MR SAUMIK Bera pooh-poohs any suggestion that ghee is fattening.
He swears that the nutty clarified butter - used a lot in Indian cooking - is not only flavourful but also healthy.
'Just look at me. I have a 25-inch waist,' he says with no small measure of pride.
He does have a waist which has been known to make some women drool with envy. It looks even more impressive, given his broad chest and solid biceps.
Then again, one suspects the 24-year-old owes his physique to 18 years of yoga instead of just ghee.
An instructor at True Yoga since 2005, he is a decorated world champion in the ancient Indian spiritual and physical discipline.
In 2004, he finished second at the 13th Yoga World Cup Competition in Madrid. In 2005, he was world champion for Artistic Yoga at the Yoga World Championships in Milan. And just last month, he nabbed the gold for both athletic and artistic yoga at the World Wide Yoga Championships held in Mexico.
In artistic yoga, a competitor performs a series of asanas (postures) to music. Athletic yoga, meanwhile, evaluates the execution of an asana based on alignment, strength, balance, resistance and accurate flexibility range.
'If you want strength and flexibility, eat more vegetables. Cut down on red meat like pork and beef because they make your joints and muscles very tight,' says the ever-smiling and cheerful instructor.
Besides vegetables, Bera - who hails from Kolkata and has a Master's in Commerce from Vidyasagar University in Midnapore, West Bengal - takes chicken and fish for protein.
'I grew up on my mother's cooking and nothing outside compares to what she cooks, so I got her to teach me when I was about 16,' says the younger of two sons of a businessman and a housewife.
'She would adapt recipes from TV and magazines and give it her own spin. She was a great cook.'
He can now whip up a meal for 15 people with no sweat.
Although he does not read recipe books, he has inherited his mother's penchant for experimentation.
'You just listen to your instincts. Somehow, you will know if a little extra ingredient will make a dish different.'
Bera cooks for himself and his two flatmates - also yoga instructors from India - every day.
'I tell them what ingredients I want and they just get them ready. When I come home at night after classes, I will cook,' says Bera who teaches between eight and 10 hours a day.
They do not always eat immediately after he's done in the kitchen though.
Sometimes when the mood strikes them, all three of them practise their yoga poses in the living room of their River Valley condominium. They sometimes eat only at 1.30am.
Not surprisingly, he gets animated when he talks about what he does.
His achievements at world meets brought him to the attention of True Yoga two years ago.
'They asked me whether I'd like to teach here. I could have worked in an office job but yoga is my passion and I want to continue pursuing it so I said yes. And I like it here,' he says.
'Yoga is, in one word, amazing,' he gushes.
'You don't need money, you don't need machines and you can do it at home. It's a union of the mind and body. It's a discipline which also makes you excel in the things you want to do. That's why so many athletes take up yoga,' says Bera who has been known to practise eight hours a day just before a major competition.
Asked if he finds any similarities between cooking and yoga, he says: 'Yes, definitely. Cooking is love. Yoga is love. If you do anything, you have to begin with love. If you do, it will turn out well.'
» Saumik Bera's recipe for Soya meat and prawn curry