Myths of Supplementation , exercise and nutrition

“A must read for Parents/Beginners/Fitness Enthusiasts”

Lack of Scientific Knowledge – In the Public and in Professionals

Vigour Fuel™ began in 2010 realized Ignorance breeds fear. Man instinctively fears what he doesn’t know. Scientific knowledge and facts about supplements rarely reach the common man as there is no common forum for communication and for dissipating information. Voices of nutrition/fitness experts on supplements do not reach him as much as the media that may be as ignorant as him, and he tends to believe the one who is louder. A distrust or suspicion may take root and he may attribute all future contacts with fitness/nutrition professionals attempting to spread knowledge to a vested interest in supplement sales.

Fear of negative consequences impacts human nature more powerfully than any single emotion. Medical/fitness/nutrition professionals, who are themselves ignorant of what supplements are, tend to fuel this fear so as to hide their own ignorance. This further complicates the situation; even if a person comes with an open mind, he/she is unable to distinguish between correct and misleading information provided by so-called technical experts. Knowledge is truly power. Only open communication from both sides can arm our population with the power of fitness and health.


Are Proteins and Supplements safe for human consumption?

"Supplements" and "Protein" are the two of the most misunderstood terms of the 21st century and ridiculously controversial.

Everybody talks how "bad" supplements are. But nobody can explain WHAT they are!

Everybody warns each other about the "side-effects". But nobody can cite even a single case where the so-called side effects were caused!

Everybody cries "Excess protein! Organ damage! But their diets lack enough protein to even meet the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) let alone support muscle growth!

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) are quantities of nutrients in the diet that are required to maintain good health in people.

Why isn't anybody crying "Excess body fat!" when that is easily seen to damage the body's entire metabolism and functioning of all organs and physiological systems? Especially when India is facing rising obesity in its population. India has the dubious honor of having the world's highest number of diabetics! All thanks to its diet which is traditionally & culturally high in carbohydrate & low in protein!

This is the paradox that all technically-sound Indian nutrition/fitness professionals and the defamed supplement industry need to constantly battle.

But why there are so many myths attached to supplements?

Association with steroid use in sports and bodybuilding - fear of so-called "side" effects"

Although their use is illegal and banned by the IOC, anabolic steroids are used by many athletes including bodybuilders. These greatly increase testosterone levels, tremendously boosting anabolism and dramatic muscle gains may be seen.

Due to the change in sex hormone levels out of the normal physiological frames, many side effects are possible. They may range from temporary minor effects such as acne and hair loss, to serious permanent effects such as impotence, gynecomastia (breast formation in males) and liver/other organ damage.

Due to the extreme competitiveness and attempts to break the boundaries of genetic limitations, steroid use is on the rise.

This has proved to be the BIGGEST BANE to the fitness and supplement industry. Supplements have always been paying the price of steroid use and abuse.

Hearing the serious side effects of steroids has clouded the minds of most of the public. Their minds strongly associate supplements with steroids. They easily equate something that is "not food" with "not natural, i.e. artificial" and quickly jump to the panic-stricken conclusion that food supplements are "Drugs!" or "Steroids!" with alarm bells ringing in their minds.

Improper or ignorant use

Improper intake of anything is bad. Even if a person is careless about his/her food and water intake, it can lead to dehydration, acidity or even metabolic disorders such as diabetes. That is not the fault of the food but of the irresponsible consumer! Little do people bother to realize that!

Certain stimulants may be indiscriminately used as "shortcuts to fat loss", substituting a correct fitness and nutrition regime. Ladies or those from the film/glamour industry often fall prey to this illusion of an easy way to get slim or ripped without training or following a restricted diet.

When used, these stimulants are to be taken only in a LIMITED dosage as an addition to a sound training and nutrition regime, NOT AS A SUBSTITUTE. Their labels clearly state that they are not to be used by individuals with existing or underlying conditions such as; hypertension, heart problem, thyroid abnormalities, asthma, etc; when pregnant or nursing; or if under any anti-depressants, etc. These warnings are often ignored.

Again, the supplement pays the price for consumer carelessness.

Media hype and misinformation

Media needs a sensation to sell. With the cut-throat competition, splashing stories with shocking or sensational headlines is rampant. Another contributing factor is irresponsible or careless journalism without verification of facts in a hurry to meet deadlines or just to write what the reader wants to read. For example "creatine kills two" will probably be more eye-catching than "creatine increases power"! Articles providing correct supplement information are rare, and if printed, may be less prominently placed.

The media again has also been a major player in creating and amplifying the two phobias discussed above, steroid-supplement confusion and supposed "harmful effects". Articles discuss protein, creatine, drugs and steroids in the same sentence with absolutely no distinction in their nature, use or effects. Misleading, incomplete and contradicting sentences try to hide the obvious lack of information. This further increases the ignorance and myths, and instills a strong fear in the minds of gullible readers.

For example, when an Indian athlete was caught for doping in the Olympics, a top national daily ran articles on the abuse of 'steroids, protein and drugs' in sports that has influenced youngsters, leading to an 'alarming' increase in use of 'harmful creatine, drugs and stimulants' for fast gains. The athlete was caught for Anabolic steroid usage & the daily blamed supplements.

Social Hypocrisy

Our society tends to accept even the worst faults of its members, perceiving it as a 'known devil'. Any foreign entrant (even a savior!) is usually treated with suspicion as an unknown dangerous element.

Supplements also receive such step-sisterly treatment. Known vices that severely harm our body such as tobacco and alcohol are not a social taboo. But supplements that can only improve our fitness levels and protect our body from deterioration are seen as extremely dangerous.

In spite of the increasing number of tobacco-related deaths, a father may treat smoking as a natural behavior of the youth and may just mildly reprimand him. But if a box of protein supplements enters the house there is panic!

A popular Indian publication once ran an article warning people about the "Ill effects of Supplementation". And in the same issue was an article giving tips on "Responsible Drinking (Alcohol)". That speaks for itself!

Fear of "excess protein" and "organ damage"

An Indian diet is carbohydrate-based and tends to be high-carb, high-fat and low-protein. Whereas a Western diet tends to be high-protein high-fat and low-fibre with excessive consumption of meat-based junk foods such as burgers and pizzas as sole components of meals. This has led to a whole lot of literature printed in the U.S. on 'benefits of vegetarianism' and 'harmful effects of excess protein'.

Unfortunately, with lack of Indian research and advanced literature, most of the Indian public and professionals have formed their opinions based on literature applicable ONLY IN THE WEST; without bothering to analyze the Indian scenario that is totally opposite!

More than 90-95% of Indian diets do not even meet the RDA of protein, let alone the increased requirements of an exercising individual. An accidentally higher protein intake of a hardcore non-vegetarian or those whose diet has been modified by a sports nutritionist may reach or cross the RDA but still tends to be insufficient for muscle growth.

Only a dedicated fitness enthusiast or athlete will prioritize his fitness enough to take painful efforts to meet his optimal protein requirement. That itself is a difficult task, especially for intensely training individuals with a high muscle mass.

Consumption of 'excess protein' is therefore not easily possible and is a ridiculous term to be heard in the protein-deficient Indian population. If any protein does remain unused due to lack of intense training, it will definitely get stored as body fat. But optimal (or even higher) protein consumption in an otherwise healthy individual CANNOT cause any organ damage; and no such case has ever been reported.

Of course, since liver is a centre for protein metabolism and kidney a means to flush out the nitrogenous waste, if a person has a pre-existing kidney or liver condition, total protein in the diet has to be restricted. BUT whatever protein he/she consumes should be of high BV (since it can be best used for tissue repair) and use of whey protein in limited amounts may be a better choice than a higher amount of low BV proteins in food.

The fear of so-called 'excess protein' and 'organ damage' is nothing but a product of a fear in the West, hyped up by media (both Indian and Western) and compounded by actual cases of organ damage from steroid use.

As just discussed above, nothing damages the liver more than alcohol, and nothing ruins lung capacity more than smoking; Food supplements are incapable of these side effects & can only improve the nutritive value of your diet & yet people are more scared of supplements than they are of Smoking & Drinking alcohol

Are Proteins and Steroids similar?

Protein supplements - Steroids. A world of difference

Protein is a macro-nutrient that is a natural component of our diet. It is indispensable as it is the only nutrient that can build our body's muscles. Neither carbohydrate nor fat can perform its functions.

Steroids are drugs that boost production of male anabolic hormone testosterone, which favors body’s muscle building processes over muscle breakdown. But the body still needs protein to build a muscle.

So proteins and steroids are totally different. The connection is only that both are used to gain muscle mass.

Simple use of the word ‘Anabolic’ DOES NOT mean steroids. ‘Anabolic’ simply means that which increases muscle growth. Any high-quality protein from food such as egg and chicken also supports muscle growth and is anabolic. But of course we know that neither egg nor chicken is a steroid. Well, NEITHER IS WHEY! The term ‘anabolic steroid’ is simply a property used to distinguish them from corticosteroid etc that are advised by doctors to reduce inflammation.

Protein supplements are governed by law FDA-FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority of India) and CANNOT contain any steroids. They also CANNOT contain any stimulants (even something as common as caffeine) unless mentioned on the label. Stimulants are present in various combinations in fat loss supplements, never in protein supplements. Use of these stimulants is to be limited only as required.

