Fitness & Nutrition

Meet Roshni Sanghvi - The Gutsy Vegan Fitness Expert

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VF: What led you on the path of veganism? Since when have you been vegan?

RS: I was first introduced to the concept of veganism while studying in New York by one of my teachers during the first semester of my graduation. I used to go vegan in phases since I was 18. Recently about a year ago, I was on an international trip to Hong Kong and hugely binged on pizzas and ice creams. This particular trip also lead to some intense soul-searching and made me feel very guilty. The moment I landed back home, I went vegan overnight and I have never thought of going back.

VF: Do you feel you have lost out by going Vegan?

RS: Lost out? You’re joking. Just this week. I was selected the runner-up at Bodypower (India's largest fitness expo) zonal round. And of course, it goes without saying I was the only vegan athlete competing.

VF: How much time do you spend at the gym?

RS: Fitness is my passion and I work as a transformation coach. While preparing for photo shoots or bikini division competitions, I spend close to two hours in the gym on my personal fitness. Or else if I am just maintaining my physiques it is close to one hour for about five to six days per week.

VF: What does your daily regime of exercise include?

RS: I love adding in some empty stomach high-intensity cardio for only 20-25 minutes as soon as I wake up two or three times a week. My main weight training regimen is sometime in the mid-afternoon and I spend two days per week for legs and shoulders, and one day each for chest and back.

VF: Does a vegan diet provide you with what you need for optimal performance?

RS: It more than does! Being on a vegetarian high protein diet and consuming four scoops of whey protein to not taking any supplements and being 100% vegan now, I can say this with experience.I was constantly bloated when taking whey and my digestion was the worst affected. This also left me lethargic and tired most of the time. But once I stopped taking the same, I noticed my digestive system making a quick recovery, my sleep patterns improved and my stamina got stronger. I stayed fresh in spite of a 12-hour work day, was able to consume more veggies and fruits and still stay within my calorie range because of all the calories I was saving from not consuming so much whey and casein. I also started gaining muscle mass to my surprise and losing fat! When you stop taking dairy and meat into your system, your system has fewer toxins to process and can focus on building and repair muscle better. You will also feel more fresh and alive with all the fibrous carbs you consume.
Delicious Rice Paper Rolls made by Roshni
Image source:

VF: Do you have a cheat day/meal? What do you indulge in?

RS: Because I take in a high carb diet with a lot of veggies and fruits, I get all essential micronutrients, leaving me with minimal cravings. The body craves for certain types of food only because it lacks certain micronutrients contained in that particular food. For example, if you crave chocolates, it’s because the cocoa seeds used to make chocolates are loaded with magnesium and the body actually is craving magnesium. Eating a handful of dry fruits loaded with magnesium will help you suppress the cravings for sugar-loaded chocolates.
Cravings no but temptations YES! I  am often tempted to eat a dessert or pizza (all vegan of course) when out with friends or family. I normally have two or three cheat meals per week.

VF: Do you take any supplements? If yes, then which ones?

RS: I was taking a lot of supplements when on a high protein diet, but since I have switched to a high carb diet, I do not need any. However, I do intake a scoop of plant-based protein on days I have not planned my meals well.The plant-based protein supplement I usually prefer is 'Unived' an Indian Brand as I am assured of a faster delivery. Or sometimes Sunwarior!  I do sip on BCAA’s (Branch chain amino acids, which help with protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and energy) during workouts on some days too. That though is absolutely for the taste. As long as you eat well, I do not think the body needs any artificial supplements to function well.

VF: Would you recommend supplements to people who do not work out?

RS: Unless your nutrition is drastically bad I would not recommend additional supplements irrespective of whether you workout or not. But it is important to understand that supplements are not a magic cure tforanything. Taking weight loss tablets will not help you lose one bit of weight unless you workout and eat healthily! There is no need for you to consume omegas or multivitamins, they have nothing special that servings of veggies/ fruits and healthy fat will not add to your body. As a vegan, if your workout intensity or physical activity is extremely high, the only supplement I would suggest looking into is Vitamin B12.
I believe we have been intensely blinded by the media and people are not even willing to try anything which is not ‘protein’. Our muscles are made up of proteins AND carbohydrates. They are not made up of proteins alone. Not more than 25% of the total caloric intake should come from proteins. Anything more than this will not get consumed by the body and has to be flushed out.  This puts an added strain on the renal system. I have built most of my muscle mass on a vegan high carbohydrate diet. Make sure you are consuming the good, healthy, fibrous and low GI carbs though!

