So I moved back to Dubai after 4 years of college in India (i.e. after 4 years of hostel ‘food’) and I immediately landed an internship with Naomi (i.e. UNLIMITED food). Needless to say, this resulted in me looking like the Michellin man very soon. 🤰
I’m not a big fan of traditional diets or exercise, nor do I have the patience to stick with it for months to actually see results! I went so far as to visiting the gym and enquiring about their sessions, but as soon as I found out that I was guaranteed only a TWO kg drop at the end of a month, I immediately left. 🏃♀️ I’ve tried making my own diet plans with only 1200 calories per day, incorporating all my favourite food, but I soon gave this up because the food didn’t really fill me up. I even tried the General Motors Diet but broke it on day 2 when my mom tempted me with a spoon of MILK POWDER. Yes, I am ashamed of myself. 🤦♀️
So I needed to lose weight while a) still eating all my favourite food b) eating enough to fill me up c) didn’t require me/my mom to cook separately 3 times a day (since the rest of my family was eating normally) d) didn’t have to be accompanied by too much exercise. 🤣
But to my surprise, a diet like this did actually exist! I had heard of the Keto diet before but didn’t know too much about it until one of my relatives actually went on it and gave us glowing reviews. Allow me to break it down. 💁
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The general rule is that you cut down on carbohydrates and increase your protein and fat intake. Your body usually burns down carbohydrates to produce energy for you. This results in all the fat that you eat getting stored in your body as, well, fat. 😮 When you stop eating carbs, your body turns to the fat. The fat in your body starts getting burned for energy, and hence you lose weight since it’s not getting stored! Apart from the rapid weight loss, it even increases your concentration levels + lowers your appetite (I didn’t even think this was possible for me! 😂).
SO MANY patients with diabetes have said that once they went on Keto, they were able to stop taking their medication and their blood sugar levels stayed normal. 😯 It even increases athletic performance and is supposed to be great for those with PCOS. Another comment I saw a few times were that some people lost only 2-3 kgs in a month, but they lost a lot of inches! It all depends on your body, but you will almost surely see results. 😍
WHAT DID I DO?
There are different kinds of Keto – Strict Keto, Dirty Keto, Lazy Keto and LCHF (low carb high fat).
What I did was something between Dirty Keto and Lazy Keto. There are methods that others follow, like calculating your macros and staying within those limits, taking supplements, testing with ketone strips, etc. but I didn’t really follow any of that. 🤷
What I did was stopped eating all sugar + carbs. For breakfast, I would have various forms of egg, but very soon got tired of it. So I started having a cup of bulletproof coffee and a handful of nuts. Initially, when my mom told me that this was what was recommended in the Keto diet, I thought it would be impossible. 😲 I snack ten million times a day! How was I supposed to survive on some coffee and nuts until lunch?! But surprisingly enough, I didn’t feel hungry at all. I would often only realize it was lunch time when I smelled my colleagues opening their lunch. 🤯
Bulletproof coffee incorporates a lot of butter, so you don’t feel hungry for a long time. The buttery taste isn’t too strong, but it took me a week or so to get used to the taste. I’m still not a big fan of it, but my mom loves it, so it all boils down to your personal taste. 🤷
A common misconception about Keto is that there are very few options and you soon get sick of it. I did not feel this at all. Since you can have any kind of protein (chicken, mutton, beef, fish, etc.), I had a great time! 🤩 Lunch for me was usually a salad + protein. One day it would be grilled chicken, the next day I had shrimp stir-fry, then it would be Indian style roasted beef, followed by butter paneer masala..the options are endless! 🤤 The best part about this was, I could eat most of the same food my family ate! If they were having butter chicken and paratha/bread, I would have the same butter chicken but substitute the bread for a salad. 🥗 This means you don’t have to cook 2 different kinds of food for you and your family. We even experimented with cauliflower rice once. My mom was making chicken biryani for the family, so she set aside some of the chicken + masala and mixed it in with cauliflower rice – and it was DELICIOUS! My very own Keto biryani. 😍 (P.S. Cauliflower rice is literally just crushing cauliflower chunks in a food processor and then cooking it with a little oil, salt and pepper).
