Holistic nutritionist Luke Coutinho shares fitness tips, problems with Indian diet and more

luke Luke Coutinho

Luke Coutinho, a holistic nutritionist, admits that he loves traditional Indian food. ''I eat local food. My favourite food is khichdi,'' smiles the 39-year-old Coutinho, who says he is also a huge fan of yoga. Coutinho's clientele includes several Bollywood celebrities and some of the well-known industrialists and business leaders.

His bodybuilding philosophy is simple: ''Eat smart, move more, sleep right and breathe deep”.

In an exclusive interview with THE WEEK, Coutinho shares some weight loss and fitness mantras.


Why is losing weight such a struggle for most people?

Weight loss is multi-factorial. There are many things, right from your stress levels to the way you sleep, to the quality of your food, the type of exercise you do, and rest and recovery.

There are a lot of myths around weight loss. One of the myths is that you should punish your body with exercise, burn more calories and lose weight.

Another myth is rice will make you fat. Prathmesh Maulingkar, who recently won Mister Supranational 2018 has rice for lunch. Rice has got 0.001 per cent of fat. Look at farmers. See how fit they are. They eat carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But they are active. In India, most people overeat carbs and lead a sedentary life. They don't eat it the right way. If you eat rice with dal (pulses), it becomes a complete meal, with protein.

Nutrition does not require you to go on fad diets where you starve yourself. You should be able to control the amount of food you consume and combine it with the right amount of exercise, so your body is able to burn calories.

Around seven to eight hours of sleep is essential for losing weight. Some people sleep for six to seven hours, but they are still tired. It is the quality of sleep that matters.

Sometimes you put on weight due to hormonal imbalances. If you are constantly stressed, your body is going to put on weight. Most people don't look at stress levels. They are always looking at eating less and working out more. That just adds to the stress.

What's the crux of your bodybuilding philosophy?

Eat smart, move more, sleep right and breathe deep.

The more you breathe deeply, your stress levels come down. Also, keep moving around. Do not sit for more than an hour at a stretch. Do squats, scissors or kegel exercises. These are great exercises which will help you achieve your weight loss goals faster. If you can't get up and stretch, touch your toes and do chair yoga. There are so many things you can do.

What kind of workouts would you recommend for those who sit and work for long hours?

Brisk walk, yoga and light weight training is great for those who sit at a desk all day. Brisk walking would mean slightly faster than a stroll, where your heart rate slightly goes up. Have at least 45 minutes of workout a day.

Walking and yoga combination is very powerful. If you want to add weight training, dance, push ups and pull ups, that's fine too.

How do you rate the Indian diet? Do we get enough protein?

If you eat the proper Indian food the right way in the right combination, it is fine. Ten years ago, I don't remember people having protein deficiency at all. The West has made us believe that we have protein deficiency.

Most people eat sufficient proteins. Even a Jain vegetarian can get enough protein from an Indian diet. Having said that, if you replace your whole meal with junk food, obviously you will have a protein deficiency.

You have to eat the protein according to your body type. Even for bodybuilders, the amount of protein they need depends on their body type and weight. A woman who weighs 50 kg would need 0.8 grams of protein per kg. It works out to be less than 50 grams. But if you do a lot of weight training, your protein requirement will go up. Because muscles need proteins for recovery. It is unique for everyone. That is why we tailor-make every programme.

Could you share some tips to get a flat tummy?

If you are disciplined, even small efforts will help you get a flat tummy.

Most fitness enthusiasts seem to be over-training and taking a lot of proteins. But they undo all the hard work when they go on late night movies and party. The body needs recovery to lose weight. The simplest ways to lose weight are squats, deadlifts, lower body training and back training. If you train those big muscles, you burn more fat.

And your diet has to be clean. Cut down sugar and refined carbs and eat clean food. Automatically you will have a flat tummy.

Try this. For two weeks don't eat food from outside. Don't miss a single workout session. Sleep well. You will see your weight falling just by doing that.

You may have a reward meal once in a while. First of all, you shouldn't use the word cheat meal. When you cheat, you will have guilt which causes stress. After a good week, you treat yourself, and then you get back on track. Your body should break it down the right way.

What are you up to these days, apart from fitness training and writing?

I work with cancer patients. I look at their immune system. You cannot have cancer in your body when your immune system is strong. Cancer patients are always stressed emotionally. They don't know the right food to eat. I I treat them holistically. I create an entire 360-degree wellness plan for them.

If we can focus on their immunity and build it, we have a guaranteed case of remission.