Monthly Archives: August 2011

Self Experimentation – Vegetarian Diet (Part 2)

In part 1 of this series, I wrote in detail my experience (thus far) with a vegetarian diet and also shared my results both from a feel perspective and a body composition perspective. In this part, I will attempt to answer an important question that most definitely popped up in your head when you read the previous post.

If I ate to appetite, didn’t count calories, ate ice-cream/chocolate pretty often and did not do anything specific to actually lose fat, how did I end up losing fat?

Every change in the human body is a result of an action and this was no exception. Here are some of the reasons for the unplanned fat loss.

– Lack of calories.

The shift to a vegetarian diet built around vegetables and fruit meant a sudden drop in calories especially since I wasn’t counting calories and eating to appetite. Vegetables and fruits are low in calories in general and eating even huge amount of the same won’t result in packing in too many calories. On the other hand, if I had moved to a vegetarian diet rich in grains and nuts, the opposite would’ve happened.

– Enough protein.

Though I didn’t eat any meat and though it seemed like I got only a few grams of protein (from dairy, whey and eggs), vegetables contain plenty of protein (more than carbs) and when consuming vegetables in the amounts I do, they are a significant contributor to total protein.

– Intermittent fasting.

We all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. If fat loss is desired, hunger needs to be tolerated. When you choose to feel hungry depends on each person. While some go the 6 meals a day route restricting calories, feeling hungry and dissatisfied throughout the day, I chose to deal with hunger during the first part of the day by skipping breakfast. This creates a calorie deficit which isn’t compensated for even after eating lunch and dinner to appetite (due to reasons mentioned above).

– Elevated leptin.

If you remember my previous post, I mentioned that I went on a junk food spree during my last 2 weeks in the US. Junk food in general is high in carbs and in calories and my gorging on such food rich in calories and carbs could’ve possibly elevated my leptin levels. This followed by a sudden drop in calories could be the reason for such accelerated fat loss. For those not familiar with the concept, this is why cheat meals help you get past stubborn plateaus.

– Consistent resistance training.

If you did check out the specifics of my workout routine in the Facebook page you’d have noticed that I regularly trained for strength and speed. The goal of my training was ‘muscle stimulation’ which basically means to train a muscle or move only enough to stimulate it (and hence force growth) and not train to failure. Or in other words… smart training.

You guys know I’m not selling you anything and I’m not the one to scam you by making you believe that my way of fat loss is easy. So when I (or anyone else for that matter) say I ate to appetite, ate junk and plenty of fruit everyday and still lost fat without really trying, realize that there is more to the equation.

But, like I’ve said before, fat loss and health are (most times) two different things. Unless you are morbidly obese, losing fat is a short phase in your life or at least it should be. That said, let’s jump from mere short-term fat loss to long term health. From a long term health perspective, is this diet healthy? In order to answer that question we need to address three very important requirements.

1. Sustainability

2. Food quality

3. Essential micros and macros

I’ve had a long and rough day today and so I’ll stop here. But in the next post, I will discuss these three points and take an unbiased look at ‘vegetarian eating’. Should I even say that post will rile up some folks? Stay tuned!

Peace out.

 

Self Experimentation – Vegetarian Diet (Part 1)

For folks who have been following this blog this is no news, but for the rest, I recently relocated to India and am in the process of launching The Quad along with chill-meister Arvind Ashok. I am of the habit of posting periodic updates about my health, nutrition, training, bodycompoisition and goals and this is one such post.

The last time I posted an update was on the 21st of July and in that post I had mentioned that I ate per MY optimal traditional diet, listed out what exactly I ate and posted a picture of show body composition. You can read that in detail here. From July 21st to now (15th August) the following happened…

I spent my last two weeks in the US eating all kinds of junk food. Every night my taste buds thanked me for the awesome ice cream or frozen yogurt or pizza or stuffed french toast or pancakes or croissants and every morning my gut cursed me for the damage that happened within the four secure walls of my restroom. And this continued till the moment I actually boarded the plane out of San Francisco.

Last meal in SF! Thanks to Arvind for the chocolate hazelnut croissants!

Once in Chennai (India), I have been hanging with my parents in their house (while painfully looking for a place of my own which will be closer to where The Quad operates). This means a purely vegetarian fare with eggs being an exception. My mom, who is a super staunch vegetarian, was nice enough to allow me to cook eggs in the house. And yes, she has deemed certain vessels and utensils as egg-stuff and they won’t be used to cook anything else for the family anymore.

