Trainers with Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra as their clients, bust fitness myths

Updated: Dec 04, 2019, 08:42 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

How much protein is too much? Cardio or HIIT? Are Keto and other fad diets harmful? With celebrity clients being their case in point, three professionals shatter myths plaguing the fitness industry.

Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra
Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra

Are carbohydrates bad?

Alia Bhatt

Well, not for Alia Bhatt

Professional: Bhargava

Carbohydrates can fit easily within one's diet, but you should not pick simple carbohydrates. Pick complex carbs that are absorbed slowly. Alia [Bhatt] needs to be in shape all the time. Her pre-workout [meal] consists of carbohydrates required to fuel her training. If she has to lose weight, I can cut down the quantity of carbohydrates, but I'll keep it in her system to provide that [burst] of energy. Alia works well with carbohydrates.

However, this is a double-sided answer. Carbohydrates may not matter for weight-loss, where the only thing that matters is ensuring there is a calorie deficit [calories consumed are less than those expended]. In a calorie deficit diet, regardless of where you get the calories from [carbs, proteins or fats], you will still achieve weight-loss. But when it comes to heath, longevity, ageing and de-generation, carbs are bad because metabolising them gives rise to oxidative stress that causes ageing, with respect to skin, hair and internal cells.

Adapting CrossFit for all


Professional: Shivoham, who also trains Aamir Khan

CrossFit is just a style of training. It works beautifully for those who are athletic. It's the most beautiful programme I've come across, but you can make it more approachable, scale it, and give it to any person. Exercises performed in CrossFit have existed [for several] years. The programme has given [training] a structure, and even those  structures [like interval training] have been around. But, some people like it; others don't. A trainer needs to understand what the client wants instead of forcing his training on the client. For instance, Arjun [Kapoor] loves functional training, and benefited from it too. [We also] included weight training, cardio and core training. You can make an enjoyable workout tough too.  

Is the discussion on protein consumption overrated?

Parineeti may not think so

Parineeti Chopra
Parineeti Chopra

Professional: Bhargava

Protein is absolutely important for the body. A regular person, with normal levels of activity, needs one gram of protein per kilo body weight. If you want to lose weight, you up that number to 1.2, and for muscle building, increase it to 1.5. But, if you consume less than one gram, your BMR will go down and you could gain weight in the long run. Parineeti [Chopra] tries to be primarily vegetarian, but I had to up her protein intake, because it was slightly less.

Siddhant Bhargava, celebrity fitness and nutritional scientistSiddhant Bhargava, celebrity fitness and nutritional scientist

On the other hand, consuming above two grams of protein per kilo body weight is useless, because the body can neither absorb it, nor utilise it. Prince Narula was consuming too much protein, but he changed for the better when I explained it to him.

Post-workout meals are essential?


Amit Sadh may not think so...

Professional: Bhargava

Post-workouts are not essential. There was a concept that promoted the notion that you need to consume protein within the first 45 minutes after a workout, but that has been completely debunked. It doesn't matter when you consume protein, as long as you meet your daily requirement. There is nothing like a muscle growth window. Four years ago, when working with Amit, I would also tell him to take post-workout meals. But with concepts changing, I have now told him that they don't mean much. Amit recovers well [from a workout], and has changed his body's size quite often for different roles. So [his diet] works, and we don't apply any post-workout meal concept with him.

However, pre-workouts are essential, because you want enough energy in the muscles to work well during a workout. It should comprise complex carbohydrates, and some protein.

Is a vegan diet worth it?


Virat Kohli follows it, right?

Professional: Bhargava

Vegan diets offer no significant health benefit. Even though people claim it improves gut health, I don't believe that's true. Yes, animal slaughter is real, and carbon footprint can start reducing with vegan diets. But, sources of protein in this diet are less. You have lentils, pulses and soy as your primary sources. And lentils and pulses have more carbohydrates than protein, which means, on a vegan diet, it is tough to limit carb-consumption.

Also, the protein sources are not complete, and the diet is hence less-suitable for a prime athlete. But, genetics play a big part [in one's performance]. One may argue that Virat Kohli is vegan, but he has been a non-vegetarian for 30 years before becoming vegan now. A lot of the muscle development, in terms of memory, that had to happen, has already happened. Also, he is genetically gifted.

