Fitness alert: Keto, Low-Carb diet and intermittent fasting decoded
There's no getting away from dieting and the latest trends in fitness. From Keto and Low Carb diets, health drinks and intermittent fasting to supplements, health practices and fitness products seem to have become the focus of most people's life. However, before you take up any of the routines, nutritionist Anupama Menon shares a word of caution. Here's what you need to know about Keto, Low Carb diets and Intermittent Fasting.
This diet was made as a solution for the condition of epilepsy, especially for children. And for this purpose, it was successful to a large extent. But this diet has emerged as a great option for weight loss and for issues related to the brain (like memory and focus). It has been touted to have great health benefits.
What foods can one eat in this and what needs to be avoided?
Proteins and copious amounts of fats are allowed (ghee, butter, olive oil nuts seeds etc). Carbs (only 20gms per day is allowed in this diet), fruits, dals, legumes, pulses, grains and starchy veggies need to be avoided.
Who can take up Keto diet?
People who are highly obese, those who want to control their insulin levels, those who need to improve their energy levels and those who have the innate ability to burn a lot of fat in their diet.
Why isn't it recommended for all?
This diet needs to be followed under the guidance of a medical professional/nutritionist. It involves the release of ketones and puts the body in a state of nutritional ketosis. This means that this diet is radically different from the usual balanced diet and it's logic lies in the use of fat to benefit the body's health and weight loss requirements. Since it is not a well-balanced diet involving the inclusion of all the food groups, it needs supplementation that is of great importance. It must also be whetted out for sustenance in an individual's lifestyle.
What deficiencies can occur if one makes Keto a habit?
Women need carbs for a healthy period. This diet heavily compromises on carbs. One maybe deficient on B-complex, vitamins and fibre on a long term ketogenic diet. In the absence of carbs, especially the highly stressed out ones feel worse and it could shoot their cortisol levels higher.
Any other shortcomings?
Constipation, inability to sustain the diet, no room for cheat meals, and it may mess with the female sex hormonal levels.
Most of our learnings on nutrition come from the west where the more popular flour is white flour, so it made sense for the west to cut off carbs from their diet. On the other hand this ideology in India doesn't apply as much as we have a rich culture of complex grains that can be used effectively on any weight loss diet, with the amounts being controlled.
Who is it recommended for?
For those who want to lose weight and curb their appetite.
What's the maximum carb intake under this diet?
It would depend from person to person, their metabolism, activity levels and ability to maintain a state of calm even in the absence of carbs in the diet.
Is low-carb diet recommended for the long term?
The kind of metabolism and genetic make-up Indians have, a high restriction on carbs may not be necessary to lose weight. Balance and customization of diets is necessary. Based on what kind of body one has the decision to cut carbs and increase protein must be taken. In the long-term any diet needs balance, your routine needs it, hence no food groups really need to be avoided.
Are carbohydrates bad?
No, no at all, choose the right kind of carbs and the right amount for your body type.
What other diets could be followed along with a low carb diet?
Atkins and Keto are both low carb diets.
This is not a diet, it's a controlled way of consuming food and nutrition. It helps in managing the calorie intake, however, it requires planning before one takes it up.
Is it recommended for all or only for people with particular condition?
Intermittent fasting can be taken up by anybody who is comfortable with it. It is also known to help digestion and hyperacidity. It helps to control insulin levels and thus helps regulate sugar levels.
How beneficial is it? Can it be turned into a habit?
It is beneficial for weight loss and also has other health benefits. A short intermittent fasting window lasting between 12-14 hours is a good habit to inculcate even in long term. The only problem may arise for those who exercise in the mornings and eat late at night not allowing them to have an effective pre or post workout, leaving them feeling hungry. Even in such cases, it's a matter of time and practice before the routine sets into place.
How can it restrict your daily routine and lifestyle?
A fasting window of 12-16 hours really doesn't restrict your daily routine, it only requires a little change in your eating times which can become a new practice with little effort.
Why is there a buzz around it?
It's easy, it's convenient and is something that most people can follow based on their routine. It's flexible and can be done in more than one or two ways.