Check out former Indian cricketer Salil Ankola’s ‘magical transformation’ after fighting Covid twice: ‘When he can do it why can’t you’


MAY 30, 2023

Salil Ankola’s fitness transformation is showing! (Source: Salil Ankola/Instagram)

Despite getting infected with Covid-19 twice, Salil Ankola did not give up and resolved to “completely get back in shape in a year’s time”, something his wife and food therapist Dr Ria Banerjee Ankola shared recently.

Opening up about his “magical transformation”, Dr. Ankola wrote on Instagram: “Husband, so so proud of you. @Ssalilankola is 55, and fought Covid-19 twice. Feb 2021, he was in the ICU as he had pneumonia which lowered his immunity to another level and he couldn’t work out much for many months due to his lung capacity. We took all the precautions regarding food and lifestyle but this really affected his health, so the recovery was taking its sweet time. Then in July ’22 — when he was almost recovering from the previous damage — he got re-infected. He had a very high fever and cough, so that again kind of lowered his immunity. But he is mentally and physically too strong, so he didn’t give up.”

Take a look at the before and after pictures of the former cricketer.

A post shared by Ria Banerjee Ankola (@drriaankola)

A post shared by Ria Banerjee Ankola (@drriaankola)

“Last year, he looked at himself and told me that he needs to completely get back in shape in a year’s time — not just appearance-wise but also get his health parameters back in place. So, I got all his blood work done and accordingly planned a diet in a way that he doesn’t miss a single nutrient in a day,” continued Dr. Ria.

Despite having to “travel 20 days in a month for work and sit for long hours in the stadiums all through the matches”, Dr. Ria shared that being a morning person, Salil never misses his morning workout and “is very careful of what he orders for himself while he travels”.

“He is a big foodie so never compromises on his taste but is always watchful. Post-Covid, his hunger levels have really increased. I noted that and made him understand why that was happening and what he should completely avoid in order to recover completely. Planned his meals in such a way that the hunger issue is managed,” she added.

Speaking with, Dr. Ria shared that it took Salil Ankola a lot of time to recover owing to his poor lung capacity post Covid-19 and pneumonia. “He is lactose and gluten intolerant, and after Covid-19, developed severe gluten allergy. So, instead of normal atta, I started using khapli atta in his diet. Also, milk intake was almost zero for some time until I introduced a little milk to his tea. Now, he is absolutely fine,” said Dr. Ria, emphasizing on the importance of “customizing” one’s diet.

A post shared by Salil Ankola (@salilankola)

A post shared by Salil Ankola (@salilankola)

How were the meals planned?

Sharing details, Dr Ria wrote, “For that, the combination of food really matters. He rarely eats anything fried, but his weakness is sweets. So, I always have healthy sweet options at home but then we cannot overeat healthy things as well, so he was cautious on that as well,” she mentioned noting that “after Covid-19, he had more cravings for sweet”.

“To tackle that, he had dahi with flavours like vanilla, and cinnamon, chopped fruits, or date laddoos, or sheera, or khapli atta kheer, or coconut milk kheer. His favourite has been moong dal kheer with coconut milk and not too much sugar,” shared Dr. Ria.

Sharing exclusive details, Dr Ria said she ensured the cricketer increased his protein and fibre intake — for better digestion — by having at least one vegetable for lunch and dinner. “Salil was not very fond of eating sabzis, but adding vegetables to his diet has really helped a lot,” she told this outlet.

Each person’s diet needs to be customized (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Sharing his routine, Dr. Ria informed, “He wraps up dinner by 6 pm as he sleeps by 9 pm. He wakes up at 4 am, as he’s a morning person. Basically, food is 80 per cent of what you are and that is exactly what helped him get back in shape and also get all his blood parameters completely back to normal. Touchwood, he is 55 and has no medications at all; just basic multivitamins and essential electrolytes. When he can do it, why can’t you?”

Understanding the role diet plays in one’s fitness transformation

According to Varun Rattan, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, when talking about weight loss, it’s important to understand that it doesn’t just mean losing fat. “It can include losing weight from muscle, water, and even bones. Fat loss refers exclusively to loss of fat mass,” said Rattan, adding that instead of underfeeding or overfeeding oneself, the key is to check one’s basal metabolic rate (BMR).

A post shared by Ria Banerjee Ankola (@drriaankola)

A post shared by Ria Banerjee Ankola (@drriaankola)

“BMR is the amount of calories required for basic bodily functions like breathing and regulating body temperature. Consuming fewer calories than your BMR for prolonged periods of time will likely cause your body to enter a ‘power-saving mode’ and may lead to chronic lethargy. You can also potentially lose more muscle mass than fat as it is an energy-hungry tissue,” said Rattan.

Stressing that getting rid of extra body fat can significantly improve health by reducing chronic inflammation and related diseases, Rattan said one should have a diet that primarily consists of whole foods.

Limiting processed food consumption while increasing physical activity and strength training can lead to healthy and sustainable fat loss for majority of people,” said Rattan.

Courtesy/Source: Indian Express / PTI