Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan’s ripped look, with perfectly chiselled six-pack abs, has set an aspiration for mid-lifers as has superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s lean, mean body in the soon-to-be-released Pathaan. While SRK’s transformation is largely oriented towards his film, the fact that he did it at 57 is winning the internet. Hrithik Roshan, 48, who has signed up for a 12-week muscle training programme and is committed to a permanent lifestyle change, reportedly cut off sugar and refined vegetable oils, had an anti-inflammatory diet, got better sleep, resistance training and most importantly, stayed hydrated. At 48, this transformation made him feel good about himself and helped him combat his depression.
Yes, it is possible, you can get a six-pack even if you’re over 45 and have never had one. It means that your overall body fat percentage must go down and make you look lean enough. “Of course, always do a clinical assessment of your body and set the limits that it can take with medical advice. Then you train with your full potential with the right nutrition strategies,” says Dr Mihira Khopkar, Lead Sports Nutritionist, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai.
Most of us today make sure to invest an hour between three to five times a week in some form of a workout. “There are many who swear by their workout routines and constantly keep pushing to achieve their daily goals; whether that means lifting heavier weights, pushing towards more reps, hitting a pace on a speed run, finishing a long run, playing an intense tennis rally or just reaching the set laps in a pool. But, if these intense workouts are not supported with a nourishing diet, you will soon start fatiguing and staying sore for longer than expected and that might mean skipping workouts and losing motivation to continue,” says Dr Khopkar.
WHY NUTRITION IS IMPORTANT
The right nutrition is important for three key reasons in our ab-sculpting journey. Dr Khopkar explains the rationale:“1. Fuelling: It is important to match our energy intake with our energy expenditure or at least accommodate for the lost calories burnt during a workout. Our body stores energy in the form of stored carbohydrates (glycogen, found in muscles and liver) as well as stored fat (triglycerides, found predominantly in adipose tissue but also intra-muscular). In most cases, our body prefers to use carbohydrates as a source of energy during workouts and especially during longer hours of training and/or in a state of fast, the body relies on fats as a source of energy. If we do not fuel our body with the necessary carbohydrates pre and/or during training, we might not accrue adequate stores to fuel the session. This can further leave us feeling tired too early in the workouts.2. Recovery: Once we have used up the energy during workout, it is important for us to replenish those lost carbohydrate stores along with a good source of protein to repair and build muscle mass and set the tone for the rest of the day. This will ensure our energy levels are optimum throughout and prevent unnecessary yawning at our work desks due to poor recovery.3. Body Composition and Health benefits: Eating adequate for training along with health, helps maintain both body fat and muscle composition as well as overall health. This further translates into good immunity, strong bone and joint support, prevention or better management of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension.”
NUTRITION STRATEGIES FOR WORKOUTS
Dr Khopkar recommends the following:1. Pre-Training Meal: Whether you work out in the morning or evening, make sure to grab some form of a carbohydrate-protein rich meal combination 2-3 hours before your session. If you train in the morning, make sure to choose from one of the options as follows: banana, dry-fruits and mixed nuts, a granola-protein bar, mixed nut-dry fruit. If these still leave you feeling tired, choose a small bowl of oats porridge/ dahlia/ granola bowl.2. During-Training hydration: Ensure you stay hydrated during sessions and aim at sipping water as deemed comfortable by you every 15 minutes. For harder, longer sessions, you can resort to an oral rehydration solution (ORS).3. Post-Training Recovery: As mentioned before, the idea is to restore the lost carbohydrate stores to help you either get through the day with productive energy as well as help you sleep well. Do not wait for hours after workout for your post training meal/snack. Throw in an energy-giving carbohydrate like fruits of choice, dry fruits, toast/sandwich immediately post-training and combine it with a good quality fast absorbing protein option like eggs, soy or supplements like whey protein/plant-based protein.4. Protein: In order to maintain a healthy body composition and good recovery, focus on adding a protein rich source in each major meal of your day. You can choose from dairy products, eggs, meat, dal and rice combinations, soy, tofu as a part of your main meals. This will ensure muscle gains, repair and maintenance are happening consistently.5. Vitamins and Minerals: Eat a diet that is rich in colourful fruits and vegetables. This will give you most of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Keep a constant check on your blood levels to avoid deficiencies and consult with your physician and nutritionist for the right supplements to treat a micronutrient deficiency.6. Water: This is the most under-rated nutrient. Water has so many functions from healing to recovery, from cleansing to transport. Dehydration can often be one of the prime reasons for fatigue and poor recovery. Focus on getting a minimum of 2-2.5 litres of water on an everyday basis.
THE WORKOUT ROUTINE
“Human beings can transform at will with intention and effort. So, whether it is 45 or 55, to have a good body at any age is certainly possible. The level of commitment needs to be supremely high. Fundamentally, what we require for the transformation of the body is the transformation of the mind and will full of determination. We must begin here and then respect a natural process,” says Dr Mickey Mehta, holistic health and fitness expert.
There must be a scientific approach towards food, activity and sleep, like a mathematical equation. “Depending on person to person, the workouts for abs could be a combination of agility drills, functional training, yoga and smart weight training. For abs per se, weight training may not be necessary, but a combination of calisthenics, yoga, and functional training should be perfect. Supplementary workouts like cycling, jogging and especially swimming, can take you a long way in getting you the bodies of Bollywood stars,” he adds.
How long can the body transformation take in an ordinary person? “Between four and six months, an average out-of-shape human being can transform to the pinnacle of being in his best shape. But a completely out-of-shape human being would certainly take some time, up to a year or year and a half, but nevertheless, possible. I have personally helped people above 75 to achieve their prime shape by working with them over two years. So, at every age, it is possible. Human determination can design its own destiny,” says Dr Mehta.
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His personal recommendation: “Never push into it with tight time frames because you will hurt yourself internally, which means your organs and your body. You might then end up ageing very fast and you might damage your organs in terms of malfunction, disease, disorder and degeneration. And whatever happens do not have excessive protein, steroids, and fat burners.”
Of course, Dr Mehta recommends exercising outdoors as sunlight, fresh air and water are all essential to one’s being.
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“The invisible elements in matter are energy-givers. They create energy and they trigger the energy responses,” he says.
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