There never seems to be an end to the array of diet trends continuously flooding the media. Many of these attract our attention because they claim that following the diet being currently touted will not only help you lose weight but will also boost your energy levels.
One such diet is the keto diet. It became one of the hottest diet trends of 2018. The keto diet is very low in carbohydrates and very high in fats. Proponents of this diet state that when you follow its food consumption regimen, you send the body into a state of ketosis. This means that your body is utilizing fat and its components (ketones) as its primary source of fuel.
Keto proponents praise the diet for its weight-loss benefits, although mostly any positive weight changes seem to be short-termed and unsustainable. This is because some keto diets eliminate many of the core food groups, drastically restricting the intake of fruit and vegetables, dairy foods, and whole grains. Keto diet advocates also claim that adherence to the diet has led to an increase of energy levels, mental focus, and disease prevention; however, research is not available to back these claims. Also, many people have experienced short-term side effects from following the diet, including fatigue, headaches, constipation, halitosis, and nausea. Does it make sense to diet in a way that causes the body to become imbalanced?
Sadhguru helps us understand how we can know what the right diet is to maintain a healthy body and a balanced system.
Sadhguru: Every few years, a different theory emerges on what kinds of foods to eat, and there are a whole lot of people who follow it religiously. People talk about “veganism”! We shouldn’t be making food a religion. It is not about what you or someone else believes. It is about eating sensibly.
The first thing to remember is that essentially, food is fuel. If you want to refuel your car, you go to the gas station and choose the appropriate fuel for this particular machine, in order to achieve optimal performance. You could put kerosene into your car and it would actually drive, but it may smoke and cough, and you may not be able to accelerate as you want. This is the situation with most people when it comes to their food choices. To choose the appropriate fuel, you need to know what type of machine you are.
Eating properly is an important aspect of health. If you are interested in your wellbeing and that of your children, you must ensure that the food you eat is fresh. The average American eats processed food that has been prepared three or six months ago. In the yogic culture, we always consume cooked food within 1.5 hours after it comes off the stove. If it’s any later, inertia will set in. If you eat food that creates inertia in the system, you will lose all your dynamism. There is also a correlation between the kind of food you eat and the amount of sleep you need. Generally, doctors advise that everyone must sleep a minimum of eight hours. If you sleep eight hours per night, it means you are sleeping one third of your life.
People are writing whole books on how everyone must sleep eight hours and warn of dire consequences if you don’t. These days, I am getting a little lazy and sleep for four hours. But earlier, for twenty-five years, I used to sleep less than three hours per day, and I am healthy. The body needs restfulness, not sleep. One important factor of how much sleep you need is what type of fuel you put into your system. If you put the wrong fuel into your car, it will need a lot of servicing. Similarly, if you put the wrong fuel into your system, it will need a lot of sleep.
There are many aspects that need to be considered in this context. One important factor is that you may be eating food that has a high level of inertia in it. We classify foods as rajas, tamas, or sattva. Tamas means inertia. If you eat food that has the quality of inertia to it, then how can you be active? If you eat dull food, it will make you dull.
Your body is just an accumulation of the food that you have eaten, after it has been transformed and assimilated. There is a certain intelligence, memory, and genetic code in the body that determines what the food that you eat is converted into. For example, the same apple, depending on who eats it, becomes part of the body of a woman, a man, or a cow.
In the yogic tradition, we always said you must eat what is furthest away from you, genetically. In that sense, plant life is furthest away from us.
As life evolves, the information and memory an organism carries get increasingly complex. In the yogic tradition, we always said you must eat what is furthest away from you, genetically. In that sense, plant life is furthest away from us. If you must eat non-vegetarian food, we advised the consumption of fish, because among the animals, it is furthest away from a human being, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective. As the first animal life on the planet is thought to have evolved in water, the first avatara was matsya avatara or the fish.
After a century of saying the best thing to eat is meat, doctors in the West are slowly shifting to a different view today. For some time now, they have been saying that beef is the main cause for most of the cardiac ailments in America. And in the last few years, they are also saying that meat consumption is a cause for cancer. In the yogic culture, we have been telling you for ten thousand years that if you eat foods with a complex genetic code, your system will break down, one way or the other. We arrived at that not by doing million-dollar research, but just by observing what happens in our system when we eat. If you pay enough attention, you will know. Every creature does. A dog just knows what to eat and what not. Human beings do not know because they go by whatever information someone gives them, not by awareness of life.
So, do not make food some kind of a religion. If it is a question of survival, eat what is available. But when survival is taken care of, there is a choice. When you have a choice, you must eat sensibly, what is best for your system. The ideal fuel for your body is what leaves you alert, agile, and active. You could experiment. One day, just eat fruits; another day, just eat raw vegetables; yet another day, you cook the vegetables; then you eat fish, you eat meat – try out everything. With what kind of food you are experiencing maximum levels of energy and alertness, please eat that, and you will be healthy.