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Power of Plant Protein

Your meals need protein and if you are a vegetarian then you need to boost your meals with these essential foods, says Nandini Reddy

If you are looking to gain muscle, you are most likely told that you need to eat lean or white meats at least in order to meet your daily protein goals. Protein is the essential macronutrient that will help you gain muscle and also helps regulate hormones and keep bones in good health. But when you don’t eat meat, there are heart healthy legumes, grains, millet and pusles that are a good choice.

Soybeans – You can consume soybeans directly as a beans in a salad or as tofu. It is a great source of complete fibre and protein. You can also choose to replace panneer or cottage cheese with tofu.

Protein: 36gms/100gms

Black Beans (Rajma) – These beans are a great combination with Indian food. They are good accompaniments for rice and are flavourful enough to relish your meal.

Protein: 21/100gms

Chickpeas (Channa) – These are the most filing meat substitute and can be used in salads, curries or even be eaten as the Mediterranean favourite Hummus. They are also filled with heart healthy potassium.

Protein: 19/100gms

Lentils (Dhal) – Lentils are a solid source of protein. A daily dose of lentils will help you meet your protein requirement and also you fibre needs. There are a variety of lentils you can choose from and include at aleast a cup of them in your daily diet.

Protein: 22gms/100gms

Dried peas – Peas is a great source of protein. This starchy hardy legume is great for winter meals of soups or as a dhal for eating with rotis. They are great for the heart and stabilizing blood sugar.

Protein: 25gm/100gms

Sorghum (Jowar) – Jowar is a favourite to make rotis and is a powerhouse of iron and protein. Many regions across India eat jowar on a regular basis and its a great alternative for those who want to avoid gluten.

Protein: 10gm/ 100gms 

Finger millet (Ragi) – This is a great replacement for rice. It is also a fabulous source of calcium and amino acids aside from protein. It is also a very versatile millet that can be used to make breakfast food (idli or dosa), a cooling drink for summers (ragi malt mixed with buttermilk) and a filling meal (ragi as replacement for rice).

Protein: 7gms/100gms

All these foods need to be eaten in combination and not isolation in order to meet the full protein requirement that is needed for the day. So if you dislike diary and meat you can still balance your diet and get the band of protein with these options.



An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The Challenge of being Healthy

From being engrossed in her books to winning cycling and duathlon events, Dr Sruti Chandrasekaran has come a long way in her fitness journey. She shares her story with us.

The Early Days

I was never a fitness person during my years in school. I was the class nerd who would only study and participate in academic competitions. Any kind of sports was my arch enemy! I abhorred Physical Training period and also skipped assembly if there was anything related to sports happening then. My entire lack of interest in any sort of sport related activity was because of the physical effort it involved. I was so unfit in my school and college days but I topped my tests and joined medical college. That was the the first time I walked on a regular basis.

My college was in Kilpauk (KMC) and I used to get down at Chetpet and walk for 800m to college. Those 800m were an incredible physical challenge for me. Apart from that I had no exercise during my 5 1/2 years of medical school. My books took up all my attention and energy. I always was on the chubby side ( to put it in a nice way!) with a BMI that was in the overweight range. Yet it never bothered me and after my graduation I moved to USA for my medical training. It was during my first pregnancy that I gained another 30kg. I was 25 yrs old, weighing in at a 100kg after my pregnancy and looking at everyone around me who were super active.

My Epiphany

My professor of medicine used to cycle to work and another female professor used to run 3 to 4 times a week after having 4 children. That is when it hit me. I now decided that I have to take care of my health and stop ruining my body. Fortunately despite my lack of exercise, incredible weight gain and erratic eating habits I did not have diabetes or other metabolic problems like PCOS/PCOD.

So after assigning the back seat to my health until the age of 26, I had finally decided to take control and for the first time I started exercising. Naturally the first few weeks were terrible. My body was ridden with aches and pains and I gave up many times. It took me 6 months to get into a routine and start regularly hitting the gym with cardio and weight training.

The Runner in Me

The road running obsession began 4 years later when I turned 30. That was probably the best birthday gift that I IMG-20171115-WA0020gave myself. My first 10k run at 30 yrs and then came the second pregnancy and a break in between. I took 6 months break after my C-section and then resumed exercising again and since then have done 10k and half marathons regularly. For the past 1 1/2 yrs I have also taken up road biking as my husband is an avid biker who bikes to work. I instantly fell in love with cycling as it was fast, the effort you put in cycling was very different and I lapped up the constantly changing scenery. I began to realize that with proper training one can definitely do well with any sports that you choose.

