I lost 20 kilos and counting: Success stories from those who've adopted a new diet in lockdown
Complete with expert tips and recipes you can follow
While we were lying in shavasana for four-hour Netflix binges and caring for our growing food babies, a tribe of overachievers decided to use this national house arrest wisely. By taking on a new diet in lockdown.
With fewer temptations to challenge their willpower, and the added advantage of home-cooked meals, they seem to have covered quite a bit of ground – from veganism, and keto to intermittent fasting, and in some cases, even a fusion of dietary regimes.
We interviewed four individuals who’ve set out on dietary adventures, and here’s what you can learn from them. If this is your first time venturing into the intimidating world of fitness, we also have experts to help guide you.
P.S. Keep scrolling for mouth-watering recipes you can try at home.
What we learned by changing our diet in lockdown
Diet in lockdown: Keto
Pracheer Surana, 52, tried the extremely popular Ketogenic or Keto diet and lost 15 kilos in four months. “You increasing fat and protein intake and minimise carbs. It puts your body in a state called ketosis, which burns fat for fuel,” he explains.
Living in a ‘social city like Jaipur’, Surana realised lockdown had killed all distractions and temptations.
Life changes: To tame his sweet tooth, Surana “would eat my food with full focus, and leave the dining table as soon as I was done to avoid craving other foods”. Adopting a routine helped him stay focused and healthy.
The hardest part was the Keto fever. “You feel nauseous, tired and sleepy. But once you cross that hurdle and your body gets into ketosis, you start feeling light, energetic, and just overall younger and fitter,” he says.
In order to stick to a schedule, Surana began meditating. “My mental state has improved and I have more energy through the day. The best part is, I’m fitter than my 20- year old,” he gloats.
Dr Siddhant Bhargava, co-founder of Food Darzee, explains who should avoid a Keto diet.
- A hight-fat diet is not suitable for people with a history of gall stones or those who’ve had their gall bladder removed because it affects digestion of fat.
- Those with high level of uric acid — usually a genetic condition — as Keto can further increase it, leading to pain.
- A type 1 diabetic who regularly injects insulin into the body. Insulin, when combined with a high-fat diet, can lead to complications if not monitored closely.
Bhargava also recommends consuming multivitamins, an omega-3 supplement with an EPA value over 750mg, and a vitamin C supplement, after consulting your GP.
Keto recipe: Piri-piri paneer tikka
- ½ cup curd, thick
- 2 tbsp piri-piri spice
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp kasuri methi, crushed
- 1/2 tsp chaat masala
- 1 tsp ginger – garlic paste
- 1/4 tsp carom seeds
- 2 tsp gram flour, dry roasted
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 3 tsp oil
- 1/2 onion, petals
- 1/2 capsicum, red and green, cubed
- 5 cubes paneer
- Add all the spices to the yogurt, and mix till all the spices are combined well with curd.
- Then add the onion petals, cubed capsicum and paneer to the mixture along withe oil. Mix gently till the vegetables are coated with the mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- After marination, insert the marinated paneer, capsicum and onions into wooden skewers.
- Roast it on a hot tawa or grill in oven or tandoor till charred as per your liking.
- Finally, sprinkle some chaat masala and serve paneer tikka immediately.
Recipe: Dessert Lane by Shivangi Surana
Diet in lockdown: Vegan
What they did?
Already a vegetarian, student Darshini Singh embraced veganism, which seeks to eliminate all forms of animal cruelty, including from our eating habits.
A documentary called What the Health extolling the benefits of a plant-based diet was her impetus. Around the same time, she was diagnosed as lactose intolerant.
“Coming back home made the switch much easier,” says Singh, who was living as a paying guest with fixed meals prior to lockdown.
Life changes: “I’ve stopped packaged and processed food, and have become more mindful of everything that goes into my meals. I can’t just eat without thinking like I used to,” she says.
But with grandparents who run a dairy farm, giving up curd and buttermilk has been punishing. “Those are the two things I lived on in college,” says Singh.
She has made her peace with it after observing weight loss, glowing skin, and no bloating or indigestion anymore.
“It’s definitely easier to be vegan in lockdown — you can plan meals and the lack of social interactions helps too, but I’m taking each day as it comes,” explains Singh.
Bengaluru-based nutritionist Anupama Menon insists on getting checked for nutritional deficiencies first, then replacing food groups you’re eliminating to avoid problems.
For instance, use nut oils to make up for the lack of ghee or butter. Cold-pressed virgin olive oil is also great for daily use.
Include colourful fruits in your diet as each contains different antioxidants. Choose sprouts, pulses, soya and dal to clock in your required protein intake, and get regular blood tests.
Vegan recipe: Jackfruit kebabs
- 250 g raw jack fruit, diced
- 1 medium potato, boiled
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 red chillies, whole
- 4 green chillies, chopped
- 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp chana dal (optional)
- Salt as needed
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- Oil to fry
- Pressure cook the jackfruit pieces and potato with a little salt, turmeric powder and whole red chillies. Allow them to cool and set aside.
- Once the boiled jackfruit and potato cools, strain them. Peel the potato and keep aside.
- Now transfer into a large bowl and mash both potato and jackfruit properly.
- Add all the spices, salt and chopped onions, green chillies, mint and coriander and mix properly.
