These days with the rise in non-communicable diseases, losing weight seems to be on everyone’s mind. However, many people struggle with being underweight or lean. While genetics plays a major role in a person’s physical build and muscle mass, our body is adaptable to change. By increasing food intake and doing regular weight training we can gain weight by building muscle. This kind of weight gain is healthy, rather than the weight gain that comes from fat.
Diet plays an important role in weight gain and the focus should be on food quality rather than quantity. This helps to nourish the body while strengthening bones and muscles. A variety of foods from each food group needs to be included. While aiming for weight gain, it is important to increase portion sizes gradually, this can be done by having an extra chapathi or adding an extra helping of daal at meal times.
Here we share nutrient and calorie dense food choices that will help you gain weight:
Protein: To gain weight, this is a key nutrient that has to be part of your diet. Our muscles are made of protein. Without enough protein, your muscle can not be repaired (after a workout) and built. And while the benefits of protein are important, just eating more protein will not help you gain muscle mass. Exercise and regular weight training needs to be part of your day as well.
Lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken: If you are a non- vegetarian, include these options in your diet at least 2 to 3 times a week. Besides being rich in protein, they also contain iron and zinc which is important for your workout. Make sure they are cooked in a healthy way without too much oil. Meats can be boiled, baked or grilled to ensure that they retain their nutrients while still being healthy.
Fish: Oily fish like mackerel and sardines contain Omega 3 fats, which benefits the brain and heart. 100g of mackerel contains 19g of protein and is an excellent source of Vitamin D, B12. It also contains moderate amounts of iron, Vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium.
Eggs: They contain all the essential amino acids making them a complete protein. Eggs can be added to pancakes, boiled, poached or scrambled and added to your breakfast for a complete meal. Egg whites can be eaten as a healthy pre- work out snack.
Soy: If you are a vegetarian, then soy is a good option! Soy and its products contain complete proteins. Soy beans can be cooked as a sabji, the nuggets/ granules can be added to vegetables or made into a curry. Soy milk can be a healthy post workout recovery option that helps replenish the proteins and fluids lost during exercise. Toss in tofu cubes into a healthy salad and drizzle with olive oil as a dinner option!
Channa and Rajmah: These kitchen staples can be cooked in a variety of ways. They are rich in protein and fiber, which can help in good digestion. Channa and Rajmah can be made into curries or boiled and added to vegetables. They can also be added to salads. Hummus is a channa based dip that contains heart healthy olive oil and lime juice. Use this generously over whole grain bread as a healthy spread, which will also help you gain weight.
Sprouts: Sprouts can be made from green gram, moth beans, channa, rajmah, black gram, horse gram etc. They are again good sources of protein and Vitamin C. Add sprouts to salads, stir fries, healthy chaats, curries and rice for an added boost of protein.
Smoothies and Milkshakes: Dairy products like whole milk, yogurt and curd can be blended with fruits for tasty, healthy and delicious smoothies. You can also add a tsp. of dry milk powder to this to increase the caloric value. Drink lassi and butter milk instead of tea and coffee for an extra boost of protein and calcium.
Cheese and Paneer: Instead of plain vegetable sandwiches, add a slice of cheese or some roasted crumbled paneer to help increase calories. Paneer can be added to salads or eaten along with vegetables. 100 g contains 11 g of protein. It also contains Calcium and B12.
Daals: Include daal and sambhar in your diet at least 3 to 4 times a week. For vegetarians, mix 3 to 4 types of daals for a complete protein. You can use a mix of toor, moong, masoor, channa dal and urad dal. Along with rice and vegetables you can make sure your meal has a variety of amino acids.
Nuts and nut butters: A handful of nuts, like almonds and walnut contain 7 grams of protein along with healthy fats. Since they are calorie dense, just a handful a day can help you gain weight. Nut butter like almond and peanut butter can be used on toast or apple slices for a quick pre or post workout snack. Try making nut butter at home so you can control the type of fat and the amount of salt/ sugar being used. Commercial varieties tend to use large amounts of salt/ sugar which is not healthy.
In addition, it is important to eat every 3 to 4 hours to maintain a constant supply of energy to your body. Avoid skipping meals, eat breakfast every day, exercise regularly and eat healthy! You will be on the right track to gain weight!
With inputs from: