Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why you fail – Real people, real reasons

As we all know, there are a million training programs and a zillion diets out there all claiming to be effective with respect to fat loss and/or health. Honestly, if you think about it, even if half of these diet/training programs work even 1/4th as effectively as advertised, we would have very few fat people… at least very very few fat people lurking the internet. But this is definitely not the case. As the number of diets and programs and health foods increase by the day, we, as a population, are becoming fatter and fatter by the day. As nutrition & fitness experts, food manufacturers and smart business minds (ha!), continue to come up with simple and easy ways to lose fat, we, as a population, are continuing to head towards obesity and disease.

Something doesn’t add up right. Something is wrong somewhere. And to me, the concept of these two diverging lines – success of diets/health foods/gyms and failure to successfully reach fat loss/health goals – has always been interesting. Sure we can end this with simple answers like ‘People are not committed’ or ‘Most diets are BS’, but that would only qualify as an aloof answer from someone who doesn’t care enough to invest the time to study the “why” behind these physiological and psychological patterns. Being someone who cares, I decided to look into this a little deeper and starting today this is what I will be addressing for the next few weeks.

I will be talking you about why you fail to reach your goal, why diets work/don’t work, why certain programs produce transformations while certain other produce only injuries, why some people succeed in the exact same training and nutrition plan as yours, why you feel like dog poop when you try to lose fat, why you gain everything back, why you are unable to commit, why fat loss seems like a never ending battle for some people etc etc etc. And in-addition to that (possibly once all the whys have been answers), I’ll address the hows – how you can stick to eating right for life, how you can safely and sustainably accelerate during a 10-12 week fat loss period, how you can train very less and get very much, how you can not obsess about food and stay fit and healthy, how you can stay motivated, how you can motivate people around you, how you can make a change and stick to it for life… without having to sacrifice the little pleasures.

First step of any research is data collection and thats exactly what I did. I asked the fine folks in my FaceBook group (What the hell do you eat Raj?!) the following question…

Sticking to a nutrition and/or training plan for a very short period of, say, 10 weeks. Assuming this will produce visible results and quite literally change your life wrt health & fitness…

Why can’t you do it? Why do you break? Why is consistency a problem?

We are pretty tight community and people are very approachable, love to share their experiences, struggles, problems and knowledge and are at all times ready to help each other out. And not surprisingly, I ended up getting some truly awesome responses. I am publishing them here verbatim with only the member’s names removed to protect their identities. If you would like to know more about who said what or if you would like to contribute, please join the group and do so.

Because when I go to buy electronics at the so called ‘electronics mall’ the first shop that I see as I enter is the donut store that has 23 different kinds of donuts. and the whole mall smells of freshly made waffle.  Because my hotel management thinks I would love to see free chocolates / cookies on my hotel bed everynight.

ROTFL.

But its all in the mind and its about giving way to temptation. If I may give an example – its like quitting smoking – I have so i know what i am talking about. Really need to focus on the reason why you want to do it and shut everything else out. I had never crossed 7 days without a cheat meal until this month (been trying for > 3 months).I have now gone 20 days of zero sugar (+ only real food) and counting. Looking to do a 30.

I think lack of time is a big one. Take my case for example: I travel on average 3 hours everyday. Minimum time spent at work is 9 hours, sometime 12. Thats 12 hours of your day gone, just spent on work. the remaining time has to pack in – spending time with family(esp in kids r involved), cooking(sticking to the diet), meeting friends, errands like shopping and sleep. And the easiest thing to sacrifice here is sleep (I have been doing it for the past 10 weeks, I should know). And running on minimal sleep and trying to catch up on weekends becomes a nightmare.

Fitness training is fine, but nutrition/eating is a problem…sustainability is the key to this, right ?? but sustainability involves cheating; so, the more I cheat the more sustainable my plan becomes 🙂

let me explain:

instead of having a big cheat meal every <watever>, I eat a small portion of ‘acceptable junk’ (e.g. chips or some dessert but not wheat) more frequently (say few times a week). This works for me because I don’t wait for the cycle to eventually break; because when it does break, all bets are off 🙂

makes sense, no ??

