Todays conversation series is quite different. We have been getting a lot of questions about fitness and bodybuilding. We have Bharat Raj here with us who is a fitness model and coach. He is associated with IFBB for a long time.
We are going to talk a lot about bodybuilding today, the facts and so many other things like steroids and fitness related.
Ashwin: Bharat, Thanks for joining us
Bharat: Thank you for inviting me
Ashwin: Fitness and bodybuilding are two different things altogether, but people have a perception of both being the same. People always club these together.
As a doctor, I know it is not right. I know how much bodybuilding is different from fitness. You are a professional in this track and what are your thoughts on that?
Bharat: There is always a myth. People think if they have a good physique, it means they are fit. For example, if you take the professional bodybuilding competitions, even though the body builders look way different in terms of muscle and physique than those of the audience, the contestants are at their weakest when they are on stage. Most of the people don’t know this fact.
They are going to be weak during that particular time of the event. It’s a cycle of workouts before and after the events and they will be weak during the peak. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a person with good physique is always fit.
Ashwin: Very good point. Most of the people do not know about it.
Bharat: To explain it simple, a normal person can do 5 minutes of planks whereas the other person may not be able to do it even for 5 seconds even if he may be strong with a good physique. This will prove who is the fittest here.
Fitness is completely different than body building and looking good.
Ashwin: I always have a respect for bodybuilders. The way they train is much different and their dedication is on another level. People may easily say they take steroids and stuff, but the routine they follow is discipline, it is consistency. What are your takes on that.
We will talk about sterioids separately, but what is your take on discipline and consistency?
Bharat: Discipline is the one quality that every sport needs. If you are not disciplined, you will not be able to perform any sport at all. When it comes to bodybuilding, it is taken one step forward with more dedication like putting in extra hours and so on.
Bodybuilding is just not hitting the gyms and working out. I have been there and I know what it is like. From the moment I wake up at 4 am to the moment I go back to bed, every moment counts. I have to monitor everything.
The amount of water intake, food, calories, workout, my actual day job, sticking on to my meal plan, then going back to my workouts in the evening, family and so much is involved and everything counts. From the time of wakeup to the time to bed, every second counts and one has to be disciplined all throughout the day.
I really appreciate people who try hard to do this. Because its really difficult to do such things.
Ashwin: Bodybuilding as a sport has to be respected. The dedication involved in the sport is risky and I always respect that. Disciple does not start only in the gym. It’s a lifestyle.
When it comes to fitness, I always advice people about fitness. Only if you are fit, you will be able to perform things better. If you want to perform better in your life, it may be any job or thing you may want to do, you have to be fit. 45-60 minutes of aerobic activity like walking or cycling can bring all the goodness to a normal person.
People try to work out for a period of time and lose interest if they are not able to achieve their goals. They set their standards by looking at photographs. But it is not going to work. It can be done only through extraordinary dedication. It cannot be achieved through daily exercises and some may give up on exercise.
I have people coming to me and say they did not get the abs and shoulder cuts as they intended. They expect certain things but that does not happen. When you take bodybuilding as a career, its an different world altogether. A few words on it bharat.
Bharat: It is a common problem among many people, be it the younger generation or older people. People compare themselves with other person’s physique. But we do not know the actual facts and struggles the person has undergone to achieve the physique.
People think a 1-hour workout may get us the results. It’s simple. What we sow is what we reap. If we workout for 1 hour, our body shows the results for 1 hour. If we understand this, then there won’t be a problem
Ashwin: People should understand that it is their profession to be a body builder. They have the muscles and abs because it is their job. They take supplements, steroids etc. Nothing wrong. It’s the dark side and most won’t talk about it. Only if people know the facts, they can set realistic goals in their lives. There is a lot of difference between a common man and a body builder who takes steroids. There is nothing right and wrong here. It’s a personal choice and they do it at their will. Unfortunately, today the bodybuilding has become an industry where you are forced to take steroids, otherwise, you will not be able to compete.
We discuss about this in Tamilnadu, and maybe it may go around India. Less than 1% of the people are aware of the facts that getting onstage is totally different than being fit. We can appreciate them and even have them as our role models, but don’t beat yourself up.
If you want to become like them, you should be able to sacrifice your life for 8-10 years.
If you want to have the physique of a bodybuilder, you have to train for 8-10 years minimum.
Bharat: It’s not just the food that you are going to sacrifice, but a lot of things. It may be your personal life, family etc.
Ashwin: That’s right. You have to be like a monk. Behind every bodybuilder’s picture lies so much discipline, pain and effort.
