With obesity becoming the biggest health issue these days around the globe, all our attention has been shifting towards various weight loss diet options. But there are also quite a large number of people who are underweight and struggling hard to develop some muscle mass. So today, we will be talking about gaining weight. If you are a skinny Indian beauty and are also dying to get plump, we have got you covered. Here is everything you should know about a healthy Indian diet plan for weight gain.
Standard Body Weight Measurement
Though your beauty is not defined by your figure or body weight, being underweight can turn out to be really frustrating at times. Hence, it is important to develop a clear idea about the medically approved healthy body weight range before starting the weight gain journey. Well, the standard body weight of an adult is typically determined by the BMI (body mass index) of the individual. You can figure out your BMI by dividing your current body weight by your height. A healthy weight range is denoted by a BMI that falls between 18.6 kg/sqm and 24.9 kg/sqm. But when the body weight drops to 47-50 kg (15-20% below the ideal weight), the BMI goes below 18.5 and the person is defined as ‘underweight’. A reduction in body weight also causes a significant reduction in BMI. (1)
The ideal height and body weight of an adult female (25 to 50 years of age) are 1.68 meters and 59 kgs. respectively while her standard BMI (Body Mass Index) should be 20.90 kg/sqm.
Health Issues Caused By Low Body Weight
When the body weight falls below the standard measurement, we start experiencing a number of health problems. It all starts with weak immunity, which makes us vulnerable to minor infections like cold and flu to major diseases, such as cancer. Being underweight also causes dizziness, headache, fatigue, hormonal imbalance, anemia, irregular menstrual cycles, miscarriage, infertility, complicated pregnancy, premature birth, osteoporosis, low bone density, slow or impaired growth, poor dental health, thinning skin, dry skin, hair loss, and so on (2).
Know Why You Are Underweight
Before you modify your meal plan, understand the potential physical and psychological reasons lying behind the fact of being underweight. Whether you have experienced a drastic weight loss suddenly or your body is naturally unable to gain weight, the reasons can be varied. Some of the most common factors that inhibit the natural weight development process of the body are mentioned below:
1. Eating Disorders
You might have no clue that you actually have been undergoing one or more eating disorders (3) like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, food phobia, body image disorder, binge eating, etc. Anorexia is the fear of getting overweight, which makes the person eat too less or even starve sometimes. On the other hand, in bulimia, the person eats too much and then, vomit it out. If you have a phobia about food, you will refuse a large number of eatables while the body image disorder will give you a distorted view of your body and encourage you to work out excessively. All these have a negative impact on your body weight.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies
When you suffer from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, your body lacks the adequate supply of essential nutrients including vital vitamins and minerals. It prevents the development of muscle mass and makes you underweight (4).
3. Enzyme Deficiencies
Sometimes the inner wall of your stomach does not secrete sufficient digestive enzymes (5). This interrupts the process of digestion in the body and averts the cells from absorbing essential nutrients. As a result, you lose weight.
Being the ‘orchestra’ of the body, the thyroxine hormone influences the bodily metabolism (6) and regulates the body weight. When the thyroid gland does not function properly, the levels of thyroxine become abnormal and you end up losing weight.
5. Kidney Diseases
Frequent urination is a common symptom of all kinds of kidney diseases, which also comes associated with nausea, vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite, and fever. This reduces your food intake and triggers weight loss eventually.
If you suffer from tuberculosis, the chances are high that your body weight will go down drastically.
The influence of your genetic factors can impede you from gaining weight despite repeated attempts and efforts.
Poor mental health including depression, stress, and anxiety can also lead to a severe loss of weight.
Gaining healthy body weight is not as easy as losing excess body weight. So, finding the real reasons of being underweight and staying disciplined with a healthy meal plan are essential for enjoying the optimal results.
