My Tryst With The Keto Diet

The struggle with the body weight is an on-going and a never ending one, and with the profession we are in, it doesn’t make it any easier to shed those kilos either. In the last couple of years I’ve piled on a lot of kilos and it doesn’t help that I am an inherently lethargic person who’d any day choose to sleep over working out. What I realised was that my food in take was never much, but my metabolism rate is slow and that topped with the lazy lifestyle didn’t help.

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I had been reading about the Ketogenic diet for a while now and knew quite a few people who’ve even adapted it as a lifestyle, but I was adamant that I will not subscribe to the diet till I consult with some doctor who can guide and be my mentor me in this process. This is where Food Darzee came in. Doctor Siddhant Bhargava, their co-founder and nutritionist, who’s known to have “shaped” many people’s lives through this initiative of theirs, was an old friend of mine from school and I had been following his journey and the overwhelming response their venture had been garnering. So recently I pinged Siddhant and requested him to mentor me in this journey, and well, that is how my journey begins.

Here are basic questions as explained by the Food Darzee website: 

Firstly, what is a ketogenic diet? 

The ketogenic diet is a strict but an extremely effective and scientifically sound diet. It’s a high fat, moderate protein and an extremely low carb diet where the liver produces ketone bodies from the breakdown of fat and that’s where it gets its name from. During this diet, foods rich in essential fats (MUFAs & PUFAs) and proteins are your best friends. Full-fat paneer, a dozen varieties of cheese, meats (white & red), oil, butter, ghee are going to become staples in your meals. And foods rich in carbohydrates or sugar are your worst enemies.

How does it work?

The mechanism behind this diet is fairly easy to comprehend. Normally, your body turns to glucose/carbohydrate as its primary source of energy. By depriving your body of all forms carbohydrates, your body can no longer continue to utilize carbs. The body now has two options for energy: fats or proteins. The breakdown of fats releases compounds known as ketone bodies. Hence, the name, the ketogenic (ketone producing) diet. These ketone bodies are transported to each cell of the body where they are further broken down to give you sustained energy. This state where ketones are oxidised to release energy is called nutritional ketosis and once every cell in the body is adapted to doing so, your body is then keto adapted or fat adapted. 

For more questions, check out this FAQ section:

The Procedure:

The team from Food Darzee had agreed to send me all 4 meals of the day, which include breakfast-lunch-snack-dinner. Before we started this diet, I was asked to fill up a form with all my details, medical history, food preference and weight. After this a diet plan was designed for me which included the dos and dont’s and a workout that I was supposed to follow, in addition to what I was already doing ( yoga and zumba).

I’ll be honest, I was really excited to get on to this regime as it seemed to be the thing that’ll finally help me shed some weight. But, this was going to be tougher than I thought. Also, I am a vegetarian, and that meant that I had to give up more than I thought.

The Journey: 

On the first day I woke up earlier than usual and my kept waiting for my breakfast to arrive (it usually arrives by 9:30AM) and the hunger and cravings were intensified. When the breakfast + lunch did arrive, I was extremely disappointed as I had forgot to mention to the team that I do not like strawberries! and well, the breakfast was a strawberry and cream bowl with almonds. Firstly, the portion size was almost 1/4 of what I’d usually eat and out of that also I ate just 3 spoons. Thankfully lunch was paneer makhani with a keto paratha (cheese + almond flour) and boy was it delicious! Also a point to note here is that my appetite kind of died down after lunch, so much so that I wasn’t willing to eat my evening snack and dinner. But eat I did, because thats all the nutrition that I was depending on.

My appetite was almost next to none the next day and I was catching what is called the “keto flu.” It is a natural reaction (almost like a feeling of withdrawal) your body undergoes when switching from burning glucose (sugar) as energy to burning fat instead. In fact, some people say the keto flu symptoms can actually feel similar to withdrawing from an addictive substance! I faced nausea, anxiety and restlessness.

The team at Food Darzee is literally available round the clock for everyone who subscribes to them. On that night I messaged them at 3AM as the restless was getting out of hand and I didn’t know what to do about it. Dr. Siddhant actually replied to me instantly and assured me that they are available any time I need them. I was asked to take an antacid and that relaxed me enough to make sleep. In the morning I woke up to a call by him, checking on me and assuring me once again that they are my partners in this journey.

PS: The key to keeping up with this diet was to ensure to keep having lots of water with salt or soda with lemon. 