How Proteins are manufactured, Are they Natural?

Whey also known as (Cheese/Paneer or Curd left over Water) protein is a natural component of milk. It is found only in milk.

A whey protein supplement can be prepared ONLY by extraction of whey from milk or milk products. It CANNOT be manufactured or artificially synthesized. Nature is its only source.

Casein also known as (Cheese/Paneer) can only be derived from milk; albumin can only be derived from egg & soy isolates can only be derived from soybeans. Hence every supplement on the market may be produced in a factory, but finally the source has to come from nature.

Is it good to have natural protein from the box available in market?

Protein supplements do contain safest zero calorie sweeteners such as Sucralose (derived from sugar) and natural or natural identical flavors, so as to make a low-carbohydrate protein product more palatable and acceptable. But with a level of sweetness that is 600 times that of sucrose (Table Sugar), their contribution is small and in normally accepted quantities.

Whether something is good or bad for you has got nothing to do with whether it is natural or artificial. For example, there are mushrooms that are tasty and good for health, but there are deadly mushrooms that are poisonous. They both come from nature.

Even the plastic from which your Laptop, Mobile etc is made up from comes from the nature.

If supplements are natural & safe than why they are only for adults?

An irony of this discussion is that even as we are spending a lot of time and effort in explaining and clarifying the word 'supplements' and urging individuals to use it according to their requirement, mothers all over the country are forbidding their kids to go to school or play without a glass of Horlicks or Complan or Bournvita!

If you look closely, THEY ARE ALL SUPPLEMENTS. And so are Farex and Cerelac which we have fed our babies for years.

They differ from the supplements we are discussing in that they contain high quantity of carbohydrates and very small amounts of protein, providing less protein benefits to adults.

Why Whey is so much popular among all different sources of proteins?

Human milk has the highest quantity of whey. That is why breastfed infants always grow at a faster rate and develops a stronger immune system than infants, who due to any circumstance are fed only cow's milk. Cow's milk contains only 20% whey.

Thus, Nature HAS DESIGNED whey to be available to a newborn because it is easily absorbed (very light on the stomach), supports faster muscle growth and has immune-boosting properties! So why not use it for our muscle growth too?

Who regulates Health Supplement Industry in India?

Supplements and their Government Regulation, In US and India

A 'Supplement' or a 'Dietary or Nutritional Supplement' is used to describe a nutrient, a formulation or some type of compound that is drug-free or natural. The word 'Supplement' means 'in addition to' and so supplements are meant to ADD TO the intake of nutrients from food, and not to act as a total substitute for food.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was passed in the United States in 1994 [the final version of which was published in 1997], which amended the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

It defined a supplement or 'dietary supplement' as "a vitamin, mineral, herb (e.g. ginseng) or other botanical ingredient (except tobacco), amino acid (e.g. glutamine, leucine) and a concentrate, metabolite (e.g. creatine, glucosamine, alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10), constituent, extract or combination of any of the above-listed ingredients" or any other dietary substance for use by humans to supplement the diet and increase total dietary intake.

Ingredients listed separately tell us the sources of the protein, carbohydrate and fat, giving us a further indication of the quality. The ingredients are always to be listed in descending order of the quantity present in the product. So even though the exact quantity of various protein and/or carbohydrate sources used may not be disclosed, their relative proportion can easily be judged.

In India, classification and regulation of supplements is done by Weights and Measures Act and the PFA (Prevention of Food Adulteration Act) now FDA-FSSAI (Food Safety & Standard Authority of India) by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

What are the advantages of taking Supplements?

The Next question, after a person has got over the issue of 'side effects', is always to ask with a curious look, "Do I REALLY need supplements?”. There is no one-word answer for that.

Supplement use is not an end or a goal in itself; they are not to be consumed just for the heck of it. They are A MEANS to reach your ultimate goal, i.e. your desired change in body composition and fitness by the intake of the correct quantity of superior quality nutrients at the specific time required.

So the first question should not be whether to use supplements. It should be

  • What is my goal? What body composition/other fitness goal am I targeting?
  • What quantity of each nutrient do I need and at what time so that I can most effectively reach my goal?
  • Can I get this specific nutrient quality and quantity at the proper time on a daily basis without fail?

This should be answered after a realistic assessment of lifestyle, eating habits (vegan/eggetarians/non-vegetarian), food options available and the changes that can possibly be made in each.

If the answer to the last question is 'No', then YOU DEFINITELY NEED SUPPLEMENTS.

So supplements are not a must and should. But they offer you a way to reach your goal when any of the above-mentioned practical factors are an obstacle.

Supplements offer unique advantages that are, beyond a point, next to impossible to achieve through only food.

Required intake of superior quality nutrients

It is difficult to achieve a high intake of superior quality nutrients through only food as their quantity is usually very limited. For example, whey protein that has the highest biological value is only about 1 gm in a glass of milk! High quantity of pure casein or slow-release micellar casein is also not possible through food alone. The combination of various high quality carbohydrate sources found in supplements, such as maltodextrin and starches from various whole grains, is also difficult to achieve through only carbs from food.

Specific quantity/combination of nutrients desired at the exact time

Foods are all mixes of carbs, protein and fat in almost unchangeable quantities that are fixed by nature. To get a particular combination of nutrients in every meal or at special times such as pre- or post-workout is difficult. For example, non-vegetarian foods give excellent protein but a moderate-to-high quantity of fat (all saturated except for fish). Low-fat high-protein options are limited.

The specific combination of high-glycemic carbs (such as pure glucose) and fast-absorbed protein (such as pure whey) critical for maximum recovery after a workout is not possible through only food. Food substitutions compromise quality and thus the results from the workout.

Powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are required in high doses to neutralize the massive free radical attack and exert an anti-catabolic effect. These quantities are impossible from food.


Putting all other factors aside, convenience is the BIGGEST deciding factor in supplement usage. All limitations in the practical feasibility of a diet are overcome by the simple use of the correct supplement at the right time. This factor alone can help clients maintain a specific diet in spite of practical or lifestyle limitations, and ensure its ultimate success.

A dire need in complete vegans

Vegetarianism is a MAJOR obstacle in achieving both the quality and quantity of proteins absolutely essential for muscle growth. Mostly Plant proteins are of inferior quality, limiting in one or more essential amino acid(s) and are insufficient to support optimal protein synthesis on their own except Soy protein. Also, they are always combined with an undesirably high amount of carbohydrates.

Use of whey and casein supplements, and soy in limited amounts, can easily raise their protein quality adequate for optimal muscle repair and growth.

Eggetarians or lactoovovegetarians (those who consume egg in addition to milk and vegetarian foods) have the option of liberally adding high BV egg protein to their diet but complete vegans (consume only milk and vegetarian foods) do not. Milk and milk products offer excellent quality casein protein but quantities are small and again combined with a lot of carbs.

Use of protein supplements is a dire need for complete vegans.

I eat Eggs and Non-Veg or I am complete Vegetarian, Do I still need protein Supplements?

Supplementation is never a need in itself. Its sole purpose is to achieve a certain protein quality and quantity as required by the targeted goal.

Hence the need for supplementation is relative to the other high-quality protein options open to the consumer. Protein supplements need to be incorporated in quantities according to the consumers requirement and at times when the diet is unable to provide high-quality protein or when a protein source from a supplement offers superior benefits than any from food.

An important factor is whether vegetarianism is followed, and the non-vegetarian food options available.

Vegetarianism, or the reliance on foods of vegetable origin for nourishment, has been practiced throughout history by a wide variety of people for different reasons, particularly focused on religion, health concerns, and ethical qualms about the welfare and killing of animals.

But the number of true vegetarians or vegans (in the sense that they eat no animal based foods) may be small. Many non-vegetarians may deliberately turn vegetarian in the mistaken belief that all non-vegetarian foods are the biggest contributors to excess body fat and health problems. This has been especially escalated with the cry for vegetarianism as the answer to widespread obesity and heart problems in the West, where diets are higher in protein and saturated fats, and low in fibre.

Complete Vegans avoid milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and all other products derived from animal sources, even though animals are not killed to produce them. Fruitarians are rare; those who do not eat animals, animal based products, vegetables, or cereals, leaving them with a diet of only dried fruit, nuts, and perhaps honey.

Much more common are Lactovegetarians and Lactoovovegetarians (eggetarians) they do not eat any food obtained by slaughtering animals but have no objection to consuming products derived from animals without slaughter, such as milk (lacto in Latin) and possibly, eggs (ovo).

Ovolactopollovegetarians eat poultry in addition to eggs and milk. Pescovegetarians consider fish an acceptable food (and perhaps also eggs, milk, cheese, and so on) but not any land animals.

Complete Vegans / Lactovegetarians

In complete vegans, the only main sources of protein available are Soy/Soya and Soyabean products such as tofu.

  • Soya and tofu offer better protein quality than other pulses and legumes.
  • Sprouts and daals (legumes) provide very poor quality protein, extremely low in methionine. Mutual supplementation with the protein in cereals does occur. But it cannot provide enough quantities of even the essential amino acids, let alone the non-essential amino acids, required to support a fast rate of protein synthesis required by an exercising individual. It cannot reach the standard of a first-class protein.
  • Also, all the above foods are combined with a higher quantity of carbs, especially pulses. A high-protein low-carb meal is not an option. Complete vegans DO NOT HAVE ANY pure source of high quality protein.

Protein supplements are a MUST for complete vegans seeking to improve their body composition or fitness. They need to be incorporated as liberally as the client can accept; especially at crucial times such as post-workout, when high quality and quantity of protein is paramount and at night, when a high-protein low-carb meal intake may be required and when a good quality protein can easily favor anabolism over catabolism.

This also applies to Lactovegetarians. For them, Milk and milk products such as paneer and skimmed milk powder are an option. These offer excellent quality casein protein but quantities are limited, and always bring along more of carbs. 


Eggetarians or lactoovovegetarians (those who consume egg in addition to milk and vegetarian foods) can obtain good quantities of precious amino acids from liberal use of eggs. But protein-fat combination in eggs is a limiting factor. To obtain the best amino acid profile, both the egg white and yolk need to be consumed. But the egg yolk also adds saturated fats and cholesterol to the diet. Exclusion of yolks again drops the protein quality.

A compromise can be reached by including egg whites and yolks in a certain combination such as 4:2 or 3:1 depending on the individual's goal and whether other high quality proteins are available to the body.

An eggetarian diet, especially if low-fat, suffers in protein quality. It cannot supply optimal quantities of essential and non-essential amino acids required to favor anabolism over catabolism.

The need for protein supplements is HIGH.


Non-vegetarians may seem to have ample choice of high quality proteins from eggs, chicken, fish and red meat.

But many nutritional considerations tend to narrow the food options

Egg yolks and red meat need to be restricted due to the higher fat and cholesterol content. The white meat also needs low-fat cooking media, depending on the extent of fat restriction required. Consumption of only chicken is also not the best choice as it supplies only saturated fats. Fish is also needed to supply omega-3 fatty acids essential for efficient metabolism and fat-burning.

All food options aside, the BV of none of the above foods can meet that of whey. More importantly, foods CANNOT MATCH UP to supplements at crucial times like Pre and post-workout.

The specific needs of a pre- (slow-acting) and post-workout (fast-acting) protein, supplying rich amounts of anti-catabolic amino acids such as BCAAs and glutamine cannot be met through any food sources.

So there is a DEFINITE need for protein supplements, even in Non-vegetarians, especially pre and post-workout.

Practical or lifestyle limitations further increase the need for protein Supplements in all three classes in order to meet their requirement for High-quality proteins.

What is the best way to lose weight?

The correct question should have been, “What is the best way to lose fat?” The answer is increasing the rate at which you burn calories all through the day when you are not working out. That is, increase your Basal Metabolic Rate. The only way to do that is to concentrate on increasing the metabolically active tissue, 'MUSCLE' in the body. The more muscle you carry the faster your metabolism and hence lesser the fat. Also choose exercise forms such as weight training which help in making a person burn calories at a faster rate even after the cessation of the workout. This is what we call as AFTERBURN.

Weight training damages muscle at a microscopic level and forces the body to initiate repair work after the workout. The repair work requires a lot of calories and goes on through the day. Hence there is an increased requirement for calories and thus less fat. Also you must combine this effort with an emphasis on protein and a restriction on sugar and having at least 5 small meals a day consisting of high thermic value foods such as Fibrous carbs & high protein foods such as chicken & fish.

If I exercise more, will I lose weight faster?

Instead of exercising more you must exercise more intensely. The more intense your workouts the briefer they will be. Spending 3 hours in the gym only signifies lack of intensity. Also in order to build muscle and boost your metabolism, RECOVERY is as important as the breakdown caused by the workouts. If you train 7 days a week you will only tear down lean tissue faster than you can rebuild. This is called as OVERTRAINING and this leads to a decrease in muscle which eventually leads to slowing down of your metabolism which in turn leads to you getting FAT. Workout intensely with weights carrying each set to failure 3-4 times a week for a maximum of 90 minutes (Actually 75 minutes would be ideal.) and 45 minutes of any cardiovascular exercise 3 times a week.

I want to loose fat only from Face/Belly/Thighs etc. only from specific spot?

Spot reduction is a myth. The concept deals with the ability to burn off fat in a particular area only. For e.g. a woman may want to lose fat only on her hips and not on her bust. This is totally impossible. The person tries to achieve this by only working the area in question, for example, a man with fat on his waist will only want to do abdominal training in a bid to lose fat on his waist. The important fact for us to know is that fat belongs to the whole body and is not attached to the muscle underneath. Thus training a particular muscle does not affect the fat on top of it. Fat loss occurs only as a result of increased Basal Metabolic Rate. So your entire weight training workout combined with cardio vascular workouts plus a control over your eating can achieve fat loss in the entire body and not just in the areas that you think you need to lose.

If I go on a strict diet, will I lose weight faster?

Again please stop using the words, “Lose weight and replace them with “Lose Fat”. Apart from that this statement is accurate if you put it in the right perspective. A diet program that is not strict will never work. A strict diet unfortunately is always confused by people to mean a highly restricted calorie diet and starvation. This is totally untrue and starvation can only lead to a slowing down of metabolism.

The Key is to be strict about eliminating the culprit foods (Simple sugars) including the good carbohydrates (Fibrous carbs) in moderation, minimizing starchy carbs, eliminating saturated fats but including a healthy dose of Essential fatty acids such as fish oils, poly and mono-unsaturated fats such as olive and groundnut oil and eating adequate protein (At least 1.5-2.0 grams/Kg of lean weight) to sustain and build lean tissue.

You must do the above consistently and with complete discipline in order to achieve results. Remember losing weight is easy but losing fat is very difficult and requires strictness.

Will eating fat free foods help me lose weight?

No. If you simply eliminate fat from your diet but do nothing to restrict carbohydrates then the body will simply not let go off fat. Apart from this fact eliminating fat completely is unhealthy. Certain essential fatty acids actually help you in losing fat.

People have always confused dietary fat with Body fat. Simple sugars get converted to body fat more readily than dietary fat. Simple sugars spike insulin in the body and this hormone is among other things also responsible for fat storage.

Carbohydrates are your preferred source of fuel for the body and your stored Body fat is your body's secondary source of fuel. In the presence of adequate carbohydrates the body sees no need to rely on Body fat for energy and hence no fat loss.

How many calories do I need?

The correct approach is to not count calories but count grams of protein and carbohydrates that you require through the day distributed over 5 meals. If you want to lose fat, then you must take 1.5-2 gms/kg of body-weight of first class protein (depending on the lean body mass) and no more than 1.5gms/kg of body-weight of complex carbohydrates. Fat must be limited to 2-3 tsp (10-15 gm) of a healthy cooking medium such as olive oil or groundnut or rice bran oil. For weight gain you need 1.5-2 gms/kg of bodyweight of first-class protein (depending on the lean body mass) and 3-4 gms/kg of body-weight of complex carbohydrates. Fat quantity may be slightly higher but still needs to be only good quality fats. These quantities are assuming that the person is working out intensely.

Is being over-weight unhealthy?

Again a wrong question. The right question would be, “Is being obese and having a 40 inch waist unhealthy. The answer is yes. Being overweight with respect to your height does not give you the entire picture. Remember that muscle weighs a lot more than fat but takes up much less space. Hence an individual who is 5' 4” and weighs 88 kgs would be considered highly obese. But if this individual were carrying only 10% body fat then he has no health risks in fact he would be very strong and healthy as compared to another guy who is the same height but weighs 60 kgs but has a body fat% of 25%. The height weight charts and Body Mass Index are both now extinct concepts in fitness, as they do not give us the right picture. So it doesn't matter how much you weigh, what matters is your fat percentage.

If I need to lose weight, do I need to eat small portions through out the day?

Yes. Remember that every time you eat, you increase your BMR as you are giving your body work to do (Digestion). Hence if you eat 5 meals as opposed to 3, the spiking of metabolism occurs much more. This automatically will reduce the quantity of food you eat per meal. Remember that long periods of starvation will lead to hogging at the dinner table. Long gaps between meals also put the body on a storage mode and less resistant to losing body fat. Hence the statement is correct, as 5 meals instead of 3 are better. This does not mean eating more. For instance if you are to consume 150 gms of protein per day, then you would have to consume 50 gms per meal if you were eating 3 meals a day, But if you were eating 5 meals then it would be 30 gms of protein per meal and similarly for carbs and fat.

Will some foods help me burn fat?

This is actually true. Here we are dealing with the Thermogenic value of foods. Every time we eat, the body increases work of digestion and metabolism, forcing the body to increase BMR and thus burn more fat. Certain foods increase BMR a lot more than other foods. In a nutshell the harder it is for the body to digest a particular food the more it will increase BMR.

The foods with a high Thermogenic value are fibrous carbs which are vegetables of all kinds and animal sources of protein such as chicken, Fish, Eggs. These foods can actually raise your body's BMR. Also as previously mentioned essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 actually help in burning body fat stores and also increase HDL levels and reduce LDL levels.

If I eat a heavy dinner will I put on weight?

No. It is generally a healthy practice to have a light dinner. But what counts is what you eat and not when you eat. It is sugar laden foods at night that will cause a problem. Eating high-calorie foods like cookies, ice cream and cakes in front of the TV late at night lead to weight gain because of the high-sugar nature of the foods, not only because it's late in the evening.

As a standard practice, keep the night meal the lowest in terms of carbohydrates. A good dinner consists of adequate quantity of first-class protein such as chicken, fish, eggs or skimmed paneer with high quantity of fibrous carbohydrates such as green vegetables and salad. Complex carbohydrates such as whole cereals are included in dinner only in a muscle gain diet, not in a fat loss diet.

I have lost weight and put it on back again. What could be the reason for this?

The reason is simple you lost weight instead of losing Fat. When you lose weight you tend to lose more muscle and less fat. This loss of muscle sets you up for further fat gain by lowering your BMR. Remember you are fat because of a sluggish BMR and now if you just lose weight without an effort at holding on to muscle, then you will simply compound the problem by lowering your already sluggish BMR.

Once I lose weight, can I eat the way I used to?

Always remember that once an Endomorph always an endomorph.

You can never let yourself lose sight of the fact that your body has a tendency of gaining weight. So certain foods that gets easily stored as fat will always be out of bounds for you. As long as you are working out hard, adequate good quality protein will have to be maintained. Carbohydrate foods will also have to be restricted but quantity may be increased depending on increase in lean body mass and workout intensity.

Of course if you are disciplined enough to stay clean in your diet most of the time then you could eat something you like in moderate quantity maybe once in 15 days.

Do I need to exercise even if I am not fat?

This is a big myth very prevalent in our Indian sub context. Fitness is about cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, musculoskeletal strength, flexibility and ideal body composition. Hence carrying excess body fat is only one aspect of fitness. Whether you are fat or thin you have to workout to cause an increase in all the above stated components of fitness.

Can I take Fat Burner for fat loss?

First and foremost we must know what comprises a fat burner pill before we pass judgment on its safety. Most popular and leading brands of fat burners contain herbal forms of:

Ephedrine - A sympathomimetic beta-2 agonist that increases BMR by stimulating the central nervous system, increasing heart rate and body temperature. (Since leading manufacturers of food supplements are all from the US & Ephedrine is banned in many states in the US, now products contain Synephrine instead of Ephedrine. It is claimed to be a good replacement for Ephedrine & is derived from the fruit Bitter Orange or Sour Orange (Citrus Aurantium)) Ephedrine is derived from a herbal source – Ma Huang.

Caffeine - A nervous system stimulant that also has a lipolytic property which means that it releases fat from adipocytes and makes them available to be burnt in the mitochondria of muscle cells. Caffeine is derived from a herbal source – either Guarana or Kola Nut.

Aspirin - A prostaglandin inhibitor. Prostaglandins always try and get the elevated body temperature back to normal and end fat loss via thermogenesis. Hence by blocking the action of prostaglandins, aspirin actually extends the effective duration of ephedrine and caffeine. Aspirin or salicylic acid is derived from a herbal source – White Willow Bark.

To say that they are unsafe would be incorrect, but they do require responsible usage and unlike supplements like protein powders, they cannot be taken by everyone. People with the following medical conditions should never even consider taking these pills;

Hypertension, History of any kind of cardiac disorder or stroke, Tachycardia or Arrhythmia (Irregular heart beats), People on MAO inhibitors (Anti depressants), Pregnant or lactating women, Diabetics, Peptic ulcers. If you are completely healthy, then you can take them according to the dosage prescribed on the bottle, but please know that these pills only make fat burning efforts more effective. But without fat burning efforts such as a strict diet and intense workouts, they cannot work. So if you are not committed to your diet and workout then taking these pills would be a waste of money.

After some time in a weight loss program my weight doesn't seem to budge. It is very frustrating. What is the solution?

The solution is that you shouldn't be doing a weight loss program, you should be doing a Fat loss program.

If you starve yourself and do excessive cardio then you will lose a lot of muscle and hence a lot of weight, but your sluggish BMR will plummet even lower. When that happens the body will no longer be in a caloric deficit despite starving, as the body will now need much lesser calories than it used to. This is what will bring you to a plateau and then will set you up for further fat gain.

Stop checking the scale and pay more attention to measurements and the way the body looks and the way your clothes fit. Pay more attention to sustaining and gaining muscle and fat will take care of itself. If you are gaining muscle and losing fat, your waist will get slimmer but the weighing scale may not register a substantial decrease.

This is totally acceptable and in fact a desired effect of the right kind of training and diet.

Do I need Protein Shakes even if I eat Eggs, Chicken, Paneer etc?

Yes. You can use a protein shake as a part of your diet, if you are not having adequate amount of dairy products, eggs or meat in your diet. Remember protein shakes derive their protein from natural sources such as milk (Whey and Casein), Egg (Albumen), Soya bean (Soy isolates). Hence these powders can do you no harm. In fact it makes eating healthy easy. It is also a convenient way to increase your protein intake without increasing your caloric intake too much. Complete Vegans will need to supplement their diet with protein shakes as they have complete absence of first class sources of protein (As they are all found mostly in animal sources). In fact if your diet does not provide you with adequate protein, then it is downright unhealthy to workout intensely as you will only lose muscle.

Are high protein diets safe?

There is no such thing as a high protein diet. The moment you start to workout your requirement of protein goes up. Thus a person who is working out must take protein in higher quantities than a sedentary person. A sedentary person requires 0.8 gms/Kg of body-weight and a person working out intensely requires 1.5-2 gms/Kg of body-weight. This simple fact is erroneously confused as an excessively high protein diet which it is not. Increasing protein in a person who has started working-out is just giving him the adequate protein & not excessively high.

Does whey protein build muscle quicker than other protein

That is not true. As long as the person is getting 1.5-2 gms/Kg body-weight of protein everyday from first class sources he will continue to build muscle (given the fact that he trains intensely and prioritizes rest and recovery). Whey protein is superior only in giving a boost to muscle repair (anabolism) immediately after the workout due to its high biological value and fast speed of digestion and absorption. Whey and other protein powders also supply less calories and are more convenient, making it easier to meet the daily protein requirement. They also become essential in a complete vegan's diet.

Is Creatine safe to take?

Creatine has no known side effects. The dosage is 3-5 gms/day. It is present in the body in the form of Creatine phosphate and is involved in regeneration of ATP (The energy source required by muscle to contract.) Research has proven that increasing Creatine stores to super normal levels through ingestion of Creatine as a supplement enhance the ATP cycle and hence increases the contractile ability of muscles. In short you do get stronger with Creatine. It has been sold OTC for the past 20 years and lots of research has been done to find long term side effects of Creatine supplementation and they all have reported, “No known side-effects.”

Will carbohydrates make me fat?

There are 2 kinds of Carbohydrates, fast-absorbed and slow-absorbed. The fast-absorbed carbohydrates get absorbed into the blood stream immediately, thus spiking insulin. Raised insulin levels promote fat build up. Examples of fast-absorbed carbs are – Table Sugar, all sweets and desserts, polished white basmati rice, white bread, all refined flour items such as commercially available Naans, roomali rotis, Pizzas, pastas made from refined flour, potatoes. These foods will make you fat. Slow-absorbed carbs on the other hand get released into the blood stream at a much slower rate, thus not allowing spikes in insulin levels and thus will not make you fat. Examples of slow-absorbed carbs are – all fibrous green vegetables, unpolished brown rice, whole wheat chapattis, whole wheat pasta, multi grain brown breads, oats, etc. By all means include these in your diet but in moderation as these foods may not make you fat but they hinder the fat burning process. This is due to the fact that in the presence of abundant carbohydrates (the body's preferred source of fuel) the body doesn't see a need to use its secondary source of fuel which is BODY FAT.

Does eating fat cause weight gain?

The only reason to curtail fat would be the fact that Fat has a higher caloric value (more than twice as much, 9 calories/gm) as compared to carbohydrates and protein (4 calories/gm). Hence your chances of exceeding your caloric limit are higher with a higher fat intake. But good quality essential fatty acids are in fact required for optimum health and to increase BMR. Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 (found in fish oils, flaxseed oil) actually help in lowering cholesterol and even help in the fat burning process. Mono unsaturated fats from olive, rice bran and groundnut oils are also necessary. The one Fat that needs to be eliminated from a healthy diet is Saturated fat (the kind that stays solid at room temperature).

Examples are Butter, Cheese, Ghee, Animal fat (except Fish), coconut oil (the only exception to the solid at room temp factor). The reason for eliminating it is the fact that it increases risk of cardiac problems by clogging arteries and increasing cholesterol, and also increases risk of diabetes by increasing insulin resistance.

Will I get better and faster results with supplementation?

There is no such thing as faster results. You must understand that results from exercise are possible only with sound nutrition. If your nutrition has inadequacies then results will always evade you. These short comings can be resolved through proper supplementation. Especially getting the right amount of protein in every meal, everyday is difficult and next to impossible for some, so protein supplementation could spell the difference between results and frustration. If you are committed to a sound eating program and get all your protein requirements from whole foods, then you will get results and there won't be any need for supplementation.

If I want to lose fat quickly should I do lots of cardio?

The worst thing you can do for fat loss is excessive cardio. It is a surefire method of stripping the body of lean tissue and thus slowing down BMR. In fact cardio exercises are very inefficient fat burners, but that does not undermine their importance as cardio workouts are the key to improving your stamina and endurance (A key factor in general and overall fitness.) Also it is important to note that muscle loss & the resultant drop in BMR can happen through excessive weight training as well, the drop in BMR happens through over-training as it causes the body to breakdown at a faster rate than it can rebuild.

If I do cardio my muscle mass will go down. Is that true?

This depends on whether you are doing cardio regularly or excessively. It also depends on somatotype of the body. People with excessively fast metabolism (Ectomorphs) are always under weight and they have difficulty in gaining lean tissue, such people should stay away from cardio or do it no more than twice a week as they waste away muscle a lot easier than others. Endomorphs or people with sluggish metabolic rates can do cardio at least 5 times a week along with 3 days of resistance training, The gifted athletic kinds (Mesomorphs) should evenly space out 3 cardio and 3 weight training sessions a week. The sessions should not last more than an hour each and if you feel you can go on much longer, then you need to increase intensity by increasing speed, resistance or inclination. Cardio done in this manner can only make you fitter and can also help in intensifying your weight training workouts as you will get less winded and will be capable of pushing a lot harder without getting tired.

Is high intensity cardio better or low intensity cardio better for fat burning?

For any exercise form to keep giving you results, progression in intensity is of paramount importance. This means that, as you get better in your cardio vascular abilities you must push harder to get even better. Overall caloric loss during the workout and the after burn of high intensity cardio is definitely and obviously more than low intensity cardio. People with pre existing medical conditions (Especially cardiac conditions, hypertension etc.) must stick to low intensity cardio.

Will exercising on an empty stomach make me lose weight faster?

No. A meal before exercise (pre-workout) is a must. There should be a gap of 30-45 min between your pre-workout meal and exercise. This misconception has arisen due to believing that a workout done on a glycogen-depleted state will force the body to burn fat stores. What happens in reality is that your energy for high intensity workouts gets compromised and overall efficacy of the workout regime goes down. If you have not had anything since morning and exercise on an empty stomach, then you may even feel dizzy or faint due to hypoglycemia.

It is not impossible to weight train on an empty stomach. But weight training on an empty stomach, i.e. without eating adequate carbohydrates and proteins leads to excessive breakdown of muscle protein for energy due to a lack of both muscle glycogen and amino acids. Correct pre-workout nutrition will not only ensure a more powerful training but will also spare muscle protein breakdown.

Should I do cardio first or weights first?

The ideal would be to keep your resistance training completely separate from your cardio workouts. Assign 3 days for weights and 3 days for cardio. This allows you to concentrate your faculties and energies on both kinds of workouts equally without making one suffer at the expense of the other. But if committing 6 days to the gym is a problem then you might have to squeeze in both on the same day, again doing 1 session in the morning and 1 in the evening would be the ideal (It doesn't matter whether weights are in the morning or vice a versa.). But if even that is not possible then it is better to do the weight training workout first and then followed by cardio. The reasoning for this is the fact that weight training requires a lot more focus on form and technique than cardio and thus should be done while the faculties are fresh.

Even after doing so many abs classes my stomach doesn't budge. Why?

There is nothing like spot reduction. Abdomen gets fat because the body has slowed its metabolism down. It is just a site for fat deposition and has very little to do with the abdominal muscles. The overall combination of weight training, cardio and a high protein, low carb diet put together will speed metabolism and get the fat off the abdomen. A little known fact is that out of all resistance exercises, the Abs movements have the least beneficial effect on after burn or a rise in BMR and are thus very poor at burning fat. But again it is important to train the Abs as they form your core and overall stability of the body and especially the spine comes from strong abdominals. Hence do abs not to burn fat on your waist but to strengthen the abdominal muscles.

The display on some cardio machines shows a lot of calories burnt. How accurate are they?

Not to the tee. There are many factors that influence the number of calories that one expends during exercise, such as muscle mass, current physical condition and even genetic factors. The number displayed on the equipment tends to be an optimistic mathematic calibration of the machine based on general caloric values given to each activity.

Which cardio machine is the best for burning maximum calories?

All are effective for increasing caloric expenditure and increasing endurance and stamina. The intensity at which you perform the exercise is a better aspect to focus on. Performing aerobic exercise at a higher intensity will allow you to burn more calories per unit of time than if the exercise were performed at a lower intensity. If possible, change the mode of cardio you do every few weeks. This will help prevent the reduction in energy expenditure that accompanies an adaptation to a given mode and also develop more comprehensive muscular endurance. This constant change in cardio activities is termed as CROSS TRAINING.

Is there a limit to how much my muscle mass can increase?

Yes. There are factors that will ultimately determine how much muscle you can pack on your frame, and most of those will be genetic. Factors such as age, hormonal levels, and muscle fiber type distribution (type I (endurance) or type II (power, strength) predominance), total number of muscle fibers, frame size and current level of development can all affect your total muscle growth ability. Most do not hit these genetic barriers; as over training and improper eating seem to be the biggest obstacles for most.

How many days a week do I need to exercise?

The ideal here again would be 3 days of weights and 3 days of cardio. One day a week of complete rest is as important as doing your workouts regularly. The central nervous system needs a break.

Won't longer workouts make me stronger?

This is not true. If your workout generally lasts for more than 1.5 hours you may land up overtraining. If you keep exercising too long you will generally have lower energy levels and be more prone to injury.

Are Step Aerobics and Zumba the best way to lose weight?

Again the idea is to lose fat and not just weight indiscriminately. Step aerobics and Zumba are just another form of cardiovascular exercise and is no different from all other cardio workouts such as running, skipping, cycling, stair climbing, floor aerobics, spinning classes, and tae-bo, etc.

All the above will result in rapid weight loss (Through muscle loss) if done excessively. They should be done to enjoy more endurance and stamina and not to lose weight because as we have already learnt weight loss causes a reduction in BMR thus setting the person up for further fat gain (Yo-yo syndrome).

Is it true that Steam and Sauna may help me lose weight?

Steam and Sauna are rest and relaxation aids that have beneficial effects on health such as improved circulation, cleansing of the skin and combating nasal congestion. It has nothing to do with fat loss. The body does not lose fat when subjected to high temperatures. There is temporary weight loss due to dehydration and the water lost through sweating must be replaced immediately in order to keep the body hydrated and healthy. Remember dehydration is a killer.


If I do heavy weights, will I become more muscular?

In a sense this is true. The heavier the resistance the greater the breakdown of muscle and thus the greater the potential for building muscle. But this requires certain considerations. First and foremost is the fact that the heavy weight has no meaning if form and technique or range of motion gets compromised (If this happens it will only result in a layoff due to injury). Secondly heavy weights do not mean that you load up the bar and take excessive assistance from the trainer or your workout buddy. Last but not the least, please understand that the heavy weights only cause breakdown thus causing a need in the body for more muscle. This need will translate into more muscle only if the hard training is accompanied with adequate protein from your diet and adequate rest and recovery from your workouts. In the absence of these two factors, heavy weights will simply mean a loss of muscle.

Which exercise is the best for a diabetic?

As we mentioned earlier, a person needs to do all components of exercise to achieve balance. A diabetic person, like any other should strength train, do cardio & stretch. Resistance training increases insulin sensitivity thus helping the cause of diabetics.

What is the best age to start weight training?

There is no such thing as the right age for weight training. Ideally the child should want to exercise and not forced into as this forcing will only result in a lifelong hatred for exercise. The need to look better or get stronger generally starts at the age of about 13, this is a good age to start. Pre teens should be put into some kind of sport to increase general activity levels, from the age of 13 to 16 yrs, the child must be given light resistance as the bones are still soft and still in the formative stages. Very young kids also have the problem of short attention spans and thus are much uncoordinated in their movements and must workout under expert supervision.

Can I exercise during my periods? For Females Only.

Yes you can, if you are not in pain. If the volume of blood loss is excessive then it may cause excess weakness during periods & it would be advisable to not workout at least during the first 3 days. Supplementing with Iron & folic acid is a good idea during this time.

I have blood pressure. Can I exercise vigorously?

First of all you need your physician's clearance. If yes, you can start of with a gradual exercise program. You need to take lightweights and breathe evenly while you rep out. Withholding of breath while lifting is completely contra indicated for hypertensive people. Overhead movements such as shoulder presses & inverted leg presses should also be avoided. If on medication, then please take it regularly.

Will weight training make a woman look unfeminine?

Men and Women look different due to hormonal factors. The predominant male hormone is testosterone (It is an anabolic hormone responsible for muscle build up.) and the predominant female hormone is Estrogen (Actually promotes fat build up.) Women have very low levels of testosterone and men have very low levels of estrogen. This is the main reason why women carry more fat and less muscle than men. Nothing short of hormonal intervention can make a woman look like a man. No activity, let alone weight training can make a woman look like a man.

What is the best exercise for me if I am over 50?

There is no such exercise that is the best. Your exercise program needs to have all the components, walking for cardiovascular exercise, resistance training for increase in joint strength and muscle strength (This is often ignored by senior citizens and that is a big mistake as strength training becomes all the more important as you age to stem the degenerative effects of the aging process), and flexibility exercises (Stretching) for decreasing stiffness, restoring lost range of motion and avoiding injuries. If you are a senior citizen the idea is that you start exercising gradually. And make sure to get a general medical check up before you start.

I have just delivered a baby. When can I start exercising and what kind of exercise is the best for me?