Raj, how we wish there was a magic formuIa! I think people get superexcited in the beginning and try to change everything all at once -eating ,exercising sleep patterns – it can get overwhelming. Too much stress on any other front in life is a barrier for most – even if it may help to reduce the stress finally.

Also people focus too much on Results (which can only be incremental ) and feel that if they have fallen off the track -its of no use. But that is so untrue.Like bad eating patterns good eating patterns also need a fair amount of time to get ingrained. As another commenter says rightly there is no premium on virtuous eating except in forums like these . We wd be major party poopers anywhere else 🙂

In my case, it all boils down to my lack of seriousness/committment. Yes, there is lack of time, stress due to too much work in a traveling job that requires me to stay 2-3 days per week in a hotel, managing a kid etc etc. But inspite of all this, I know if I was serious enough, I would get it done. I am probably living under this huge illusion that I am healthy enough. I have not yet been jolted out of this illusion with something alarming, like say I was diagnosed with diabetes or some such thing. So as long as my “normal” life goes on without a hindrance, I am too cozy in my comfort zone to even make real serious effort to change.

But I must say I have started taking efforts like exercising/eating healthy etc thanks to following your blog. Also slowly getting into the mindset that it is better to be strong and healthy instead of discovering one fine day that things are seriously wrong and out of control.

Habits, boredom & friends for me….. Let’s say you are working from home and worked out in the morning, and the tummy is grumbling for the next something to get in to you… At that instant, I don’t make a mini-decision to reach for the fruit, salad or cottage cheese from the fridge and instead reach for the cheese crackers in the pantry(that I originally got for my toddler) …. It hardwired in the brain to reach for the option you have been trained to do since you are a kid…

Or when your friends call up to meet at the Mediterranean restaurant for dinner, and it’s winter time when your other outdoor activities have been to a minimum, it’s hard to pass up on the dinner invitation ….. And ofcourse you are so busy chatting, having a good time and distracted enough to forget about your original eat-out rules you drafted for yourself( choose the better options from menu and keep it to minimum) …. If you obsess over eating clean, you are constantly reminded that there is a long list of untouchable food options around you…. If you don’t obsess over it you sometimes go with the flow and forget to remind yourself ‘at the very instant’ the decision is made to eat or not eat something…….

No problem in terms of working out. But nutrition is a big problem for me, especially in India. I have borderline Aspergers. I need my routine and alone time. Both are impossible most days here. I get worked up very easily and rely on carbs to overcome stress. Rice is my vice.

Adjusting eating patterns, for me. If I were living alone (which I was, a year ago) it’s easier to cook the sort of food I want to eat – I like cooking, so that wasn’t much of an issue. Now, when my mum is the main cook and she is cooking for 4 people (and also rushes to work in the morning), it’s hard to demand multiple food options/ get access to the kitchen in the morning. Eating the right food is made easier when there is variety and its not always easy to come by. Also, the fact that when the hunger pangs hit, I have very limited ‘quick food’ options (given I am not a big cheese fan and am not permitted to eat fruits and nuts).

I sacrifice exercise over sleep. I prepare for diet during the weekend. The wife does help a lot. Sometimes I do exercise for a few weeks, then sleep starts to get affected. Probably something to do with the Adrenal. Then I get off exercise and sleep becomes easier. The exercise goes like a yo-yo :-(.

In my case, I am just lazy and need someone to kick my behind to get me to workout. I am not sure why that is the case with workin out ‘coz my diet was relatively easy to fix and I don’t need someone constantly reminding me to eat right! Also, another thing is that I easily get bored of workouts that I do. I never ‘want’ to workout.

I think its the number “10”. No, seriously, when you embark on a short term goal, its very easy to go astray if you don’t start to see results in week 2 or earlier. It’s a psychological thingy.

I think my problem is that I do not enjoy exercising alone. I try not to effect my sleep. Gyms are not an option because they are quite bad these days, they are full of equipments with no space for exercise. Quite a bit of my time goes into tackling my baby’s sleep issue. Only way I exercise is running on stairs carrying shopping bags in the weekends. But I take care of my nutrition quite well.

For me one the following has wreaked the consistency before. (1) Marking a workout time and if you cannot do it then skip it (2) coming from work in evening feeling tired and thinking of restaurant..(3) cheating more than once due to occasions like office get together or friends get together (4) If because of too much work and deadlines if workout missed 2 consecutive days then it goes all the way downside………This has been the case till now but now since my whole health depends on me sticking to this I am trying to workout whenever time permits it may morning 7 am or eve 9.30 pm…always try to prepare some real food and put it in fridge….but still long work day+ restaurant food and cheat meals are the worst factor that shake my discipline badly…….

In my case there is no problem working out, thanks to the quad I have a proof of this as I’ve not missed a single class. Initially accepting that I had to change my diet so very drastically was a problem, I am sure you remember my whiny mails and a BIG THANK YOU to you for setting me right and telling me I had no options, after which I started enjoying cooking the new all real meals(?body=https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150405031515700.407929.571385699&type=1&l=5322fac3a0&subject=What%27s for dinner?).

My main hurdle is one that what another commenter also mentions 1. Getting late at work and coming back and thinking of alternatives to cooking a good meal, so the alternative isn’t necessary a restaurant, it’s a combination of a restaurant, easy meal such as Varan Bhaat (http://the-cooker.blogspot.com/2007/06/varan-bhaat-amti-bhaat.html) and take aways. I really like eating real food but after 12 hours at work, I just don’t have the energy to cook.

Living in a joint family with different food likes and dislikes, it becomes difficult to follow even a doctor-recommended diet when you’re recovering from an illness. So a full-fledged 10 week over-haul becomes impossible. Plus a job and two boys to run after make time management difficult. And unless someone MAKES me exercise, it’s just so easy to say, “Nah, tomorrow!”

My biggest problem is sticking to my goals / objectives. I don’t function well left to my own devices. Food-wise, I am an all or nothing kind. As long as I don’t touch contraband, I am golden. But the minute a small slip happens, I cannot put it aside and move forward – I can only go headlong into disaster 😦

 I had the whole of today away from home. Nothing but a cup of coffee before I left in the morning. Because I was doing someth I love with like minded people I never had any craving or hunger. But that’s not the case everyday. Responsibilities, worrying about my son drive me towards carbs. That plus the weekly get-togethers with friends who junk all day spells disaster. Before having a baby I made good food choices, but now very less will power left I have impulsive bad judgement in terms of nutrition.

According to me food is ’emotional’. It has the power to make/change my mood. If I feel happy, I want to celebrate with something delicious.. if I am sad, all I want to do is eat some junk/comfort food to make myself feel better. We all have plenty of memories associated with food – so it makes you give in to temptation and eat something you’ve always thought of as delicious. I remember an ice cream ad from the 80s – ‘you make me lose, lose my self control’ 🙂

Unless one has an extremely stress free life and a good support system in place, it is difficult to eat right all the time.

For me, eating right is the easier part. I hate sugar/anything sweet, so will never get tempted seeing any sweet. Fried foods are my nemesis though. Even then, as long as I don’t cook some fried stuff, I don’t crave it. I am fine eating veggies and real food all the time. The husband however loves junk, and it is on days when I make something like bajji/vadai that I go out of control as well. I am certainly not at a stage where I can cook junk and skip eating it! Working out is another story altogether. I am yet to find something that motivates me to get over my laziness.

 I think motivation is the key. I didn’t have it badly enough earlier, and its not something I could have even talked myself into, with all my reasoning and logic. A death scare or a sudden hyper love of life is an excellent motivation!

Boredom, I think. Altho, that would have been an old excuse. Nowadays, i try and snap out of de-motivation ASAP. May I recommend Rupaul? There’s nothing like a 6’4″ legendary drag queen telling you that ‘You *better* work!’. And I’m being serious.

