Keeping it keto

Entrepreneur, founder of Go Nuts Qatar and food blogger, Afshan Sayed, has been following the keto diet for a few years. She speaks to QRM to explain more about why the keto diet is fast becoming the new fad in Qatar.

The keto diet has been around for a long time but it’s only just blown up in Qatar in the last year or so. This popular weight-loss health trend allows you to consume as much healthy fats as possible, while keeping your carb intake low. Considered to be less restrictive than most diets, keto has quickly become a firm favourite for many people looking to shed some pounds while still enjoying food.

“At first I was cynical,” says Afshan about her first foray into keto. “However, I decided to give it a try and the results were miraculous. Not only did the weight start shedding off, but my energy levels soared, my hair became thicker and my mood swings just vanished. I became a firm believer.”

Afshan was so impressed with the results that she began educating those around her about the benefits of keto and even managed to help her brother lose over 30kg.

However, she is adamant that this wasn’t a quick fix and results didn’t come overnight. In fact, her journey to a healthier lifestyle was a long one that she was forced to face in order to keep up with a busy lifestyle and four children.

“Gaining weight is pretty easy and losing weight is next to impossible”

“I’m from India but have lived in Qatar for nearly 30 years now,” she explains. “Like many people in the Middle East, I have struggled to remain active given the lifestyle. Gaining weight is pretty easy and losing weight is next to impossible.

“After I had kids my scoliosis gave me trouble due to the pressure on my spine. I had to take weight loss seriously so I could remain healthy and fit to keep up with the children. My husband and I adapted a healthy lifestyle, especially where food is concerned and we are constantly educating ourselves.

“After having children, our responsibilities changed. We decided we had to set an example by changing our lifestyle. We used to have a pantry full of cookies and soft drinks. Now, we don’t buy anything without reading the ingredients. We have educated ourselves and following keto and gradually falling into a low carb or ‘banting’ diet has been extremely beneficial.”

This interest in healthy eating extends to Afshan’s business – Go Nuts Qatar – a pure nut butter brand, which she created after noticing a shortage of pure, healthy nut butters in the Qatar market.

“All my products are free of oil, sugar and preservatives,” says Afshan. “Some of my best sellers include the activated almond butter, raw chocolate spread [a healthy hazelnut spread without oil or refined sugar], peanut butter and the precious golden paste [a holistic medicinal anti-inflammatory paste made of fresh turmeric, black pepper, etc]. All products are also prepared in small batches to preserve freshness.”

Qatar and keto

Over the past year, the interest in keto has soared in Qatar, with more people struggling to keep off the weight and resist the sumptuous eateries available in this country.

“Keto is a diet that doesn’t require you to give up on a lot of good things,” says Afshan. “It’s an inclusive diet that encourages high fat intake. Due to this, and word of mouth, most people in Qatar are either following keto, or are at least are now aware of it.”

Afshan’s passion for keto and healthy eating soon got noticed by popular health brand Ideal Diet, who invited her to become a recipe developer and educate others about the benefits of following a ketogenic diet.

“Ideal Diet is as passionate about real food as I am and we collaborated with our mutual love for bringing authentic keto meals to Qatar,” she explains.

“They are the pioneer of bringing keto meals, desserts and breads to the public in Qatar. Everything is prepared in their state-of-the-art kitchen under careful supervision and goes through several inspections. They also provide tailor made meal box services for the patrons of the keto diet.”

Benefits of a keto diet

Although keto was originally introduced to help regulate seizures and autism, it has quickly become one of the most popular weight loss diets across the world.

Afshan is quick to list a long number of benefits that come from following keto. “My appetite and junk food craving is minimal, compared to what it was,” she says. “Like most people I couldn’t function if I didn’t get an afternoon nap, but now I start my day at 5:30am and don’t feel the need for a break until bedtime at 10pm. Even my migraine attacks have come down by at least 75%.”

“It goes without saying that, as with all diets, it is important to speak to a dietician and do your own research,” warns Afshan. “Keto should be avoided by people with kidney dysfunctions, type1 diabetes, or people who have had their gallbladder removed.”

Afshan has worked hard to educate others about keto and she believes that understanding the key principles of the diet is essential for it to truly work. “I would strongly suggest taking out some quality time to research and understand the principles and science behind the keto diet,” she suggests. “This will help you understand the phases or symptoms you may face during your journey.”

Follow Afshan on Instagram:  affblogs

Other benefits include:

1. Healthy weight loss

2. Boosts metabolism

3. Potentially reduces seizures

4. Improves heart health and brain function

5. Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels

However, she is under no illusion that this isn’t a diet for everyone and that, as will all weight loss diets, there are some sacrifices that must be made.

“Be prepared to minimise your carbs, cut out sugar and more importantly, get over the mind block that fat is bad,” she says. “Healthy fat is your best friend in keto. Introducing intermittent fasting will also be extremely beneficial during your keto journey. Joining support groups on social media is absolutely helpful as you can connect with people on the same journey.

“Finally, I would recommend signing up for a tailor made keto meal box service, like the one carefully curated by Ideal Diet Café.”

PHOTOS: Cover – Viktor Kochetkov/Shutterstock, 1 – Zurijeta/Shutterstock, 2,3 – Gonutsqatar/Instagram, 4 – Xavierarnau/Gettyimages, 5 – Afshan/Instargam

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