A woman is postnatal until almost a year of delivery. There are some basic exercises, which she can start doing as early as a week after delivery. Most physicians' advice to wait for 6 weeks before beginning a strenuous exercise program. So if you have just delivered a baby please consult your obstetrician before starting an exercise program. (A delivery made via C-section might require more time to recover as the wound has to heal completely.)

I have never exercised before. How do I start?

So what! It's never too late to start. If you have never exercised you need to start your exercise program by simple exercises and not workout too hard initially no matter what your goal. You cannot start vigorously all of a sudden or you might injure yourself or at best get very uncomfortably sore. So begin gradually and in time your strength, endurance and stamina will improve and you can and should increase training intensity.

I had come to the gym for sometime and I have had a break in between. Can I start from where I left off?

If you have had a break longer than 10-15 days then you need to exercise at a lesser intensity for the first week at least, to prevent your body from getting excessively sore. If you have had a break for as long as a month or more then your fitness program (Training split) needs to be reviewed again. After the break you will start at a lesser intensity than what you were doing before.

What do I do if I do not like my program?

If you do not like your program for whatsoever reason, you can approach a trainer or a front desk executive who will fix up an appointment with the fitness programmer. Or you can approach the fitness programmer directly if he/she is available at that time. Feel free to discuss whatever apprehensions or problems you have with your current fitness program. The main thing to remember is that you should do exercises that are effective rather than doing only the ones that you enjoy. But if the program is too hard or too easy for you then give the necessary feedback to the programmer.

When can I start expecting results?

You can start expecting results after about 3 months at least. Give your body some time. You did not get out of shape instantly so do not expect to get into shape instantly. The first month goes in just learning correct form. Only after that can we increase intensity to make a difference.

What are the benefits of cardiovascular exercise?

Cardiovascular exercise improves the health of your heart, improves your endurance, stamina and improves your vital capacity.

What is the best cardio equipment to exercise on?

There is no such thing as the best equipment. All exercise equipments have their own benefits. Some improve lower body endurance; some exercise the whole body such as rowing. The objective of a cardiovascular machine is to allow you to increase your heart rate by continuous movement. So whatever machine you do, if you put in effort for a certain period of time, you will land up burning adequate calories and improving your cardiovascular system. You need to exercise with proper intensity – it has to be tough, not a walk in the park.

What are the benefits of strength training?

Increased bone and joint strength, improved muscle fitness, decreased chances of osteoporosis. Improved neuro-muscular coordination and decreased chances of injury.

If I play sports, do I need to do exercise at a gym?

First of all a sport may not cover all the components of fitness. Secondly fitness is a prerequisite of playing a sport and not the result of playing. You need to address all the components of fitness such as cardiovascular workouts, strength training, stretching to be good at playing a sport and to see to it that you do not injure yourself while playing a sport. Going to the gym will also ensure that you stay strong and youthful enough to continue playing your chosen sport even through the later years and not just limit it to your youth.

What shoes do I need to wear?

For weight training ask for Cross trainers & for walking, jogging, running ask for specifically running shoes from any reputable brand.

Can I eat after my exercise?

The post workout meal is a very important aspect of leading the fitness lifestyle. This meal should be taken within 45 minutes of finishing your workout. It should consist of at least 50 gms of simple carbs such as glucose and 20-40 gms of fast-absorbed protein, preferably whey protein powder. The simple carbs are always taken first, followed by the protein 10-20 minutes later. This is to replenish your muscle cells with glycogen & amino acids, prevent catabolism due to glycogen depletion & start the muscle repair process.

Should I do machines or free weights?

Compound movements such as presses, rows, squats etc, should always be done with free weights to ensure functional strength transfer. Isolation movements (Movements occurring only at 1 joint such as Flyes, Lateral raises, Leg curls & extensions) have circular pathways & hence don't provide continuous tension throughout the range of motion, if done with free weights.

Hence Isolation movements must be done on Selectorized machines fitted with cams offering continuous tension.

How can I make my cardio burn more fat?

The purpose of cardiovascular training is to improve the working of your cardiovascular system, not to burn fat. In fact, the following attempts to target greater fat burning during cardiovascular training can lead to muscle loss, rather than fat loss;

Cardiovascular training for prolonged duration, such as more than 1 hour to burn more calories

  • This does burn more calories but leads to increased protein use for energy and prolonged muscle breakdown for energy, which does not stimulate muscle repair.
  • After weight training, muscle repair is stimulated due to the powerful muscle breakdown (microtrauma) caused by the overload on the muscle. This acts like a powerful 'cut' or 'wound' damaging the cell and forcing the body to repair and heal.
  • However, the muscle breakdown for energy during cardiovascular training is too low-grade for the body to feel the need to repair. It may be thought of as a 'scratch' to the body. But the body is still damaged by repeated 'scratching' without healing.
  • Thus the muscle breakdown during cardiovascular training (without repair) results in muscle loss. This leads to a lower BMR and reduces calorie-burn and fat burning at rest.
  • It may be said that, attempting to increase fat burning for just one hour of the day (during 'cardio') can result in reduced fat burning for the rest of the day (due to lower BMR).
  • Cardiovascular training on an empty stomach, when the body is
    depleted of carbohydrate so that it burns more fat
  • It is true that in the absence of carbohydrates, the mobilization and use of fats for energy is faster.
  • But there is also increased use of protein for energy, leading to even greater muscle breakdown.
  • The result is greater muscle loss, leading to lower BMR and reduced fat burning at rest.
  • Cardiovascular training deliberately at a lower intensity of 60-65% of MHR (maximum heart rate) to 'burn more percentage of fat'
  • Training at a lower intensity (such as 60-65% of MHR) does burn greater percentage of fat; but it also burns lesser total calories (and thus lesser quantity of fat).
  • It is also of lesser benefit in increasing cardiovascular endurance as it is a smaller challenge to the heart, lungs and cardiovascular system.
Is it best to have raw eggs, instead of cooked eggs?

No. Avoid raw eggs or egg whites. It's best to eat cooked eggs.

  • Eggs or egg whites are often consumed raw, mixed with milk, since it's easier to drink a liquid – even if it involves intake of higher number of eggs/egg whites.
  • But raw eggs/egg whites could cause infection such as Salmonella bacteria or virus such as 'bird flu' virus. On cooking eggs, the bacteria and virus are killed.
  • Raw eggs also contain a substance called 'avidin' that interferes with absorption of biotin (a B-complex vitamin). On cooking the eggs, avidin is destroyed.
Does it matter how the eggs are cooked? Are boiled eggs the best quality egg protein? Does protein get affected if egg is made as; omlet, fried or scrambled?

No. Egg protein quality is the same whether the egg is prepared as boiled eggs, omelet, scrambled, poached, fried eggs, etc.

  • The only difference between different egg preparations is in the fat content depending on the quantity of oil added.
  • For example - boiled egg whites will be zero-fat whereas other forms may have 1 teaspoon (tsp) oil or more.
  • Protein quality is not reduced by cooking. Cooking only makes the protein easier to digest.
Protein foods like eggs and chicken are 'heaty' foods, and cause pimples and boils. How can we eat them in summer?

No. Eggs and chicken don't cause pimples or heat boils. There is no such thing as 'heaty' food or 'cold' food. There is no scientific basis for it.

  • Heat is produced in the body all the time.
  • Whenever the body uses energy, even at rest (for BMR), heat is produced as a waste product. This heat is easily given out and body temperature is maintained.
  • This heat produced is not the cause for pimples or boils on the skin. If it was so, then all persons with a higher BMR (muscular persons and ectomorphs) would have had more pimples, which is ridiculous!
  • Pimples or boils form due to accumulation of sweat and dirt in the skin pores. This can happen due to hot climate, increased sweating (which varies from person to person), poor water intake and lack of skin hygiene.
  • Protein foods have same energy content as carbohydrates (4 calories/gm). They do not generate any other 'heat' production. Any increase in BMR due to protein does not cause any abnormal heat production. Also note; any heat produced normally due to BMR and other activities does not 'heat' up the body. We know that our body temperature rises only in fever.
  • Rashes caused by allergies are different. Allergies are immune system reactions to an otherwise harmless substance. A person can have an allergy to anything possible; a food such as dal, a drug such as penicillin, or even dust.
  • An allergy to a food or food ingredient may cause a red rash on the body. Allergic reactions are highly specific to the food ingredient and to the person. They could develop suddenly and may last for a long time or vanish quickly.
What is Flaxseed or 'alsi'?

Flaxseeds, called as 'alsi' in hindi and 'alshi' in marathi, are small brown coloured seeds that are a rich source of omega-3 fats.

  • They have many health benefits such as helping to reduce water retention and other menopause-related problems.
  • They have been used traditionally for respiratory problems such as cold and cough.
  • They may be consumed as flaxseed powder (prepared by roasting and grinding flaxseeds), as flaxseed oil (available in Indian brands but has a typical flavour) or as flaxseed oil capsules (available in foreign brands).
Are there no omega-3 fats in cooking oil?

Cooking oils are not good sources of omega-3 fats.

Amongst cooking oils, mustard oil has the highest omega-3 (14.5%) followed by soyabean oil (6.5%). But they are no match for the omega-3 content of flaxseed (58%) and of fish (30%).

Can we take cod liver oil capsules instead for omega-3 fats?

Cod liver oil is not enough to meet the daily requirement of omega-3 fats.

