Imagine this, eating all the butter, avocados, nuts and bacon you want, while still being able to lose fat. Sounds too good to be true? Not if you are following the keto diet. The keto diet, short for the ketogenic diet is essentially a low-carb, moderate-protein, high-fat diet plan. The idea behind it is to get the body into a state of ketosis so that body fat becomes the body’s main fuel source rather than carbs and glucose from food.
How can this happen? Well, by reducing the amount of available sugars in the blood stream for the body to utilise as fuel. Although most low-carb diets require a high protein intake, the keto diet keeps protein consumption at a moderate level. This is because excess protein can be converted to glucose (sugar) in the body.
Despite the fact that the diet is strictly very low-carb, it has quickly gained traction in Asian communities with some bodybuilders even swearing by it to lose fat and build muscle. It has even been proven to help women with polycystic ovarian syndrome reduce their insulin resistance and lose weight.
This way of eating is also being studied to see if it could reverse the effects of diabetes. Restaurateurs would do well to capitalise on this style of eating. Even in the Asian context, it sounds like it will be hard to stick to eating super low-carb but it can actually be quite effortless. So long as you know what kind of foods to look out for in restaurant menus.
So what can be eaten by Asians practicing a keto lifestyle if carbs such as rice and noodles are out of the question? Well, there is still chicken, beef, lamb, game, seafood, and vegetables that grow above ground like the leafy vegetables and cauliflower.
Whole, natural foods are preferred over processed which tend to have sugar or flour added to increase palatability and shelf-life. An easy rule to follow when deciding what to eat is focus on most leafy vegetables. Vegetables such as zucchini, brinjals, green peppers and green beans can also be eaten without caring too much about its carb count. Just cook them in butter or other sauces (keep an eye out for sugar and carbs on the label though. They can add up really quickly).Below ground vegetables, though high in carbs, can still be eaten as there are some exceptions to this rule.
One example is the onion. The humble onion is a high-carb vegetable but because it is normally used as a flavouring agent and in relatively small amounts, it can be eaten by a keto follower. Be careful of sautéed or caramelised onions which are “reduced” and can easily be making you over eat your carbs. Chillies are another vegetable that falls into the same category as the onion. It is higher carb as well but since it is typically used as a seasoning, its carb content can be ignored. Green onions and leeks which are usually used as a topping on dishes or salads are also fine. Again, so long as it is eaten in small amounts.
Deep-fried meats and seafood are certainly encouraged in this diet plan but there is a catch. None of it must be coated in flour but that doesn’t mean keto followers have to give up fried, crispy food. After all, there is always the combination of butter and oil in a hot pan to make dishes nice and crunchy. Another tip to increase crispiness is to make sure the meat is patted dry before frying.
When it comes to drinks, sweet anything should not even be in the house or anywhere nears a keto practitioner. Still this does not mean they will be avoiding anything calorie-dense as the social media-famed bulletproof coffee is a firm favourite in the keto community.
The caffeinated drink is basically black coffee spiked with a good dose of butter. Though it sounds unpalatable, it is actually quite tasty. With fat-loss properties to boot, who wouldn’t want one of these in the morning to kick start their day?
For those wanting a low calorie caffeine alternative but can’t stand black coffee, a small amount of milk or cream is allowed. Keep in mind that the amount of dairy in your coffee mug has to be tiny. So there you have it. The keto diet is not that restrictive as some naysayers make it out to be. In fact, with just a little practice, spotting keto-friendly options in the markets or restaurants is an absolute breeze.
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