- Now pinch a lemon-sized ball and slightly flatten it between both your palms to shape it like a kebab.
- Take breadcrumbs and spread it on a plate.
- Coat the kebab with bread crumbs from both sides. Keep aside.
- Heat a non-stick pan and shallow fry the kebabs gently in batches.
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds above the kebabs and plate them.
- Serve hot with onion and lemon wedges, salad and your favourite dip or ketchup.
Diet in lockdown: intermittent fasting
Sanket Shah lost a whopping 20 kilos in just three months with intermittent fasting . By limiting your meals to a certain period during the day (an 8-hour window, in his case), and fasting for the remaining hours, your digestive system gets enough time to process the food.
The 25 year old eliminated carbs save for rotis, dairy except for paneer, and cheese only on cheat days.
“I used to be very lethargic, waking up post noon on some days. I was also extremely overweight, which was motivation enough,” explains Shah.
Discipline that comes with working out regularly, waking up early, and eating at a designated time has restructured the way Shah functions. Having the self-control not to snack at night is a new addition to his skillset. “Even simple practices like not having water before, during or after meals does wonders for your digestion.”
Life changes: Shah’s biggest challenge was getting his family on board. “For them, a diet meant starving yourself or falling sick,” he says. “Giving up mangoes was a close second.”
After reaching his target weight, Shah plans to transition from intermittent fasting, but “a healthy lifestyle is something I’m going to carry forward. Coming from someone who was overweight, my biggest fear is to go back to that.”
Nutritionist Sweta Gattani of Eatwise says, “Intermittent fasting should not be about weight loss, that’s just a byproduct. The goal should be recovery, repair and rebuilding the body.”
Usually, the digestive system ends up using a lot of energy to digest food, leaving you feeling lethargic and out of sorts. But during intermittent fasting, you aren’t eating for a long period of time, so the body can rest and conserve energy.
Consult an expert before starting your new diet in lockdown to check for pre-existing conditions. Gattani reminds us that intermittent fasting is a gradual process and must not be done erratically.
Intermittent fasting recipe: Oats Upma
- 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup french beans, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup green peas , fresh or frozen
- 7 to 8 curry leaves
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chana dal (split and husked bengal gram)
- 1 tsp urad dal (optional)
- 8 to 10 cashews or peanuts
- 1/2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 green chilies, chopped
- 1 to 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp ghee or oil
- salt as required
- Heat half a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add one cup of quick cooking oats.
- Stir and sauté on a low flame till the oats become crisp.
- Keep stirring continuously so that the oats do not get browned from the bottom.
- Remove oats in a plate or tray and keep aside.
- In the same pan, heat 1-1.5 tablespoons of oil. Add one teaspoon of mustard seeds, and stir and sauté till the mustard seeds crackle.
- Then add one teaspoon of cumin seeds, one teaspoon of chana dal, one teaspoon of urad dal (optional) and eight to ten cashews.
- Stir and sauté till the chana dal gets browned.
- Add chopped onion, and cook till the onions turn translucent.
- Then add ginger, green chilies, and curry leaves, and cook for half a minute.
- Then add carrots, french beans and green peas, and cook for two minutes. After that add the water, cover the pan with its lid, and on a medium flame, simmer and cook this mixture till the veggies are almost cooked.
- Then add the roasted oats. Stir lightly. Add salt as required, mix well.
- Then cover the pan again with its lid and on a low flame, and steam for seven to eight minutes.
- Once done, add one to two tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves, and drizzle with lemon juice before serving.
Diet in lockdown: Keto + intermittent fasting
Fashion designer Aditi Arora, 40, opted for the 16:8 method of intermittent fasting, which requires you to fast for
16 hours and eat for 8. “I have done Keto earlier and it suits me, so I decided to combine them.”
“Not going out or ordering food three to four times a week helped maintain this diet in lockdown.”
From nibbling on something every two hours, all her cravings are now satisfied by a hot cup of tea. “Even cheese, which would normally taste divine, doesn’t excite me anymore.” The same can’t be said for her bread and sugar cravings though.
Arora began walking five times a week, and the results are dramatic. “Because of a lack of time, every time I’d take on a diet, I’d skip the exercise bit. But now I see how well the combination works.”
Bhargava approves of trying this diet in lockdown: “Keto and intermittent fasting should be clubbed together because the hight-fat diet suppresses your appetite, which makes fasting easier. Keto also restricts insulin secretion, which is the basis of intermittent fasting.”
Keto-intermittent fasting recipe: almond flour pancakes
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (use sugar-free syrup for keto)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other liquid oil)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Preheat a skillet over medium-low heat on the stove. As it heats, stir together the almond flour, eggs, maple syrup (if using), olive oil, baking powder, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. The batter will be a little thicker than traditional pancake batter, and will continue to thicken as it sits in the bowl, but don’t add any additional liquid.
- Grease the preheated skillet with butter or olive oil, then pour three to four tablespoons of the batter into the centre of the skillet.
- Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the batter out into a round pancake shape, about one-fourth to half an inch thick.
- Cook until little bubbles start to form around the edges of the pancake, and as soon as the bottom feels sturdy enough to flip (about three to four minutes of cooking time), use a spatula to flip the pancake and cook the other side, for about two to three more minutes.
- Repeat the same steps with the remaining batter and serve warm with toppings of your choice.