Bike for the big burn

Do we consume food — or does fast food consume us? This might seem like serving paranoia on a platter, but all this business buzz around ultra-processed food (UPF) causes brain-fade or brain fuzz. Your resistance caves in to the hounding TV commercial and newspaper ads and advertorials. Welcome to the club that believes “Dieting is easy. I have done it a hundred times.”

Carlos Monteiro, a ­nutrition and health expert at Brazil’s ­University of Sao Paulo is a pioneer and leader amongst them. Back in 2009, ­Monteiro maintained, “Ultra-­processed foods are formulations of substances derived from foods. They contain little or no whole foods and are typically enhanced with colours, ­flavours, emulsifiers and other cosmetic additives.”

In 2019, (the year of the Covid pandemic and perhaps the reason his experiment didn’t get the exposure it deserved), Monteiro backed his theory with practice. And established what nutrition and health experts hold as the gold standard on the subject. He had held that “people who eat lots of UPFs have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, depression and other illnesses.” His critics and the concerned MNCs (multi-national companies) dismissed this as ‘observational’ and vague. The burden of proof was non-existent in any case.

This experiment was the clincher. Twenty people were fed either ultra-processed or unprocessed food for two weeks, then the opposite for the next two weeks. Those eating UPFs gained an average of nearly a kilo, while those on the unprocessed diet shed the same amount. Weight loss or gain occurs over a longer time-frame. Hence, the one kilo lost or gained in 30 days is dramatic and leaves no doubt that UPFs are neither fish nor fowl. Just plain foul. Our advice: Bunk that junk.

We are dieticians by default. My mother had suffered a stroke in her middle age (she lived half a life with her left side paralysed) and I was declared ‘hypertensive’ (high blood-pressure) around the age of 40. Heart specialist Dr Pillai prescribed a papad-free, pickle-free diet. And Shalan took the precaution one step further. She cooked the same food we had earlier, but with one simple yet significant change — without oil. That was a good 10 years before our Fitness for Life book was launched.

Almost the first question from press to public after the launch was, “How do you cook without oil?” First, by journalists who reviewed the book. And then by the readers who had just read it. We had struck oil.

Shantha, the head of the Dietetics department of the Catering College in Mumbai posed the same question, and requested a demonstration. We had done so in the past, but to accommodate 27 catering college students in our comparatively tiny kitchen was a first in every sense. But it was a big hit.

Mother Nature has provided us with a unique system of physiological internal plumbing. A system that both scientists and accountants would agree is the best in the world. The latter would apply the FILO (First In Last Out) method to account for the food and liquid you consume every day. Let’s navigate this system from a nutritionist’s point of view. The stomach is the ‘inventory controller’ of the consumed food and fluid. And it follows the FILO method — as an inventory manager would put it. FILO is fundamental as a measure of holistic health.

Over 75 per cent of our body is fluid. Any effort, especially exercise, drains this element. A volume-weight loss is temporary at this stage. As fresh fluid/food soon fills in the blank/body bank.

Non-veg food is harder and heavier to digest. Man has neither the required carnivorous teeth nor acidic juices to naturally digest meat. Hence, it takes around 36 hours to digest and eliminate it from the body. So please limit this pleasure to, may be, two meals a week. Avoid red meat — fish and chicken are a better choice. And observe a balanced diet.

Moreover, keep a three-hour gap between a non-veg meal and exercise. Vegetarians can commence after two hours, but they too need to watch their diet. Traditional vegetarian food lacks the protein required. Add soya and paneer to compensate.

Finally, veg or non-veg, you require a minimum of two litres of fluid just to get you going in normal conditions. Add one or more litres of fluid at any time — exercise and meal time included. Liquor and coffee are excluded as both dehydrate.


Cycling as an exercise You are now ready to straddle the saddle. But which horse (read cycle) should you ride? Roads, in most metros, are too ‘car-crowded’, pot-holed and downright dangerous. So the regular cycle is out, but you can go for a stationary exercise cycle with a comfortable seat.

If you don’t have a standard stationary cycle and prefer one, buy it online; Amazon has the Strauss Stayfit for ₹8,500. We discovered this while browsing the Net for this column. Unfortunately, the seat is inadequate because it does not sufficiently protect your spine and can trigger backpain. Our own mini-cycle is manufactured no more. So that’s out. Yet, Amazon has a combo that apparently fits the bill (₹1,300 for the PowerMax Fitness mini-cycle and ₹1,484 for the camping folding chair made of alloy steel.) For a combined price of ₹2,784, this combo deal is a steal. Check out the bargain. It’s a ‘soft pedal’ and a perfect fit for your special cosy corner. Your comfortable seat to the ozone zone. For the folding chair will support both spine and body. Figuratively speaking, you can ride this up to sunset!

Keep your pedals nice and loose. The aim is speed, not resistance. Prepare yourself to cycle at 80 revolutions (revs) per minute. One rev is when say, your left knee reaches apex point. Then the second follows the same pattern. Count up to 80 revs in 60 seconds.

Going for the burn means just that. The only catch is that the body experiences mainly water loss for the first 10 minutes. Fat burning occurs after that. Hence, the ideal cycling time is a minimum of 20 minutes for a five-day fitness schedule. And 35 minutes for a three-day routine. We recommend the former.

Listen to music, watch TV, or get a like-minded person to go ‘double seat’ on your ride! As we do in our Fitness for Life classes. Time then flies faster. And you are astride the ozone zone — the happy hormones activated within you by cycling. This also tones and strengthens your leg and feet muscles. But cycling does not address flexibility and overall muscle strengthening. We’ll take that up later.

The good news is that cycling is a complete cardio-vascular-respiratory exercise. Hence, you don’t need any other exercise to achieve the aerobic health and fitness effect. This holds true across generations and genders.

Stick to your schedule and observe our dietary directions. You could lose between three to five kg after three months. But don’t despair if you are not on target. You are bound to have lost at least a kg in this time span. Just extend your literal lifeline. Put it in perspective. You’ve gained weight over your lifetime. A three-month fitness period may not suffice. Yet, you’ve earned brownie points. And as they say, well begun is half done.

The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

kenslot kenslot kenslot slot thailand kenslot asia99 kenslot pragmatic88 pragmatic88 asia99 slot thailand kenslot kenslot kenslot eslot gb777
Message Us