What is a balanced diet? Is it possible to achieve or just a myth? And to answer this question I decided to find my own expert, my friend Amirr, he comes in the form of head coach at Ritual.
That’s him right above.
I met Amirr about two over years ago at Ritual, for my Ritual experience read here. He’s one of the most supportive and detailed coaches I’ve met, and he lives and breathes with such purpose to helping his clients achieve health and fitness by combining what he knows about nutrition, exercise and mindset. He’s definitely into real food diets and not any health, diet or fitness fads. I also heard he is a great cook, so I thought he would be the perfect person to answer my questions on what he thinks having a balanced diet entails.
Hi Amirr, could you tell me a little about you and how you got so interested in nutrition and fitness?
I grew up as a scrawny kid. I was always made fun of because of my size and was compared with other guys. At the age of 16, a friend of mine introduced me to Gym and that was when I told myself to make a change. I trained my chest every single day and then I met my first mentor, Andy Toh, who was a bodybuilding champion — 2 years later. He gave me a book, called, ‘Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding’. I was so grateful and read it daily to educate myself. In 2006, I competed in a local junior bodybuilding show at Sentosa. I got last place. I was then devastated, but trained hard again and competed 6 years later, clinching the 2nd place. I went on to compete in overseas bodybuilding titles in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, I set up my own website, www.amirrudinong.com and now write articles, tips based on my experience to help people out there who are struggling or new to fitness. It has been a long and arduous journey for me thus far but I did not regret a single bit of this journey. I will continue to inspire and help other people.
What do you do at Ritual? What is Ritual about?
I started off as a coach in Ritual back in April 2013. Four years later, I’m now Head Coach, supervising the coaching excellence of Ritual gym. I am also in charge of training all our new coaches. Ritual is the gym that gets you quality training in just 30 minutes in and out. Our classes are small group, 20 minutes of High-Intensity Interval training running every half hour in the day. We take the fuss out of the equation by providing everything from clothes, to showers, towels and toiletries and even healthy post workout shakes at our fuel bar.
Where do you think you are on the diet spectrum? Are you someone who is obsessed with healthy foods/someone who can’t really keep track of what you eat or someone who tries to strike a balance?
As a bodybuilding veteran, shows and bodybuilding has been part of my life since 2006. Hence, food preparation has become, second nature for me. I eat every three hours, my meals consist of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. If time permits, I make it a point to also have fiber. I eat 4 to 5 days of very low carbs, with high amounts of proteins and weekends are the opposite; high carbs and low protein. I find that sticking to this diet suits me to keep lean, as other diets do not suit me.
Coming back to the topic about healthy food, it is commonly misunderstood by many people. What exactly is healthy? It is extremely subjective to each individual, and every person has their own view. My definition of healthy is home-cooked whole food. Another person’s view could be a salad with thousand island sauce. You see what I mean? Having said that, I do love eating out too! My favourite dish is chicken rice. I will only allow myself to eat a cheat meal or two once a week. More than that, I will find myself getting fat and feeling bloated.
When people say oh I eat a balanced diet? What do you think that means? And what does it mean for you?
I don’t think majority of people are eating a balanced diet. Due to the hectic life in Singapore, lots of people are not eating right. People are just grabbing what is convenient, that’s right in front of them without any consideration of what they are actually consuming. A balanced diet in their point of view is a salad. As long as there are vegetables, it is balanced and healthy. A balanced diet for me is a diet where you have a variety of food accompanied with physical activity. The missing link to a balanced diet is a form of exercise. A lot of people might disagree with me as we are talking about “diet” here but for me, it does not literally mean a food based diet.
I see, exercise provides the “it” or extra benefit to get a balanced diet… But if say I had to talk about ratios when it comes to balanced diets, are there any ratios for men and women for carbs, fats and proteins that you can advise us on?
For this question, I will be giving advice based on a person who goes to a gym and exercises at least 3 times a week. A simple ratio is to follow by using your palm and fist. There are actually two schools of thought. First school of thought is using the fist as a guideline for the amount of carbs you take, while the palm accounts for the amount of protein. The thickness of your palm will determine the thickness of your protein amount too. The second school of thought is the opposite. You will be using your fist to measure protein while the palm to measure your carbohydrates. Lastly, for fats, we usually use the thumb for measurement. For an exact measurement of how much to eat for both men and women, you will for the best outcome need to weigh what you consume.
For men, you should be eating at least 200-250g of meat, 80g of carbs, 1 tablespoon of oil (coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil etc) per meal. For women, you should be eating 100g-150g of meat, 30-50g of carbs and 1 tablespoon of oil (coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil etc) per meal. Again, depending on what you would like to achieve, diet is very personalised and individualised. No one on this earth will have the same diet plan. If you will like to read more on this, visit my website. I have a lot of articles on these topics.
If you are following these ratios, how do you know and if you are eating well enough and if your body is well nourished?