While my parents are super cool and will put up with my bringing meat home or cooking meat in a crockpot in my room, I respect their choices and outlook towards meat eating and will never do something that will make them uncomfortable in their own house.

As a result, my diet for the last couple of weeks has been basically  PLENTY of vegetables, 3-4 country eggs a day, 1-2 cups of grass fed dairy a day, sweet potatoes, soaked and cooked lentils, rice, whey, coconut oil, sesame oil, ghee and ice-cream. I’m not one to demand things even at my own house and hence eat whatever is available (ensuring it falls within my dietary recommendations for the most part) or whip something up for myself (eggs etc.). But what is awesome is that we have a new cook (Saraswathi) who has decades of experience cooking south Indian food and she amazes me every single day with whatever she makes. In addition to the usual rice, sambar, rasam etc she makes it a point to make a huge serving of some spinach dish, a mixed vegetable dish, a third vegetable dish and some form of lentils. Lucky lucky me!

But you know why else I’m lucky? For the last 20 days, all I did was to try to eat right, train smart and maintain my body composition. But instead I ended up getting leaner than I expected!

Now let’s get into the details.

My typical day:

8 am – Wake up

8:30 am – Walk the dog for 15 min.

9:30 am – Black coffee on some days. Nothing on the other.

1 pm – End fast with a fruit. I eat only tropical fruits that are in season like guava, mountain banana, orange, avocado etc.

2-3 pm – Lunch. Typically huge servings of 2-3 types of vegetables cooked in a typical south Indian fashion along with a cup or more of yogurt and another fruit or two. Below is an example. I would typically eat twice the amount shown on the plate and finish the meal with a cup of fruit.

Homemade whole milk yogurt, paneer subji, beans & carrot, cabbage kootu

5pm – Black coffee.

5:30 to 7pm – Workout & stretch

7:30 pm – 1 scoop whey in whole raw milk, some starch like sweet potato or lentils and a fruit or two.

9pm – Dinner. Typically 3-4 country eggs, a whole bunch of vegetables cooked in ghee, a cup of lentils, a cup of homemade yogurt. In addition to whats shown below I ate another cup of homemade whole milk yogurt and maybe some whey.

11pm – About 1/2-1 cup ice-cream. (I know my buddy JC will be proud of this. So tonight’s cup of chocolate ice-cream it dedicated to you brother!)

Country eggs, capsicum sauteed with idly, daal, okra pachadi, yogurt

Macros:

Clearly I didn’t count anything and ate to appetite. I’m guessing I ate about 90-100 g of protein (from eggs, yogurt, whey, lentils & vegetables). I ate starches and sugars in the post workout meal only. But since I ate only 2 meals and my post workout meal was the one with significant number of calories, I ate plenty of carbs. I kept the fat intake fairly low and, as usual, got all my fats from whole foods (yogurt, avocado, eggs, homemade paneer). But if you asked me how many grams of what I ate or how many calories I consumed or what macronutrient ratio I ate per, I have no idea and I’ll say I ate real food and I ate to appetite!

Micros & Supplements:

Since I ate more than copious amounts of a variety of vegetables I didn’t take in any supplement. But considering I am getting in some vegetable oils (sesame oil) I should probably supplement with some omega-3s.

Snacks:

I had none. When I eat, I like to eat big. But seriously? You can’t go from lunch to dinner without food? 6-7 hours without food is such a big deal? Really? I’ll write a detailed post on snacking soon.

Water:

Only whenever I’m thirsty and since I’m in hot and humid Chennai that works out to be about 2+ liters a day.

Training:

You can check my Facebook group for specific exercises, reps, sets etc. but I did ONLY bodyweight exercises with absolutely no equipment. My training was built around compound full body moves like multiple grip pushes/presses, pullups, sprints, handstand pushups, pistols etc. I didn’t do any cardio or bicep curls or ab work or use any machines or even step into a gym. I worked out at home every single day making do with whatever was available. So pullups were done on a ledge and farmers walks were done with suitcases.