On the exercise front, I decided to at-least try going out for a 20min walk during the lunch break. Day 1 and Day 2 were good. Day 3: Someone in my office till 12:30PM … so skip. Day 4:Meeting went on till 12:15… so skip. That’s about it. No exercise whatsoever after that. Basically this is boiling down to the priorities in life and I know I am choising the wrong one !

 I too think it’s priorities.There was a time when I would consistently workout 5 times a week. But now, running behind a super active toddler is exercise enough. Exercising ranks way below taking care of his needs. I know the two are not mutually exclusive, I just need to figure out a way to manage my time effectively to fit in exercise.

If you got up to here, you are certainly interested in the topic. What do you think? Why do you break? Why do you fail? What are your experiences? Share it in the comments section.

Peace out.

Sugar kills! Cardio is critical! Carbs & fat make you fat! Really?

Too many myths… too little truth! Until now…

Food doesn't make you fat... it makes you happy!

“Sugar kills”

Sure it does… when you OD on it. But so do processed meat and grains and, well, work!

It isn’t that one spoon of sugar you add to your coffee every morning that screws things up for you. It is your healthy sweet breakfast cereals with dehydrated fruit lookalikes and energy bars with 100% real chemicals and guiltless fat free desserts and fruit juices with added vitamins and healthy probiotic flavored yogurts that do! Stay away from making sugar a staple by letting it sneak its way into everything you eat and you’ll be fine having that coffee a lil sweet!

And of course, if that spoon of sugar features multiple times a day, then you’re just asking for trouble. But you’re smart enough to understand that, right?

Verdict – Rarely, add sugar to food and make it less healthy. Dont eat, frequently, ‘health’ foods that have added sugars/sweeteners. 

“Carbs and fat when eaten together make you fat”

No they dont! They make you jump up in joy ‘cos carbs + fat = delicious!

Sure a combination of carbs and fat makes you stuff your face. But you know what else makes you stuff your face ever so often? A combination of stupidity & gluttony! Have some common sense. Eat real food for the most part, stay away from making junk food and nutrition-less foods (like grains and sugar) a staple and you wont have to worry about counting your carbs or fat or calories.

Verdict – Stop fearing food and fix your relationship with food. Understand nutrition and make wise choices. Some common sense goes a long way.

“The easiest way to make your festivals healthy is blah blah”

And what is the easiest way to shut you up?!

Festivals are meant to be a time when folks get together, share memories, laugh and, well, eat! Don’t mess with it. As long as your nutrition is solid year round, going crazy 3-4 times a year won’t do any harm to your health and/or abs! Let me put this in perspective.

1 kilo of fat =  7700 calories. So for you to gain 1 kg of fat, you will have to eat 7700 extra calories in that day! Let’s say your apetite is as big as mine and you do end up eating that many calories. What happens? Your body will automatically force you to eat less in the next few days and set things back to normal. Fat gain is only a problem when this type of gluttony becomes a frequently recurring event. As long as such gluttony is reserved for the truly special 3-4 occasions in a year, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Verdict – Stop pigging our every other day, eat real, wholesome and nutritious food year round and go to town on that cheesecake on your (truly) special occasions!

“More is better”

No. Better is better.

If training 3 days a week doesn’t produce your desired results (fat loss or muscle gain), look into nutrition, sleep and stress. Are you eating the right foods? Are you eating the right amounts? Are you staying active during your rest days? Are you getting at least 7 hours of sleep per day? Is your stress level minimal to nil?

If you answered yes to all these questions (and trust me when I say 99.9% of people don’t), then look into your training intensity. Most people’s highs are too low and lows are too high. Are you working hard when you do train or are you just going through the motions? Is your high intensity truly high? Is your low intensity truly low? Only after that should you even maybe consider possibly adding a short workout as day 4.

Verdict – Clean up your act first before asking for more scenes! 

“Early morning is the best time to workout”

I don’t care how many studies have been done on workout timing and calorie expenditure and how convincing the results were, but as far as the real world is concerned, the best time to workout will always be the time you actually can workout! What if early AM workout burns 5% more calories? As a matter of fact, what if it burns 50% more calories? If the only time you can workout is evening, do those numbers even matter to you?