The Food:

The food sent by Food Darzee is quite diversified and delicious and they allow you to let them know about their likes and dislikes and try to adjust as much as possible to make this into an appetising and positive experience for you. A menu is sent every morning around 8:30AM on Whatsapp, so you know exactly what is being delivered to you on that day. Every Friday one is expected to share their progress with them and to have it analysed. They serve meals from Monday to Saturday and on Sunday they help you plan in advance what you can eat and what not. Mind you, Sunday is not a cheat day.

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Paneer Makhani with keto paratha
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Paneer steak with veggies

Eating out is not prohibited, but you are limited to tikkas, grills and eggs – which ain’t bad at all! You have be conscious of the quantities that you are consuming though.

The main ingredients that they use for a non-vegetarian are eggs, chicken, Indian basa, olive oil, cheese, cream, almonds, walnuts and paneer. Similarly for vegetarians, the main ingredients are; olive oil, cheese, cream, almonds, walnuts and paneer. All meals are based around these ingredients with a side of green veggies. They make dishes from various cuisines; Indian gravies with keto roti, cauli biryani, risottos, Asian curries, flatbreads, pizza, keto rolls, keto shake, pav-bhaji, tacos, keto shake bowls, etc, and a dessert once in a week. It is approximately a 20 day cycle, before the dishes repeat themselves.

I also paused their subscription for a week and made my own meals to see how a person can follow a keto diet by cooking on their own. Trust me, it isn’t tough at all and you can customise your food according to your flavour leanings.

That said, if you are new to keto, it is advisable to subscribe to the Food Darzee meals as then they have total control over your nutrition intake and once your body has entered ketosis and you are more equipped with dealing with this diet, you can switch to making your own meals. 

The Workout: 

Whenever an individual sheds weight, there are 3 forms of weight loss:

a) Water weight b) Fat loss  c) Muscle loss

Now water weight is something which is very variable and very temporary. It is very subjective and is the weight that is lost in the first 3 days. This is the bloat that a person experiences and after losing this a person instantly feels light. (The first desirable effect of keto). Fat loss is something that is most desirable and commences once the body is in ketosis. Muscle loss is a necessary evil with every weight loss journey. The more muscle you lose the lower your metabolic rate gets and the more weight you put on once you’re off the diet. This is not to be confused to rebound weight gain (there is no rebound weight gain on keto). Absolute muscles mass basically governs your metabolic rate.

Hence the aim of any weight loss plan is to minimise muscle loss. The only way to do this is have enough protein (also fat when on keto) and resistance/weight/strength training. Too much cardio will cause muscle loss but cardio is important too but in just adequate amounts.

A Support Group: 

I was documenting my whole journey on my Instagram handle and that led to meeting people who were also following this diet. It helps to be a part of a community which tries to push and motivate each other while they take up this diet. I became acquainted called Srishti, who also had started the diet on the same day as I did and without realising we became an integral part of each other’s journey, sharing minute details of how we felt and ho we were coping with this. Also, a special mention to my friends and followers who kept motivating me at every stage and showered me with positivity. Trust me, it really helps. Thank you.

The Result: 

I lost around 6-7 kilos during this period and a few inches, but there is a long way to go. The best part is that this experience has turned me into a conscious foodie, where I am more watchful of what I eat and how much I eat. Also, I never thought I’d say this, but I am feeling more energised during my workouts. And well, my face has been glowing a lot!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue on the keto diet for more than 15 days as being a vegetarian I was finding it slightly tedious and also since I have a migraine issue, I suffered from 4 migraine strokes in this period, as nuts and cheese are known be triggers for a migraine attack if the quantity is not watched. So Ill advise that before getting into any diet, always consult all your doctors first.

Here are some questions I got Dr. Siddhant Bhargava to answer for me, that you might find useful: 

What happens when one takes 1-2 day break from ketosis? Does the process of getting back into it means that one needs to start from the scratch? 

Technically, it does mean starting from scratch, but wouldn’t term it as starting from square one.  Your body would get into ketosis a little faster the next time, but taking these breaks should happen maybe after 25 – 30 days when your body is already fat adapted and not earlier.

How does ketosis effect different age groups? Is it advisable for older people?

Older people need to be checked out if they have reduced bone density. If that’s not the case then they can also go ahead. 

If the weight loss is so drastic, does it tend to come back?

The water retention that you get rid of in the first couple of days does come back as carbohydrates are added to the diet. But with a correct and systematic wean off and responsible maintenance it doesn’t come back.

What if someone doesn’t workout but follows the keto diet, what is the effect and change rate on their bodies?

The effect is good, but there might be a little slowing down of metabolism if you don’t workout. This puts you at a little risk of putting on weight if you don’t take extra care. 

* In case of any queries, please leave a comment or write to me at delectable.reveries@gmail.com 

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