Former captain of India men’s cricket team, Virat Kohli, works really hard to stay in shape and on top of his game. As such, the athlete, who is also extremely particular about what he eats, recently opened up about his strict diet that has no place for deep-fried food or ‘masala curries’. In an interview with Star Sports, Kohli revealed, “When you are figuring out your fitness journey, you are trying to figure out all sorts of things, vitamins, extra hydration, protein, this, that, to a point where you figure out okay this is what works for me. This is the right balance”.
He added that initially, food was a ‘challenge’ for him but now he can eat the same food for six consecutive months, three times a day. “I mean repetition is everything. So the basic challenge that I felt in terms of fitness, is food,” the 34-year-old shared.
Opening up about his strict and restrictive diet plan, Kohli said, “90 per cent of my food is all steamed, boiled. No masala. Only salt, pepper, and lime, that’s how I eat. I am not a big fanatic about the taste of food, I don’t care about the taste. Salads, I enjoy with a bit of dressing. Pan-grilled is good with a bit of olive oil or whatever. No curries, I only eat dal (lentils), but no masala curries. I do, however, eat rajma and lobhiya; as a Punjabi can’t skip them”.
But is it advisable to avoid oils and fats from your diet?
While you may be a Virat Kohli fan and may dream of a physique like his, experts stress that it is not advisable to give up on fats and oils. Speaking with indianexpress.com, Ushakiran Sisodia, registered dietician and clinical nutritionist, diet and nutrition, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital said, “There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this. The proportion of steamed and boiled food depends on individual preferences, health goals, and dietary needs. Generally, incorporating steamed or boiled food can be beneficial, as these cooking methods help retain nutrients and require minimal or no added fat to cook”.
She, however, added that one must not give up oil and fats completely. “While steamed and boiled food can be a nutritious choice, it’s essential to maintain a balance by including healthy fats and a variety of flavours, like those found in Indian spices. Always prioritise whole, unprocessed foods, and opt for home-cooked meals whenever possible to ensure optimal nutrition,” she continued.
Benefits of healthy fats and oils
While it is important to limit the intake of unhealthy fats, such as trans fats, incorporating some healthy fats, such as ghee or olive oil, can provide important health benefits. Sameena Ansari – Senior Dietitian and Nutritionist, CARE Hospitals, Hi-Tec City, Hyderabad said that ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid, which can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health, while olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels.
Olive oil is good for your heart health. (Pic source: Freepik)
Agreeing, Sisodia added, “It’s essential to include healthy fats like oil and ghee in your diet. They provide energy, help with nutrient absorption, and are necessary for hormone production and cellular function. However, any cold-pressed oils like olive, sesame, and coconut oil and ghee should be consumed in moderation as excessive intake can lead to weight gain and related health issues”.
Masalas are not bad for you either
Just like fats and oils are needed for a balanced diet, masalas are not bad for you either. In fact, they can provide numerous health benefits. Commenting on why people opt to stay away from masala curries, Ansari said, “Many people avoid masala curries due to concerns about their spiciness or heat level. However, by using moderate amounts of spices and balancing the overall diet with other healthy foods, masala curries can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a balanced diet”.
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She added that spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can provide a range of health benefits.
Sisodia concurred with Ansari and said that it’s not necessary to avoid masala curries completely if you want to remain healthy, but it’s essential to moderate the intake of salt, oil, and fat which are often added to curries. “Indian spices or masalas, like turmeric, cumin, and coriander, have numerous health benefits, such as improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and providing antioxidants,” she concludes.
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