I have struggled with my weight for some time now, but I decided to make a change. While I exercise regularly, diets have never been my forte. So when a friend who was well aware of my distaste for diets suggested the high protein Ketogenic diet, I was intrigued.
A quick Google search revealed how the Keto diet was simple yet effective -- not only did it limit carb intake but it also increased the intake of fat. A treasure trove of information online pointed out why it was so popular. According to Diabetes.co.uk, the high protein foods and low carbohydrate diet help effectively manage blood sugar levels, control diabetes, and reduce weight. One of the ways our body gets its energy by burning body fat. Burning fat produces ketones, which is the acid that remains after burning fats.
However, I hit my first roadblock even before I started. With the entire diet plan reliant on high protein foods, how could a vegetarian get onto it? Don't get me wrong but vegetarians struggle a bit more than non-vegetarians when it comes to losing weight and drawing up a diet chart. For one, vegetarian diets typically comprise more carbohydrates than say, a non-vegetarian meat based diet.
Given this, I needed to figure out my good and bad carbs first. Here are some tips that helped me as I tested the Keto diet.
Tip # 1: Easing Into it
Eating and cooking in Keto is very focused on proteins, so I struggled initially as a vegetarian. The biggest challenge was to cut down on staples like rice and dal and resort to the high protein foods and low carbohydrate substitutes. My old lunches, for example, usually included two chapattis and a vegetable curry.
So instead of quitting carbs cold turkey when I started my Keto diet, I gave myself a few days. For lunch, I started with one chapatti and a bowl of green salad with some cubed cheese, initially. Later, I stopped the carbs completely and for proteins added paneer and cheese.
Tip # 2: Find Recipes That Fit Your Lifestyle
I don't have a lot of time in the morning, so my breakfast needs to be a quick fix. Earlier, it would comprise a single toast or a chapatti with milky tea. With white pasta, rice and bread out now, my breakfast was just green tea and a small bowl of paneer bhurjee.
The meal was as tasty as my old breakfasts and easy to cook, but it did require more prep work. To save time, I'd say, complete your preps the previous night so that breakfast is hassle-free the next morning.
Tip # 3: Draw Up a Weekly Menu to Keep on Track
I am your quintessential foodie. Though I refrain from eating out as much as possible, I love cooking, and I relish a variety at home. So, though the Keto diet guidelines felt restrictive at first, I read everything I could on how vegetarians could survive on a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Of course, foods like cheese, full cream and coconut milk were recommended, but the high-fat content made me pause. I looked for ways to include small servings of these vegetarian-friendly proteins along with the vegetarian meals more familiar to me.
This let me plan a weekly menu where I'd sketch out what to eat each day and which ingredients I'd need on hand. Having a weekly meal plan made food shopping easier, and it helped me understand what I was putting into my body. The more I learned, the more I felt like experimenting with new substitutes in my favourite meals or even try out new dishes altogether.
Tip # 4: Treat Yourself to Stay Motivated
When I switched to a Keto diet, my goal was to become healthy again. As anyone who's tried to do a 360 on their old food habits has realized, some weeks are better than others. However, I did find ways to motivate myself to get through those tough times. I created a weekly chart to monitor my health. Of course, eating healthy ensured an eight percent weight loss after three weeks. So, every time I felt low and wanted to give up, one look at the health chart would get me back on track.
If your goals are more related to a specific health condition like diabetes or heart disease that calls for a lifestyle change, find a way to reward yourself when you get through another tough week--this is where a movie or a spa visit is likely to help. Of course, avoid celebrating with food so you can stick to your health goals.
The Benefits of Keto
At the end of three weeks, I felt lighter, walking became easier and the stairs didn't scare me anymore. According to the NCBI, the Keto diet helps improve glycaemic levels and reduce medication amongst diabetics. Low blood glucose reduces the risk of coronary heart disease as well. The weeks have been tough but I've survived.
Though the Ketogenic diet has gained a lot of popularity lately, it is not a fad. It is a lifestyle that you must commit to. You're the only one that stands to gain ... A LOT!
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