Verdict – Find a time during the day at which you can consistently workout and get it done! Less research, more development.

“Cardio is the critical”

You’re right… if by cardio you meant mobility!

Talk to as many ever beat up athletes as you want and ask them what they wished they did more of. I guarantee you every single one of them will say mobility!

I understand lifting weights is flashy and running marathons pumps you up and sprinting till you can’t feel your legs no more makes you feel like you’re da king… but mobility, as boring, slow and painful as it is, is the thing that will save your ass later in life. As for cardio… thats just a waste of time.

Verdict – Mobility trumps everything else! Without mobility you’re just a big bag of immobile fat or muscle… both equally useless.

“Its all about number of repetitions”

Wrong! It’s about about ROM folks! Not read-only-memory you silly software man. Get off them chairs and look around! Its 2011 and you are fat, wearing bermudas to work and listening to BS boys! We’re talking range of motion.

I would much rather have you perform 3 reps of any exercise with full ROM than 30 reps with compromised ROM. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a bodyweight lunge or a 200 kilo squat or a weighted pushup or a bicep curl – if your ROM is not optimal, you’re asking for joint issues. Do mobility work, move through your full ROM and take good care of those joints and they will take care of you for a long time to come.

Also realize the irony here – the main purpose you (knowingly or unknowingly) move through a shorter range of motion is be able to move more weight but working through a shorter range of motion results in making you weaker and restricts you from using more weight eventually!

Verdict – If you’re not going all the way… you’re not going any where!

Peace out!

Sample vegetarian real food ‘diet’ or what I eat on Sundays

Sunday is my only day off and I tend to take it easy… really easy! I hang at my parent’s. I wake up late. Chill at home. Dont see any clients. Listen to plenty of music. Catch up with friends. You know… the usual drill. In addition to all this, I also make it a point to not workout and/or worry too much about food. I just like to go with the flow.

I don’t count anything. I eat per appetite. And since I’m taking it easy in general, I also like to give my gut a chance to take it easy and hence eat strictly real food.

So here is everything I ate today,

Breakfast

3-4 cups of lemon tea

  • I woke up at like 10:30am and didn’t find the need to eat breakfast as I wasn’t hungry and lunch time was around the corner. That way I get to eat with my mom and grandmom who talk memories and recipes to me. Priceless I tell you!

Lunch

– 4 cups of avial

  • The avial had green beans, potato, carrots, plenty of coconut, coconut oil and yogurt.
  • I topped that avial with 2-3 extra tbls of coconut oil and a handful of fresh shredded coconut.
  • 4 cups = 1 liter

– 3 cups spinach daal

  • Soaked lentils and fresh organic spinach cooked together with spices.
  • I topped this with about 1/2 tbls home made ghee.

– 1 cup whole milk yogurt

  • This if yogurt made at home from fresh cow’s milk

– 1 scoop (not natural, overly sweet) whey in 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt

  • ‘Cos my ON Natural Whey is at my place (and not at my parent’s)

– A handful of organic raw almonds

– 1 small banana

 Snack

– A cup of black coffee with a few almonds and raisins.

Dinner

– 2 cups of leftover avial

  • No excess coconut oil this time.

– 1/2 cup of horse gram sundal

  • Organic horse gram pre-soaked, pressure cooked and sauteed with spices in coconut oil.
  • I had this with about 1 cup of whole milk yogurt.

– Paneer subji country eggs in a tomato base

  • The paneer was home made from fresh cow’s milk
  • The subji had paneer from about a liter of milk and 2 country eggs mixed in.

– Some organic fresh papaya. Say about 1 cup.

Note: All vegetables, fruit and legumes are completely organic. You can find a list of awesome organic food stores in Chennai, India here.

So there ya go. Eating real food is simple, easy, healthy and absolutely delicious. If any of this seems to not ‘fit your style’, make it fit your style. I love avial and so I eat cartloads of it. If you don’t eat, something else there. Eat more food if you’re hungry. Eat less food if this is too much. If fat loss is a goal eat slightly below appetite, skip a meal and eat food that is less dense (skip the oil etc.). If mass gain is a goal, eat up! Eat till your slightly uncomfortable and squeeze in a breakfast and/or a snack.