Cheats:

I didn’t eat a full fledged cheat meal ‘cos I didn’t crave anything really. All the real food along with the daily ice cream and/or chocolate kept me very satisfied. Honestly, I would call my 2-3 non-vegetarian dinners outside as cheats ‘cos I’m more than sure the meat was not good quality, the oils used were sketchy and freshness/cooking methods were questionable.

Results:

Feel: I feel absolutely awesome. No indigestion. Bowel movements are better than ever. Sleep is great. Energy level is awesome. Recovery is super.

Strength: I have no way to check if my squat and deadlift numbers of gone up or down ‘cos I got no equipment and I haven’t been doing them. But all my bodyweight exercises have been progressing solidly and hence I’m not concerned about strength.

Endurance: I’m definitely building it back up. No questions there.

Mobility: Like a well oiled hinge! No aches or pains either.

Body weight: Down from ~ 148 lb to ~ 144 lb in 2-3 weeks.

Body fat: Definite drop. My chest, arm and thigh measurements are the same while my waist and belly button circumference are down 1.5″ each.

Overall body composition: See the picture below. I’m definitely lean in both cases but clearly leaner now. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • The are only about 20 days between the two updates and hence such a change in bodycomp is significant mainly because I wasn’t even trying.
  • After July 21st I went on a crazy junk food eating spree when I gained a bunch of body fat. Too bad I don’t have a picture of myself just before leaving the US ‘cos that comparison would’ve been something to look at!
  • During the first update, I was eating plenty of protein and weight training using barbells etc. and for this one, it was all bodyweight training and real food vegetarian diet.

Why this improvement in body comp? What did I learn from this? How can you benefit this n=1 experiment? Will this change any of my recommendations? If yes, how?

I’ll answer these questions and more in the next post. Until then share your experiences wrt change in diet or training in the comments section and share my vegetarian experience in your social networks!

Peace out.

Women and exercise

Disclaimer: For those who do get riled up about women’s rights and such, please realize that this post is meant to showcase the enormous effect a woman’s health and fitness has on those around her and hence the need for the same. I by no means suggest that housework is a woman’s job. The point here is that women did mutli-joint movements with full range of motion at all times during human evolution (in the form of gathering or housework or exercise) and hence such movements need to be included as a part of a woman’s workout routine and daily life.

It probably isn’t too obvious but I truly believe fitness is more critical for women than men. Why? Mainly because women are created physically weaker than men, but have the most important and strenuous job of all – child birth. In addition to that, a woman’s choices, appearance and fitness affect not just her, but everyone around her from her partner to children to parents.

From a nutritional standpoint, it is absolutely essential that a mother understands nutrition and makes good food choices every single day ‘cos her little one is watching her like a hawk and will subconsciously try to emulate what mommy does. Most people eat what is cooked and hence cooking real food results in eating real food. Similarly, a woman’s fitness has a profound effect on other people. A child tends to want to play more if mommy can run around with him/her. A father tends to like walking if he gets to do it with his daughter. I can go on and on, but you get the idea. [Note: If it isn’t obvious, a man’s choices, actions and fitness have similar effects on his family].

So clearly fitness is super critical for women in order to ensure good health for themselves and for everyone else. But does this mean women today, you, should exercise? Should you join a gym? Or a BootCamp? Let’s find out.

The distant past:

There is enough evidence suggesting that when we were hunter-gatherers, men did the hunting and women did the gathering. Gathering, though sounds lame next to hunting, was critical to life and required a very respectable amount of fitness. Gathering involved covering large distances by foot, plenty of multi-joint movements like squatting, bending, lunging and reaching, considerable amount of weight bearing activities when the gathered food and firewood had to be transported back home and multiple repetitions of weighted multi-joint moves. Also unlike the men, who did the badass hunting, women gathered everyday and especially on days when the men didn’t hunt or were unsuccessful in their journey.

In short, women back in the paleolithic era, moved! They moved a lot, they moved in all three planes of movement and they did this very frequently and consistently without ever going to failure.

The not-so-distant past:

Consider our fairly recent ancestors from about 100-200 years ago. While hotheaded and proud men stuck to working for money, women did all the household work. This involved everything from sourcing water, to cleaning the house multiple times a day to cooking to taking care of kids. Women from those times, again, covered long distance by foot, did multi-joint moves like squats, lunges etc., carried around weight in the form of water cans and toddlers and firewood, did plenty of pulling when drawing water and used their core efficiently when washing clothes, cleaning the house etc. While men put food on the table, women actually made the damn table and the ground below it!