Bharat: Every one of us has their issues and one has to go beyond the routines and struggles to succeed.
One should know their purpose in order to achieve. For example, a hero of a film may have the requirement to tone up his body. There is a purpose involved and he is doing it scientifically with proper guidance. But if you don’t have a purpose and want to get a good physique just for the sake of looks, then you are going to start beating yourselves.
They don’t know what to do and get upset mentally. It has to have a purpose and professional guidance to achieve what you want.
People take medicines on their own and it has almost become a habit.
Ashwin: As a doctor, I would say it is wrong. I have seen a lot of kidney failure patients who have taken a lot of pain killer tablets themselves.
Bharat: People search on google and take medicines on their own
Ashwin: Take advice from professional medical practitioners are from those who are trained scientifically. One has to be a trained professional in order to provide advice.
Bharat: it is become a common practice to take medicines without any guidance.
This happens in the gym too. People ask for advice in the gym. It is actually a mistake. The things that workout for me may not fit a beginner. I am on a 4000-calorie diet and he may be on a 1200 calorie diet plan. There are so many things like affordability, family situation etc that has to be taken into consideration. Just because he desires, it should not be forced on him otherwise, he will be broken down and he will be nowhere. People should understand this.
That is why one has to take professional guidance who can advice knowing what is required. This way it be much safer and easier to follow. You will save time.
Ashwin: Yes. You will save time and prevent organ damage.
There is another myth going around. People think being fit is having abs all the time. People wanted to have abs, six packs and so on. But it is not sustainable at all times.
You have to cut down on your food and water intake, control carbs etc. It is not practical for common man. Having sic packs is not the ultimate to show that you are fit.
What is your opinion about it?
Bharat: We can divide this into two categories. One is the general category and the other one is competing. If it is going to be competing, then it is a different procedure altogether to show they are ripped.
They will cut down on water intake and follow many other things so their abs look more prominent.
But when they go offstage, their body will come down to their normal levels and the abs will disappear. They have it inside, but will not be prominent.
But if you take a farmer from a village, he may be having his abs all the time. He may not have worked out for his abs in his lifetime but may be visible all the time. That is due to his lifestyle conditions. If you are a normal office goer, you may not have the abs, but for a farmer who is involved in physical activities, he may have the abs all the time. When you have different paths, we will not be able to achieve the goals. This can be easily understood if you take a closer look at you. It is not a myth.
Ashwin: Due to this fact people get inferiority complexes and when they don’t get the desired results they start feeling bad.
Bharat: It is not only training, but you have to be on the right scale on what you eat. You have to be low on sugar and salt too. It is difficult for everyone to follow. Even It is difficult for me. I always crave for sugar and whenever I eat, I lose my shape. Then I have to follow my routine to get back into shape.
Don’t be too hard yourself. Live your life well. If you are interested in becoming one, work out for a year. Take a break. Then come back and do it again. Enjoy your life.
Whether it may be bodybuilding or any profession, have a general check-up once in every 6 months or so. If you are having a healthy lifestyle, then it is a different story. If you are having a stressful lifestyle, having difficulties with your job, uneven food and sleep habits, it is good to have a general check-up and this can help you avoid a lot of problems.
Ashwin: Yes. You can avoid a lot of complications.
People think because they hit gyms regularly, they take it for granted that they can eat anything. It is not right.
If you want look aesthetically good, you have to follow a routine. It can be true for some rare cases. Genetics has a role in it too. Some may have lean muscles naturally and have abs too, but that is rare. Majority of the population depends on how they use their body physically and how we eat.
It is not like that you can eat anything and workout.
Even I was a victim 20 years ago when I used to say I eat 50 eggs a day. I did not know the truth back then and I used to listen to such stories. People think if the intake is more, it results in bigger muscles. But the fact is, the amount of protein our bodies can handle is limited.
For example, I am 100 kgs and my body will be able to absorb about 30gms of protein and it may differ to the other person where his body will be able to absorb only 20 gms. Advising him to eat 20 eggs is of no use as his body will not be able to absorb all the nutrients.
Ashwin: It is overloading your gut and kidneys and it has its side effects.
Bharat: Again, this is for the general people we are talking about. This will overdo the process and may damage the liver and kidney. Knowing the basic and proceeding forward will be the right thing. Too much of anything is not good. Even excessive exercises is not good for health. Only with proper guidance one can achieve the desired results.
Even in diet, there are so many options available like Keto & Paleo. But I would suggest a balanced diet is what is important. If you have a balanced diet, your overall well-being will be good. It is not just about your body alone, but it is also about your internal strength, skin texture etc and everything matters.