  • Cod liver oil has only 21% omega-3.
  • Compared to fish oil and flaxseed oil capsules available, a single cod liver oil capsule usually has a very low content of cod liver oil.
  • This adds up to a very poor omega-3 supply per capsule.
  • Comparing the commonly available brands, fish oil or flaxseed oil has a daily dose of 3-4 capsules; whereas 15-16 capsules of cod liver oil will be needed daily to meet the omega-3 requirement. Hence, cod liver oil is not practical to use as a source of omega-3 fats.
Why should we not have sunflower or safflower oil? They are advertised as good for the heart.

Sunflower and safflower oil are not bad fats, but they are also not the best choice.

  • Sunflower and safflower oil is not bad in itself, i.e. they do not directly solidify cell walls or clog arteries like the saturated fats.
  • They contain omega-6 poly-unsaturated fats that are fluid in nature, and thus 'better' for the heart than saturated fats.
  • But the cereals and vegetables in the diet already give us good amounts of omega-6 fats.
  • The sunflower or safflower cooking oil adds to the excess of omega-6 fats and results in a fatty acid imbalance, especially in the omega-3–omega-6 ratio.

The correct omega-3–omega-6 ratio is a must for a healthy heart, i.e. to maintain lower B.P., lower cholesterol levels, reduced blood clotting and improved blood circulation.

The fatty acid imbalance is worsened by the lack of the good fats such as omega-3 fats and MUFA cooking oils.

Hence, to correct this gross imbalance, it is a must to cut out all high sources of omega-6 fats (such as sunflower and safflower oil) and include MUFA as cooking oil and omega-3 fats as a supplement. Classifying as 'good' or 'bad' is relative. Safflower and sunflower oils are not as 'bad' for the heart as saturated fats; but are not as 'good' for the heart as olive oil and other MUFA-based cooking oils such as rice bran and groundnut.

Should we rotate oils, i.e. use a different type of oil every few months?

No. Rotating oils is not necessary. If a person wants to rotate oils, he/she must rotate between oils providing the same type of fats.

  • Each oil supplies mainly one or two types of fatty acids. For example - safflower oil supplies mainly omega-6 fats, olive oil supplies mainly MUFA, whereas groundnut oil supplies both MUFA and omega-6 fats.
  • Rotating oils regularly, i.e. changing the oil every month or every few months is often advised so that the body gets all types of fatty acids from the different oils.
  • However, as explained in the chapter, our body is always getting saturated fats from animal foods and omega-6 fats from plant foods.
  • So the body always needs an additional supply of MUFA and omega-3 from the oil and/or supplement.

Thus, rotating oils is not required. The body simply needs a MUFA-based oil all the time; along with an omega-3 fat supplement.

If a person wishes to rotate oils, he/she may do it on the condition that the oil is always MUFA-based (rotate between olive, groundnut and ricebran oils) and the supplement is always of omega-3 fats (rotate between fish and flaxseed oils).

Is margarine better than butter? Is it ok to have bread and biscuits (baked foods)? Can we eat chicken in form of salami and sausages?

No. Avoid margarine, bread and biscuits (baked foods), chicken salami and sausages (processed meats). They all contain bad quality fats.

  • Margarine, baked foods such as bread and biscuits, and processed meats such as chicken salami and sausages all contain trans-fatty acids.
  • Trans-fatty acids are modified forms of unsaturated fats such that they act more like saturated fats; are semi-solid in nature and increase risk of heart problems.
  • These trans-fats are produced during processing methods such as hydrogenation and processing of meats.
  • Hence, margarine (or 'low-fat butter'), baked foods and processed meats are to be avoided.
  • In fact, margarine is even worse than butter because trans-fats are worse than saturated fats. As 'solidified' forms of unsaturated fats, they have the bad properties of both saturated as well as unsaturated fats.
If coconut is a bad saturated fat, why don't all South Indians (eating high-coconut diets) get heart problems?

Saturated fats such as coconut are bad quality fats for persons of all communities.

  • Coconut is definitely a high source of solid saturated fats that increases 'bad' cholesterol levels and risk of heart problems.
  • High intake of saturated fats (such as coconut) is a heart risk for persons of all ages, body types, both genders, and definitely for all communities.
  • Whether the person develops a heart problem (and when) will depend on how high are the other risk factors such as age, body type, heredity, fitness level, etc.
  • No person is 'immune' to heart disease, diabetes and other lifestyle related conditions. They are called 'silent killers' which develop silently (without any symptoms) over a long period and may surface at much later stages.
  • A bad lifestyle and a bad diet is abuse for each person's body. How soon a health problem will develop depends on how much 'abuse' the body can take.

Note: Here we are not discussing about specialized diets or Keto Diets.

Certain communities such as Bengalis and South Indians are 'rice eaters'. How can you ask them to stop eating rice?

Rice is a fast-absorbed carbohydrate with a very high tendency to be stored as fat, especially in endomorphs and other persons with low BMR.

  • This tendency for fat storage depends on the person's body type and metabolism, not on the community.
  • For example - an ectomorph (irrespective of his/her community) will tend to use up fast-absorbed carbohydrates such as rice, if eaten in a limited amount and frequency.
  • But if eaten in excessive quantity daily, an ectomorph too will suffer problems of increased fat storage and yo-yos in insulin level, increasing risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • A fast-absorbed carbohydrate such as rice does not provide lasting energy and protein also gets wasted for energy.
  • It is also very low in fibre, which is essential for the body in certain amounts.
  • Depending on the person's body type and requirement, rice may be 'stopped' i.e. excluded from the diet, or it may be minimized (limited).
  • But this decision is based on nutritional requirements, not based on culture, habits and individual likes.
  • One must remember that laws of science are impartial and impersonal. The body will not change its metabolism of rice (or any nutrient) because the person is of a certain community or a 'rice-eater'!
What is 'Oats'?

Oats, muesli and 'dalia' are three different types of cereals.

Oats is available as breakfast cereal in 'quick-cooking' or 'slow-cooking forms.

  • They are small white flakes that swell up when cooked in hot water or milk.
  • It can be eaten as a sweet porridge (with milk and sugar) or made as a salty snack.
  • They are slow-absorbed carbohydrates, high in soluble fibre.
What is 'Muesli'?

Muesli is available as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal.

  • It is a mixture of two or more cereals such as oats and wheat. It does not need cooking.
  • Commonly, it is flavoured and has added dry fruits, nuts, honey, etc but plain unsweetened muesli is also available.
  • Muesli is also a slow-absorbed carbohydrate, supplying both soluble and insoluble fibre. In fat loss diets, only plain muesli can be included.
Is it same as 'Dalia'?

Dalia' (called 'lapshi' in marathi) is the hindi name for broken wheat.’

  • Dalia' is available in its raw form at the grocer and needs to be cooked.
  • Like oats, it can be eaten as a sweet porridge (with milk and sugar) or made as a salty snack (like an 'upma').
  • It is also a slow absorbed carbohydrate, rich in insoluble fibre. It is cheaper than the breakfast cereals.
  • Wheat flakes is available as the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal option for 'dalia'.
Even when we train so hard, why do we not get results?

A) No Nutrition = No Results.

  • Only exercising will not help a person lose fat or gain muscle weight. Results are achieved with combination of training and the correct diet.
  • Training program is the same for all, whether a person wants to lose fat or gain muscle weight.
  • Whether a person loses fat or gains weight depends on his/her diet program.

B) A Calorie ≠ A Calorie. Counting calories is not enough, count the protein and carbohydrate

  • Traditionally, all Indian diets tend to be high-carbohydrate and low in first-class protein.
  • The common mistake is; a person wanting fat loss, and a person wanting muscle gain, both eat the same foods – only in less or more quantity.
  • Everybody tends to eat the same high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet.
  • Simply eating less calories does not give fat loss.
  • Simply eating more calories does not help gain muscle weight.
  • Results will be achieved only if the protein and carbohydrate is strictly balanced as per the fitness goal (fat loss or muscle gain).
Why can't we have a Traditional Indian diet for fat loss and muscle gain?

A) 'Indian' traditional diet tends to be imbalanced

  • An Indian diet typically tends to be vegetarian-based.
  • Even in a non-vegetarian diet, inclusion of first-class protein sources such as eggs, chicken, fish is often restricted to a meal once, twice or thrice a week.
  • Such a 'normal' diet may contain only 10-20 gm of first-class protein (total in a day) but also give 200-300 gm carbohydrate.
  • Unfortunately most traditional Indian preparations may either be fast absorbed carbohydrates (e.g. idli, dosa, poha, upma) or high-fat foods, both of which will lead to fat gain.
  • The result of such an imbalanced diet is the increase in cases of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in India.

B) 'Indian' diet tends to be low in first-class protein

  • First-class protein sources are so few in the 'normal' or typical diet pattern that just trying to meet protein requirement seems very 'difficult'.
  • Including 15-20 gm first-class protein in each meal five times a day is the bare minimum to meet requirement, but seems like a 'high-protein' diet.

C) 'Indian' diet tends to be high-carbohydrate

  • On the other hand, carbohydrate sources are so many in such a 'normal' or typical diet that restricting to 20 gm carbohydrates (or less) in each meal in a fat loss diet seems 'difficult'.
  • A person aiming for 100 gm protein in a day may struggle and meet 80-90 gm protein; but a person aiming for 100 gm carbohydrates may easily cross and intake 150-200 gm before realizing it.
  • The protein and carbohydrates need to be balanced as per the body's requirement, not as per tradition, custom or habit. Else the consequence is obesity and all related problems.
  • If fitness has to be the norm, we need to change our 'Indian' diet.
Won't a high-protein diet have side-effects?

