Body & Soul

Ask Ade Rai: Working out
a good exercise routine,
counting calories

Ade Rai is Indonesia’s most famous bodybuilder and a passionate advocate of good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. As a big man with a lot to say, he enjoys going against stereotypes.

Every second week, he will be offering professional advice through his column.

Hi Ade Rai,

Could you write a workout program for me? I want to strengthen my chest and arms. I am 1.68 meters and I weigh 87 kilograms. I know I have a lot of weight to lose, but I figured I would start with building a good set of chest and biceps muscles. Thank you.

Brian R
Jakarta

Hi Brian,
A workout has to take into account many factors, such as your health condition to determine your ability, limitations, needs and goals. Workouts depend on your body fat level, medical and injury histories as well as habits related to work posture. So before we come up with an exercise program suited to your needs, ideally you will have to perform a series of tests. That is why it is always strongly recommended you see your physician before you start any exercise or nutritional program.

From your current stats, I can only assume your body fat is quite high and is the result of lack of physical exercise or nutritional management. You are at high risk of contracting degenerative diseases like cardiovascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, and high blood-pressure. If your physician ever gives you a “green light” to start working out, you should start fairly slowly. Here’s a sample program for your first weeks of exercise. (Please see your physician first, as I am only assuming you are generally in good enough health to start.)

For a 60-minute workout, do 15 minutes of light resistance-training followed by 45 minutes of cardio exercise, maintaining a heart beat range of 100 — 120 beats per minute. Be sure to do it at least three times per week.

Please keep in mind that the first few weeks of any exercise program should gear you toward building and adapting to new habit.

The cardio part may sound too boring for you, but you do need to put the time and effort into it, no matter how hard or mundane it can get. Set 10 of your most favorite songs on your portable player, or pick a machine with nice view or TV. Better yet, focus on putting your palms on the heart-rate sensors every other minute to check on your heart rate to make sure it doesn’t climb outside the recommended range.

Now on to the nutritional plan. Once again, I can only provide you with some very general strategies. You will need to find out for yourself how to fit them into your schedule.

•Cut your carbohydrates and sugar intake by 75 percent. Carbohydrates include: Flour-based products (crackers, noodles, breads, dumplings, spring rolls, meatballs, cakes, muffins, etc), rock sugar, table sugar, soft drinks, commercial fruit juices, white rice, potatoes, yams.

•Replace the carbohydrates you cut with four daily servings of steamed or raw vegetables, and two daily servings of fruits.

•Cut your saturated fat intake by 75 percent. This includes butter, margarine, coconut cream, whipped cream, sour cream, ice-cream, lards, ghee, frying / cooking oils, animal intestines and skins.

•Replace the saturated fats with healthier choices like fish, extra virgin olive oil, lean cut of meat and poultry, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and soy.

Please make sure you let your physician know about your dietary changes.

One thing you need to be cautious of is your current health condition. You may find you will be told not to exercise. It is a very fine line that can only be determined by thorough a physical check-up. I sincerely hope you are in good enough condition to be given a go at exercising and controlling your nutritional habit.

Hi Ade,

I am curious. Is it OK if I have a bowl of oatmeal before I head for the gym? Will the calories from oatmeal be enough to fuel my workout? How do I know whether it’s enough or not?

Brian PM
Bali

Hi Brian,
Thank you for your question. The idea about counting calories was a good one many years ago. However it has many limitations.

First of all, none of us carry a food-scale with us weighing everything we eat.

Secondly, the amount of calories burned during a workout is hard to measure. Even if one succeeds in determining it, it is almost impossible to burn the same amount of energy in two identical workouts.

Having seen such huge discrepancies when calorie-counting, we are left with how it can be properly used.

The idea that taking in 1,000 calories in 15 minutes — eating a burger and fries — is equal to 100-120 minutes of non-stop fast-walking on a treadmill may put anyone with a sane mind to think twice about how this calorie-counting can work for us.

But it can also be used to compare two different foods. A slice of white bread with peanut butter and strawberry jam may contain the same amount of calories as 150 grams of roasted chicken breast and a bowl of salad.

Considering that the latter also contains higher beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and lean protein, the choice is pretty much a “no-brainer”.

So getting back to your question, if you want a bowl of oatmeal before heading to the gym, by all means do it. It’s never harmful to have it as part of your preparation, so that you have a buffer to prevent your workout from running on empty or forcing your body to burn hard-earned muscles for energy supply. All that matters is for your to keep tabs on your daily caloric intake against the output.

Note: This article is for fitness information purpose only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent diseases. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutritional program.

Views and suggestions provided are strictly individual and may not be suitable for individuals with similar conditions or profiles. Ade Rai and The Jakarta Post have exercised good faith in presenting the safest measures known at the time of writing. The writer and/or The Post do not assume responsibility for any injury or loss from applying the information presented in the column.

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