The Ketogenic Diet – does it work?

As I sat at Neco’s one day to enjoy a wholesome meal with my friends, I saw that there has been new additions to the menu; specifically the introduction of a Keto Menu. Seeing the prevalence of “Keto Menus” in many prominent restaurants in Karachi, I decided to explore what the Ketogenic diet really is.

A ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and typically used to lose weight. Ketogenic diets work by inducing “physiological ketosis” in the body. A state of the metabolism where the body’s reserves of glucose are no longer enough to facilitate the central nervous system. The central nervous system then needs an alternative source of energy, so it makes the liver turn fats into fatty acids and ketone bodies that induce and catalyze the weight loss process.

In conversation with fitness trainer and nutritionist Mantahaa Maqsood and her partner Afshan Junejo we discovered the raised ketone levels provide a new fuel sources for our cells. When constricting sugar and carb intake, the body undergoes many biological adaptations, including a reduction in insulin and increased fat breakdown. Afshan, who has been on the ketogenic diet was amazed with her excellent weight loss on the scale and in inches as she maintained a healthy and active lifestyle. She notes that her energy levels are excellent throughout the day and her skin and hair have become healthier and more nourished. A strict compliance to the diet is necessary as there is absolutely no margin for ‘cheat meals’.

We also spoke to designer Maheen Kardar Ali about her experience on the Ketogenic Diet. Maheen was on keto for around 3 months; she has tried a catered meal plan service and has also tried home cooking her keto friendly meals. What stood out for her was that her energy levels were great through out the day, being a working mother she prized optimal energy levels through out the day. She would recommend this diet to people who want to lose weight but also says its not something that should be a long-term fix. She recommends that the ketogenic diet be discontinued once a goal has been reached. Maheen also stressed on the importance of consuming vitamins, especially ‘biotin’ so as to avoid hair loss. Maheen herself faced a significant amount of hair loss while she was on the diet before she started taking vitamins.

Speaking to Sana* about her experience on the ketogenic diet, she mentioned that in the initial stages of the diet she struggled due to the sugar and carb withdrawals but with time her body adjusted to the ketosis. Sana* participated in a catered diet from Wellness 360 and was very happy with the services provided. As a borderline diabetic, she partook in lengthy procedures to monitor the effect of the diet and she got excellent results. With lower cholesterol levels and being tested as non-diabetic, Sana* is a strong proponent of the Ketogenic diet. Although she faced increased hair fall after she discontinued the diet, she recounted that her skin greatly improved as a consequence of the ketogenic diet.

Although the ketogenic diet yields excellent results for some, there are many people who have had hair loss while partaking in the ketogenic diet. What is stressed most about this diet is that it is beneficial for those who are doing it with the correct guidance. In the words of Maheen Kardar Ali “there is no silver bullet for weight loss” – a healthy diet and physical activity go hand in hand to facilitate healthy weight loss. Thus the jury is still out on the ketogenic diet, but it is definitely worth a shot!

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