Dinner was of a similar format, protein + a salad. To make sure I was having a lot of fat, my protein would usually be loaded with a lot of butter/CHEESE! I mean, YUM! 🧀 Not so much that it got sickening, my mum is a great cook so I lucked out there. I’ve read of people drinking teaspoons of olive oil because they didn’t reach the fat limit they were supposed to, but I didn’t because a) like I said, I didn’t really calculate my macros and my limits and stick to it and b) ew. 🤢
Additionally, you’re supposed to drink a lot of water as well. I’ve never been very good at this, but I got a big bottle and placed it on my desk at work and did considerably increase how much water I drink a day. Still nowhere close to 3-4 liters like my parents, but better than before. 😃
One thing I desperately missed was my sugar. I’m a dessert-gal and the thought of not having sugar terrified me. 😩 I was told that having dark chocolate (75% and above) would be ok once in a while. So what I did was, I bought a big bar of Schogetten. Not only is it 75%, it also comes in small cubes, so I’d pop in a cube or 2 every day. It was bitter enough that I didn’t keep eating it, yet chocolatey enough to make me feel like I had eaten a bit of sugar. 😉 I do recommend sticking to a brand you’re not a big fan of. I find Lindt’s Dark Chocolate insanely delicious, but if I buy that instead of Schogetten I would keep eating it the whole day. There are artificial sweeteners available (do your research properly though, only some are safe!), and there are countless recipes online for Keto cheesecakes, Keto brownies and other various Keto desserts. 🍰 Many bakeries now do Keto desserts as well. One place I’m aware of is Sweet Lane Cakes, and a lot of people who tried them out said they were amazing. I personally haven’t tried any sweeteners, making Keto desserts myself or tasted any Keto desserts from any bakery – but soon, hopefully! 🤞
DID I CHEAT AND DID I EXERCISE?
Did I cheat – yes. 🤭 We had guests over so I had biryani once, and then we went out in the weekend and I had paratha just because. I had tried going on Keto before, but I had to stop when I attended my cousin’s wedding. It was 5 days of gorging on carbs and dessert continuously (2-3 times a day!) and I thought I would’ve gained a ton of weight by the time I came back. But surprisingly I gained just around a little less than one kg. 😯 I think I would’ve gained more if I were eating food normally! I’ve also had dessert sometimes when I went on tastings, etc. If it was a one-time thing, I found that I didn’t really gain weight. The only difference it made was that my fat burning was slowed down for a bit. Only if I cheated continuously for many days would I gain weight. 😁
Did I exercise – no. Exercise does accelerate your fat burning, so if you’re looking for quicker results I would definitely recommend it. 👍 I’ve read that HIIT (high-intensity interval training) exercises are good while you’re on Keto and you can find a ton of tutorials on YouTube. The only exercise I really got those 2 weeks was walking to my office from the bus stop (10 minutes 🤭)…
A Keto diet is a great way to turn your body into a fat burning machine and see quick results. 😍 Granted, the first week may be a little tough because you have to figure out what kind of food you want, get over the voice in your head screaming at you when you continuously keep eating things loaded with cheese, get over the Keto flu 🤒 (This usually happens when your body is entering Ketosis. You may experience slight headaches and discomfort, but it wasn’t too bad for me), get used to the taste of Bulletproof coffee ☕, etc. But once you get into it, it’s really easy. You never feel hungry, your mind is sharper, you have more energy, your sugar cravings reduce and you drop kilos quick!
If you’re looking for a quick way to lose weight with minimal effort – this is the diet for you. 😁
Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on the Keto diet. All of the information provided above is what I’ve heard from my friends and family or what I’ve read online, combined with my personal experience.
Written and Researched by Zeba Bashir