VF: Have there been any drawbacks or side effects of following a vegan diet? If not, is there any special care to be taken while following a plant-based diet?

RS: If you do not live in a family where no one is vegan, I believe the only drawback is not trusting anyone with preparing your food. Getting your B12 levels checked a couple of times per year is my only recommendation. If you have never been vegan and are transitioning however, the first few weeks maybe hard on the digestive tract since you are not used to taking in so much fiber. Try and take in some natural probiotics such as Kimchi, Kombucha, Spirulina and vegan curds.

VF: Women, as compared to men, have bone and joint issues more often. Many are now advised to have calcium tablets or drink more milk to tackle the deficiencies. What's your advice to them?

RS: If we got our calcium from dairy, the countries with the highest dairy consumption should have the strongest bones, correct? As per multiple large-scale studies conducted, the truth is far from this. Countries with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest cases of osteoporosis (weak bones).
This goes again to prove that calcium derived from animal sources is not absorbed by the body. In fact, a glass of milk does not even have as much calcium as we think it does. It is loaded with cholesterol, fat, toxins and hormones. Stick to leafy greens for calcium.
The best way to tackle joint/ bone issues is strength training. It is important to include strength training a few times per week at least. If you are new, I would suggest adding in three days per week of strength training and focusing one day on upper body/ one day on lower body and one day on core strengthening. Find a coach who understands your ADL (activities of daily living) and customizes a program accordingly. For instance, if you have a desk job and sit for prolonged hours, you will need to focus on strengthening your lower back and alignment of your spine. So including exercises like bird- dog and cat-camel stretch will help!

VF: For women, who hit the gym and want to be like you, what are the 5 most important steps they should follow?

  • Pick an activity you love! If you do not like the gym, do not go, chose to swim, Zumba, dance, yoga, trek etc. Whatever you like, it is important you move!
  • Find the right guidance. It is absolutely essential you invest a little less in your workout clothes but choose the best fitness expert to guide you. Choose one who understands and respects your dietary habits and will not force any changes on you. Also choose someone who has worked with people with specific problems that you may be tacking currently such as PCOD, thyroid or cholesterol.
  • Start small- do not go for the ‘6 days per week’  program from the very first week. It will only leave you exhausted and potentially injured. You will begin to hate the activity. Start with no more than 20-30 minutes three or four times per week if you are new and build from there onwards.
  • Monitor what you eat. Fitness is a 100% commitment to your workouts and nutrition and both go hand in hand. If your dietary intake is poor,  you will not be able to perform in the gym and if you eat very well but do not workout, you will not see a physical difference in the way you look, leaving you demotivated.
  • Don’t wait for the next Monday to start. Start right now! As you are reading this get up and do 20 jumping jacks and ditch the high-fat junk food at your next meal.

VF: Is there a personal mantra or message for people looking to turn vegan and aspire to follow your footsteps?

RS: It is really not as hard as you think. When going vegan, do not think about the things you cannot eat but think of the variety of alternative options you can experiment with! I discovered smoothie bowls for breakfast recently and love them! My family is Gujrati and breakfast is almost always stuffed with ghee. When I went vegan and had to cook my own breakfast, I discovered the quick and easy to make oats/ quinoa/ amaranth/ ragi/ madhira (almost any whole grain will do) smoothie bowls! I love them and even my family thinks they are better than ghee loaded breakfasts! They are loaded with micronutrients and so easy on the digestive system. Plus tastes like having ice creams for breakfast every morning.

VF: If someone wanted to get involved with what you do, how should they go about it?

RS: Visit my webpage Apart from personal training and online counseling, I do corporate programs educating people on fitness, nutrition, and veganism. Also follow me on Instagram and snapchat (@roshnisanghvi) for some free workout routines, nutrition tips, and motivation.


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