How to make smart choices


Excess protein draws off all the calcium from the body, resulting in an extra load on the kidneys.
Weight and muscle loss and gain cannot last without exercising

I don’t like the word ‘diet’. I would rather people say that they are substituting good food for bad food; that they are trying to change their lifestyles. However, each person’s food choices each day affect his/her health – how s/he feels today, tomorrow and in the future.

Good nutrition and the right food are important for a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, diet can help your clients reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of heart disease and promote overall health.

One of the best ways to do that is to have a dietician on your gym’s roster – someone who is there with you every step of the way, who tells you where your clients are going wrong, and why they need to make that change. There are no shortcuts to weight loss or muscle gain. It has to be a constant effort to change your clients’ lifestyles for the better.

The best way is to make small changes in your clients’ lifestyles that they can manage. It may take a little while to reach the fitness level you want of them, but it will give you lifelong and long-life results. Normally, I never tell my clients about diet first. I want them to start with workouts because jumping into both at the same time will be too much, and they will just drop out.

Many Indians suffer from deficiency of Vitamin B12. Even sunlight has been made to look bad by so-called “experts” in the cosmetics industry.

Getting your clients to follow diets should be an enjoyable exercise: they should want to eat good food, should look the good food they eat, be disciplined to eat in moderation. The word ‘No’ makes a person do nothing but that!

Yo-yo is No-no
Many people who need to lose weight try crash dieting, which is a short-term solution that will increase their body fat levels in the long term. Continual cycles of dieting, weight loss and weight gain are called yo-yo dieting. The body responds to these periods of semi-starvation by lowering its metabolic rate.

When your client loses weight too quickly, s/he also loses fat and muscle. Muscle burns calories, but fat does not. So, when they then stop dieting and eat normally again, their bodies will burn even fewer calories than before because the relative amount of muscle in their body has decreased and their metabolic rate is slower.

People who give up on diets after a week or a month have not fully understood why they need to make a change. Unless that mental shift happens, the best diet in the world will be of no help. 80% of body fitness is about the right diet.

In India, everything we do is about food, whether it is a puja in the house or a family get-together. Food is the centre of our lives. And then we have so many kinds of cuisines. With so many cultures come so many misunderstandings. Each culture has its own fads.

In North India, everyone wants a paratha for breakfast. That’s fine, as long as the portions are controlled. If you have a Marwari thali, on the other hand, a whole month’s quota of calories is consumed in just one meal! That is why we need to make changes within the limitations of our cultures.

Menace of Supplements

Whenever food is eaten, it should be visually attractive and appealing to other senses. Red, green and orange food will make people want to eat it.

So many Indians suffer from deficiency of Vitamin B12, and it is sad to see doctors immediately recommending injections to make up for the deficit. So many people suffer from Vitamin D3 deficiency because cosmetic surgeons tell us not to go out in the sun. A good thing like sunlight has been made to look bad by so-called “experts” from the cosmetics industry!

Too much of anything is always bad: too much of fat is bad, too much of sugar is bad, and too much of protein is bad. Anything that is in excess in your body is going to be stored as fat.
Did you know that excess protein draws off all the calcium from your body? And that that results in an extra load on our kidneys? So you have to eat only what your body requires. One of the most common supplements used by gym goers is whey protein. It is a highly quality protein powder made from cow’s milk.

Milk has two proteins: casein and whey protein. Whey protein is more soluble than casein and also has a higher quality rating. Creatine is a compound involved in the production of energy in the body. It is found in small amounts in red meat and fish.

Yet, Creatine supplements are available in capsules or in the form of powder. Possible side effects of Creatine include stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, muscle cramps and dehydration. High doses of Creatine could potentially injure the kidneys, liver and heart.
Too much protein – especially lab-made protein – is very bad. That is why people start bloating. Their systems cannot digest food properly. Their body is not able to release the enzymes and digestive juices that are needed because they are consuming lab-made food.

Like consumers, trainers and gym owners should realise that this is a supplement. A supplement is something you take in addition to your everyday food. You need it if you are on a very special diet or are travelling and do not always have access to a balanced diet.

Both whey supplements and Creatine have side effects if taken in large quantities. I hear of so many cases of jaundice, which stems partly from excessive protein in the body. Jaundice is a warning sign that you should check what you are eating!

There are so many people who live on protein shakes because their trainer tells them to. But they do not understand that the trainer does not know much about diet; his job is to only make sure you work out properly. Only a dietician can render sound advice.

Weight(y) Matters

A lot of people ask me how I look so youthful even though I am 52 years old. I tell them it is because I rarely have protein shakes. I have tried them, as well as aminos in the form of supplements. But I have not stuck to them because I like to eat as natural as possible.

I do have protein bars if I am out and don’t have a lot of time between meetings. Instead of having tea and biscuits, I have a more filling protein bar. That is when supplements are useful. However, supplements cannot become your main diet.

What you eat is only one part of the weight-loss equation. Diet alone might help your clients drop the kilos, but they will have trouble keeping them off if they don’t exercise. There is a big difference between weight loss via diet and weight loss via diet and exercise. The method that uses both is significantly healthier and leads to a body that is capable and strong.

If you allow your client to lose weight from diet alone, his/her health will suffer. Without exercise, they will be forced to maintain a very low-calorie diet, which is not particularly pleasant. Weight loss only through diet also puts the focus on lack of food, instead of growth and increase in strength and endurance.

Exercise increases their self-confidence, which ensures that you must help them make smart food choices.

– Leena Mogre

Leena-MogreExcerpted with permission from the author of the book, ‘Total Fitness: The Leena Mogre Way’, published by Random House India, priced Rs. 250. (

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