On the Podium

My recent podium finish at the Duathlon and Datri cycle ride proved to me that it is always better late than never.  I started exercising very late and I do feel bad for not taking up sports during school and college days. As an endocrinologist who manages diabetes, PCOS, dyslipidemia and other metabolic problems, I do emphasize the importance of exercise to my patients. Now instead of just giving advice I would like to set an example to them and also to my daughter. Seeing the rise in lifestyle related diseases like diabetes I want to be a healthy woman, healthy mom and raise healthy children. Running and Cycling has been a great way for me to sustain this healthy lifestyle and inspire others to start their journey of good health.




Dr Sruti Chandrashekar is an avid runner and cyclist who went from being a bookworm to a fitness enthusiast. A doctor by profession and a passionate runner and cyclist, today Sruti wants to lead by example.

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To eat or not to eat: Should you run on an empty stomach?

To eat or not to eat? Sowmya Ganesh talks about the very question many fitness enthusiasts, fresh into their daily workout routine, often debate with themselves.
While several trainers say that it’s necessary to eat before a run, there are just as many trainers who emphasize that a run on an empty stomach is the best way to do it. So, how do we tackle this dilemma?
Know your Body Type
We can start by understanding that every body type is different – and that also means one solution won’t work the same for all body types. Each body is unique and with that comes it’s special way of coping to changes, as well as workouts and food habits. Carbs mainly fuel cardio activities like running and are the body’s preferred source of fuel for energy. The body always converts carbs to glucose which fuels your runs. It also stores excess glucose to fuel you in the near future should you choose to work out without having eaten. Individuals who fast before their run believe that once the glucose is used up, the body starts to burn fat. However, studies in sports medicine always argue that there’s no way to know when your glycogen stores run out, so “even if you run in the early morning without eating, you may have enough left from the night before, meaning you won’t burn more fat at all.”
Understanding running on an empty stomach
Running on an empty stomach for a short amount of time and a well endured pace will not be harmful for your body, experts say, especially for those relatively fit. Some individuals find it beneficial to allow the body to “burn out” a sufficient amount of fat and glucose without prior caloric intake. But this comes with both pros, and cons. Running on a fast can improve your body’s capacity for mobilising energy as you burn fat more easily. However, running on an empty stomach can cause fatigue and even digestive problems. Because every body is different, it is important to consider the effects you are experiencing personally, to decide the frequency and duration of your run. Also remember to listen to your body. If you feel drained out quickly when running on an empty stomach, perhaps it isn’t the right option for you.
In case you plan a longer, more intense run, be sure to eat something light or have a pre-work out drink to keep you going. Post such a high intensity run, eat something quickly – a healthy snack or a post workout smoothie, so your body can repair itself of any muscle damage.


Sowmya (1)


Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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Healthy eating tips for runners

