The Working Professional's Diet

by Team NCNR | January 13, 2016 Views :

If you’re a busy professional, the fit physiques you see in Instagram photos and Facebook posts can seem like an unreachable pipe-dream. Because how are you ever going to find the time to go to the gym and eat right when you’ve got 1,345 unread emails you need to get to. Right?

Well, not quite. Let’s talk about work.

In today’s work culture, we’ve accepted long hours and urgent deadlines as part of the deal. Obviously, this arrangement leaves very little time for you to look into your fitness. Maybe some of you have the inner fortitude to be a gym regular inspite of your busy schedule.

But, if you’re not getting the results you need, you’re probably overlooking the crucial part of the puzzle – your DIET.

We believe this guide will help you align your diet to your fitness goals.

Let’s assess the typical diet of a working professional like you.

On waking up: A cup of coffee

This is usually what you have before leaving the house for your early morning meeting.

Breakfast: Sandwich, Idli/Dosa, Poha

Breakfast is usually at office after your morning meeting (finally) gets done. This is the first meal of your day that you have after a long fast of 8-10 hours (Because you’re sleeping). Usually, breakfast items are carbohydrate based with little to no protein content.

Lunch: Fried rice/ Chicken biryani/ Dal Rice/ Roti sabji

Lunch could be your home-cooked food or something that you have outside during your lunch meetings. Again, these meals are usually loaded with carbohydrates with a little protein featuring on days where you get to have delicious chicken or eggs.

Evening snack: Bhel/ sandwich/ Dosa or nothing at all

Towards the end of your day, you’re probably juggling a few things at once while you keep an eye on the clock. As a result, you don’t want to think too much about your meals and end up opting for some junk/fast food that will tide you over till you get home. On days when you have deadlines looming over your head, you might choose to skip this meal altogether.

After a hectic day at the office, you head to the gym because you want to get fitter and leaner.

Dinner: Roti sabji, Rice and Dal. 

Some of you may be faltering in your diet plans because of practical reasons such as unavailability of required food. Some of you may simply not know what you need to do.

Dinner is usually home-cooked food, a carbohydrate-rich meal that does not provide any high quality protein source to support muscle recovery following your workout.

Only when the protein requirement is met does the body go into a positive nitrogen balance, allowing muscle tissue building (anabolism) to supersede muscle breakdown (catabolism) resulting in muscle mass gain.

So how do you improve your existing diet to make it a goal oriented one?

Let’s break down your regular diet and see where we can plug in the gaps.

On Waking up

Heading out of the home with just a cup of coffee in your system is a complete no-go.

Solution: One scoop of Whey in water immediately on waking up.

Understand that you will be waking up after a long 6-8 hour fast. Your body is in a catabolic state and towards the end of this long fasting phase resorts to breaking down the muscle tissue to feed itself. Most of you will also agree that we do not have an appetite for a solid meal upon waking up, let alone a protein heavy solid meal. Even if you had an appetite for it, until the protein is digested and starts releasing amino acids into your blood stream, your body stays in the catabolic state.

Whey is a fast-acting, high biological value protein that rapidly releases amino acids into the blood stream, immediately kick-starting anabolism and halting catabolism. Therefore, drinking a whey shake becomes an ideal choice. It provides you with 20-25g of high quality protein to feed your muscles without the hassle of cooking or chewing solid food in a condition where you are still trying to get into your groove. A few gulps and you are good to go for a couple of hours.

Protein = 25g


Fast- food Breakfast – Vegetable sandwich/South Indian food items

Solution: Eggs or paneer as an add-on to your breakfast items.

Eggs are the best protein source in solid form. With a biological value of 100, eggs are the ideal breakfast protein. And no, you don’t have to stick to only egg whites. In fact, whole eggs are better as they provide more protein in addition to other vital nutrients that your body requires.For those of you who stick to a complete vegetarian diet, if you are looking to have a solid high quality protein source, go for paneer.

