‘Eat everything but listen to your body’

Shivani Tanpure
Thursday, 27 December 2018

So says Praveen Nair, who has trained celebrities like Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Manish Paul to stay fit

We are often fascinated by the super fit figures of the celebrities but we do not know much about their backbone, the trainers who actually make it happen. Meet Praveen Nair who is promoting Sony BBC Earth’s new anthology titled Health Binge that premieres on December 31. The series packs four unique shows, namely, Truth About: Calories, Fat, Healthy Eating, Exercise and Getting Fit — each uncovering research findings that shatter long-held beliefs and myths about exercising, calories, fat and overall healthy eating. 

We caught up with Nair, who has trained celebrities like Sushant Singh Rajput for M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur, to throw light on the current health trends. 

- Everyone knows the connection between calories and healthy eating but most people can’t implement it. What would you tell them?
My understanding and belief is that there are different types of diets. I would say intermittent fasting with keto diet is a great way to shut down good amount of fats and weight. Some traditional practitioners say that eating Indian food is appropriate option, but I would say — Listen to your own body and understand it. Eat everything but in a certain limit is what I suggest.

- There are many fitness and dietary trends that are discussed in detail on the internet. How does one know what suits them?
The whole scenario of different types of diets is based on the macros (nutrients including vitamins and minerals). The breakdown of macros goes this way — 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates give you 4 calories and fats sums up to 9 calories. There are ample of apps out there which give you details about the amount of calories you burn. But at the end it, strictly depend upon the activities you perform throughout the day. 

Everyone has a different role to play for their individual systems. For instance, someone undergoing heavy activities or an athlete for that matter should consume a lot of carbohydrates whereas a normal person looking to shed weight should specifically cut down carbs and have a calorie deficit diet in order to get better results.

- What changes have you seen in the fitness industry since you started out?
There are definitely humongous changes occurring in the industry. Many fitness companies are getting into the market, lots of fitness events are being conducted and with access to endless information on social media, people generally end up following random fitness tricks. The best way to get fit and maintain your muscle mass is to opt for the ‘pick and choose’ option. This makes the process workout more faster. Lastly, way too much of information and options is the notable change over the years. 

Talking about Indians, we have amazing food culture but still people are seen overeating. They consume so much food that at one point they cannot move around. Due to this, their muscles are filled with glycogen, and the body stores the extra calories as fats in the body. 

To see identified results, a minimum of three weeks to two months span is required. By the end of second month, you probably develop the habit of exercising regularly. Exercising is all about stretching your body and building up strength.
- Many youngsters start gymming because they want the physique of a particular actor/actress. What would your advice be to them?
What I notice in my gym is, people from the age group of 40 years and above, are concerned about their fitness. But it’s the youngsters who ingest a lot of junk food containing trans fats. My simple suggestion to all the youngsters is to skip junk food and opt for Indian food, adding good amount of protein to it. Also, consume proteins not from the supplements but from natural sources. 

Secondly, considering their age, some kind of physical activity on a regular basis is the best solution. This helps smoothen blood circulation and most importantly builds up the concentration capacity. A minimum of 30 minutes physical strain is good enough.

- Can you tell us about the efforts that the celebrities take in achieving and maintaining a certain physique?
The celebrities usually have a long day because of their shooting schedules. Shraddha Kapoor is currently shooting for Saaho and has a hectic schedule. Still she makes it a point to go to the gym atleast for a 30 mins workout routine. Saaho has a lot of action sequences, so functional training is necessary for her to stay fit and energetic. The actors, no doubt are very concerned about their skin and sleeping patterns, whereas our job is to make sure they stick to their diet and get to the gym on time. 

- The New Year’s approaching and many people will resolve to put their health first. But by Jan end, most of them would have given up on their resolution. Can you share tips on how we can continue to work on our health throughout the year, throughout our lives?
I suggest, you make a three month plan initially. Then you can break it down into monthly, weekly and daily target. To follow the routine for a longer period, firstly you need to write down a target for the day. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you should read it first, which I think helps you strengthen your resolve. I strongly believe in pre-planning. If you set up things in advance, you definitely end up achieving what you aim for. 

- Can you explain the concept of ‘smart eating’?
Basically, the concept of high fat foods came from abroad, but Indians have a lot of variety already. For example, in South Indian cuisine, Rice, Sambar, Rasam are all my personal favourites and healthy too. But eating it at appropriate time and in minute quantity, is what you need to follow. 

‘Smart Eating’ according to me is, you eat everything but also listen to your body. Make a practical plan and work on it. There are applications available now. So count the calories in a product and then eat accordingly — that is the smarter way.

- Can you share your thoughts on super food like quinoa? Should Indians be consuming these super foods or should we look at our food for building strength, stamina and endurance?
Consuming quinoa or avocado is a very extensive approach towards food. If we talk about everyone in general, I would say Indian meal is full of nutrients. Consuming super foods is not wrong, but why not prefer our desi stuff, like drinking almond milk with some turmeric in it? It helps you remarkably in the process of detoxification, keeps your digestive system good. The plus point here is you have healthy stuff right at your door step. 

- You are well known for your Crossfit methodology of fitness? What is it exactly?
In the crossfit method, we moralise ‘Isolation exercise’, that is you focus on just one area of your body. Functional training is the quite ‘in thing’ right now. It is a classification of exercises which trains your body to perform day-to-day activities. Ninety nine per cent of people go to the gym just to maintain their look or figure for that matter. But functional training helps your muscles perform way better than normal gyming. 

- What is your ‘mantra’ for all the fitness freaks out there to stay fit?
‘Consistency is the key’. I believe that is the biggest challenge we all have. When we are travelling, we generally disrupt our routine and miss out the diet part. To stay on track, go for a run or a jog, whenever possible. Again pre planning things will make you consistent. Lastly, it is all about forming your own habit.

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