Body Beautiful

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Gone are the days when the girls were under pressure to look good. The social media has pushed men to the same trap and it has led to increased footfalls in the gyms and huge intake of food supplements reports Mudabbir Ahmad Tak

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Are supplements safe? What leadsKashmir’s new generation to take an artificial route to build their bodies? The answer to these questions is a no-brainer though. These are real drives into virtual life. Culturally, girls were under pressure to look good. Now the bar has shifted and the men are feeling the heat too. Celebrities with ‘die-for’-bodies drive youngsters to nuts and they go to any length to achieve the ‘dream’ body.

They do it for the virtual identity – the Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, where “images matter”. What you post and what you let people see of you may determine your social standing. After all, we live in a postmodern age, where man is fit, with big round biceps and a couple of abs thrown in too. Increased exposure to media and massive advertising has accelerated the trend. India’s fitness industry is estimated at Rs 7,000 crore for 2019. How Kashmir cannot count itself in?

Gymnasiums are ubiquitous and all have better footfalls. Given the tightly scheduled life, it is difficult to cope with the increased nutritional demands of the body. This is where the dietary supplements get in.

But how safe or unsafe are these supplements?

Various stores in Srinagar sell bodybuilding supplements. Irfan Ahmad, the Nutrition Hub, Jawahar Nagar, the promoter is the authorized retailer for the brand Muscle-Tech and one of the few licensed outlets for the sale of dietary supplements in Kashmir.

“There are a lot of myths associated with the consumption of bodybuilding supplements, and people still cling to those myths,” Irfan said. “If you are a gym regular and you are not able to take the proper calories that you need after work-outs, your body won’t respond to the exercise.”

Supplements have a huge diversity. Supplements that help in gaining mass are called Gainers, those helping build muscle are proteins and their derivatives, those supplements helping muscle recovery are glutamines, branched chain Amino Acids (BCAA) and substances helping increase strength and endurance are Keratins.

“Each has a different utility, depending upon one’s fitness routine,” Irfan explains. “But it should be a decent brand, not fake.”

Mohsin Rashid is a Kashmir bodybuilder who has won multiple titles like Mr Kashmir Fitness Model, Mr J&K Fitness Model, Mr Kashmir Bodybuilder and made it to third place in the Mr Asia competition 2019.

“Supplements are pretty safe and are essential for bodybuilding to meet your goals,” Mohsin said. “The only thing one must ensure is that they should not be fake.” Bodybuilding apart, Mohsin said if people have improper food intake, they can take supplements as meal replacements.

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Showkat Ahmad, a trainer at Srinagar’s Anytime Fitness health and fitness club said he has taken these supplements. “If taken properly, they are quite beneficial,” he said.

Dr Faruq Masoodi, who heads the Food Science and Technology department at the University of Kashmir explains that some of these supplements have the same nutrients that we take in our diets normally but in concentrated form. “If taken in proper doses, they are safe,” Masoodi said. “Protein supplements are made from dairy products and are in common use. But BCAA must be consumed in prescribed dosages and with absolute care. Dietician in both cases must be consulted.”

What about steroids? These are anabolic- androgenic steroids (AAS) and natural androgens like testosterone and synthetic androgens. Steroids increase protein within cells and thus provide instant growth of the muscles. “Many athletes use performance-enhancing steroids these days, and there are laws in place to check that. That tells you how harmful these are to the human body,” Masoodi said.

Steroid use, even in the case of patients, has chronic long term effects. It is banned by law in athletes. Even in routine, doctors use it in serious cases only. Any store selling steroids can be sealed.

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