KARACHI: Shehbaz Rauf is a banker by profession and in his own words a ‘foodie’ by passion.
The 30-year-old weighed 80 kilogrammes in February but started a new diet on the insistence of his fiancée and has lost 6kgs since, without having to give up his high-fat diet.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Shehbaz told Geo.tv.
The diet Shehbaz is on has become a weight loss phenomenon across the globe and taken Karachi by storm.
The Ketogenic diet, more commonly referred to as Keto, has become increasingly popular in the metropolis.
It started off with a few small business owners delivering food from their homes but has quickly expanded to high-end eateries across the city.
It is not uncommon anymore to be given a separate menu for keto food at cafes in the city.
However, the ketogenic diet which is a low-carb, high-fat diet has left several baffled as to how it works.
The ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.
The reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state which occurs when there is limited access to glucose (blood sugar), which is the preferred fuel source for many cells in the body. It involves the body producing small fuel molecules called ‘ketones’ and using them for energy instead of carbs.
Ketones are produced in the liver and are then used as fuel throughout the body, including the brain.
On a ketogenic diet, your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat and insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically as it becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them.
The hunger to know more about the ketogenic diet landed us on the doorstep of the brains behind KEATO food.
KEATO food is a keto meal plan service run by three young entrepreneurs who jumped on the keto diet bandwagon after realising that “unlike abroad there are no diet food chains in Pakistan”.
“After months of in-house trials, we finally decided to step in and launched our own gourmet food service. We are doing great and growing daily and there is a huge demand for quality diet food here," Abrar Bawany, one of the entrepreneurs behind KEATO, told Geo.tv.
Although, they have captured a large share of the market for keto food, Bawany shared they have not yet marketed their brand.
The reason behind the rising popularity of keto diet lies in the fact that its effects are very visible, Bawany said.
“When you meet a friend after a couple of months and they have lost a considerable amount of weight and claim it is because they have been indulging in mutton steaks and prawns then you also get tempted to try the diet,” he said.
Explaining how his food service, KEATO, works, Bawany said, “We give you everything, so all you have to do is sit back, eat our food and watch the weight drop."
Regarding whether the popularity of keto like other diets before it would fade with time, Bawany said, “Taking into account the rising demand of the food commodity, the keto diet will not die out any time soon.”
Your diet should mainly comprise foods such as meat, fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils, low-carb vegetables and any food that is high in carbs should be limited.
Foods to avoid:
Sugary foods: Soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
Grains or starches: Wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
Fruit: All fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries.
Beans or legumes: Peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
Root vegetables and tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
Low-fat or diet products: These are highly processed and often high in carbs.
Some condiments or sauces: These often contain sugar and unhealthy fat.
Unhealthy fat: Limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
Sugar-free diet foods: These are often high in sugar alcohols, which can affect ketone levels in some cases. These foods also tend to be highly processed.
Foods to Eat
Butter and cream
Nuts and seeds
Low-carb vegetables: Most green veggies, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
From an economic point of view, this diet appears to be exclusively for the rich.
The diet requires the body to remain in the ketosis stage for at least two months. So to cut things short, to shed pounds one has to be on the keto diet for at least two months.
That is, either one has to learn how to cook keto food or avail the services of the food service providers.
But here is the catch. The average monthly charges for Keto diet food in Karachi ranges from Rs50,000 to Rs60,000. It is quite obvious that this price range is not affordable for an average household.
The costing leads to the question whether the keto bubble will soon fizzle out due to economic constraints.
Bawany assured that taking into account the rising demand of the food commodity at least in the near future it will not.
"Before the keto became common, people tried the paleo diet, gluten-free diet, high protein diet - there are tonnes more. These diets were expensive too, but they are not preferred today not because of economic reasons but because keto has been seen to be far more effective," he added.
However, Dr Salma Badruddin, a nutritionist based in Karachi disagrees.
Dr Badruddin told Geo.tv that before Keto, Atkins diet was in fashion in certain segments of the society but the “craze fizzled out”.
“Keto is a very difficult diet to practice. There is definitely a short-term benefit as the drastic weight loss is pretty visible. But we don’t know about its effect on the body in the long-run,” she said.
“We are yet to seen how long one can afford to continue this diet.”
Dr Badruddin added that people started gaining weight as soon as they went off the keto diet and it also led to low blood pressure and sugar.
“Balanced diet and regular exercise is the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A human body requires 2,800 calories per day, through Keto you only get 1,000 to 1,100 calories. Clearly, it’s not healthy,” she asserted.