Is interval training better than steady-state cardio?


Arjun Kapoor benefited from the latter

Professional: Shivoham

They complement each other. Things like interval training and CrossFit put a lot of load on the body, which makes recovery that much more important. HIIT enables you to burn a lot more calories during and after the training [than steady-state cardio]. If you take to the latter, you can do exercises like 40 to 60 minutes of jogging. A good parameter to judge how fast you must jog is to note if you can speak to someone while jogging, without running out of breath. That's the fat burning zone, and it is easier on the body. Steady-state cardio was definitely a [crucial] part of Arjun's training. His body responds very well to it. Even when doing weight training, we'd add cardio as a recovery aspect into his routine; so, instead of making him rest between sets, I'd make him walk for three minutes.

Do fad diets work? 


Jacqueline takes to them...

Professional: Bhargava

Fad diets work because sometimes a celebrity needs to achieve a certain shape in a short period of time. For instance, at times, when Jacqueline [Fernandez] is appointed for a song, I may get a mere five-day heads up. At that time, I will use a fad diet like starvation, or fasting, or significantly reducing the calorie intake, especially the carbs, to help her have a chiselled shape. But, these diets take a toll on the body. One must take to them only and only if absolutely necessary.

A Keto diet is not a fad. It is scientific and authentic. Radhika Madan has been on a Keto diet for a month, and is gearing up for the role of a swimmer. It has worked to get her in shape. Also, there are no long or short term implications of it. Keto is also great when you need to address someone's appetite issue. Eating portion-controlled meals is simpler than following a Keto diet. But the former may involve carbs as well, and carbs make it hard [to suppress appetite]. Radhika is a big eater, since she comes from a Punjabi family. When I followed a portion-controlled diet involving carbs, she felt hungry often. The moment I brought her onto a Keto diet, the hunger was suppressed.

I'd also recommend it for the general public, because the body ages slowly on a Keto diet. Also, since it employs fats, many fats help the body because they are anti-inflammatory. But, it is an expensive diet. Arranging meals can be difficult.

Professional: Shivoham

Shivoham, founder of ShivFit, and considered the first to introduce India to CrossFitShivoham, founder of ShivFit, and considered the first to introduce India to CrossFit

A fad diet is one that has been tried by three influential people, who have then benefited from it, and have then [brought it to the] limelight. But, everybody responds to any diet differently. Some respond to vegetarian food well, others do so to protein, or high-fat diets. No diet is bad if it works for you.

Your meal plan should be one that suits your lifestyle and one you can hold on to for a long time. With Arjun, we tried one or two diets before creating a well-balanced one. There was a moderate [amount of] fat, and meals like oats.

Fitness is 80% diet, and 20% exercise?

Professional: Bhargava

Much like it reads, the statement too is 80 per cent true. No matter how hard you train, you will see no change in the body if your nutrition isn't following your training. If I go to the gym for five hours a day, but don't give my body enough protein to recover, I won't see any muscle growth. Even when trying to lose weight, if I do a lot of cardio, and don't feed my body, I will keep losing muscle mass, not fat. So, the metabolism will slow down, and the chances of rebound weight-gain also go up.

Professional: Shivoham

I will say it's 99 per cent [mental health] and, of what remains, it's 80 per cent food and 20 per cent exercise. There's so much happening in health and fitness today, but, people are still sicker than before. We need to think about why that's the case. We need to be [mentally] fitter. When you are happy, you will not over-eat, and you will train. So, everything has to do with your state of mind.
The one thing people can do right away is pranayams. The high that we feel after a workout is due to the adrenalin in the body following training. So, just like you stretch after training to [soothe the muscle], why can't you cool down the mind? After working out, meditate, make sure your breath slows down, and then leave the gym.

HIIT or long-distance running?


Sidharth takes to the former

Professional: Shailendra Raane, fitness director, Reset

Steady state cardio keeps the heart pumping at a certain rate for a certain amount of time. This is a method that is not only apt for those trying to pull-off a 10k or a 21k run, but is also a good exercise for the heart [muscles] as well.

Also, this method is better for those who are looking to lose fat. It also helps you enhance your cardiovascular abilities.


HIIT is beneficial for those athletes who enjoy fast bouts of workouts. When I'm training Sidharth [Malhotra], we employ more of interval training than steady-state cardio.

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