Keep it real. Keep it simple. Keep it sustainable.

Peace out.

 

Very random thoughts

1. It doesn’t matter how you spin it – if you want to remove sugar from your diet, you need to remove everything sweet from your diet.

2. Fat loss = 60% nutrition + 20% exercise + 20% sleep & stress. That equation = 100% made up, but you get the idea.

3. Women don’t get bulky from weight training and supplementing with whey. If it were that easy, most guys today will look like Arnold.

4. Bodybuilding is not always the answer. Fitness is.

5. No you don’t need tricep extensions.

6. Yes you need mobility work.

7. Not everyone needs to eat low carb or low fat. But everyone absolutely needs to eat real food. Real food for humans is like diesel for a diesel engine.

8. Not everyone needs to run marathons or deadlift 2 x BW, but everyone absolutely needs to stay active. So shut up and start doing something already.

9. Theres sugar, brown sugar, honey, jaggery, maple syrup etc etc. But what is the best sugar for diabetics? No sugar. And I’m hoping thats not a new brand.

10. No food is of any nutritional significance if quality sucks. Such is the case with dairy and meat and eggs and vegetables and everything else that is edible.

11. Yoga is awesome. But so it strength training and running and MMA and rock climbing and surfing and swimming. So what is the awesomest? Realizing nothing is is what is awesomest.

12. Its not the teaspoon of sugar in your coffee thats messing you up. It is the healthy snack time biscuits, heart healthy breakfast cereals, health food drinks, all natural fruit juices and sugar-free indulgences that are.

13. Fruit is great. Convenient, slightly nutritious and sweet… like nature’s candy. And thats exactly what it is… nature’s candy.

14. More important than when you workout is that you workout. Stop with the excuses and find a way to stay active.

15. Meat is murder. So is agriculture. Anything and everything you do to ensure you don’t kill, is just your way of convincing yourself that you are doing the right thing. Kind of like giving money to a beggar. Once you realize that for you to live something has to die, you’ll live a guilty and guilt-free life. You’ll understand when you get there.

16. Low intensity cardio, medium intensity cardio, high intensity cardio – they all suck. Save your time and focus on full body moves that improve performance.

17. And NO, you don’t have to be an athlete to worry about performance. Performance is everything from waking up ache free to living without medication to being able to play with your kids to performing sufficiently in the bedroom to being able to tackle whatever life throws at you.

18. Size 0 for women is like 6 pack abs for skinny men – ridiculous, functionless and dangerous. Strong > skinny. Get your mind right.

19. I moved from low volume heavy lifting to high volume bodyweight focussed training. I feel awesome! In fact, I haven’t felt this good since when I moved from high volume bodyweight focussed training to low volume heavy lifting.

20. If you’ve been reading this blog for even a month and haven’t made the basic changes even, you’ve got to be either stupid or full of excuses.

21. And of course, George Carlin is a genius.

The Truth Behind “Health Drinks”

Hello parents!

How have you all been? I know you and I have shared a formal yet loving e-relationship and it breaks my heart to do this to you, but there is no other way. After today, you won’t want to stay in any form of contact with me… ever. I wish there was a way around this… I really do. But,as fate would have it (and as it has turned out to be the case multiple times in the past) – I’m here to expose the crap that you are (mostly unknowingly) doing to your kids and you’re here to, well, hate me, live in denial for a bit and eventually come around and thank me for being the ass that I am.

So, take care you. It was fun while it lasted. And by the way, raj.hbfser@gmail.com is where you want to send your hate mails and that will be the same ID you would have to email later to apologize, thank etc.

– – – – – x – – – – –

As we all know, health drinks like Complan, Bournvita, Boost and Horlicks are common ‘health food drinks’ in most houses today as they has been for a few decades now. That’s just awesome right? I mean, kids don’t get much nutrition these days and, as a parent, making sure they get the required nutrients is at the top of your priority list I’m sure. You, parents, are of course super busy throughout the day with work and meeting, and health drinks manufactured by, well, someone somewhere, that provide kids with everything they need to grow into strong healthy adults, is definitely a convenient way of ensuring quality nutrition.

