I have always been an ardent reader of diets.
I read them through carefully, memorizing the dos and don’ts, giving myself mental high fives for eating something “right”, and speed-reading when they list any of my favourite grubs in the “must-avoid” section.
So when a couple of fellow gluttons (we call ourselves foodies and privately relish the comparison to Obelix faced with a platter of roasted wild boar) start talking seriously about the keto diet, I am naturally intrigued.
Keto Instead Of Cake?
It’s all the rage, they tell me. High on fat, moderate protein and near-zero carbs, the keto diet is known to achieve wonders when it comes to weight loss. As you reduce the intake of carbs and pile up on protein and fat, your body achieves the metabolic state of ketosis, which then turns fats into ketones – the molecules that supply energy for the brain.
70 per cent of the energy comes from fats, 25 per cent from protein and five per cent from carbs from veggies or other ingredients.
“It’s a diet that works and is not boring. You can have all the yummiest food – we mean fatty pork, silly! And all kinds of meat, eggs, butter, cream, and cheese. Just imagine!” the dude and the dudette say as they prance around me.
I smile what I like to think is my pacifist, non-committal smile.
Do Not Look At Thy (Dieting) Neighbours
Then they actually start on the diet.
And in three weeks, the dude, who chugs a couple (or four) of pints every night when December is in the air, and the dudette, who basically eats nine meals a day and has never been known to waste food, begin to sport considerably leaner frames.
I stare at them open-mouthed even as a plate of momos cool on my desk.
“You must do it! It’s the best thing in the world,” they assure me.
I am convinced. I plunge in enthusiastically.
Money, Money, Money, Must Be Funny...
And I am almost immediately trucked over by the bills. Tasty things are expensive – something you’d never guess from how those Jamie Olivers and Nigella Lawsons toss and munch through the pork chops and pot roasts and grilled haloumi.
And what do you do when a huge bunch of really expensive herbs you bought from the supermarket begin to rot after being used in two meals?
I can solemnly testify that this diet was as close an experience of bankruptcy that I would care to live through.
Then there are the meals. The diet forbids all grains, especially rice and chapati. Great, I think. Unlike most people, I don’t miss the staples much. Till I realize that the substitutes don’t fill up my formidable tummy as well. No matter how much I eat, an emptiness gnaws my insides every three hours or so.
It’s actually the body kicking in to burn fat, but I advise you not to say that to a person on keto. Especially the one found staring at dirty Chinese stall wistfully or obsessively devouring food videos on Facebook.
No wonder carbs make you fat – they have their weight.
Maida is also not allowed. So no biscuits, bread, cake, or anything nice to munch on. Dry fruits is what you have to resort to.
The Neanderthal Way
I find the diet a tad too meaty for my liking as well. Slanderous as it sounds, I like my meal more on the vegetarian side interspersed with non-veg delights (don’t get me wrong, I love my fish - any self-respecting Bong would tell you it’s a vegetable). So my enthusiasm kind of flags when I am looking at four meaty meals, seven days a week, for at least two months.
Yeah, you can substitute it with paneer or (even) tofu. But again, how much of it can you eat on a daily basis? You are in some real danger of having to adopt a cow or at least the dudhwala for all that good stuff.
Even breakfasts become a pain. Milk, cereals and fruits are out of bounds and the prospect of making breakfast everyday quite apart from the other meals, maketh a very vile-tempered woman.
In My Defence
And the temper wins. As does Burger King. After two weeks.
PS: There’s also this little matter of potatoes. Who doesn’t like potatoes? How can anyone not eat potatoes?!