In other words, our female ancestors… moved! They moved a lot, they moved in multiple planes of motion, they moved all day everyday and never went to failure!

The recent past:

Ever notice how your mom looked in her 20s and 30s? I have seen mine and the words I would use to describe her are healthy, in shape, slender and fit! No flab. No joint aches. Allergies were unheard of. No acne. Glowing skin. I can go on but the point is – they were super healthy and that was evident in their appearance. But how do they look today? Possibly fat, diseased, plagues with aches, easily fatigued? What really happened there?

Well, ‘easy’ happened!

While our moms spent their early lives plentifully using their bodies, they’ve spent the last 10-15 years, well, chilling out. Yea yea. I know moms work hard and all that and I love and respect my mom more than you can imagine, but the fact remains that moms today don’t work as hard as they did during their younger years and as a result they’ve lost their health and strength and mobility!

The present:

Take a minute to let this sink in – Our moms are in miserable shape today inspite of…

– having spent the first 30-35 yrs of their lives working hard and eating right

– being fit for the majority of their younger days

– living sedentary lives and eating wrong foods only for the last 15-20 years

But women today, even during their younger years, are sedentary, eat bad foods, are struggling with their weight, have hormonal problems, are fatigued too easily, are weak, are flabby, are affected by chronic diseases and more! What do you think the state of these women will be when they turn 55??

If you are a woman under 30 and don’t feel like a million bucks every single day, there is a lot wrong with you! Realize that you are young woman in her prime. You are like a brand spanking new car! You should not have issues. You should not be struggling with fat loss. You should not find it a challenge to run a mile. You should not strain your back when you lift a suitcase. You should be nimble and strong and endurant!

But… are you? Majority of the women today are not. Not even close! So why is this the case?

Easy answer right? Sedentary lifestyle + crappy food choices = unfit unhealthy women who produce offspring that are destined to be diseased and die young!

The Solution:

Workout everyday? Get into a workout program? Join The Quad’s BootCamp? Find a personal trainer? Sure. These are all awesome starting points. But none of this is ‘the answer’! The answer is… to MOVE!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to not join a gym or a workout program. I’m saying use these as jump-boards and move on to find something that is sustainable by making a conscious effort to be more active and to use your body per it’s capabilities. Here are some suggestions.

– If you join a workout program like The Quad’s BootCamp, don’t just do the motions. Learn from it. Educate yourself about exercises that you can do with the facilities available to you. For eg. Understand that the kettlebell swing is an absolutely awesome full body workout that requires minimal cost and time investment. Understand that running is an awesome tool in your fitness toolbox but is not the be-all-end-all of fitness. Understand that working out hard 2-3 days a week and staying active during the other days is all that is required to stay fit.

– Screw exercise. Think move! As much as possible. Whenever possible. In whatever way possible. MOVE! Dont sit if you can stand. Dont stand if you can walk. Dont walk if you can run.

– Make life a little less easy for yourself! Dump comfort. Walk to the nearby store. Carry your own groceries and suitcases. Sit on the floor every once in a while. Stand at work during meetings. Squat down when you pet a pup. Take random walks. Take a club and the beat the crap out of any elliptical machine you see! And stay away from the lazy boy… the chair too.

Stay healthy and strong my dear ladies ‘cos healthy is the new hot and strong is the new skinny!

Adios!

3-Week Bodyweight Badassery

If you think I’m just chilling eating my south Indian vegetarian diet downing 6+ country eggs and few liters of raw dairy everyday, you’re wrong! I’m also not complaining about the heat-humidity combo and impatiently waiting for Septemper 19th when I can make poor BootCamp members suffer! Oh! I’m also designing and destroying workouts and… loving every second of living the dream!

That said, I’m also going to give you what I promised – The equipment less training routine

My training in the next few months will be split into 3-6 week mesocycles in an effort to hit some body comp and performance goals. The first mesocycle is designed to be 3 weeks long. It will start tomorrow, the 8th of August, and end on the 29th of August which is just in time for my big (shirtless) day. I will outline my training in this post and will publish daily workouts on my Facebook page.