The Marketing

What is so good about these health drinks anyway? What do the good-hearted manufacturers say about these?

Complan is a trusted, fortified dietary supplement formulated to provide high quality nutrition. It provides a balanced mix of high-quality, essential protein, fat and carbohydrate to provide energy, as well as an extensive range of vitamins and minerals, and it provides a useful boost to energy even in small servings.

Drinking a mug of Horlicks is the natural choice when you want to relax before going to sleep, so you awake feeling refreshed and revived

Boost is the secret of winning energy!

And this is what you read on the boxes, hear them say on TV, read on papers etc and hence, this is what you know. As a result, you buy boxes and boxes of these each year and even force feed your kids to drink them. But do you know if these claims are true? Are these ‘health’ drinks truly healthy? It isn’t for nothing that these companies claim that their drinks are filled with health. Right? I mean, these companies are not going to blatantly lie to us are they?

Ummm… I don’t know. My guess is as good as yours really. I, too, was told that they’re very good for me and, since they were delicious, I drank (and ate) them in massive quantities! So why don’t we try and figure out the truth together. Mmmmkay?

The Truth

As a first and most basic step, let’s look into the ingredients of some of these health drinks.

Horlicks – Malted barley, milk solids, sugar, wheat flour, malted wheat, minerals, protein isolate, emulsifier, salt, acidity regulator, vitamins, natural color

Bournvita – Malt extract, sugar, cocoa solids, milk solids, caramel, liquid glucose, permitted emulsifiers, vitamins, minerals, raising agent, salt

Complan – Skimmed milk, lactose, vegetable oil, maltodextrin, sugar, glucose syrup, fat reduced cocoa powder, dextrose, flavourings, magnesium sulphate, thickener (xanthan gum), vitamin mix, mineral mix.

Boost – Malted barley, wheat flour, sugar, milk solids, minerals, colour, glucose, salt, acidity regulator, cocoa powder, vitamin, protein isolate, edible fiber, nature identical flavouring substances

A small ‘did you know’ before we go ahead an analyze these lists.

  • In any product, the ingredients need to be listed in the order of maximum composition. That is, the first ingredient is the most dominant ingredient followed by the second and then the third and so on.

So now let’s analyze these health drinks by looking at their ingredients from a slightly different perspective.

Product

What it contains

What it really contains

Horlicks Malted barley, milk solids, sugar, wheat flour, malted wheat, minerals, protein isolate, emulsifier, salt, acidity regulator, vitamins, natural color Grain, processed junk, sugar, grain, grain, artificial minerals, processed junk, junk, junk, salt, artificial vitamins, junk
Bournvita Malt extract, sugar, cocoa solids, milk solids, caramel, liquid glucose, permitted emulsifiers, vitamins, minerals, raising agent, salt Grain, sugar, processed junk, processed junk, sugar, sugar, junk, artificial vitamins, artificial minerals, junk, salt
Complan Skimmed milk, lactose, vegetable oil, maltodextrin, sugar, glucose syrup, fat reduced cocoa powder, dextrose, flavourings, magnesium sulphate, thickener (xanthan gum), vitamin mix, mineral mix. Processed junk, sugar, oxidizable unstable fat, sugar, sugar, sugar, processed junk, sugar, junk, junk, junk, artificial vitamins, artificial minerals
Boost Malted barley, wheat flour, sugar, milk solids, minerals, colour, glucose, salt, acidity regulator, cocoa powder, vitamin, protein isolate, edible fiber, nature identical flavouring substances Grain, grain, sugar, processed junk, artificial minerals, junk, sugar, junk, junk, junk, artificial vitamins, processed junk, junk, junk

And just so we’re clear

Why is protein isolate junk? Isn’t whey protein good for you?

Because they say protein isolate and not whey protein isolate. Anytime a food item is mentioned vaguely, there is a good chance (more than 100% that is), that the product is low quality crap. In this case, it probably is soy protein.

