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KETO DIET- Yes or No?


Keto diet or the Ketogenic diet is the most popular diet craze of 2018. It is also called HFLC or high fat, low carb diet. In this diet plan, one is allowed to eat foods that are high in fat, moderate in protein but low in carbohydrates. The emphasis is not on starvation of calories but starvation of carb rich food. So while butter, eggs, cheese, nuts, yoghurts are all highly recommended in this diet; intake of roti, rice and even fruits is restricted.

What is the science on which it is based?

When you are eating such less carbs, your body enters a state called Ketosis. During this state, the body burns fats for fuel or energy, instead of carbs. Fans and followers of this diet craze believe this leads to fat loss or weight loss. So is it true? While it is true that you may initially lose some weight, this weight loss is only temporary and does not sustain in the long run.

What about the side effects?

Keto diets came into existence in 1920s and was created for epilepsy. But as a general weight-loss plan, keto is more controversial. We need to understand that carbs are extremely vital energy giving fuel for our body. A low carb diet will make you feel extremely fatigued and cranky. On top of it, if you are also exercising and working out to lose weight, then fuelling your body right by eating carbs is a must.


You need carbs to meet your daily quota of fibre intake. Protein and fat foods contain almost negligible dietary fibre. Starving yourself of fibre and prebiotic rich carb foods like wholegrains, fruits etc., will cause gastro intestinal issues like diarrhoea and constipation


The third and most important point is about keto acidosis. When the body stores up too many ketones, which are produced when burning fat, the blood becomes too acidic and can damage the livers, kidneys and the brain. That’s why those with diabetes should especially refrain from this diet. Some studies even suggest that following a low carb and high fat diet, may actually increase a person’s risk of diabetes, heart diseases and cancer.

Finally, before you set yourself up to embark on this buzzy eating plan, remember that even if you do lose weight on this, it might actually be a lot of lean muscle tissue. Losing muscle is not going to make you look fit and strong. Also, you are bound to regain a lot of the weight as soon as you go back on carbs. But now, instead of regaining lean muscle, you’re likely to gain fat. This can have lasting effects on your metabolic rate, and also on your body weight long-term.

So do ask yourself if all this is really worth it?

Unsure about the right diet for you? Are you torn between what you’d love to eat and what you hear is unhealthy for you? Sign up for a one-on-one nutrition & diet consultation with leading Mumbai dietitian Munmun Ganeriwal

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Mayo Clinic: Why the keto diet is more hype than help for most people

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When it comes to any discussion on diets for weight loss, carbohydrates (or “carbs”) seem to be everyone’s punching bag, an easy scapegoat for everything that resulted in weight gain. It is quite common to see, hear and read about people proudly swearing by a “low carb” or “no carb” diet as they embark on their weight loss journey.

However, the problem with this approach is that people are often making ‘sacrifices’ with their food that they don’t have to or should not. The real culprit behind weight gain is often not the carbs themselves but a combination of factors such as an imbalanced diet, improper eating habits, lack of exercise and undesirable lifestyle choices. So, let’s dispel some of the common myths about carbs, highlight their importance and make a case for their inclusion in a wholesome diet.

Four good reasons to include carbs in your diet-

1. Fuel for the brain: Carbs provide the glucose that is the fuel for the brain. Without this essential supply of fuel, one will experience what is often referred to as ‘brain fog’ which is characterised by a lack of mental alertness, lethargy and low-energy. For us to be productive at work, the sense of being ‘tuned-in’ mentally and energy running through us are important, and we know the source of that, don’t we?

2. Get better sleep: Advocates of “carbs deprivation” recommend avoiding carbs completely at night. What is often not understood is that without feeding carbs to the body for dinner, one’s sleep is likely to be impacted. This is because carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain; tryptophan gets converted to melatonin – a hormone that induces sleep- in the brain. Lesser the amount of tryptophan available to the brain, lesser is the melatonin produced, and consequently, lesser is the quantity of sleep one will get. As we have emphasised from time to time, sound and restful sleep is necessary to lose weight and also prevent NCDs (non-communicable diseases) or lifestyle ailments like diabetes

3. Essential for fat loss: There is an old maxim that is repeated often in the world of diet, nutrition and weightloss: “Fats burn in the flame of the carbohydrates”. What it implies is that fats are ‘burnt’ and utilised for energy in the presence of carbohydrates. So, if you are looking to lose fat and weight, you do need carbs to help you accomplish that goal!

4. Source of valuable fiber: The non-digestible component of carbohydrate food (plant fibers) like that found in whole grains, rice, banana, wheat, etc – known as prebiotics– stimulate the growth and induce changes to the composition of gut microbial populations. The gut microbiome (probiotics) play a very important role in the overall health of a person—which is why there are benefits of traditional Indian pickles – whether it be in contributing to weight loss or fighting against diseases like cancer or diabetes.

Do’s and Don’ts with consuming carbs

Now that the importance and benefits of carbohydrates in your diet are clarified, let’s note some tips on the type of carbs to take in and the ones to avoid.

1. Do include millets in your diet: Complement your intake of regular sources such as rice and wheat with millets such as jowar, bajra, ragi. These millets are nutritionally superior due to higher levels of protein with a more balanced amino acid profile, crude fiber and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, calcium, iron. As importantly, production and consumption of millets can contribute substantially in the fight against targeted hunger and mitigate the effect of climate change in long run. So, not only will you be benefiting yourself by complementing your diet with millets but also benefiting the cause of environmental sustainability! In fact, a proposal has been submitted by the Indian Government to the United Nations to declare 2018 as the International Year of Millets, to create global awareness about the benefits of millets.

2. Don’t consume carbs from refined and processed food items: Avoid packaged food like muffins, breads, biscuits and cakes that are loaded with trans fat, preservatives, emulsifiers, added colours etc. Feel free to enjoy our home-made meals like roti, thepla, bhakri; our traditional Indian breakfast items such as dosa, poha, idli; not only are they good sources of carbs, but also provide fibre, vitamins, amino acids, minerals and other nutrients.

So, the key takeaway that we’d like you to leave with is: when it comes to weight loss, think less of “low carbs” and “no carbs” and be discerning about the good carbs and the right ones!

Read related articles on nutrition

Proteins for vegetarians in Indian diets

Cholesterol and Indian diet: Time to stop worrying

Confused by the misinformation about potential health problems with traditional Indian foods? Get in touch with award-winning Mumbai dietitian and nutritionist, Munmun Ganeriwal, a strong advocate of the holistic, wellness benefits of fresh, local, and traditional Indian foods.

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