As society steps into normalcy, perhaps you’re wondering how to lose all that weight gained during the lockdown. Hitting the gym would only prove to be part effective, if you’re not in the habit of following a diet. The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the Keto diet is one that differs from all the others. [...]


Could Keto be right for you ?


As society steps into normalcy, perhaps you’re wondering how to lose all that weight gained during the lockdown. Hitting the gym would only prove to be part effective, if you’re not in the habit of following a diet.

The ketogenic diet, commonly known as the Keto diet is one that differs from all the others. Strangely though, it encourages one to consume more fat and minimum carbohydrates. This week, we spoke with Doctor Subash Mendis, from the Hela Keto weight loss clinic. He was the former head  of the food safety promotion unit in Colombo. He gave us an insight into the benefits and the common misconceptions on this programme.

As he puts it, a typical ketogenic diet would consist of sixty to seventy percent fat, twenty percent protein and a maximum ten percent carbohydrates. The diet tends to convert your body from burning carbohydrates (glucose) for energy to predominantly burning fats for energy.

Doctor Subash

Typically, when one’s body is in ketosis, body fats are broken down into ketones which provide a considerable proportion of energy that is needed to maintain the basic functions of the body. This in turn leads to a rapid weight loss, in comparison with other dieting methods. Prior to starting the diet, Doctor Subash always asks his clients to take basic blood tests. The Keto diet he says is not advisable for a person with type- 1 diabetes, poorly controlled type- 2 diabetes, pregnant mothers, breast feeding mothers (less than six months), patients with advanced kidney disease, children under 15 years and individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 18.
One should never start the keto diet at once, since it takes time for the body to adjust to ketosis. This too would depend on age, sex, weight, activity level, commitment and a person’s metabolism. As the body gets fully accustomed to ketosis, an individual would be able to lose one to four kilograms per week, he tells us. But this would also depend on how an individual’s body responds.
Once starting the diet, the dieter should always plan their meals at least two to three days ahead. And if your metabolism is too slow or your degree of insulin resistance is too high, one should combine intermittent fasting with the Ketogenic diet for the best results.
Doctor Subash also emphasizes on the importance of home cooked meals. “If you take meals from outside frequently, you’ll have to eat whatever is available. And you won’t be able to restrict carbs strictly,” he explains adding that unfortunately there are no Keto restaurants in Sri Lanka.  But, on the positive, the ketogenic diet does not need a variety. Undoubtedly one would have to give up all sweets such as ice cream, cakes, biscuits, puddings, sweetened beverages, chocolates, etc. At the same time the individual would also have to minimize the intake of high carbs such as rice, bread, hoppers, string hoppers, noodles, pasta, kottu, rotti and bakery products, etc. “When you give up these food items you don’t have to worry too much about access to different food products. Because invariably you’d have a narrow range of food choices,” he explains.

Doctor Subash, together with the involvement of several other doctors has also formulated a new method called Hela keto. This is not merely a diet plan, but it’s also a lifestyle, he says. The idea is to combine Sri Lankan food and meal preparation styles with a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. This method also includes Vegan meals. Furthermore, those who’d prefer rice on a daily basis can still achieve weight loss by following this diet.According to Doctor Subash, perhaps the biggest misconception about the Keto diet is that it can cause Keto acidosis. This is a potentially fatal condition that is seen in uncontrolled type -1 diabetic patients.

However, as he points out, one’s insulin levels should be extremely low for this excessively high production of keto acids. But this is not the case with a normal healthy individual, whose insulin levels will not fall too low, despite having low carbohydrates.

The other misconception is that eating more fats will make you fatter. However, as he explains, the Insulin hormone is the main fat storing hormone of the body. And dietary fats create minimal insulin whereas carbohydrates cause the highest insulin creation. Consequently, people who eat more carbs tend to get more obese.

Another misunderstanding with the Keto diet is that you’d have to eat lots of red meat and processed meats like sausages and bacon etc. However, Doctor Subash dismisses this, stating that Keto dieters can eat a wide range of healthy fats and proteins such as eggs, fish, chicken, cheese, butter, nuts (almonds, peanuts) avocado, coconut oil and olive oil. Those who love to eat beef, mutton and pork could also do so, but not often.

Our conversation moves to the health benefits of the diet, which aside from the rapid weight loss include the prevention and control of type two diabetes. The keto diet also plays an important role in the reversal of fatty liver (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – NAFLD).

As you’d get on the diet, the best way to know whether it’s working effectively is through the marked reduction of the appetite and the gradual and persistent loss of weight every week. “Most of my clients report to me that their Sugar cravings have gone completely plus they prefer healthy foods like salads and nuts every day,” Doctor Subash says.

But, on the same note, as it is with many things’ patience is key. And if you don’t lose weight initially, you have to be patient and continue to diet for at least two to three weeks to see results.

Anyone interested in getting on the Keto Diet could meet up with Doctor Subash at his weight loss clinic located at No. 19/4 Guildford Crescent Colombo 7.

More information on the Hela keto programme could be obtained via
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