So, some months ago I jumped onto the hottest bandwagon in town - the Ketogenic lifestyle.
Don’t blame me. I had become desperate enough to try a method my common sense had previously warned me against. But as the waistline continued expanding and favourite and even non-favourite clothes were suddenly too snug for comfort, it became clear that desperate measures were required.
Of course I could have bought new clothes or changed my entire wardrobe as my tailor gleefully suggested but we all know that only ‘strong men and women’ are capable of such a feat in a typical Buhari economy.
You see, even before minister Lai Mohammed started his controversial ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign, real change – the type you don’t hear about on NTA stations but experience everyday – had already begun with many of us. We had taken the hit where it hurt most – our bank accounts.
You now understand why making new clothes was completely off the table?
It was quite easy getting enamoured and thinking that the Ketogenic diet was the ultimate answer to the unwelcome weight gain challenge. You see the pictures on social media by seconds, the BEFORE and AFTER photos, real wonders made possible by the diet.
For the uninitiated, the ketogenic diet is a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. It involves drastically reducing one’s carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. When the carbohydrate intake is extremely reduced as is practised in the ketogenic lifestyle, the body is put into a metabolic state called ketosis.
Once the body is in ketosis, it burns fat for energy, depleting the stored fat in the body. This results in significant weight loss within a short time.
But my keto journey didn’t last long; just after a month I fell off the wagon and I will tell you my reasons right away.
I wasn’t very comfortable with the amount of fat and protein I had to consume daily to make up for all the carbs I was meant to give up.
My little research about the safety of the diet didn’t bring very comforting results either. Apart from the fact that the diet had helped patients with epilepsy and also those with diabetes, I didn’t see medical experts encouraging it as a lifestyle.
Furthermore, while it’s true that many of the promoters of diets like Keto will tell you to ask your doctor before commencing, we also know that this is Nigeria where having a qualified medical doctor at your beck and call isn’t exactly conventional.
I certainly don’t see myself going to the Federal Medical Centre to ask a doctor to certify me qualified for the ketogenic or any diet at all.
The doctor would probably think I’m just a jobless attention-seeking busybody.
Apart from the various controlled clinical trials of the ketogenic diet on patients (not for cosmetic reasons), there haven’t been many studies and even what is out there are mostly less than a year old long. There are no long-term studies. It’s still not clear the kind of possible long-term health risks a diet like keto may bring home to its ardent followers.
The word, from this side therefore remains, caution, especially as some health experts believe that eating large amounts of fat and protein from animal sources, may increase risks of heart disease or and certain cancers.
But the experience for me also came with some positives.
It was during this this journey I experienced, first hand, the resilience and creativity of Nigerian women. I belonged (still do) to different ketogenic lifestyle groups and they were all big with sharing. Many of the Keto buffs online were always eager to share recipes and the varied creative ways of winning the ketogenic race.
As a matter of fact, the creativity tops the chart.
Everyone and their rabbit know that many Nigerians don’t joke with their morsel meals. Take away morsel meals from the typical Nigerian diet and see how bare the menu table is left. What else do you want people to do with all those exotic soups that require hours and hard labour in the kitchen to prepare?
Remember when you’re on the keto diet, carbohydrate and all its accomplices become the big enemy?
But you don’t worry. All sorts of vegetables are now great replacements for traditional morsel meals like eba, fufu, amala, tuwo and pounded yam. You’ll certainly have to be ultra-creative to turn a leafy vegetable like pumpkin leaves into a morsel meal and that’s what many Nigerian women have successfully done in order to remain in the race.
The commerce is another keto angle worth attention. The way things are going at the moment, it won’t be long before we have a full blown keto industry. Remember the different social media groups I talked about earlier? Many of them have lists of vendors all over the country where the faithful can conveniently purchase compliant ingredients right down to seasonings. Nothing is left to chance.
Many others are also smiling to the bank by just holding monthly online keto camps for women for a fee.
I won’t be surprised to hear of a keto restaurant in the coming months.
It doesn’t get better than this.
By now many would be wondering if I did lose weight after all and how much.
Well, let’s just say that some of those clothes I had planned to retire are now back to the frontline.
Whoever says our Buharinomics isn’t working can come argue with my wardrobe!