Alternatively, you can supplement a scoop of whey to your existing breakfast options to ensure that you don’t miss out on the protein you need.

Protein= 25g


Fried rice/ Chicken biryani/ Dal Rice/ Roti sabji

Solution:Salad bowl, Chapatti/Brown Rice, Chicken/Paneer/Eggs/Fish/Curd

Your lunch should comprise of two main components i.e. protein and fiber. Carbohydrates may or may not be included depending on the type of diet you may be following.

If, for example, you weigh 75kgs and workout at a moderate to high intensity level, the above diet will barely provide you with 30g of protein for the day, when your actual protein requirement is well above 100g per day. This puts you in a protein deficient state and therefore, you are not able to achieve your fitness goals.

Single meal dishes like fried rice/Dal rice are deficient in their fiber content. A salad meal with raw vegetables such as carrots, cucumber etc. can be an easy option to carry from home. In case you like your veggies to be in a cooked form, a portion of any green leafy vegetable preparation can also provide good amounts of fiber.

Protein can be incorporated easily by opting for any chicken, egg, paneer, fish preparation. For e.g.: Chicken curry, egg burji, paneer burji or fish fillets can be taken as main dish. Carbohydrates in form of whole wheat chapattis or brown rice can be accompaniments to the main dish if required.

Protein= 25g

Evening Snack/Pre-workout Meal

Bhel/ sandwich/ Dosa

Solution:Eggs, Paneer

Most people reach for junk food as an evening snack because they’re hungry and junk food is easy to get. Instead of these toxic items, boiled eggs or paneer in form of satays, salad or burji can be good options. These can even double up as your pre-workout meal. With afternoon meetings and daily deadlines to meet, it may be difficult to consume another meal post lunch. Keeping high protein bars, a tetra pack of buttermilk or curd handy can help avoid this long- gap. Multi-blend protein can also be a convenient evening meal option.

Protein =20g

Post- Workout

Solution: One scoop of Whey Protein in water.

Exercise puts your body in a catabolic state. Whey has a complete amino acid profile and is naturally high in branched chain amino acids that are required to start the process of muscle protein synthesis. Its fast-acting and high-absorption properties make it an ideal protein to take after workouts. For those who train intensely, supplementing with BCAAs and Glutamine becomes necessary for optimum muscle recovery and repair.

Protein =25g


Roti sabji, Rice and Dal

Solution:Salad,Any form of first class protein source

After the post-workout protein shake, following it up with a protein meal becomes important to further support anabolism. Furthermore, seeing as this is the last meal you have before going to sleep, having a slow-digesting protein ensures a continuous trickle of amino acids into the blood. These amino acids then support anti-catabolism i.e. they prevent breakdown of muscle during the fasting state while asleep and also support growth and recovery of the muscle tissue.

Paneer with its high casein content in non-denatured form becomes an ideal choice to be included at dinner. Meats such as chicken, red meat, fish and eggs are other sources of first class proteins that can be consumed at night. Supplementing with Casein in form of Micellar casein may be required when the meal does not contain any of these sources. Micellar casein is casein in non-denatured form that releases amino acid slowly, lasting up to 8 hours and hence is an ideal night time protein for consumption.

Protein= 30-40g


The above dietary guidelines can help you consume approximately 150- 160g of protein per day. Obviously, your requirement for protein will vary depending on your body weight, intensity of training and your fitness goals, but this is a good place to start.  

Achieving your fitness goals will require discipline not just in training, but also in your diet. No amount of training can give you results unless it is supported by an optimum diet regimen. Consult a qualified sports nutritionist before you begin. A sports nutritionist can easily design a diet plan suitable to your work lifestyle and suggest dietary supplements to help plug gaps in your existing diet.

Your fitness goals do not have to take a back seat because of the demands of your professional life. You can apply the same planning and dedication that you use at work to your fitness goals to begin crafting the body of your dreams, irrespective of how busy you are.

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