It all related to what you eat. One should understand all this and go forward.
Ashwin: That is why you should seek professional guidance. There is information on google but it will be safe to seek professional advice from a trained person.
Bharat: If I am publishing some sort of information, it is the information that I have known and it may work out for me.
Ashwin: Yes. It is not scientifically researched or analyzed or acknowledged by scientists and that sort of information is not safe. Every body is different it may work for one person but not the other. It is always safer to get scientific guidance.
Bharat: Always have a good doctor. I am talking about longevity and for that you need a proper person to go to for all your information.
Bharat: A lot of people are trying to achieve results in the shortest time. I could not accept the mindset but at the same time I could not avoid the situation too. I had a shoulder injury recently and I came to you at that time. You are giving a 6 weeks rehab session and I wanted to ask you how important this rehab session is?
Can this 6 week rehab be done in 3 weeks or should it be fully undergone. I feel better now and I can life the same weights as before. When I am able to do all the work as normal, what are the disadvantages of skipping the rehab sessions?
Ashwin: if you are taking the shortcuts for the sake of quicker results, you are going to damage something. Proper results will take time. I am saying this from a rehabilitation point of view. If you have a shoulder or a knee injury, it will take certain time to recover from the injury. Each and every body part has its own time frame and we have to wait for it to fully recover.
You may feel better within 3 weeks, but the soft tissues inside our body may not have healed properly. The same problem may occur after 3 or 4 months. Once you start training, you may experience the same problem again. We have to give our body the time to heal. Only then you will fully recover. We have to give the amount of rest our body needs.
Bharat: it is something people already know but they are not willing to accept it. People always want to get results faster. Faster results are not permanent too.
Ashwin: it’s a human tendency. We wanted to go and do it because it gives us happiness. It raises certain happiness hormones in our brain. It is similar to drinking alcohol. Alcohol does a chemical feeling in our body. Same way exercise creates a happiness hormone in our body and that is why people spring to exercises immediately. People ask me how soon they can start their workouts?
They want their chemistry of happiness. If your body asks for rest, then it should be your number one priority.
Bharat: I also wanted to ask you about supplements. There is a myth that protein or multivitamin supplements may cause side effects and can cause have long term damage. Can you explain it about doctor?
Ashwin: This is a misconception. And the most common one is protein supplements can cause kidney failure.
I am talking based on scientific research here. The nutrient intake value has multiplied 8 times when compared to 1950’s to 1960’s. You will have to eat 8 times more than what you did in the 1950’s to get the same quality of vital nutrients which was available back then.
The amount of nutrients available in one orange is equal to 8 oranges now. Basically, the nutrient value has gone down. There are many reasons to it like farming methods, soil quality etc. I am not blaming anyone but the way we live has changed. It is better if you go for natural plant based supplements rather than synthetic ones.
Even if you are a healthy person, you are in need of vitamins and minerals from the age of 18. If you are a real athlete or sports person, then you may need 70% real food and 30% supplements are necessary. You can go for the best and it is much better if it is plan based.
Whey protein is also not bad, but again diary products are not pure anymore.
Multivitamins are important for a common man and vegetarian based is always better. Even a common man can have proteins. The actual requirement is 0.6 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. You can go up to 1.5 grams of protein if you are a real active person. Beyond that limit is for athletes and sports person where they do a complete body and kidney check once in every 3 or 6 months. They detox regularly and follow protocols.
Basically taking proteins and vitamins is not a wrong thing to do.
But don’t overdo proteins.
Bharat: Normally a high protein diet is adequate rather than a supplement.
Ashwin: Yes. 80% of the people may only need a regular protein rich food. But as the quality of the food is deteriorate nowadays, we need to go in for the supplements. Chickpeas are a good source of protein. But you can overeat at the same time in order to go natural. That’s why it is no harm to take protein supplements.
If you are professional athlete or bodybuilder then you need to take specialized supplements such as omega3, joint supplement etc. A normal man may walk 10,000 steps a day but an athlete may run 40 to 80 km a day and the wear and tear are different. It is more than the normal level of activity and the wear and tear is also high. In such cases supplements are important. Omega3, zinc and magnesium are good. You can choose a supplement which has all the multivitamins together.
Supplements are safe. Creatin and nitric acid are also there, but should be taken only by professionals. I have personally monitored people for 14 years who took creatin supplements. It was when I was studying and it was the time when creatin was in boom. We followed our athlete patients for over 10 years.
Bharat: I think most of the people did not know they can take supplements.
