It could have been the end of Rajiv Ambat’s entrepreneurial dreams when his ed-tech startup failed miserably even before take-off. A bout of depression befell him as the future looked uncertain. But it was only the beginning of his story as the events thereafter unfolded would reveal. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur who has found a niche space of his own in the ever-emerging realm of health tech. The Kochi-based young engineer-turned-entrepreneur’s transformation from an amateur ed-tech experimentalist into a professional health-tech explorer was phenomenal. Now, he is one of the most sought-after lifestyle and fitness experts in the city and elsewhere. His company NuvoVivo, which he founded in 2019 after an eight-year stint in the fields of IT and finance and an unsuccessful bid at ed-tech, offers an online platform where a team of experts help their clients manage or reverse various lifestyle diseases.
Ambat, 37, plunged into the hitherto unknown world of fitness and exercises a few years ago as a means to overcome his depression induced by his failed entrepreneurial bid. As he got over his troubles, he also realised the scope of combining his newly acquired knowledge of health and fitness with technology and expertise to revive his venture in a new shape.
Ambat follows and propagates what he calls ‘medical fitness’. His recently launched book titled “Midriff Crisis”, which explains his approach has been appreciated by a range of medical practitioners.
“There is no point in living every day for a tomorrow and never ever living a today. Eating healthy is not a punishment; it does not mean eating bland and tasteless food or not having rice. One should learn to have an occasional indulgence and yet stay healthy,” Ambat, 37, explains his diet and lifestyle philosophy. “Midriff Crisis” crisis goes into the details of this philosophy with practical examples explained in simple terms.
Medical fitness is a sustainable and scientific approach to becoming healthy. Its goal is to improve one’s blood parametres and eventually help that person reduce her medications, Ambat writes in his book.
He uses the example of a diabetic person to illustrate his approach. Reducing carbohydrates, increasing protein and fibre in the diet and exercising a lot are simple approaches to fitness. It might work for a 20 to 25-year-old person, but not for a diabetic person in his 30s. In the ‘medical fitness’ approach, it is decided how much protein one should take after checking s.creatinine, urine albumin levels, renal health and other necessary parametres. This is because chronic and uncontrolled diabetes may impact the kidneys and increasing protein intake in such a scenario can make health conditions much worse.
“We create an individualised diet plan based on the cultural-eating habits, preferences and medical conditions of our clients. In most cases, the diet will not be different from one’s current eating habits, keeping in view sustainability and long-term adherence… The plan is usually given for a period of 1-2 weeks with substitutes mentioned for each meal. For example, one whole egg can be replaced with 25 grams of cottage cheese or paneer or one cheese slice. This makes dieting not boring and makes it easy, flexible and sustainable,” Ambat writes in his book. These diet plans are revised periodically based on parametres including weight difference, waist measurement and blood tests if needed.
Ambat’s company offers three-month online programmes to its clients who get the help of a team including doctors, dieticians, fitness trainers and follow-up assistants.
Ambat’s book has received appreciation from senior doctors for its simple presentation of facts without compromising on scientific evidence.
“The highlight of the book is the painstaking attempt to tease out the accurate information and present it in such a simple and informal way. Unlike many such books written in the past, the author has taken utmost care to stay away from making controversial and non-evidence-based statements just to grab headlines,” Dr Arun S Menon, head, consultant endocrinologist, Lisie Hospital, Kochi, writes in his foreword to the book. Dr Padmanabha Shenoy, Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatism Excellence, Kochi; Dr Manu Mohandas, Renai Medicity, Kochi;Dr Madhuja Gopishyam, City Hospital, Kochi; Dr Vinod Thomas, Renai Medicity are among senior doctors who have lauded Ambat’s book.
Ambat is a certified nutrition expert, certified diabetes educator and a member of the All India Association for Advancing Research in Obesity (AI-AARO). Apart from his qualifications in engineering and business management (MBA), Ambat also is a certificate holder in Human Physiology from Harvard Medical School. He ventured into health-tech entrepreneurship after an eight-year-long stint in IT and global finance companies. His company NuvoVivo has branches in Kochi, Kuwait and Dubai.
He is a lifetsyle and diet consultant in several hospitals in Kochi. He was also the fitness and diet coach of the Kerala police team which participated in the recent Nehru Trophy Boat Race.