasting strategy, for instance, is fasting during an 18-hour window of time and eating during the 6-hour window of time that is left in the day. You are probably wondering how there could possibly be a benefit to eating less frequently that goes beyond what you are already getting with a ketogenic diet. Restricting carbohydrates and eating enough fat and protein does come with a plethora of health benefits, but when you add intermittent fasting to your lifestyle you can increase energy and reverse aging. So yes, it is recommended at times.
What precautions should women take while doing the keto diet?
Not only women, for everyone who starts with keto, it is important to keep in mind that you will feel out of sorts in the beginning. Drink a lot of water and lemon water with salt. Also, there will come a time when you’d feel like giving up keto. Try resisting the temptation for carbohydrates and sweets. If sweets are your kryptonite, you can try keto cakes. I used to order them from Flour Fairy Bakers in Amritsar. Do not cave into any of the temptations. Stick to your low carb diet.
Do you think the keto diet is expensive?
No, not really. You can substitute asparagus with beans, broccoli with cauliflower. If there’s anything that remotely comes close to being expensive, you can always substitute it with something that is more plebeian. You need to eat vegetables and everything that you eat on a regular basis. So, there is not really the additional expense that you need to bear while you are on keto. It’s most basic.
For vegetarians, it is slightly tougher but if you have eggs also, you have nothing to worry about. Eat as many eggs as many times in a day.
Do you think the keto diet is a long-term solution? For how long can one follow this diet?
The doctors and experts themselves have been divided in recommending keto for long-term. Some say it is a long-term solution if you want to cure health problems like diabetes. While others express serious reservations against following keto long term. They merely call it a “fad diet” and do not advise it for a lifetime. It is one thing to cut down muffins, it’s another to cut down carbohydrates entirely. I would say, it depends from person to person. For me, keto has done wonders! But still, it should not be followed long term. You cannot and must not follow keto for more than 2-3 months anyway. After a gap of probably a month of carbohydrate intake, you can get back to your keto diet.
What advice would you give to someone who is just going to start the keto diet?
- It is extremely essential to be mentally prepared. I will be honest- keto diet is not very easy to start with. You will experience mood swings, feel fatigued and lethargic. But it is going to be a matter of a few days. After your body has adjusted to low carbohydrate routine, you will face problems no more! Trust me, it is the easiest diet to follow.
- Again, drink lots and lots of water. Stay hydrated.
- In case you face any problems, do not panic and go to your doctor. You will feel a little under the weather initially, and if the problem aggravates, you can always consult a doctor.
- Resist from drinking alcohol while on keto. You need to be completely off alcohol to experience best results of keto on our body.
My experience with keto has been absolutely amazing. Even at this point, I always look forward to working out every day and maintaining my diet. I really enjoy it. If you are looking to lose weight without compromising on your appetite, keto is your go-to diet regime.