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Health: Is signing up for a Keto diet really worth it?

Krutika Behrawala signs up for a seven-day trial of a new delivery service that eliminates carbs from your diet and promises a lighter you. Is it worth it? Read on

Paneer Methi Malai with Haldi Cauli Rice
Paneer Methi Malai with Haldi Cauli Rice

Self
Seven-day diet trial
"Finish every morsel. Drink 10 glasses of water. If hungry, eat two almonds," advises Dr Siddhant Bhargava on the eve of our seven-day trial of Food Darzee.

The brainchild of food and health enthusiasts Bhargava, Anirudh Ganeriwal, Devaj Jhunjhunwala and Anik Bhandari, it delivers Ketogenic meals at your doorstep.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Makhni Gravy
Stuffed Mushrooms with Makhni Gravy

Keto is a low-carb, moderate protein and high fat diet, working on the mechanism that when the body is deprived of carbohydrates, the primary source of energy, it will dig into the fat reserves and burn them. You need to take a blood test and DEXA scan. "The meal plans are based on calorie requirement using an in-house software. We consult nutritionists for developing the recipes," adds Bhargava, son of Shalini Bhargava, one of India's first fitness gurus.

Coconut Curry Paneer and Flatbread and Scrambled Cottage Cheese
Coconut Curry Paneer and Flatbread and Scrambled Cottage Cheese. Pics/Datta Kumbhar, Atul Kamble, Krutika Behrawala

In an online form, we fill in the number of meals and delivery address. We opt for four meals — breakfast, lunch, evening snack and dinner. They are delivered twice a day, at home and later, in office. They can be refrigerated and reheated.
LOG ON TO: fooddarzee.com
COST: Rs 9,200 (10-day plan), Rs 25,000 (30-day plan)

Counter view
Tehzeeb lalani
nutritionist, Scale Beyond Scale
'Keto isn't safe. Carbo-hydrate restriction is hazardous to health. Certain parts, like the kidney, retina and brain cells, use only glucose from a carb source. Side effects include fatigue, muscle loss, hair loss, pale skin and brittle nails. A good diet should be sustainable, and not one that eliminates specific food groups'

Mid-day doesn't promote any particular diet or lifestyle. User discretion is advised

Day 01
The morning is rough as we skip our regular milk tea. However, the meals, especially Paneer Methi Malai and Haldi Cauli Rice (with similar texture as rice grains), make up for it. We drink a glass of water with a pinch of salt twice a day to keep electrolyte levels up. By 9 pm, we chomp down Zucchini Lasagna layered with mozzarella.

Day 02
We wake up to a WhatsApp text listing the day's menu and the calorie count per dish (followed daily). We learn there's Paneer Tikka Biryani for lunch. It's delicious, topped with birista et al. The second day is tougher. By 8 pm, our energy levels have dropped and we need a power nap before tucking into Grilled Paneer hidden under in a yum Mushroom Cheese Sauce.

Day 03
The day starts on an upbeat note as we've lost over a kilo. The first two meals (Paneer And Cheese Stuffed Capsicum, and Stuffed Mushroom With Makhni Gravy) are satiating.

We feel stuffed and don't crave our evening snack until 6.30 pm. But there's no stipulated time for meals. So it works. It's a delish Grilled Eggplant topped with cheese, sour cream and tomato basil sauce.

Day 04
"Is that sabudana vada?" enquires our mother after glancing at our breakfast that smells and also tastes like one. It's Mushroom Cheese Zucchini Vada. We try squats, lunges and sit-ups. But the day is marred by constipation. "It's the biggest fallout of the diet. We try and pack in fibre. Have salt water, it will relieve you," says Bhargava. It does help.

Day 05
We've lost 500gm more. The menu lists Broccoli Cheese Patty with Pesto, Butter Chicken with Keto Coriander Jeera Rice, Baked Chicken wrapped in Schezwan Zoodles (read: strips of bell peppers) and a repeat, Grilled Cottage Cheese in Mushroom Cheese Sauce. Chicken helps provide more energy than cottage cheese. The headaches disappear.

Day 06
Since our day starts earlier, we snack on two almonds, but feel hungry by the time we meet the Cheesy Keto-Uttapam, a tastier version of the South Indian dish. There's also Chicken And Cheese Patty with grilled veggies, Caprese Flatbread and Thai-style Paneer Salad. When was the last time we ate so much paneer and cheese?

Day 07
The finale menu includes Zucchini Lasagna, Chicken Tikka Biryani, and Mexican Rosti doused in various sauces. We also get a dessert — a creamy strawberry mousse. Our total weight loss is 2.5kg, and we feel lighter. Our main concern is how to get back to carbs. "For first the six days, be careful. Start with one roti per day," Bhargava advises.

Weight: 65.6kg
Regular diet: Milk tea with sugar, rusk toast, chapatis, variety of vegetables (potatoes thrice a week), dal and rice, fast food and bread on a weekly basis, plus chocolates and munchies

Weight: 63.1kg
What's in: Paneer, chicken, olive oil, butter, cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, tomato and mushrooms. Lots of mozzarella and goat cheese. Alcohol is permitted, but only rum, gin, whiskey and vodka.

What's out: Grains, cereal, bread, sugar in any form, fruits except watermelon and papaya, and tubers including potato and yam

10 per cent, really?
The team believes that following a strict month-long Keto plan can help you lose upto 10 per cent of your body weight. "It's an estimate. If you're on the lighter side, then upto seven per cent. I had put on weight due to health issues and went on Keto diet earlier this year. I lost 10kg in a month," says Bhargava.

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