So many of us jump on the latest diet bandwagon. Yet time and time again, diets fail us. That’s because the only way to succeed with a diet is to find one that works for you, personally. There is no “one size fits all.” I spoke to nutritionists and doctors to dissect a few trending diets. Whatever you choose, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or a dietitian first.
What is it
The ketogenic diet (often termed keto) is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. “The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It also turns fat into ketones in the liver, which can supply energy to the brain,” explains nutritionist Karishma Chawla. The diet is very filling and results in fat loss without counting calories or tracking your food. There are also other less obvious benefits like reduced hunger and a steady supply of energy. Renowned chef Amninder Sandhu who has been on the diet feels it’s an easy diet to follow if you eat meats. “I lost eight kilos in two months. You are allowed all things good like cheese, butter, cream and you still lose weight. So this diet is a total winner.” Apart from the fact that she dreamt of ice-cream for the entire duration there were no other side effects she adds.
The bloat in the body completely vanishes due to the lack of carbs within four days. But the body enters a mild ketotic state between four days and two weeks and a fully keto adapted state between three and six weeks. No wonder Keto is popular with actors who wish to lose weight quickly. Aamir Khan in Dangal is a prime example. “Initially actors used to go on super low carb diets which is a semi – effective tool at shredding but they soon realised that the hunger pangs, the loss of energy and the food cravings were not the most conducive to their hectic shoot and social schedule. This is when they started adopting Keto since it is devoid of all the ill effects of the low carb lifestyle. The high amount of fat in the diet imparts a sense of fullness along with great energy levels and reduced appetite,” explains Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Co-founder, Food Darzee a company that delivers Keto meals in Mumbai. Bhargava suggests multiple cycles that last between 35-45 days as an effective minimum period for best results. This prevents the body from plateauing, prevents psychological craving for carbohydrates and is enough time for the body to be Keto adapted he adds.
Foods to Avoid
In short, any food that is high in carbs should be limited. Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, beans, legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc. are a complete no-no. As also soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc. Low-fat or diet products are highly processed and often high in carbs. Avoid. Due to its carb content, many alcoholic beverages can throw you out of ketosis.
What you should know
Keto diet should be used only as a push at the end of the weight loss plan. Not as a lifestyle warns Chawla. “When your body is in the state of ketosis, your carb levels are as low as 20 gms which in nutrition ethics is an imbalanced state. You need 100 gms per day to prevent ketosis – the build up of ketones in the body which result in ketoacidosis, a medical emergency.” The other side effect is constipation. “Due to the lack of bulk in the stools that carbohydrates typically provide, constipation does set in but can be treated by smartly increasing the fibre and water intake. Also having adequate quantities of fat (ideally coconut oil) help in avoiding constipation,” explains Bhargava. The diet cannot be recommended to diabetic patients as the chance of a person entering hypoglycemia mode (when blood glucose level fall below 4 mm) are high. “People with hereditary hyperlipidemia (genetically elevated cholesterol) are not the ideal candidates since this is a fat based diet. Also, those with an absent gall bladder should avoid this diet as they wouldn’t be able to digest these amounts of fat due to the lower levels of the digestive enzyme bile,” cautions Bhargava. The ketogenic diet is highly diuretic. Hence, hydrate yourself well and add salt to your food to keep your low blood pressure in check. Make sure to have your multivitamin, Omega 3, Vitamin E and C supplements. Also have your probiotics.
When eating out
It is not very hard to stick to your keto diet when eating out. Most restaurants offer some kind of meat or fish-based dish. Order this, and replace any high-carb food with extra vegetables. Egg-based meals are also a great option, such as an omelet or eggs and bacon. Another favorite is bun-less burgers. You could also leave the bun and swap the fries for vegetables instead. Add extra avocado, cheese, bacon or eggs. For dessert, ask for a mixed cheese board or double cream with berries.
A typical Keto meal for a 6 feet 3 inches 90 kg man from Food Darzee
Veg: Zucchini and cheese patty with Guacamole sour cream and tomato salsa
Non veg: 3 whole egg cheese omelet with low carb veggies like tomato mushroom bell peppers cooked in 2 tablespoons of olive oil / ghee with a side of non processed sausages / bacon / ham
And a glass of black coffee with a little heavy cream
Veg: Paneer Makhni/ Paneer Tikka/ Malai Paneer with cauliflower rice
Non veg: A portion of butter chicken (unsweetened or mildly sweetened with heavy cream) with roti made from almond / walnut / flaxseed flour (yes this is totally possible)
Evening snack (post workout since any form of resistance training is very important on keto): A cookies and cream custard (whey protein + cream) topped with a flaxseed, macademia crumble.
