Health & Fitness Inviting Readers to form NRIPulse’s Low-Carb Support Group: Have you ever been on a low-carb diet? Did it work for you? Do you have low-carb secrets or recipes to share? Do write to us at and be part of our low-carb club! 
*Four Months & 33 lbs Later

Desi Version Of a Popular Low-Carb Diet

When I first ventured into my low-carb regimen, I did not mean to stick to it longer than 2 weeks. I was pretty well known for my sweet tooth, my weakness for everything unhealthy, for those cravings that struck even at my work place. In fact, my colleagues accused me of getting them addicted to sweet nothings that were high on calories and bad for their figure. But well, I had to do something about my weight that had steadily climbed to an ominous 205 lbs! In the two years that I stopped my gym routine, I had gained an incredible 52 lbs! I was beginning to have severe acid reflux problems, and I often imagined that I was having palpitations.

That was when a friend of mine mentioned to me about the South Beach Diet, which was supposed to be easier than the other low-carb diets, and more suited to the Indian eating ways. The diet promised a weight loss of 8-13 lbs in the first two weeks!

I didn’t believe for a moment that I would be able to stick to the diet beyond two weeks. But here I am, four months later, and 33 lbs lighter, still pretty much on the diet. 

The diet worked for me primarily because of two reasons. The pay-off was high. I began to shed weight almost immediately. In the first two weeks, I had lost 10 lbs. The weight loss continued steadily, and by the end of 2 months, I had lost close to 25 lbs. The second reason was, as promised, the diet curbed my cravings for sweets and carbs. The Beach does not demand calorie counting and portion restrictions. But, for somebody, who couldn’t survive without chocolates and rich desserts, reaching this craving-less state was nothing short of magical.

It also helped to have a support system. My sister-in-law went on the diet along with me. We support each other, and exchange recipes. Encouraged with my success story, many friends are now at various stages of the regimen.

Popular low-carb diets are not designed keeping the Indian eating habits in mind. That is where creativity comes to play. My sis-in-law and I have devised ways to Indianize the diet to suit our palate. 

The following is an Indian variation to the low-carb diet.

 Phase I Goals
In the first two weeks you can lose anywhere from 8-13 pounds, mostly from your belly.
The reason for restricting the foods below is to reverse insulin resistance, reduce cravings, and get you losing fast.
What did I eat: Eggs, chicken breast, fish, canola oil (I limited intake to just 2 tsps a day), non-fat milk, non-fat cheese, non-fat yogurt, skim milk ricotta cheese, veggies (carrots, potatoes, corn and beets have a high glycemic value, and are to be strictly avoided) and lots of nuts. I also added my own Indian recipes to the diet. Moong dal dosas*, and low-fat paneer.
I usually marinated my chicken breast in tandoori masala and baked/grilled it, after spraying it with ‘I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter’ cooking spray.
To satisy my sweet tooth, I added Splenda sugar substitute in my tea and coffee, and into my desserts.(Pls see recipe for mocha ricotta crème below.) I also stocked my freezer with non-sugar fudgesicles and sugar free jello.

Phase II Goals
Foods I Reintroduced: One phulka (dry roti) or 2 slices of brown bread topped with peanut butter for breakfast. Green peas, black eyed peas, rajma, chole, sprouts, one serving of fruits like mangoes, strawberries, apples, oranges, grapes, grapefuit, dried and fresh apricots, cantaloupe, cherries, peaches and plums. In fact, most fruits except bananas and watermelons.
I am still on phase II of the diet. These days, I do not cook separate meals. If I have to eat chicken, I just pick the breast pieces from the chicken curry I’ve cooked for my family, or I break in a couple of eggs into the curry. The same goes for veggie curries. I eat the same food my family does, except for the rice and rotis. Don’t I feel hungry? Well, I’ve added another Indian trick to my diet. I make thin dosas out of besan (chickpea flour) and have them as substitute for roti. Also, since there are no portion restrictions, I eat really big portions until I feel full. I also keep a jar of peanuts, almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts handy for whenever hunger strikes. One can eat up to 6 times a day in this diet.

Phase III Goals
I will get into the third phase of the diet once I reach my target weight loss. The third phase is a maintenance phase and is life-long. When I reach that phase, I will increase my carb intake. I will have a roti with every meal. Or, alternatively, I will have one serving of brown (par boiled) rice. I will enjoy regular food, but sensibly. I will probably enjoy a chocolate/dessert once a week. But at all times, I will guard myself against going back to my old binging habits.

Quick Recipes:

Moong Dal Dosa: Soak moong overnight. Grind to a fine paste, along with cumin, coriander leaves and salt. Make thin dosas and relish by itself or during lunchtime with curry.

Tomato Omelet
: Mix besan with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, salt, turmeric and water. Spread on hot pan to make thin ‘omelet’. Flip over after a while.

Mocha Ricotta Crème: Mix together half-cup skim milk ricotta crème, two packs Splenda, walnut or pecan bits and mocha (coffee). Makes a tasty dessert.

-Veena Rao

*This article is written by a non-medical person and is not meant to be taken as medical advice.