This is a little tricky but when mastered, it can be easily applied. I use the waking point of my day as a guideline. If I feel really lethargic and not in the mood to start my day, I know my body has not gotten and is not getting enough food. To be able to make this conclusion, it takes a lot of observation and experimentation. A well rested and nourished body is one when you wake up, you feel charged up enough to do whatever you plan to do on that particular day.
Could you give our readers some tips for eating before and after a workout? To maximize muscle nourishment?
Try to eat something light like a piece of banana 15-30 minutes before a workout or a small meal with rice, some salad and a small portion of meat at least 2 hours before your training. Try not to eat anything heavy eg. burger, pasta, buffet before your workout. Eating before your workout will provide you with the energy and the ability to sustain your workout. After a workout, you can have a light protein shake, like those we have at the Ritual fuel bar, or have a nice dense meal. What is a dense meal? A dense meal, is a meal that contains a fair amount of protein, carbs and fats to fuel you right after your workout. Some stalls you can buy from are wafuken, daily cuts or carnivore. My personal favourite is wafuken because all their meats are prepared using the method called- sous vide. Chicken breast meat has never tasted so good before!
Amirr’s personal favourites…
Could we talk about non bread or pasta carbohydrates? What are some of your favourites that you love ?
I love jasmine white rice! I can simply eat 1kg of white rice when I am very hungry without any sauce. Another favourite is kuay teow. Soak the noodles in soup, add a dash of salt and I can finish the whole bowl in 2 minutes!
Leek and bean sprouts cooked with garlic and soy sauce. Surprisingly, not broccoli.
Favourite healthy food or snacks?
Baked cashew nuts and protein bars.
Do you have cheat days/cheat meals?
Cheat days are too much. Cheat meals are still okay. I usually have cheat meals on weekends, especially Sundays. Baking my own chicken wings with white jasmine rice, preparing my own salmon sashimi and Japanese rice is some of the cheat meals I do myself at home. I try to avoid eating outside as much as possible.
Favourite fast food?
Macdonalds fillet nacho O fish, Old Chang Kee sotong balls, sotong head, KFC drumlet, nenechicken wings and many more. You name it. I am not a supernatural guy. I am just a normal human being.
Finally, do you have an easy favourite recipe to share with us, so I can cook it and share it with our readers, that represents your idea of a balanced meal?
Yes I do have. I created these recipes over the years and I even gave them a name because I have a vision to set up a restaurant when I retire from work. Enjoy!
Herbal Chicken soup: (serves 2-3)
1 packet of instant herbal chicken herbs (From NTUC or any supermarket)
1 whole chicken
2 litres of water
2 big carrots
2 red onions
1/2 tablespoon kitchen salt / fine seasalt
1 tablespoon of sugar
Lemon grass drink: (serves 5)
5 stalks lemongrass
2.5 litres of water
8 tablespoons of sugar
2 slices of lemon
1 stalk of pandan leaf
Brown rice pasta with beef and egg: (serves 1)
1 to 2 whole eggs
40g of brown rice pasta
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 stalks of chopped spring onion
Dash of parsley
Perfect half boiled eggs
1 tablespoon coconut oil / anchor brand butter
5 whole eggs
(you know what this looks like – I didn’t need to make it)
Chicken with capsicums (serves 1-2)
250g of chicken breast meat
1 small yellow pepper
1 small red pepper
Dash of salt and pepper
Emperor rice (serves 1-2)
1 slice of ginger
3 small garlic cloves sliced
1 small red onion quartered
3 pandan leaves
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
100g of uncooked jasmine rice (I used short grain brown rice with 1:1 rice to water ratio)
Into the rice cooker all the ingredients went!
Cooked rice, fragrant, nutty and absolutely delicious!
Aglio olio pasta
Finely chopped garlic
Small red chilli
Fine sea salt
Chicken breast meat (Marinated with light seasoning; salt & pepper)
That’s all folks, these clean eating recipes mainly use, stir frying or boiling techniques which are both healthy and easy to do. When I asked Amirr about which ones I should cook of his recipes, he said he passed me this lot to try (all 7 recipes) as it is what he cooks and eats (yes, in one sitting!) on a weekend at home with his lovely wife! It’s a storm brewing in the kitchen, I’m not such a big eater so I did split the meals up and I took photos with some guessing on the cooking steps. I hope this helps illustrate more of what healthy nutritive cooking is and gives you a sense of what a balanced diet can mean! Amirr is a living example of what can be achieved through living well in every sense:)
If you are interested to see where Amirr coaches and try a Ritual workout, Ritual has given Tayste readers a special trial rate of 25% off the regular price for a one or two week trial just go to the link at
Here’s how to do it:
1)Click on BOOK A TRIAL
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Kindly note: This promo code is limited for use at Singapore Ritual branches at the moment, sorry overseas folks!