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Muhammad Umar (before) and after his weight loss Image Credit: Supplied

When sleep becomes a distant dream, it’s time to analyse your issues. Compounding the interrupted rest were sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol and insulin resistance .

And every day there was the guilt. That heavy feeling in the heart knowing that you hadn’t done what you really wanted to do. Thirty-four-year-old Muhammad Umar, from Pakistan, found himself unable to pray properly, because of his “over-sized body” ; he weighed 158kg.


What changed his life in December 2018 was a meeting with a colleague on a Keto diet, who had undergone a metamorphosis. “I was amazed by my friend’s transformation and I told myself tomorrow never comes,” he says.

So he began to wonder and question and learn: What was ketosis and how could he benefit from the high fat, medium protein and low carb programme? His wife – a great support, he says – began to rethink traditional combinations.

“I was able to lose 13kg in the first month,” he says. It was mostly water weight. ”Every day was a motivation for the day after. It was not necessary to reduce weight every week, what was more important was the patience and the belief that one day things will be better.”

Soon the father of three began to notice a definite change in his silhouette; the most amazing change was the change in the size of his wrists, unencumbered by water retention they had shrunk.

Umar had a problem most can identify with – the willpower to just say NO.

No to peers who wanted to eat store-bought meals, no to eating lavish dinners with friends, no to new cuisines and desserts while travelling. Slowly though, he says, people began to see his need for change and instead of resentment, he garnered support. “I felt more energetic and motivated due to such transformation,” he explains. And when he kept at it, “others also started to realize I was on a mission to change. The mission to heal myself for the betterment of my future”, he says.

His employer began to see the difference in him, too. “[They] also empowered us to opt for a healthy lifestyle by providing us subsidized gym membership program from the best fitness providers,” he explains. And so he began an exercise regimen that saw him exercising from between 30 and 40minutes, five days a week, when he walks, swims or heads to the gym.

He calls Keto a lifestyle choice and not a diet to crunch those numbers. " I visited my doctor after 5 months of Ketosis and he did all my detailed [health] checks and guess what, all those numbers which used to be in Red or on the borderline were changed to Green,” says Umar.

As the journey continues, Umar, who has been in Dubai since 2003 says, “This is a diverse city with so much to offer. There is almost everything [in terms of food] available here - what matters is what one chooses.”

His determination has led to incremental changes in his life: He has lost 52kg in 9 months. His blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are better. And sleep – well, sleep has become a good friend.

Umar's day menu
First thing in the morning: 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar and pinch of pink salt in a glass of water.

Breakfast: 2 eggs with vegetables made in different ways.

Lunch: A bowl of salad like Caesar salad or Tabooleh or Fatoush topped with chunks of chicken and feta cheese

Dinner: Kebabs, or grilled chicken or fish, or meat curry with coconut flour roti or cauliflower rice

This is part three of our weight-loss success stories from the UAE. Have you undergone a transformation? Would you like to share your story? Write to us at readers@gulfnews.com