I did Keto for about 3 months last year and lost 11 KG (24 pounds).
I did it entirely while living in Bangalore India.
I knew the diet was good at getting results but I also knew the experts were divided on the real effectiveness of it long term. So as somebody who is on it again (only for a single week as part of a new meal plan), I thought I’d list my experiences.
Does the Keto diet work? If you want to lose weight fast, which in today’s society is like asking if you want it now…then yes it works. If you think you’re going to keep it off long term and have a weekly pizza a year from now, it probably won’t.
Can’t I just lose extra weight then gain 25% of it back and normalize that way?
That’s basically what I did but I noticed the 25% of the weight I did gain back was in all the wrong places.
I still went down from 175 pounds to 150 to now at 160 (for the last year), but my clothes fit way off and despite being off alcohol and sugar and exercise and having a truly balanced diet, I feel like my fat is in all the wrong places.
TL; DR: I feel the 25% I gained back went straight to my tummy and nowhere else.
Of course, your experience and opinions may vary, but you can google 100 articles online and 50 will tell you that keto works, 50 will tell you that it’s horrible.
Even with doctors and hospitals the terminologies and disclaimers are so vague that nobody really puts a stake in the ground. Plus a lot of people go EXTREME and do only 5 carbs a day which is insanely dangerous.
In fact, I remember when I was at Manipal hospital for a master health checkup the nutritionist (who was also not in the best shape ironically) looked at my ketones in my blood work and just kind of rolled her eyes and said: “ok you do you, buddy.”
So this just how I did keto in India and what I learned, and why I’m even doing it again for a week.
A Simple Definition of Keto
What is Keto? The Keto Diet is a low carb, high-fat diet. You normally eat less than 20G of net carbs a day (carbs minus fiber on the nutrition label) and after 3-5 days your body is in a state of ketosis.
I’m not a doctor (although my wife is) so I won’t even try to give you the scientific advice which you can find at the link above. I just want to explain my experience because I feel my situation is similar to many. I didn’t care about a six pack but I wanted to look good for my wedding and was also curious if my abs really exist.
I never found out if they did, by the way.
In a nutshell, you only eat eggs, protein shakes, chicken, bacon, avocado, cheese, spinach, lettuce, and butter.
If you have even a slice of toast or a small handful of rice or potatoes and fries, you’re setting yourself back weeks or months. You can’t drink beer but you can probably have a Glen or Johnnie here and there.
The Keto Diet Works Well for Indians, Which is Also Why It Doesn’t
India LOVES its carbs.
Middle-class India also loves its carbs delivered straight to its lazy millennial hands, thanks to Swiggy and Zomato and cheap labor and Netflix or Amazon.
I’m guilty of it for sure.
Even if you order plain tandoori chicken and ask him to not include onions (you’re not supposed to really have onions either), he’ll look at you funny.
Or you go to a restaurant and just ask for Chicken Tikka Masala (Not perfect but hey sometimes a little tomato is ok) the waiter will ask you how you’re going to take it, roti or rice?
Watch his face when you say by itself.
Combined with many restaurants being vegetarian only, keto is not hard to do in India but it is a little inconvenient. Nowadays so many big cities also have keto kitchens or restaurants with menus that say they’re Indian keto diet-friendly.
After a week, you get into the groove and all is smooth sailing.
You do some light cardio, bite on an onion or one french fry here and there, but within a month the weight is flying off.
You will then most likely
- buy skinnier jeans,
- look better in that Chinese collar shirt
- Pat yourself on the back for having figured this super-complicated weight loss thing so easily
- and get a few compliments from the ladies or dudes.
Jesus Christ, that was easy wasn’t it?
Time to trash all those old clothes, update the profile pics and upgrade to Tinder Gold.
Doing keto for months will send you straight to hospital. You have to give a break for it to work. I only do it once or twice a year and it works well.— ND (@navdhad) September 24, 2019
But alas, as with anything get rich quick scheme or dreamy job title…if it’s too good to be true, we know it probably is.
Is Keto Sustainable Long Term?
Of course not.
Do you really think you’re going to give up bread for the rest of your life?
Or only eat it once a month?
Do you really think only chicken and bacon is what you’re meant to eat when we’ve evolved to have all those veggies on the ground for a reason?
You will definitely crave bread less long term and start ordering lettuce-wrapped burgers even when you’re off keto, but having dal (lentils), rice, potatoes, onions, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges) and all of that is going to have its place in your life.
What are you going to do when somebody is giving you Prasad full of sugar and says you have to eat it and 20 people are watching you?
What are you going to do when auntie is visiting and insulted you didn’t have her ghee soaked Paratha at 11 PM after 4 cups of masala chai?
