Over the last six months or so, the plant-based movement has opened up a lot of eyes and has made people aware of the lifestyle they ideally should shift to. The vast majority of the audience transition after learning about the significant role fitness, nutrition, and clean eating play in regards to their livelihoods. This sector is thriving, the change is inevitable, and the switch has helped improve the lives of many. Incorporating a more cruelty-free, healthy, and sustainable diet is highly beneficial for one’s own well-being.
We had the beautiful opportunity to interview a powerhouse of a woman, a person who is resilient and focused in her journey of life, one who has grown to be a warrior in the field of fitness and eating right. She is Apurva Margad, a fitness coach at the Academy of Strength, and she shares her thoughts on food, protein, fitness, and how living a plant-based lifestyle has given her a new perspective to the world we live in.
1. What was the key motivating factor that made you switch towards fitness?
I was experiencing an inward, spiritual journey that naturally progressed into a new career. To be able to take care of one’s own mental and physical health is a privilege not many have realized. When I started taking care of my body, everything within me and around me changed. It was the most powerful positive experience I’d ever felt. Falling in love is beautiful, but falling in love with yourself… Well, it’s transcendental! I could see it with utmost clarity that this was the only way to live life. Within a year of choosing this path, I found myself working at Academy of Strength under the mentorship of some of the best coaches in the country.
2. What are the primary foods & routines that you incorporate at the start of your day?
I wake up anywhere between 5am and 6:45am depending on my work schedule for the day. I start my day with 30 mins yoga & breathing practice, followed by 3 hours of fitness coaching. Post that, I do my work-out.
Apart from having lots of water, I don’t consume anything until 11:30am. I break my fast (breakfast) every day with fresh tender coconut water, ash gourd juice or green tea followed by a big, happy smoothie bowl with quinoa/millet/steel-cut oats :D (Just the thought of it makes me smile!)
3. How important is the role of diet in maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
It’s everything. We are what we consume. It affects everything from how we think, how we feel, how we function, to what diseases we attract! The sooner we understand this, the simpler life gets.
4. Which diet would you claim as the safest and healthiest?
I don’t believe there is one right way to eat for all, however finding out what works for you personally is a journey worth exploring. From being a non-vegetarian for most of my life to then a vegetarian and now a vegan, what has changed the most for me is my mindset. Many times, it’s the rigid mind that prevents one from exploring and evolving.
I believe it’s not only about what you eat, but how you eat that makes any particular diet safer or healthier.
A plant-based diet along with many conscious choices like cutting down sugar, having balanced meals, avoiding unnecessary snacking, eating slowly and mindfully have done wonders to my overall health.
5. What are your thoughts on protein intake, and how must one go about in getting the right amount? What is your main source for protein consumption?
Protein is one of the macros that need to be considered in our daily nutrition intake.
The primary function of protein is to build and repair body tissues. Putting excessive importance on protein intake while undervaluing other macros like carbohydrates and fats is neither healthy nor sustainable. Having said that, getting the right amount of protein every day is necessary. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8gms protein/ body weight for a sedentary individual. This value increases for athletes/ individuals with specific strength & performance goals.
The most efficient way to consume protein is to distribute it throughout the day; approximately 20- 30% of your plate should be protein in every meal.
I get my protein from quinoa, millets, plant protein powder, nuts, etc.
6. What are the different fitness styles you excel in?
Our bodies are meant to move, move often. The more we use our body (inside and outside of the gym), the better it functions, and the longer it lasts. That is the foundation of Functional Training.
It is purposeful training.
This kind of training enhances your living experience as it covers a range a full-body movements that help build strength, balance, mobility and coordination which are all required to live an independent and injury-free life.
I also teach Animal Flow (a form of functional training). It’s a fun and challenging ground based, multi-planar movement, challenging the mind and body to move powerfully with lots of grace. People of any age can practice this.
7. Could you give your perspective on the myths with regards to animal-based diets, as well as the ones you mostly would’ve gotten towards a plant-based diet?
a) “Meat is essential to build muscle, perform better.” — A balanced diet with all macros and micros in the right proportions is necessary to build muscle and perform better. This can be achieved with or without meat.
b) “Animal protein is the best source of protein.” — It may provide a complete amino acid profile, but the added health risks it comes with doesn’t make it the best source of protein.
c) “Dairy industry isn’t cruel, it cannot be compared to meat industry.”
This is the most disheartening, because I believed this for the longest time. It took me some courage to accept the extent of brutality that existed in the dairy industry.
d) “Plant-based diet is hard to sustain, extreme and unnecessary.”
These are just lies I told myself when I first found out a couple of my friends had turned vegan. I refused to listen, empathize with them. By rejecting their idea, I could continue to feel good about myself.
But after lot of self-questioning, reflecting and researching, I realized how much of a hypocrite I had been! And there was no looking back.
A plant-based diet is highly sustainable, provided the reason for making this shift comes from a deeper place.
8. Who are your inspirations? Are there online sources to find credible info on fitness & everything plant-based?
Inspiration is all around me. I am blessed to be surrounded with so many inspiring people. My mentors and the entire team at Academy of Strength inspire me to be better every day. My family, especially my husband and parents have stood by me and supported me in every phase of my evolution.
For health & fitness — @sweatyninjas @spreadwhealth @ape_minded @squat_university
For everything plant-based — @theguthealthmd, @aashtis, @plant_proof
9. Few words/tips that you can leave us with for anyone looking to transition towards staying fit on a plant-based lifestyle.
- Be patient and start slow. If you were a meat eater, replace your meat with mock meat/tofu/ tempeh.
- Plan and prepare your meals in advance. Every meal should ideally have a serving of raw veggies, lentils (choose your protein), rice/ millets.
- Opt for healthy snacks- nuts/ fruits / bars and eat only if hungry.
- Remember all that’s plant-based is not necessarily healthy. Watch out for added sugar in packaged items.
- Drink lots of water.
Finally, it’s your life, the choice to go plant-based has to be YOURS. The more you make it yours, the more you own it, the more you enjoy it! — Apurva Margad
Apurva shares a lot of lively footage of food and fitness on her Instagram profile, and is a constant source of motivation for us all.
We urge you to visit her page; there’s a lot of inspiration to gain — https://www.instagram.com/apurvamargad/?hl=en
She is someone who is committed to self-growth and someone who knows a thing or two about catalysing internal and external change. We have a ton of respect for Apurva. Her story is powerful. It’s instructive. And we’re proud to help share it.
We hope this exchange ignites a new fire in you and leaves you with a lot of self-thought.
We’d like to end with this — “If everyone ate a Western (animal-based) diet, we would need two Planet Earths to feed them. We only have one, and she is dying.“