On Keto? If You Must, Then Keep These Safeguards in Mind
I am not much in favour of any fad diet and least of all Keto diet, which I feel is a dangerous way to eat in the long term - whatever the end goal you are chasing. And I repeat, even if the end goal is quick weight loss.
I have written about the reasons why I don’t favour it multiple times but just to encapsulate:
- Keto is hard and the ratio it demands - 60-75% fat, 15-30% protein, and 5-10% carbs is hard to follow and maintain.
- The amount of fat one needs can't be healthy long term.
- My biggest grouse is that there is way too less fibre intake - there’s almost no fruit allowed, and eating tons of leafy vegetables is not everyone’s cup of tea (so mostly gets missed). Such low fibre is a perfect recipe to pack your gut and mess it up big time. That is why constipation is a BIG problem with those following keto.
- This kind of eating could lead to (and often does) severe deficiencies of multiple essential nutrients.
So I would much rather you steer clear of this diet (use it as a tool if you must on and off) and all other fad diets (whichever is in trend) and focus on eating good, healthy food that delivers enough of both the macroneutrients (protein, carbs, fats) and the micronutrients (nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes) - and your weight will take care of itself. I propagate the ‘eat all foods’ plan, supported by consistent habit changes - as these two strategies work very effectively together and deliver effective weight loss without compromising on your health.
But that said if you just must try out the Keto please be careful with it.
On Keto? Follow These Safeguards
No Overnight Switch: Don’t just overnight go from your regular carb-heavy diet to eating keto - it’ll shock your system and may even lead to something called “keto flu,” leading to symptoms like severe nausea, headaches and fatigue. Up your fat intake slowly, in batches for a week before actually starting the diet.
Educate yourself. You need to become a pro at distinguishing between good fats and bad fats, healthy fats and those that will clog up your system completely. Plating some more healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seed butters, seeds, cold pressed oils, eggs, ghee, olives, fatty fish won’t pack up your gallbladder, liver and digestive system, where as too much cream, butter, red meat, processed meats, fried foods may prove to be your one way ticket to multiple disorders.
Packaged Food are a no no: Don’t just switch to ready-made food and processed out-of-packet dishes. You need to be extra careful about the foods that are high in sodium and in saturated fat - as these can really affect your cardiovascular health (and not really deliver the weight loss you are looking for).
Keep a check on the micronutrients: It is very easy to get deficient in some essential nutrients when on keto. So maybe you need to supplement. Folate (B9), biotin (B7), selenium, potassium, choline, vitamins A, E, D, chromium, iodine, magnesium, and molybdenum are among the most common deficiencies that can develop. You may need some digestive enzymes too.
Learn a few clever swaps. Think coconut flour, cauliflower rice, veggies zoodles, and roasted turnips. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on planning and preparing your meals. So be prepared for this time, effort and commitment.
Make friends with herbs and adaptogens. While you’ll steer clear of sugar on this diet, the cravings will surface (and how!), so keep herbs and spices handy, particularly cinnamon. Sprinkle it in tea liberally every day. And please don’t overdo the sweeteners just because you are missing sugar; in fact please don’t use any artificial sweeteners at all.
Keep energy levels up. Proactively do something to keep your energy levels up. Have more of green juices, matcha, miso soup, hibiscus tea, aloe vera, wheatgrass juice etc. These will help keep your stamina stable and let you go on with your life normally.
Don’t get too ambitious. Keep exercise low in the beginning, till your body adapts to this change in diet. Extreme exercise and keto don’t really mix that well in the beginning. Trying to do too much together is in fact a recipe for disaster.
Stay hydrated. Finally not drinking enough water on keto is the biggest mistake most people make. You need to drink lots and lots of water to flush off the toxins getting made in your body and to keep all your body systems chugging along well.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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