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FAQ / MYTHS ON SUPPLEMENTS, NUTRITION & EXERCISE?

Lack of Scientific Knowledge – In the Public and in Professionals
Vigourfuel 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.

"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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

Q.What is my goal?
Q.What body composition/other fitness goal am I targeting?
Q.What quantity of each nutrient do I need and at what time so that I can most effectively reach my goal?
Q.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.

Convenience

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

PLEASE DO NOT USE STEAM and SAUNA AS WEIGHT LOSS AIDS.

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.

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