Why are raising agents and acidity regulators junk?

Because I don’t want my any kid to ingest anything that requires agents!

But aren’t grains good for health? I’ve read so much about grains being super nutritious!

Well, you walked into the wrong class buddy. This is Real Food For Smart People. Gullibility 101 is across the hall and How The Government Protects Me From The Truth is right next to it. But now that you are here, read this, this and this to learn more about grains and why they are, at best, a nutritionally poor food.

Now, you tell me

Do your kids need this? Are these “health” drinks? Does it make any sense whatsoever that you force your kids to drink this sugary shit? Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourself for having done this all these days? Too harsh? I don’t think so. And here’s why…

I didn’t have to do any research whatsoever to get all this info. All I had to do was to pick up a tin/box of these health drinks and read the ingredients! All this is printed on the box… on every box! Go ahead and check… it is, at this very moment, sitting in your kitchen cabinet. Truth is, you just didn’t have either the brains or the time or both to read the ingredients before, during or after buying such heavily marketed processed “health” food or before, during or after pouring it down your and your kid’s mouth… every… single… day!

Still don’t get it?

For those of you who still don’t understand how big a (nutritional) crime it is to sell and feed kids with such crap, let’s look at this in yet another angle. Here are the ingredients of two very famous products.

Product A – Wheat flour, sugar, edible vegetable oil, cocoa solids, invert syrup, salt, raising agent, sugar, edible vegetable fat, emulsifier. And that really means? Grain, sugar, oxidizable unstable fat, processed junk, sugar, salt, junk, sugar, oxidizable vegetable fat, junk

Product B – Sugar, peanuts, glucose syrup, skimmed milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, sunflower oil, lactose, milk fat, vegetable fat, whey powder, salt, emulsifier, salt. And that really means? Sugar, junk, sugar, processed junk, processed junk, processed junk, oxidizable unstable fat, sugar, processed junk, oxidizable unstable fat, processed junk, salt, junk, salt.

If you compare these two lists to the lists mentioned above (that of health drinks), you’ll see that there is very little difference. Both contain grains, sugars and other junk and literally nothing else! In fact, there is absolutely nothing in both that is even marginally close to being good for you and/or your kids.

So what is product A? And what is product B? Any guesses? Why don’t you take a minute to think about this.

OK I don’t trust you. Just so you don’t cheat and actually spend a few seconds to think about it, I’ll cover up the answers by putting up a list of food manufacturing companies that actually truly care about your and your kid’s health.

OK. Now to the answers.

Product A is the never healthy…

Product B is the sinful…

Well well! How about that? Oreos and snickers are junk and unhealthy, but Bournvita and Boost are nutritious? Kinda stupid won’t you agree?

What about the micro-nutrients?

You’re such an idiot Raj! It’s all about the vitamins and minerals that these health foods are loaded with! Looks like you’re the one who doesn’t get it!

You know what? You’re right! Let me try and fix it now.

So, how about this then…

 +  = 

Give your little one a candy bar each morning before he/she runs off to school and just before bed along with a couple of multi-vitamins and you’re set! The kid won’t refuse it for sure and will smile and love you for eternity… and of course, will grow up to be a complan snickers boy or girl!

What say?

The verdict

Listen. I understand you mean well and that you want to provide your kids with the most nutritious foods. I also understand that the marketing done by these multi-million dollar food companies is absolutely awesome and hence very convincing. But, you need to understand a few things…

  • No food company gives a rats ass about your or your family’s health. They are all in it to make a buck and will do anything to make another.
  • Irrespective of how convincing a product is, it is your duty as a parent (and as a person who has common sense) to look into the list of ingredients and make smart choices.
  • There is no product that is as nutritionally dense as real food. If your kids won’t eat real food, train them to eat real food. If you can keep them away from cocaine, you can keep them away from junk.
Take a minute and share the knowledge ‘cos irrespective of how much we all care about our health and nutrition, the Nestles and the Coca Colas and the Cadburys are still emptying wallets and filling tummys (with junk).

Cut through the marketing crap and think behind the box!

Peace out.
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