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A Healthy Indian Diet Plan For Weight Gain (With Multiple Choices)
A proper weight gain diet should be a combination of lots of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Here is the ultimate weight gain diet plan chalked out by experts for Indian people that would help them look plumper and that too in a healthy way:
A) For Early Morning Snack (Before Breakfast) (5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.):
- 1 glass milk with 2 teaspoons of skimmed milk powder, 2 whole ripe bananas, and 5 to 10 pieces of overnight soaked almonds with peel, or,
- 1 cup of tea or cappuccino loaded with sugar and full-fat milk, white portions of 2 eggs, and 6 to 7 pieces of overnight soaked almonds with peel, or,
- (1/2) a bowl of dalia (without sugar), a handful of sprouted black grams, and 5 to 10 pieces of overnight soaked almond with peel
B) For Breakfast (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.):
- 6 slices of omelet toasted bread (use 2 eggs for this), or,
- 2 pieces of multigrain bread with butter (low-fat), and 1 egg omelet, or,
- 3 to 4 slices of whole wheat bread toast with peanut butter, 3 egg whites, and 1 full egg omelet, or,
- 1 to 2 slices of toasted bread with white butter and 1 to 2 bananas, or,
- 1 to 2 vegetable cheese sandwiches and 1 glass of non-fat milk, or,
- 2 to 3 fresh seasonal fruits (as per your choice), and 1 glass full of fresh fruit juice, or,
- 1 large bowl of oats/wheat bran/corn flakes (add fruits if you wish), 1 chicken breast, and 1 glass full of banana milkshake, or,
- 1 bowl of oatmeal with a few almonds and walnuts, 1 banana, and 1 cup of low-fat milk with a scoop of whey protein, or,
- 1 full plate of upma/daliya khichdi/poha cooked with plenty of colorful vegetables, or,
- 2 mung dal chilla stuffed with paneer, or,
- 2 plain chapattis and 1 small bowl of vegetables, or,
- 2 stuffed (preferably with vegetables) paratha with white butter and 1 cup of plain curd (made from non-fat milk), or,
- 2 masala dosa, 2 cups of sambar, and 1 spoon of chutney
Instead of your morning tea, sip 1-2 glasses of banana shakes.
C) For Mid-Morning Snack (After Breakfast) (10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.):
- 1 fresh whole seasonal fruit (of your choice) and 1 glass of buttermilk/plain lassi/coconut water, or,
- A handful of roasted almonds/soybeans, 3 to 4 pieces of dry-fruit chikki/groundnut chikki and 1 glass of plain lassi, or,
- 1 glass of full-fat milk with 3 to 4 tablespoons of any good health drink added to it, or,
- 1 cup of green tea, 2 to 3 multi-grain biscuits, and 1 fresh fruit (apple or orange), or,
- 1 glass of fresh juice and 1 plate of salad with 2 boiled potatoes
D) For Lunch (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.):
- 2 small bowls of plain rice, 2 medium-sized chapattis with ghee, 1 small bowl of legumes / dal (mung, chana, masoor or soybean), 2 small bowls of wet vegetable curry (as per your choice), 2 medium-sized pieces of chicken/fish, 1 plate of green salad and 1 small bowl of sweet curd/raita, or,
- 1 small bowl of pulav/biriyani (non-veg), 1 small bowl of egg/paneer, 1 small bowl of vegetables (as per your choice) and 1 medium-sized bowl of chicken soup/sprout salad, or,
- 1 small bowl of brown rice/2 whole wheat chapattis, 1 small bowl of mixed vegetables, 1 medium-sized piece of chicken breast/fish, 1 plate of salad, and 1 small bowl of green chutney
E) For Afternoon / Evening Snack (4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.):
- 1 cup coffee/tea and 4 cookies, or,
- 1 glass banana shake and 2 biscuits, or,
- 1 fresh seasonal fruit and a few nuts, or,
- 1 cup of green tea and a small bowl of mixed sprout salad
F) For Mid Evening Snack (Pre-Dinner) (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.):
- 1 grilled sandwich and 3 to 4 pieces of dry-fruit chikki or groundnut chikki, or,
- 1 whole wheat bread sandwich with steamed chicken/3 egg whites, or,
- A handful of roasted chana/almonds/soybeans and 1 small bowl of upma/bhelpuri, or,
- 1 medium-sized bowl of vegetable/chicken soup (with butter) and 1 veg sandwich with mayonnaise or extra cheese, or,
- 1 glass of fruit juice/milkshake and 1 to 2 bananas/boiled potatoes, or,
- 1 cup of low-fat yogurt and 1 fresh seasonal fruit (as per your choice), or,
- 1 cup of low-fat milk with a scoop of whey protein
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G) For Dinner (8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.):
- 3 medium-sized chapattis with ghee, 1 small bowl of legumes/dal (moong, chana, masoor or soybean), 1 small bowl of dry vegetable curry (as per your choice), 1 small bowl of chicken/fish, and 1 small bowl of curd/any other sweet dish, or,
- 1 small bowl of brown rice/2 whole wheat chapattis, 1 small bowl of stir-fried vegetables with baked potato, and 1 small piece of lean chicken/fish
H) For Late Night Snack (Bedtime) (10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.):
- 1 glass full of warm milk with 1 teaspoon of raw honey and a pinch of turmeric added to it, or,
- 1 cup of skimmed milk with nuts, or,
- (1/2) a glass of skimmed milk with 1 to 2 teaspoons of whey protein
The diet plan and the portion sizes should vary based on the gender, age, body, and calorie requirement of an individual. Also, it must be altered according to the timing of the workout schedule of the person.