Workout Outline:

Everyday: Farmers walk, short run, mobility work

Monday: Upper body push and pull, core work

Tuesday: Lower body speed work (sprints), handstand pushups, sandbag work

Wednesday: Extended mobility, L-chinups, rotational stability work, agility training

Thursday: One arm push and pull, zero negative explosive push and pull, slow push and pull

Friday: One legged lower body strength work (pistols), weighted squat jumps, handstand pushups, 5-10 min conditioning workout

Saturday: Extended mobility, box jumps, single leg pull off the ground

Sunday: Sun salutations

If you aren’t a member of my Facebook page, join now and share your thoughts ‘cos there is just way too much you can learn from me and I can learn from you!

See ya there.

Peace.

Say hello to The Quad

So I’ve been missing in action for a couple of weeks now and while I’m sure not many of you were freaking out, staring at your computer screens holding your breath, I also know all of you will be very pleased with what I am about to share today.

My fitness journey has been very interesting to say the least. For those who don’t know much about me, I was the little boy who got diagnosed with acute sinusitis and asthma when I was 10, the 120 lb preteen, the first bench kid who spent lunch and game hours finishing up homework, the 16 yr old who went on a starvation diet of roti and onions to lose weight, the freshman who played no sport, the graduate student who survived on asthma inhalers, the medical device engineer who ate at Burger King everyday and the young professional who thought exercise was for weirdos and dieting was for old people.

Having cured myself of the asthma, sinusitis, depression and such ignorance and having spent the last few years studying fitness and nutrition, working with numerous clients with innumerable health issues and having been extremely successful, I have decided to make a change.

I’ve decided on… livin the dream!

I quit my super well-paying desk job, sold my awesome Bimmer, gave up every last ounce of luxury I truly earned and I’m leaving the land of opportunities to head back home!

After about 1.5 yrs of ground work, sport performance trainer Arvind Ashok and I are ready to launch our fitness venture in Chennai, India!

Say hello to The Quad!

Check out the website and let us know your thoughts. If you are in Chennai (or know anyone in Chennai) be sure to sign up for the 10-week BootCamp program that we are starting off with ‘cos its gonna be absolutely awesome! Bangalore? Mumbai? Hyderabad? Calcutta? We’ll be there soon… very soon!

Please help us out by spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit etc etc (buttons below). And to give just a glimpse of what you can expect from us and The Quad, here is our Manifesto…

We’re sure you know folks who are members of renowned gyms, shelling out their hard earned green on personal training sessions, sacrificing family time to workout 6 days a week and still end up with little-to-no results or only temporary results.

The Test

To understand why this was happening to thousands of fitness enthusiasts nationwide, we put the system to test. We,

  • studied the current nutritional and training recommendations in detail.
  • surveyed thousands of people who follow these recommendations.
  • spoke to the trainers and nutritionists behind these recommendations.
  • consulted with, trained with, and got certified by some of the top coaches in world.
  • experimented on ourselves the traditional approach and compared it to other approaches.

The Results

And, after months of research and testing, we found that the fitness industry in India,

  • has self-proclaimed gurus, but lacks genuine experts.
  • has too many trainers, but lacks well-qualified coaches.
  • has opinions, but lacks scientifically proven approaches.
  • and most importantly, has enthusiastic customers, but lacks passionate trainers.

As a result, the industry is filled with flashy gyms that are nothing more than machine rentals and populated with under-qualified trainers who are nothing more than gym rats! This is the equivalent of the telecommunications industry being led by telephone operators!

Where Does That Leave Us?

This dearth of professionals and professionalism has forced committed gym-goers like yourself to settle for less. You don’t have a choice but to rely on training and nutritional advice provided by mediocre trainers and nutritionists, who have no understanding of exercise science and human anatomy, and are out of touch with the latest research.

Considering how important health and fitness are, don’t you think it is time you received professional training and nutritional counselling from supremely qualified and passionate coaches?

We think so!

Say what you may, but for fitness in India to reach new heights,

A paradigm shift is necessary.
A revolution is on call.
A redefinition is absolutely essential.

And we are here to make it happen. We are here to be the change!

We quit our fancy super-high paying desk jobs, wrapped up our lavish lives in California, said bye-bye to our daily dose of bacon and jumped on the one-way flight to India to get down and dirty – to redefine fitness!

We are here because we are madly passionate about fitness. We are here because we care. We are here because we believe. We are here to walk the talk.

Our first steps will certainly be small. But make no mistake, we’re here for the long haul.

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