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Almost every individual is dissatisfied with their weight; some want to lose, while others want to gain weight. While being overweight is a major problem, being underweight is no less severe. It poses more serious health threats than obesity. Obese individuals die due to the development of chronic disorders, like diabetes or heart disorders, but those who are underweight have a direct risk of fatality.

Research findings suggest that being underweight holds a higher prospect of mortality, particularly among men. So, what can you do to lessen this risk? Gulp down a packet of chips and cookies? No. This will not lead to a healthy weight gain, it will just make you ‘skinny fat’ (gain of abdominal fat in a thinly framed individual). For you to be healthy, it is important that the weight gain process is healthy.

A recent study divulged that being skinny fat is a major problem in India due to lifestyle changes in the population. Another study found that when unhealthy fat is gained in a previously thin frame, the internal body picture is often like that of an obese person. High levels of visceral fat are evident in such individuals, increasing the risk of diabetes, heart attack and even dementia.

It is recommended to gain a healthy muscle mass, while one is aiming for a gain in weight, rather than adding a layer of visceral fat. This article is meant to help you in achieving a healthy weight gain, by introducing some foods, meals and tips. But, first, let’s see what being underweight really is?

  1. Other tips for weight gain
  2. Sustaining weight gain
  3. How do you know you are underweight
  4. Weight gain foods
  • For weight gain, it is recommended to increase the intake of foods rich in carbohydrates like roti, potatoes or rice.
  • Increasing the amounts of dietary fats in the form of ghee, butter and oils is also recommended.
  • While drinking milk or making your shakes, it is recommended to opt for a full-fat variety of milk. The same goes for yoghurt, buttermilk and cheese.
  • It is recommended to not have water before meals since it will make you feel full, which will reduce your appetite.
  • Indulging in protein-rich foods like meats, fishes and eggs is also advised for a healthy weight gain. Occasionally, you can also opt for red meats, but you must not over-indulge.
  • Taking protein supplements, if advised so by your doctor, is another way of increasing muscle mass.
  • Nuts, seeds and cereal bars can be your go-to snack if you are running short on time or cannot manage too many meals.
  • You should, however, not skip any meal or even a snack since all meals in the diet plan have their own weight gain benefits.
  • To keep things less mundane, you are advised to keep on alternating with the food choices from the list.
  • Having soups or juices is a means of increasing your appetite. While having soups, you may add butter to enhance its taste.
  • Occasionally, you can indulge in eating fast food items like pizza, pasta or a burger to assist a gain in weight.
  • Chocolates, particularly milk chocolates are a rich source of calories.
  • Exercises like lifting weights, resistance training and other exercises recommended by your fitness trainer are also helpful for gaining muscles, but you must increase your caloric intake while indulging in heavy workouts so as to have a surplus of calories.

It is important to not just weight gain but to sustain the gain. This requires you to always eat a higher number of calories than you consume and indulge in exercises so that the gain occurs in the form of muscle mass and not fat. Adequate rest and sleep are also important for a better digestion and a good appetite.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Being underweight means having a lower weight than what is considered to be normal for your height. But, how do you find that out? This can be analysed on the basis of your body mass index score.

According to NIH, a BMI lower than 18.5 is considered to be underweight. This you can calculate by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in metres).

If the figure you obtain is below 18.5, this article is just for you, and if you are generally looking for a gain in muscle mass, this article will can prove to be immensely helpful.

Diet is obviously the most important aspect of gaining weight. Having a balanced diet with all the essential components, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, will help you in gaining weight.

It will also help in keeping nutritional deficiencies at bay, which are more common in underweight individuals. Other than maintaining a balanced diet, it is also essential to increase the daily calorie count, which can be possible by increasing the number of meals you take.

Let’s have a separate look at the best foods for each time of the day.

  1. Weight gain drinks: Seventh meal of the day for weight gain
  2. First meal of the day
  3. Second meal: Healthy breakfast for weight gain
  4. Third meal for weight gain: midday snack
  5. Weight gain meal plan: Fourth meal- Lunch
  6. Fifth meal of the day: Weight gain snacks
  7. Indian diet plan for weight gain: Sixth meal- Dinner

Weight gain drinks: Seventh meal of the day for weight gain

At around 11 pm, it is recommended to have a glass of warm milk before going to bed. It is a nutrient-rich food and will aid in the process of weight gain. Warm milk will also allow you to sleep better, which will ensure better digestion and a good amount of energy for the day ahead.

First meal of the day

For weight gain to take place, it is very important that you consume something as soon as you wake up. While you were sleeping, your body was in a state of starvation since you had your last supper. To counteract this, you must immediately brush your teeth as soon as you wake up and consume either of the following foods:

A glass of milk

Milk has time and again been associated with a gain in weight due to its nutritional composition. It offers a blend of proteins, fats, calcium and even carbohydrates, making it a balanced meal in itself.

You may have a glass full of milk adding sugar to taste, or you may add any flavourings you prefer. If you have a glass of milk with two teaspoons of sugar, it will offer you around 285 calories, which is a fair way to begin your day. If you are a vegan, you may opt for almond or soy milk, which possesses almost the same nutritional value.