Veg: Pan fried cottage cheese with a green leafy salad topped with olive oil
Non veg: Steamed /smoked salmon with a side of sautéed veggies in ghee / olive
What is it
According to Ayurveda we are made up of three different ‘body types’ known as doshas. These are: vata, pitta and kapha, each of which represents two of the five universal elements (a combination of ether, air, fire, water, earth). Your dosha reflects your temperament, metabolism, energy level, learning style, and many other aspects of the body, mind and emotions. “Ayurvedic philosophies believe we each contain varying proportions of each dosha, generally one or two in dominance. Our naturally dominant dosha does not signify imbalance, but rather how – or who – we are in our most healthy, balanced state,” explains Dr Arun Pillai, Director of Spa & Wellness, Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa in Pune. The retreat has recently introduced a dosha diet which includes cereal basket topped with fruits and nut milk; spinach stuffed amaranths and walnuts idli and pumpkin and coconut soup, beetroot kababs, and tridoshik roti.
When the doshas are balanced, we are healthy; when they are unbalanced, we develop disease, which usually result in skin issues, poor digestion, insomnia, irritability and anxiety. “To balance a Vata type, we need to stick to a daily routine and regular sleeping pattern. We should eat heavy, hearty foods such as stews and broths. For a Pitta type, who is an excessive worker, we should avoid skipping meals or conversely, overeating at meals. We are most well-suited to a vegetarian diet with fruits and raw vegetables. We should stay away from spicy foods. Kapha types require lots of sleep and have slow digestion, so we need regular exercise and should avoid rich dairy foods, meat, and fried foods,” explains Dr Gita Ramesh, JT MD, Kairali Ayurvedic Group.
Ayurveda does not focus on short-term gains, only to fail us later, so you won’t need to starve yourself, or unrealistically limit the variety of foods that you can enjoy. Nor will you quickly lose a few kilos only to see them creep back on. “Instead, you will be following a clear and time-tested path toward optimal health. Results will be visible only after a period of six months,” explains Dr Pillai.
What’s your dominant dosha?
Knowing your dosha involves visiting an Ayurveda practitioner and filling out a detailed questionnaire regarding your body type, skin type, appetite, digestion, physical activity level, emotional response when stressed, sleep pattern, etc. If you are unsure, you are expected to select the answer that most closely describes you. Based on the responses your dosha is determined. Please note that you could a particular dosha type but heading towards another dosha (like for instance: you could be Pitta moving towards Vata)
Typical characteristics of a Vata personality involves: Light build, naturally creative, sensitive, prefer warm, humid climates, dry skin…
Some typical Pitta characteristics involve: Medium, muscular built, productive, hard-working, irritable,
prefers cold climates, fair skin…
Kapha dominant people are: Heavy built, stable, methodical
easy-going, prefers warm, dry climates, oily skin…
Equal proportions of two (‘bidoshic) or all doshas (‘tridoshic’) is also possible.
Whole 30 Diet
What is it
Whole 30 is a nutritional programme developed in 2009 by two certified sports nutritionists who promoted it as a way to lose weight, reset your metabolism and reshape your relationship with food in 30 days. The diet focuses on the idea that certain food groups may negatively affect your health and fitness. Therefore, eliminating these foods from your diet is supposed to help your body recover from the negative effects and promote long-term health. For those just tuning in, this diet skips sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy for 30 days. It permits meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit and natural fats like vegetable oils, coconut oil and tree nuts. Basically, you have to eat three meals a day, made with Whole 30-approved ingredients (think: meats, seafood, veggies and eggs). “The advantages of this diet is that it eliminates junk, sugar, alcohol and processed foods that deprive the body of essential nutrients. So in a way this diet energizing the body. Refined carbohydrates that only increase sugar levels and leads to fat gain are also off limits. The diet also gives an insight about reading labels to look for hidden sugars and advocates lots of veggies,” explains Chawla. After the initial 30 days, slowly reintroduce the foods you miss, while monitoring the effects they have on your body. The diet has a strict set of rules and no cheating is allowed. Going off-track entails starting the challenge over from day one. Also, weighing yourself is strictly reserved for days 1 and 30 of the programme.
What you can eat
When it comes to what you can and can’t eat on Whole 30, the rules are pretty hard and fast, and there’s a lot (including dairy, added sugar and alcohol) on the no-fly list. Here what you can eat: Vegetables (including potatoes), fruits (in moderation. Remember that you’re trying to limit your sugar intake during the 30 days), unprocessed meats, seafood (fish and shellfish get the Whole 30 nod of approval), eggs, nuts and seeds (all nuts and seeds are okay, with one exception: peanuts, because they are a legume), oils (olive oil, coconut oil and ghee, which is a type of clarified butter, is also allowed), coffee (without any milk products or sugar to lighten it up).
What you should know
Eventually being low on fibrous complex carbohydrates could leave the body in a state of fatigue. “The Whole 30 diet completely eliminates complex carbohydrates that act as a source of energy for the body which also helps us maintain stabilized blood sugar levels. Also, diabetics need to be careful since this diet could lead them to hypoglycemia. The programme does not mention portion sizes. Hence, excess of protein can also get converted into fat,” cautions Chawla.
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR