The “ketogenic diet” popularly known as the “keto diet” has become mainstream and widespread across the country with hoards of keto food services and courses opening up in various cities. But how did such an extreme diet manage to rise so quickly?
The keto diet is essentially a switch from carbohydrates to protein and fats. Originally developed to treat children with seizures, the diet puts the body in the metabolic state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs when your body measures fat instead of carbohydrates to produce energy, meaning that you lose weight very quickly because your body is burning fat. People have reported to lose 20 pounds in 20 days because of the keto diet.
Although this diet has been around for decades, there is very little research on the long term suitability of this diet on human health and potential health benefits. Nevertheless, that has not halted keto’s rise to popularity in Pakistan. Today, there are various keto food services across the country and people are paying a hefty price to take keto courses in an effort to slim down before shaadi season. For a diet that is so restrictive, ill-researched and a “fad diet”, it is interesting that it gained so much strength so quickly. There are various factors that can explain the rise of the keto diet in Pakistan.
Social media has become a major factor in keto’s rise to popularity. Because the diet offers immediate results, the diet has been able to gain popularity via social media due to its extremely photogenic nature. Dramatic before and after photos on Instagram and other social media website have helped the diet go viral. Moreover, celebrities and social media influencers have also played their part in promoting the diet through attractive photos and videos of themselves strictly following the regimen and exhibiting results. More recently, Bollywood celebrities such as Alia Bhatt have even opened up about their love for the diet as well further promoting it among the Bollywood-loving Pakistani elite.
Additionally, the keto diet is expensive. Reports suggest that it can be 5-10 times more expensive than other, less restrictive diets. Due to it’s high cost and popularity on social media, the diet has become a trend among Pakistani elite who see it more as a statement or “brand” than a real diet. Being able to do the keto diet is a luxury- after all, you’re following the same diet as Alia Bhatt. It is now trendy to upload Instagram stories of yourself having keto food and there has been a sharp increase in people wanting to get featured on popular keto before and after social media pages.
The impending shaadi season in Pakistan is another reason why keto has managed to dominate. With shaadi’s happening continuously throughout the year taking particular momentum in the winter season, people are desperate to latch onto the first fad they hear about to slim down before weddings. Keto diet pages have done well in marketing in this regard- by promising quick results and showcasing people in wedding outfits they ensure that they are targeting the right, desperate demographic.
Like most fad diets, the future of keto in Pakistan is uncertain. As more research continues to surface on this diet, it’ll be interesting to see whether this trend continues to gain momentum or fizzles out.
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