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A lifestyle plan for those studying for competitive exams

This article is for those who are preparing for competitive exams in India. Clearing exams like JEE, CAT, NEET, CLAT, GATE, UPSC, NDA, etc is daunting but rewarding. Students usually take a years time on average to crack these exams. During this period they need to be sharp and stay focussed. Their mind needs to absorb as much information as possible. Also there isn’t too much time for physical activity and games. So here is what a typical routine of such an aspirant be.

Wake up early and go out for a walk

You should be up by sunrise and out of the house for a walk. Wear loose fitting and comfortable sports outfit but make sure your arms and legs are sufficiently exposed towards the rising sun. The only way your body can produce Vitamin D is by the sun rays hitting the skin. Vitamin D is essential for the development of bones and teeth, something which you will need for life ahead.

Choice between running, jogging, swimming or cycling is entirely your comfort level. Walking is by far the best exercise for fat burning. It is also neither catabolic (swimming or running which needs glucose) or anabolic (muscle building which needs protein). Both these category of exercises need their own recovery period. Something which you might not have. Brisk walking of half an hour should suffice.

Exposing your body and eyes to the rising sun also activates the circadian rhythm which control the internal body clock. It wakes up your body.

Out of the whole lot of exercising choices, the best one to stick to is suryanamaskar. It is simple and involves stretching, strength and breathing.

Breakfast – the first meal of the day

This meal will provide you with nutrition and energy to get the day going. It has to be light but yet packed with your basic needs. Start with steel cut oats and sprouts which are packed with vitamins and minerals. Oats also have protein and fibre and it is more chewy than rolled oats. That helps you to keep full for a longer time. It is better to eat sprouts raw or steamed as mixing them with anything else is only going to increase volume.

For the students who are going out to school or people headed to work it is a good idea to include some glucose in your morning breakfast. A slice of bread with butter or cheese or even desi ghee should provide enough energy.

In between

The important thing to remember for those who are studying is that you should not keep munching something all the time. You need to give clear breaks to your digestive system. I would highly recommend sticking to three meals a day and absolutely nothing in between. To quench your thirst you can have a glass of water with couple of lemons with salt and without sugar. If you feel then need, you may have a black coffee or even better green tea.

Carbs and sugars will make you feel sleepy. Intake of fats will make you feel full for longer time and provide the necessary nutrition.

Lunch

You should have lunch ideally between 12:30 pm to 1 pm. Your meal plate should consists most of the following.

  • Fermented milk product like curd or yogurt
  • Cucumber
  • Two variety of vegetables, raw, boiled or sautéed
  • Two boiled eggs
  • Small portion of protein like paneer, chicken, fish or meat

The top nutritious vegetable are bhindi, karela, beans, gobi, pumpkin, radish, palak, methi, mushrooms and so on. Do not waste time and effort packing your meal with low nutrition vegetables like potato, tomato, peas, capsicum, onions and like wise. Avoid sweet corn and potato in all forms and types. Absolutely.

Do not forget to add a couple of nuts like walnut, pista, almond and seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. But remember nuts like peanuts or raisins are not packed with enough nutrients. So better to avoid them.

Finish off your meal with a spoon of desi ghee. Remember, desi ghee made from grass fed cow milk is expensive. Do not go for fake and cheap varieties of desi ghee because they will cause more harm than good.

De-stressing routine

With a whole day studies packed in, it is now time to get ready to sleep. This is the most important part of your day and a good deep sleep will help retain all important information that you have gobbled up during the day.

Begin de-stressing by again going for an evening walk in the park and listening to music. If possible meet up with some friends and chat with them for some time in the open. After the walk do some relaxing activity like a hobby or reading a book. Play with your pet if you have or spend time with family. Get ready to have your meal at 7pm. Once dinner is over do to a dimly lit room and begin the final stages of de-stress. Do not watch an action movie or thriller before going to sleep. Worse do not watch the news. Finally switch off the mobile and sleep in the room with dim lights. Catch up with your sleep well before 9 pm to get the first sleep cycle.

Dinner

There won’t be much difference between lunch and dinner except that you will skip the curd and cucumber. As a dessert you may eat dark chocolate (at least 70% dark). Sweets will keep you awake and prevent you from going to sleep.

There is a raging debate going on these days on the harmful effects of carbs on health. Since you guys are young intake of carbs should not be a problem at this age. However the choice of which carbs to eat is entirely upto you. But beware of one thing. DO NOT replace veggies and other healthy options with carbs. First finish your two vegetables and proteins and then if there is a need resort to quality carbs like multi grain bread or brown rice.

Many students might have the need to study for extended hours. In that case the best time to study is between 8pm to 11pm and early morning 5pm to 7pm.

There are incredible health benefits of consuming four lemons a day as well as four eggs. Do not miss them. One more thing. Fruits are healthy because they are produced by nature. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals. However the excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides have made them toxic over the years. Also artificial ripening and sweetening techniques means that the modern fruits are more sweeter than they were many years back. Along with fruits comes sugar which is in large quantities. This sugar contain fructose which is processed by the liver. However a little bit of seasonal fruits grown organically, if you can get them should suffice for your nutritional needs.

Things which you should absolutely avoid

  • Ketchup
  • French fries
  • Packed foods
  • Chips
  • Corn
  • Packed and bottled juices
  • All types of soft drinks
  • All types of bakery products
  • All types of India mithai
  • Mobile phone games
  • Festival and functions at home or relatives places
  • All sorts of smoking and drinking
  • Samosa

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