Lighter, happier and more focused — these are the benefits keto diet-ing has brought actor Darryl Yong.

What was once a fad diet has now gained significant traction across the world. The expanding list of endorsements includes Hollywood names like Vanessa Hudgens, Tim Tebow and Kim Kardashian, as well as local celebrities including Nat Ho, Silver Ang and Darryl Yong. Many of them swear by the diet, and most vouch for the amazing weight loss results the diet promises.

But what does the diet entail that the guides don’t tell you? Do you have to spend hours in the gym or in the kitchen meal-prepping?  Yong and Ho share how being on the diet is like for them, and drop tips on how you can do it too.

Going against the grain

The ketogenic (or keto in short) diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is similar to more commonly-known low-carb diets such as Atkins. It involves reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fats.

At this point, you may be wondering if loading yourself up with fats will help you lose weight. The answer is yes.

It’s ironic, we know. Ho, who started his keto diet some five months ago, also had reservations.

“Initially, I had my doubts too because low-carb, high-fat goes completely against conventional wisdom and advice,” the actor says. “Who would have thought eating khong bak (fatty pork) and all those fatty cuts of beef can actually help one lose weight?”

“Who would have thought eating khong bak (fatty pork) and all those fatty cuts of beef can actually help one lose weight?”

– Nat Ho

But he did lose weight. The science of it: reduction in carbohydrates forces your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where your body then converts fats into ketones for energy.

Discipline is key

The low-carb diet is definitely an obstacle for many of us Asians, given the fact that rice and noodles are a huge staple in our diet. For the diet to work, according to Ho, we have to keep carbohydrate intake at 10 percent of our overall consumption.  That could mean divorcing some of our favourite foods (think sushi, nasi anything, or chicken rice).

But for fellow Tanglin actor Yong, it is all in the head. Yong tells us that he has tried the keto diet – once in 2010 when he was competing in Star Search, and again in 2013 when he had to appear topless on screen for Mediacorp drama series Point of Entry 3. He’s once again taking up the diet for his appearance on screen in ongoing drama series Tanglin. The diet has been with him through ups and downs and has definitely played a part in shaping his career.

Yong (left) has pulled out the keto diet multiple times to get in shape for on-screen appearances which demand a great physique.

“Discipline is key so every morning or the night before, I would prepare my own meals such as boiled broccoli and chicken and eggs and refrain from eating any food outside,” says the actor, who is also a fitness instructor.

“When you can find a good, solid reason to be in shape and keep fit, you can easily conquer any diet,” says Yong, adding that as an actor, looking good is part of the job so the synergies are obvious. He cites wanting to experience life till an ripe, old age as yet another reason he keeps his diet in check.

“When you can find a good, solid reason to be in shape and keep fit, you can easily conquer any diet.”

– Darryl Yong

The keto diet is definitely not for the faint-of-heart and one needs to be determined, says Ho. The 34-year-old has opted for an alternative form of keto dieting that cuts some slack for people who love their carbohydrates: exogenous keto dieting.

“Exogenous ketones are the newest and most exciting development in the arena of sports nutrition and it makes it a lot easier to achieve the benefits of ketosis,” he says. The diet, according to Ho, is hassle-free and involves drinking one to two packets of exogenous supplement.

Cleansing the palette

Ho tells us that he witnessed “super effective and immediate” results in 11 days, but at the same time, warns that ketosis has a diuretic effect.

“If you’re not drinking enough water, you might experience issues like headaches due to dehydration. But that can be easily resolved by drinking more water,” he says.

There are of course some cons of the keto diet. It is certainly not the cheapest dieting method, and it might be time-consuming when you take into account the meal preparation. Yong still recommends that we try the diet – doubly important for those who love carbohydrates like him.

“White carbs are like drugs (to the system),” he says, adding that the diet can cleanse not only our systems but our palettes.

“Because of the diet, you (enjoy) better energy, mental focus and clarity, and (experience) better sleep,” says Ho. “I am sure we can all do with more of these benefits.”

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This diet keeps Tanglin stars Nat Ho and Darryl Yong trim
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