Keto is here to stay as long as people keep talking about it. At least, that’s what Dr Nida Rizvi thinks. She owns a company called Keto Pakistan that provides ketogenic meals in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and believes that if people keep promoting the benefits of the diet, the trend won’t die out.
What is keto?
The ketogenic diet, popularly known as keto, is a high fat, low carb and moderate protein diet. That means, unlike other diets, you focus on eating foods rich in fat. Sounds pretty contradictory but don’t worry – on the keto diet you eat good fats.
There’s no canola or sunflower oil in keto. Instead you cook in butter or desi ghee. Yes, you read that right — desi ghee and butter. We all need to apologise to our grandmothers; they knew what they were talking about when they said desi ghee was good for us.
Fat fills you up faster and gives you more energy. According to Dr Rizvi, fat has a lot of calories so while they do cook in products like butter, they don’t overdo it.
The difference between the keto diet and other diets, like the ever-popular Atkins diet, is the ratios. Atkins recommends more protein and low fat but keto is the opposite.
Your protein is your basic meat, beef, fish or chicken. The keto diet focuses on those fats because they fill you up. You don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates, like bread, pasta, rice or fruit. The carbs you do consume are mainly from vegetables.
The business of food
Dr Rizvi’s Keto Pakistan recently opened branches in Lahore and Islamabad. The company provides three ketogenic meals a day and you can get the packages monthly.
Dr Rizvi is a dental surgeon and uses her medical knowledge to create the food plans. But she’s not just using her medical experience in her business; she’s using her personal experience too.
She dropped 36kg by going on the diet. “When you’ve done it yourself you know more about it,” she said.
“I cooked my own meals so I know how to make the food tastier,” Dr Rizvi explained. When you think of diet food you think of salad, salad and more salad but Keto Pakistan’s meals include creamy steaks and curries.
The company serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. The portion sizes are tailored for each individual client.
And people are more aware. In fact, Keto Pakistan has 100 clients in Karachi and 30 in Lahore.
The downside of the deal is that the meal plan is pricey – its costs about Rs40,000 a month. But Dr Rizvi and her team understand that not everyone has Rs40,000 lying around, so they give discounts to some people and are okay with being paid in installments.
Some stuff you need to know about keto:
When your body is in ketosis there’s zero glucose in it. Glucose is the easiest molecule used by our body for energy so when our bodies use glucose, the fat stays there. In the keto diet you increase your ketones to use them as an energy source so even when you cheat your glucose levels increase and your body is no longer in ketosis. That means you’ll stop losing weight instantly.
After you shed those unwanted pounds you can’t go back to binging on chips and chocolate. There’s a maintenance phase you need to enter for about a month.
For the first two weeks there is no need to exercise, according to Dr Rizvi. When your body is switching from glucose to fat it’s burning a lot of fat for energy so you don’t need to exercise. If your weight gets ‘stuck’ then you can walk for 20 minutes, she said.
When it comes to pregnancy no one wants to take any risks. That’s why Dr Rizvi doesn’t recommend the diet while you’re pregnant.