Sowmya Ganesh talks about why runners should know that is food is fuel and eating right alongside training can determine the level of your performance as a runner
Running requires a lot of stamina, and to keep you going, make a few healthy choices that will be rewarding to your body both before and after the run. Here are some healthy eating tips for runners to get you started. When adopted as daily habits, these will do you immense good in the long run.
Eat your veggies
Prioritize vegetables. They are high in nutrients, fiber, and water. They can satisfy your hunger and keep you going for long. It is best to include a portion of veggies in both lunch and dinner everyday to reap the benefits that these natural foods have to offer. Healthy salads with fibre rich veggies and essential fat-rich dressings make for a perfect lunch as the minerals will help in post-run recovery while the fibre will keep you going for long.
Drink healthy fluids
Whether on the track or off, drinking plenty of water is vital to your body’s functioning. Your body requires water to function smoothly, and as a runner it is important to stay well hydrated to avoid the dangerous effects of dehydration. When water gets too boring, you can always switch to a healthy cold pressed juice to help you hydrate. A beet juice, for example, makes for a perfect runners drink as the nitrates in beets help boost performance. Tender coconut water based drinks are ideal too as they help replenish the body of lost electrolytes.
Eating pre-run
What you eat before you start your run determines how well you will be able to enjoy the run. And the amount you consume would depend on how intense your run is. If you feel a burning sense of hunger, a light bite before the run would help, but ideally, most runners prefer running on an empty stomach (if it’s a short run). If the run is going to be more intense, something easily digestible like bananas would help. High fibre and high fat foods take longer to digest and eventually slow you down during your run.
Eating post-run
What you eat after a run would be responsible for the recovery your body needs, and to replenish you. It’s best to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your run, and fuel up with foods rich in protein such as a fibre rich smoothie to keep you going, preferably based with potassium-rich bananas and nuts – important elements in a runner’s diet, as they help with reducing any inflammation caused by running.  Later, you can have your actual meal which would be a course filled with whole, natural, and real foods.
Take it slow
Eat slowly, calmly, and allow yourself to enjoy your meals. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal of “fullness” from your stomach. So if you rush your meals, you eventually end up overeating. And to focus on what you eat, remove distractions such as the television or a smartphone.
Eat what’s real
Processed foods are a straight up ‘no’. They are filled with sugars, preservatives, and fats, and also stripped of all real nutritional content. Stay away from all the junk food as much as possible when shopping for groceries, and choose real, natural foods. These foods are fresh, and whole, and extremely rich in nutritional content. Fresh salads with seasonal produce are a great way to introduce real foods into your body.
These small changes would leave your body being forever grateful to you!
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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Best Food for Runners

Every runner knows that it is important to eat the right kinds of foods to fuel their running, writes Sowmya Ganesh, founder of Coubutu Juices, Chennai.
Liz Applegate, a director of sports nutrition says that “with a little more attention to whole, real foods, runners don’t have to rely on energy drinks, bars and gels at all.”  Real food is everything! Here is a list of real, natural foods, that would be vital to all runners.
This simple bi-product of cheese is super rich in amino acids and can be absorbed by the body faster than other proteins, helping to speed up your muscle repair. You can consume whey in the form of a smoothie, where the proteins can be broken down to repair your body and the fibre to satiate you.
Almonds are very rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E, which improves muscular strength and endurance. It is also rich in protein and heart-healthy fats. A dose of almonds can be best enjoyed in the form of a nourishing almond milk, which is nutritionally dense thanks to a large dose of almonds being pressed to milk. You can even consume it in your breakfast smoothie for added nutrition.
One of our most favourite foods, bananas, are real energy boosting foods for a reason. They contain large amounts of potassium, which is essential for runners as it helps maintain electrolyte balance in the body, as well as reduce fatigue. Make the best of bananas by introducing them in your breakfast in the form of a healthy smoothie, where the potassium can kick start your day.
This leafy green is high in vitamin A and can protect your muscles from damage. It is also high in calcium, increasing bone strength, which can reduce stress fractures (an injury common with runners). Spinach contains a lot of iron, essential for boosting your energy levels. Give yourself a good dose of spinach in the form of a green juice. This could be the best way to start your day, by allowing your body to absorb all the nutrients a healthy green juice has to offer!
A 100g of broccoli would have you fulfilling your daily requirements for Vitamin C and Vitamin K! These vitamins help the body repair from running related injuries and also assist with bone strengthening. This is important so your body can be protected from stress fractures. A good way to get this into your diet would be to add it into your salads. You can also gain maximum benefit by consuming it in your green juice!
Black Rice
Here is a super rich wholegrain carbohydrate loaded with antioxidants. This is great for runners to get their daily carbohydrate needs. The conversion of carbohydrates into glucose is essential as this is the main source of energy for the body. Black rice is best consumed in salads, along with an accompaniment of other protein and healthy fat-rich elements such as broccoli, cheese, nuts, etc.
This gut-healthy healer is rich in protein and calcium. The live cultures in yogurt help introduce healthy bacteria to your digestive tract, helping it function to it’s best. Always remember to choose yogurt without added sugars as that is the healthiest option for consuming yogurt. When water gets too boring, hydrate with a rich probiotic drink. Not only will it hydrate you but it will also keep you feeling full.
And finally, water! Say no to sports drinks and energy drinks with are high in additives, preservatives, and sugar. Choose to hydrate naturally with the best fluid from nature – water.
Running can drain you of nutrients so its always better to fuel up the right way!
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.


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