Homemade smoothie

If you are not a fan of milk, you can opt for making a quick smoothie at home by blending your favourite fruits, like bananas, or mixed frozen berries or apples with a cup of natural of frozen yoghurt. You may add ice, sugar or any additional flavourings, like chocolate or a whey protein, as per your liking.

A handful of nuts

This is for those times when you are in a rush and cannot afford time for meal preparation. Simply consume a handful of mixed nuts, like almonds, cashews, walnuts, figs, etc.

Did you now that almonds contain 579 calories per 100 gm? This makes it a rich food for weight gain.

Second meal: Healthy breakfast for weight gain

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a healthy body. It is essential to keep you going throughout the day meeting your energy needs. Here is what you can include in your breakfast:

A bowl of cereals or oats with milk

This will offer you a blend of nutrients, like healthy proteins, carbs and fibres. You can opt for fortified cereals to increase its nutritional value.

Eggs with whole wheat bread or milk

Eat two eggs for breakfast, whether you like an omelette or boiled eggs is your preference. You may include 2 slices of whole wheat bread or a glass of milk to make a complete breakfast. While eggs will provide you with proteins and healthy fats, bread will act as a source of carbohydrates and fibre. It is recommended to eat whole eggs and not separate out the egg yolks since they favour weight gain. If you are a vegetarian, bananas and milk make a good weight gain combination.

Whole wheat bread with butter or cheese

Take two slices of whole wheat bread and spread a generous amount of butter or nut butter, like peanut butter or almond butter on it. Alternatively, you can opt for cheese, cream or a homemade jam if you are not fond of butter.

Have two paranthas

Paranthas are a favourite Indian recipe, which is cooked every day in almost all of the Indian kitchens. Opt for your favourite stuffing and add dollops of ghee or butter to aid fast weight gain.

Third meal for weight gain: midday snack

As already said, increasing calories and opting for more number of meals is favourable for weight gain. So, we recommend you have a midday snack at 2-3 hours post-breakfast before taking a proper lunch. You can choose any of the following foods:

Buttermilk or chaach or lassi

Buttermilk is a good weight gain supplement offering you 40 calories per 100 grams. It is also known to be an appetite stimulant, that is, it will increase hunger and will allow you to eat more food during the day.

Milkshake

You can have a milkshake made with your favourite fruits or flavourings like chocolate or vanilla. You can carry it in a portable shaker and consume it at work or at any place you visit.

Weight gain meal plan: Fourth meal- Lunch

Coming to the first big meal of the day, this can be your ideal plan:

2 rotis with a vegetable, rice, dal or chicken and a salad

This will form a nutritious, balanced meal including all the diet components in a good proportion. The roti you eat must be served with ghee. You may opt for a parantha if you do not like a roti.

For vegetables, you can opt for beans, potatoes, broccoli, kale, which are good for weight gain. A bowl of rice or brown rice is calorie-dense and will assist in the process of weight gain. Instead of plain rice, you can opt for a vegetable or a meat-based biryani.

As a source of protein, a bowl of curd or dal or chicken (if not taken in the form of biryani) can be taken, as per your liking. Chicken or meat will provide you with a good amount of calories. Dal and curd, preferably sweetened curd or greek yoghurt is a good weight gain option.

For a salad, you can opt for carrots, cucumbers, onions and leafy greens. It is recommended to eat lunch around 1 to 2 pm so that you can indulge in a post-meal snack.

Fifth meal of the day: Weight gain snacks

Snacking is an important aspect when it comes to weight gain. It helps to maintain your body functions and provides you with sufficient energy. Following are the snacks some of the effective snacks for weight gain:

A vegetable or chicken sandwich

A whole wheat or multigrain bread sandwich makes the best snack for weight gain offering you the desired calories and nutrition. Plus, it offers an amazing taste. You may choose your favourite vegetables or opt for chicken, as per your dietary preference. Adding mayonnaise, cheese, butter or cream is recommended to aid in weight gain.

Avocado toast or omelette

Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats. It is rich in calories, offering 322 calories in one serving. Avocado will certainly help you in gaining healthy weight. To include this superfood in your diet, you can spread mashed avocado over lightly toasted and buttered bread or you can combine it with an omelette.

Potato wedges

As we all know, potatoes are a rich source of starch and carbohydrates. To enhance weight gain, you may increase its consumption through snacking. This you can do by indulging in potato snacks like baked wedges, homemade chips or mashed potatoes with cream and butter. You can also indulge in a plate of fresh fries.

Indian diet plan for weight gain: Sixth meal- Dinner

Dinner is yet another important meal for the process of weight gain, as opposed to weight loss. Having a filling dinner may aid you in achieving a healthy weight gain.

It is recommended to follow the same diet plan as lunch, opting for different vegetables or meat. Rice can be skipped in dinner.

Instead, fatty fishes like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna or mackerel can be opted for. These are healthy sources of proteins and fats. It is recommended to have dinner at around 8.30 to 9 pm.

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References

  1. Wändell PE, Carlsson AC, Theobald H. The association between BMI value and long-term mortality. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 May;33(5):577-82. PMID: 19238160
  2. Kurpad AV, Varadharajan KS, Aeberli I. The thin-fat phenotype and global metabolic disease risk. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Nov;14(6):542-7. PMID: 21892076
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Calculate Your Body Mass Index
  4. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 12061, Nuts, almonds. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  5. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Healthy Diet
  6. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Healthy Eating Plan