Yes, it will. That is why we are NOT talking about a high-protein diet. We are just talking about meeting the protein requirement.

  • Since typical Indian diets tend to be protein-deficient, any increase in protein intake seems like a 'high-protein' diet, which it is most definitely not.
  • A person finds it so difficult just to meet the protein requirement that having excess protein by accident is out of the question.
  • However, if protein is taken in higher quantity than required, the unused protein will simply be converted to fat and stored. Just like the excess carbohydrate.
  • Remember, excess of anything is bad, even water. Excess or 'high' protein is also bad.
  • A high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet also has side effects that we are already facing; obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Can excess protein intake load/damage the kidney or liver?

No, it can't. A healthy kidney or liver cannot be damaged simply by eating extra protein.

  • Protein is a nutrient for the body. It doesn't 'load' or 'stress' the kidney or liver.
  • Excreting (throwing out) protein wastes is natural work for the kidney. And metabolizing amino acids is natural work for the liver.
  • It is impossible to even eat the amount of protein that would be needed to damage a healthy kidney or liver. This is because the digestive system is weaker than the kidney.
  • For example - if a person overeats on chicken (protein), he/she may fear a stomach upset, not kidney damage!
  • If there is an existing kidney or liver problem, protein intake may be restricted. But it may still be needed to be higher than that in a typical Indian diet.
  • Liver or kidney can be damaged by other causes, not protein. For example - Alcohol and other drugs are proven causes for liver damage.
  • Unfortunately, many persons fear kidney/liver damage due to protein but they don't think of liver damage before consuming alcohol.
Does 'lime-water-honey' give weight loss?

No. 'Lime-water-honey' is no magical combination causing fat loss. Analyzing each ingredient

  • Lime contains vitamin C, an antioxidant. This has no effect on fat loss, but lime may be taken for the benefits of vitamin C. However, it must be noted that the quantity of vitamin C in lime is small and does not meet its requirement.
  • Honey is a source of sugar. Its speed of absorption is slightly slower than refined sugar but it can still be stored easily into fat. Hence, honey must be avoided in fat loss.
  • Water has no effect on body fat. Warm water doesn't cause fat loss; and cold water doesn't cause fat gain. By hydrating the body, water helps in maintaining normal speed of metabolic work (BMR) and thus in fat loss.

Hence, water must be taken for maintaining hydration, as per requirement.

Hence, lime and water are beneficial due to other reasons, not for fat loss. Honey is better avoided.

Thus, the 'lime-water-honey' combination has absolutely no effect on fat loss. Usually taken first thing in the morning, it can only stimulate bowel movements and serve as a laxative. It is a widely believed myth only because it promises an easy shortcut to fat loss.

Is it True? Milk is fattening?

False. Skimmed milk (available in a tetrapak) is 99.5-99.9% fat free. It also has good quality protein and slow-absorbed lactose. Whole milk has a higher fat content and should be avoided.

Is it True? Rice and Bananas have fat?

False. Rice and bananas contain very little fat. But they are rich sources of fast absorbed carbohydrates such as starch and glucose, which have a great tendency to be stored as fat in the body.

Are Poha, Upma, Idli, Cornflakes 'light' and 'harmless' for fat loss?

False. Even if they are prepared with less fat, poha, upma and idli contain fast absorbed carbohydrates (starch) due to their low fibre content. These 'light' fast absorbed carbohydrates can be very easily stored as fat. Hence, an idli, poha, upma or cornflakes are equally bad in a fat loss diet as a high-fat fried food.

Does Bananas contains Protein?

False. All fruits are pure carbohydrates. Bananas are a good source of glucose and instant energy after intense weight training. But they give no protein.

Beef is better than Chicken?

False. Beef and chicken are both equally good quality proteins. Beef may be thought to be 'better' because it contains creatine. But the creatine content of beef is low; only 5gm creatine in 1 kg edible portion of beef; and its absorption is also poor.

Is Pure ('shudh') home-made ghee is good for health?

False. Ghee contains saturated fats from milk. It is equally 'bad' whether it is made at home or processed in a factory. It has an equally high heart risk. Definitely, ghee and butter are also sources of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A. But these vitamins can be derived from other foods without increasing heart risk.'

Do health foods such as soya chaklis, roasted chivda are good snacks for fat loss?

False. Most 'health foods' such as soya chaklis and roasted chivda are low-fat but high-carbohydrate. A fat loss diet is not only about low-fat foods. Carbohydrates also need to be restricted. Only high-fibre carbohydrates are good for fat loss. But these foods are also low in fibre and the carbohydrates can easily be stored as fat.

Can a weight gain client can eat lots of rice, potatoes, bananas, butter and cheese?

False. Rice, potatoes, bananas are fast-absorbed 'bad' carbohydrates. Butter and cheese are saturated 'bad' fats.

Even if a weight gain client does not fear the associated fat gain, these foods should still not be eaten in excess because;

  • The energy supply from fast-absorbed carbohydrates will not last till the next meal, and protein will tend to get wasted for energy.
  • Frequent intake of fast-absorbed carbohydrates will lead to yo-yos in insulin levels, increasing risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • High intake of saturated fats will tend to solidify cell walls and clog arteries and increase risk of heart problems and diabetes.
  • Lastly, the client's target is muscle gain, not fat gain.
What is 'Good' cholesterol and 'Bad' cholesterol in food?

Wrong. There is no 'good' or 'bad' cholesterol in food.

Cholesterol is only of one type. It is only called 'good' and 'bad' depending on the relative quantity in which it is present in the body as HDL (good) and LDL (bad)-cholesterol. Food simply contains cholesterol. This is used by the body for various functions, depending on the person's requirement.

Some oils are 'zero-cholesterol' and only they should be used?

Wrong. All oils (plant fats) are 'zero-cholesterol' by nature, even coconut.

Advertising or labeling an oil as 'zero-cholesterol' is just a marketing gimmick by oil-manufacturing companies.

  • It is not false but it is misleading.
  • Advertising an oil as 'zero-cholesterol' is like advertising sugar as 'fat-free'!
  • Oils are not selected based on cholesterol.
  • They are chosen as per the quality of fats needed to balance the diet.
  • For example - Olive, groundnut and rice bran oils are recommended due to the need for MUFA in the diet; sunflower and safflower oils are not recommended due to the excess omega-6 in the diet.
Does eating cholesterol in food leads to 'high cholesterol level'?

Wrong. High cholesterol levels are not due to merely eating cholesterol in the diet; and cholesterol levels cannot be reduced just by not eating cholesterol.

If it was so, then vegetarians (especially those consuming skimmed milk) would have little to fear because milk fat is the only source of cholesterol in a vegetarian diet. But you still find a lot of vegetarians with Cholesterol issues & a bad lipid profile.

Body's cholesterol comes more from that made in the body itself, rather than from the food. Also, all the cholesterol eaten in food is not absorbed. Its absorption is affected by many factors.

A. Cholesterol levels in the blood depend on

  • The amount of cholesterol made in the body, which depends on
  • The quality of the other fats (saturated and unsaturated fats) eaten in the diet.

B. High cholesterol levels are primarily caused by

  • Bad quality fats in the diet, such as high intake of saturated fats (butter, ghee, whole milk, etc), and
  •  Lack of good fats such as omega-3 fats and MUFA

C. Cholesterol levels can be reduced by

  • Cutting out 'bad' saturated fats and reducing excess of omega-6 PUFA
  • Eating good quality fats; MUFA and omega-3. This is the only way to maintain healthy LDL; HDL-cholesterol levels.
Should Egg yolks should be totally cut out from the diet because of the cholesterol?

Wrong. Egg yolks need not be cut out from the diet. They can be eaten in limited quantity.

  • Along with the bad fats (saturated fats and cholesterol), egg yolks also contain good quality protein. This protein is very valuable.
  • Half the egg protein is found in the yolk, 3.5gm in egg white and 3gm in the yolk. Discarding the egg yolk means throwing half the protein.
  • The protein quality of the egg drops from a '100' biological value rank to a '75' rank when the yolk is removed.
  • The egg yolk also contains 6gm of saturated fats, along with cholesterol.This will not be harmful if eaten in a limited quantity.
  • The egg yolk 'bad fats' must be balanced in the diet with good quality fats (omega-3 fats and MUFA) and high fibre foods.

Good quality fats will maintain the correct balance of 'good' and 'bad' cholesterol as required by the body. High fibre intake will reduce absorption of cholesterol and saturated fats from the yolk.

Higher protein quality and lower fat quantity can be balanced by consuming more of egg whites with a limited number of egg yolks. For example, a good ratio is 3:1 or 4:2, i.e. 3 egg whites-1 yolk or 4 egg whites-2 yolks.

  • This may be modified as per the person's heart risk. For example, only egg whites (no yolks) may be given to a heart patient, whereas 1-2 yolks a day may be included for an exercising senior citizen.
  • Younger, intensely training persons maintain healthy cholesterol levels even with a higher intake of yolks due to the faster metabolism.