HYDERABAD: In 2018, poultry magnate and avid wildlife photographer Suresh Chitturi went to Rwanda in Africa to see gorillas in the wild. He and his friends had to complete a punishing, seven-eight-hour trek to reach their destination.
“It was tough for everyone in the group, but I suffered the most. That’s when I introspected and thought that if I am in this state at the age of 48, I was scared of what my life would be when I turn 58 or 68. I don’t want to stop being active. I then realised that I have to give up many things in my life,” recounts Suresh, who weighed 110 kg at the time, had a waist size of 38 inches and had high cholesterol levels.
The Rwanda episode was one of the two incidents which pushed him to take up a strict diet. The second one occurred later that year, when Suresh appeared on a news channel to speak about why eggs are good for health. Speaking to Express from the Jubilee Hills office of Srinivasa Farms, of which he is the vice chairman and managing director, he said, “One of my schoolmates saw me on TV and said — and I’m grateful he said what he said — you are looking like a saand (bull) and occupying the entire TV screen, and you are telling us what to eat.”
The irony hit home. Suresh then began to look for a way to start losing weight, but being a self-confessed foodie, that was easier said than done. On his fitness-conscious son’s advice, he gave up breakfast from January, 2019. Simultaneously, he also started reading a lot about the history of nutritional science. Recently, he undertook a course in nutrition from the Stanford University. As a result, he is now a strong advocate of incorporating eggs and animal protein in our diets.
Suresh’s research told him that science does not support the claim that humans started out as vegetarians. Elaborating, he says, “A particular scientist writes when chimps were vegetarian, gorillas evolved out of them. When chimps started eating meat, they evolved into humans. The logic indicates that the human digestive system is designed for denser food, meaning animal protein.”
To support his claim, he points out that eggs and chicken are the most ‘bang for one’s buck,’ as there is no other food which provides as much proteins without carbs for similar prices. “On top of this, nutrition wise, egg is the closest match to mother’s milk,” he adds. His belief in chicken and eggs is reflected in the decor of his cabin, which is adorned by multiple models and frames of roosters.
Incorporating everything he learned into his diet, Suresh managed to go from 110 kg in January, 2019 to 76 kg in January, 2021, while reducing his waist size from 38 to 32 inches. More tellingly, his cholesterol levels too have reduced to healthy levels. When he took up cycling in May, 2020, he struggled to cover 3 km. However, by November, he was able to cycle 200 km to Nizamabad.
Another key learning for him was how many traditional Indian food habits being followed over the centuries, like fasting, were based on science and could actually work. “When you fast, the body starts burning body fat and learns to regulate itself. Fasting also triggers autophagy, a cellular process that removes dead and damaged cells. It is probably why in olden days, fasting made people live longer. It can reportedly burn cancer cells and prevent Alzheimer’s too. Though evidence for this is not solid yet, my mindset is if it helps, why not,” says Suresh, who was in the middle of a 48-hour fast even as he spoke.
Suresh’s key tips for a balanced diet and to lose weight
- Focus on changes in diet rather than exercise
- Consume at least two eggs a day, or more, depending on how active your lifestyle is Practise fasting for certain periods
- To avoid lifestyle diseases, regulate the intake of refined carbs such as sugar, alcohol, maize, rice, breads