It sounds almost too good to be true but a diet that promises health and longevity, relies on butter, cheese and oil to produce miraculous results. The ketogenic diet, a high fat, adequate protein and low carb intake plan, came into focus decades ago as a therapy to control epilepsy in children, but right now, it’s the new it-diet for weight watchers everywhere.
Sceptical though one may be of ingredients that don’t exactly tick the traditional boxes of balanced nutrition, science keeps throwing up conflicting advise that challenges everything you thought you knew about health and weight loss. Highly publicised latest findings that state foods high in fat and cholesterol don’t increase the risk of heart disease in healthy adults, has sparked a renewed interest in the ketogenic meal plan.
It’s based on the very simple principle that when you avoid carbohydrates, the body goes into ketosis, a metabolic state triggered by a lack of carbs. This, in turn, kicks off fat burning. Unlike other diet plans that recommend high protein to replace carbs, keto doesn’t, on the premise that proteins have way too many calories too.
I first heard of keto when friends I’d invited over, who are currently utterly absorbed in it, gave me specific instructions on what to cook. No bread, pasta, rice, or potatoes, or even balsamic vinegar in a salad because it contains sugar. Any cheese in a salad must be unprocessed. No fruits are permitted except berries and consuming alcohol will slow down weight loss.
Since misery loves company, 10 people I know are on the diet together, furiously exchanging recipes and their progress on a WhatsApp group. It’s also when I first learnt the term bulletproof coffee, keto’s most famous export. The cynical may rubbish it as the latest in a long line of fads for those desperate to try anything to lose weight. But for anyone courageous enough to drink coffee with two spoonfuls of butter and coconut oil in it, the least they deserve is staggering weight loss.
Ghastly though it sounds, heaps of white butter and coconut oil whipped into steaming hot coffee in a broth like consistency, kick-starts your metabolism, reduces those pesky hunger pangs, and my Keto following friends insist, gives you a clarity, similar to one induced by hallucinogens.
It’s debatable what skipping breakfast and replacing it with this bizarre concoction will ultimately do to you, but in the short term, if you can stick with it, the results are there. After drinking bulletproof coffee, and avoiding everything we consider essential in India (roti, rice, dal), my friends have all lost in excess of 10 kilos. It’s best not to bring up the deflating question of what happens once they revert to normal existence and indulge in regular foods. If you have a task at hand, a big one, like needing to shed serious weight, it seems perfectly logical to replace a healthy breakfast, one of three meals, with a drink that’s low in essential nutrients.
It’s unlikely, however, to work as a permanent lifestyle choice. The coffee buzz and the sudden burst of energy can fool you into thinking you’ve kept hunger at bay. It prepares you to skip an occasional meal, eventually changing your food habits. Till the realisation dawns that there are no shortcuts to weight loss, just small and consistent steps to lasting change.
Information and recipes available on the Facebook page Keto Kitchen (India) firstname.lastname@example.org