Expert Tips To Gain Weight Fast
While following the diet chart, try to follow these expert tips too as it will help you reach your goal successfully just within a few months.
1. Add More Calories
Increase your calorie intake by adding high-calorie nutritious items to your diet. These include cereals, rice, bread, pulses, nuts, olive oil, dry fruits, banana, avocado, veggies, a healthy portion of red meat, full-fat dairy, etc (7).
2. Focus On Proteins
Make sure that each of your meals has the right amount of protein. Lean meat, chicken breast (skinless), fish (mackerel, tuna), egg, dairy (milk, yogurt), tofu, legumes, sprouted beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, etc.can help you build muscle mass.
3. Get Healthy Fats
Get your daily doses of healthy fats that will also provide you omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Opt for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from salmon, leafy vegetables, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, seeds, nuts, etc.
Include 5-6 meals in your daily diet plan. Rely on high-calorie smoothies or shakes.
4. Ditch Packaged Foods
Try to avoid tinned and packaged food items as much as possible. Steer clear of cereal bars, processed food, and fast food even though they come with tons of calories.
6. Eat Six Meals A Day
You should eat frequently by increasing the number of meals per day. Instead of taking 3 meals a day, have a total of 6 meals including 3 big and 3 small. Your breakfast, lunch, and dinner must be heavy, nutrient-dense, and rich in calories.
7. Workout Regularly
Develop a solid exercise routine to address your underweight issue in a more comprehensive way. Strength training can help you gain lean muscle mass easily.
8. Keep Stress Away
9. Improve Your Sleep
Ensure that you get at least 8 hours of sound sleep every day to give your body enough rest and enable it to function properly.
10. Keep A Food Journal
Maintain a food journal in order to keep a track of your eating habits, daily calorie intake, and changing body weight. This will help you stay motivated throughout the journey.
11. Drink Enough Water
Do not forget to consume at least 10-12 glasses of water every day as this is essential for maintaining healthy body weight.
Weight gain goal should always be limited to 1.8 kg. a month as anything more than that will be temporary and harmful as well.
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A successful weight gain program can be managed by including a combination of carbs, proteins and healthy fats. It is always recommended to include 300-500 calories more in your diet plan. Consult a dietician or doctor before enrolling in a weight gain program.
Weight Gain Supplements Vs Indian Diet Plan?
Weight Gain Supplements or Protein Powders have gained enormous popularity in the market. These supplements are loaded with carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals and typically added to water or regular shakes. Although most of these Supplements claim to add mass and weight within a short span of time, it is worth considering the side-effects associated with these supplements. When consumed beyond the recommended limit, it may lead to accumulation of bad fats which may cause serious health issues. It may also lead to muscle pull, allergic reaction, kidney ailments and breathing problems. Before embracing any commercial Weight Gain Supplements, talk to your dietician or doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Many Calories To Eat For Gaining Weight?
This should be determined by your BMI. Typically, you need to increase your calorie intake up to 500 for gaining more body weight. Also, make sure to tweak your calorie intake based on your workout schedule and intensity.
Is Eating Non-Veg Essential good enough for Weight Gain?
Not at all. There are many vegetarian foods that are much healthier and more nutritious than non-vegetarian items in terms of gaining weight. Please look into the diet chart to find the most suitable veg options for yourself.
How Long Does It Take To Gain Weight?
Gaining weight is not an overnight affair. You should be patient and wait for at least 3 months to see visible outcomes.
- “Assessing Your Weight“; CDC.gov
- “What Are The Risks Of Being Underweight?“; MedicalNewsToday.com
- “6 Common Types of Eating Disorders”; healthline.com
- “Underweight adults”; nhs.uk
- “Underweight, the Less Discussed Type of Unhealthy Weight and Its Implications: A Review”; researchgate.net
- “Metabolic Hormone”; sciencedirect.com
- “The 18 Best Healthy Foods to Gain Weight Fast”; healthline.com