I’m not saying you can’t avoid sugar and bread…you 100% can.
But instead of tricking your body for years and years, why not recognize the benefits of Keto (short term emergencies or motivation) then make a long term solution.
Again, look at all the data in the screenshots above.
Ignore paid media and ask 10 people around you in your circle what their experience with a ketogenic diet was.
When Should You Go Off Keto?
I went off Keto after my wedding, and I was happy I did it. I felt more confident and felt great before, during and after. I also had some buffer weight (e.g. I lost 4KG more than I planned) so I wouldn’t feel bad when I gained some back.
But once you’re back at your routine I would simply transition to a more balanced diet, hire a personal trainer or figure out what is important to you.
The only thing is you’ll have to start a new disciplined approach with a new diet all over again. Intermittent fasting, one meal a day, carbs only before 4 PM, or whatever else.
But word on the street (or tweets?) is don’t do keto for more than 2-3 months tops, and then figure out a way to keep pushing the pounds off.
Chances are you’ve now developed a taste for spinach and grilled chicken which you can carry into having small ragi (millet) bread or oatmeal.
Keto Does Have Some Benefits
Which is exactly why I’m doing it again today for just a week. I’m on day 3 of 7.
If you need to lose weight fast sometimes you just gotta do it. I’m not judging and all of us leave things until the last minute…so I get it.
Go get that Sabyasachi wedding dress boo.
Once you do keto for a few months and then gain some or all of it back, that discipline you have is also something you gained. Now after going from 100KG to 75KG and back to 99KG, you’re going to realize that it wasn’t so hard at all to commit to something with conviction.
Combine that with your taste buds now craving less bread than six months ago, you’re well on your way to a truly balanced diet. It’s like you went on holiday, got a taste of the good life, and now you’re motivated to save money and buy that villa in Ibiza the long sustainable way. Had you never lost the weight short term and seen the other side, chances are your mind wouldn’t make it happen for you.
Remember, weight loss is literally just eating less calories than you burn.Aristotle
We over-complicate things in our lives so much these days don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis.
I find myself reading 30 reviews, spending 30 minutes debating which toothbrush to buy for 30 rupees.
Don’t do the same thing with all these diets.
Do what’s right for you but remember the basics.
But yes Keto for me was a short term kick in the butt to making long term changes, just not in the way it’s marketed.
1. What do You Eat on Keto in India?
An Indian Keto Diet plan includes the following:
Meats and a Non-Vegetarian Indian Keto Diet:
- Tandoori Chicken,
- Tandoori Fish,
- Chicken Tikka,
- Roast Chicken,
- Lamb Curry,
- Roasted Lamb.
- Egg Curry
- Egg Omelet
Most items like Chilli Chicken in Indian restaurants have maida or flour so you’re probably eating carbs in the chickens coating or batter so you don’t realize it.
Vegetables or Vegetarian Indian Keto Diet:
- Spinach (Palak)
- Cauliflower (Gobi)
- Green Chillies
- Avocado (Butter Fruit in Karnataka)
You can’t have any dal or any dosa bro.
- Cashews (a tiny bit maybe I’d advise against it)
- Pistachio (a tiny bit maybe but I’d say avoid it)
2. Can You Do Keto as a Vegetarian in India?
Yes, I know plenty of people who do it but it’s very inconvenient. Your Infosys company outing really won’t have anything you can eat except maybe paneer, and even those starters will be coated in maida or flour.
You can even do Keto as a vegan, but you will not enjoy anything you eat.
Cauliflower rice and soy only?
Or avocado and cauliflower rice and soy? (that sounds good actually).
For every meal?
3. Do You Exercise on Keto?
I ran about 5KM a day on Keto, three times a week. The other days I did light weights for 30 minutes while listening to podcasts.
You’re not really in a heavy bodybuilding mode but for most of us, we just want to get lean and trim so cardio and situps/pushups/core exercises is basically all you really have to do.
4. What are some Indian Keto Recipes?
When I first started keto and wanted chicken tikka masala with rice (e.g.s Cauliflower rice) I just found Headbangers Kitchen and he had a ton of nice options.
But I found all that psyllium husk and almond flour and yada yada was just not worth my time after a few weeks. But it definitely helped curb those initial cravings to cheat the brain. In fact, Chinese chicken fried rice made with cauliflower (if you soak it in water first to remove that cauliflower taste) is so good sometimes you can’t even taste the difference.
Sanjay Manaktala is one of the top stand up comedians in India who started building the comedy community in the country back in 2010. Since then his stand up comedy videos and podcasts have helped millions laugh or get motivated. His latest effort is the Birdy Num Num podcast, helping you learn creativity in life after engineering. You can learn about Sanjay here or check out his YouTube channel here.