Ashwin: People think protein powders are an alternative to exercises. It is wrong. It is not good for your body. We need protein for the skin, hair, to repaid damaged tissues and for the well-being for other body parts as well. 80% real food and mostly plant based is always good. If you wish to include non-vegetarian foods, fish can be a good choice. Chicken and other red meat should be a second choice. 80% real food and 20% supplements is ok.
One should depend on protein supplements altogether.
Bharat: People think eating red meat can be the best. Even I was into that sort of thinking 10 years back. The benefits vary from one meat to another and it also depends on the digestion capacity and most people don’t know about it.
Ashwin: That’s true. Vegetables are the easiest to digest and then comes fish. Thirdly chicken and then comes red meat. Usually, meat that is from the dead takes a longer time to digest and it is not good for the body.
Bharat: Generally speaking, bodybuilding has become a sport where steroids are involved. What is your thought about steroids?
Ashwin: Let’s talk honest here. It’s a dark fact that we need to talk here and we need to bring the awareness about it. It is stigmatised here in our country. Steroids are not good at all. My advice is to stay away from steroids.
Steroids are not good for your health. But ever since the Olympics had taken the main stage, the performance enhancing drugs have become famous. Steroids are nothing but chemical components just like DOLO 650, the paracetamol tablets which the common man does not need it. But in the sport of bodybuilding, it has become an unnecessary evil.
They are forced to go in for steroids. They need to know the facts because they almost risk their lives. We can write a book about each and every bodybuilder out there. It may help you structure your body but it will emotionally affect you, you may have anger management issues. It will weaken the body. They need support. My Olympia is the biggest sport here and you cannot avoid steroids there. It is also universally accepted.
Bharat: There is a lot of difference between those who practiced bodybuilding 10 years back and those who are doing now.
Ashwin: Yes. There is a massive difference and new components are being introduced every now and then. Everybody is training to win. We should not complain them. Instead, they need more compassion. We need to support them. We need to teach them the facts and tell them how to protect their organs.
Sitting in front of the computer is also bad. It is next to smoking and it has been campaigned in 2015 and you are prone for colon cancer, diabetics and so much other dangers, but at the same time, one cannot quit his job. We need to provide the inputs and save them from potential dangers.
But for a common man, definitely no to steroids.
Bharat: It’s a valid point you have mentioned here and people would not be able to relate the truth.
Ashwin: People are forced to do things based on their lifestyle. If they are working for 8 hours sitting in front of the computer, I would teach them back and neck exercises. And there are ways ways to reduce the impact. A traffic police does both, where he stands for more than 12 hours and due to which there is a varicose problem.
We do this kind of study often and we issued stockings for many traffic constables during our community services. Out of 10, 7 were affected by varicose problem, but they cannot avoid it. We taught them the exercises and asked them to wear stockings to prevent varicose veins.
We need to teach them about the impact.
The same goes for steroids too.
Bharat: People think they can be fit only if they hit the gyms. How true is this and what is your take on this topic?
Ashwin: Gym is a fascinating thing for people. But it is not definitely not true. Whatever you are able to do consistently is good. Walkling, cycling, dancing like Zumba, yoga and any sporting activity which suits you can be good. Determine your goal first before you jump into anything.
Fitness is not just about looks. Whatever suits you can be practiced. But do it consistently for 45-60 minutes every day. Start as early as possible. Fitness can be started from the age of 5.
Bharat: I have been practicing fitness from my 8th grades. I have been into basketball and played for the state team. I have been fit since my childhood and it has helped me professionally.
My advice to parents is to introduce your child into some sort of sporting activity. It could be anything. It is going to be an additional support for their life both in physical and mental health. The though process is completely different if you practice sports.
The child will have more confidence and the mindset of winning when compared to the ones who does not involve in sports.
Whether it is a team sport or individual sport, the mindset is all different and the positive attitude is developed.
Ashwin: Overall they are a happy person.
Bharat: They will be a happy person inside out and I want parents to take this point.
Ashwin: I hope this conversation was useful for you all. Prioritize your health and take care of your body. Involve yourselves in a physical activity. You can start at any age and there are no limits.
It is never late to start.
Thank you bharat. Thanks for coming.
In the present situation, there are a lot of resources and information available when it comes to bodybuilding. But Bharat was into bodybuilding and represented us in the IFBB back then and it was a commendable effort. I would like to appreciate him here.
Hope you like this interview.
Bharat: You have stressed all the points that people needed to know. I am so happy to be here. Please continue this work what you are doing today. It will definitely help people out there.
Thank you guys.