Being underweight is just as unhealthy as being obese.
It means a body mass less than needed to sustain optimal health. In other words, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of <18.5. As per the WHO BMI Classification, the normal range of BMI for Indians is 18.5-22.9.
This blog outlines simple strategies for fast and effective weight gain.
Basic principles are as follows:-
Create a positive energy balance:-It goes without saying that you have to eat more calories than you burn. Supposedly, if you eat an additional 500 Kcal more per day, then you could increase 1/2 to 1 kg per week. Although, gradually you can increase the calorie intake up to 1000 Kcal per day.
Increase the intake of Macronutrients
(a)Importance of Carbohydrates:-Both simple and complex type of carbohydrates help you gain weight. Although, more of complex carbohydrates be it high starch or high fibre should be the preferred source.
(b)Proteins Form the Building Blocks:-You should eat at least 0.8 to 1 gm of protein per body weight, it is required to gain muscle weight instead of just fat!
(C)Include Good Fats:-1 gm of fat provides you with 9 kcal! Include a moderate amount of nut-based butter, olive oil, seed based cold pressed oils, coconut and coconut milk, and avocados. Also, limit your intake from saturated sources like dairy-based butter, meat, ice creams, bakery goods, etc.
How to boost your calorie intake?
- Eat energy concentrated foods
- Eat more portions of meals
- Addition of extra snacks and bedtime meal
- Including nutritious beverages is a good and easy option
Energy and Nutrient Compact Meal ideas
- Semolina-oats-curd based pancakes. You can also mix the unflavoured protein powder in the batter
- Prefer dense slices of bread like sprouted wheat, multigrain, honey bran, etc. You can stuff lean protein options like paneer, low-fat cheese, chicken, eggs, etc.
- Prefer having whole eggs, but do not include more than two yolks in a day.
- Breakfast cereals like muesli, granola topped with nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Have it with milk instead of water.
- Pasta with low-fat cheese and lean chicken.
- Add Peanut butter/almond butter/nuts in milkshakes or you can even add milk powder to increase the calories.
- Making lentil based sandwich spreads like hummus are excellent sources of protein and carbohydrates.
- Guacamole dip or spread with whole wheat pitta/dense bread.
- Prefer adding protein powder supplements with higher calories (low or no sugar), into your milk/curd.
- Use of good quality gainers.
- Include full-fat yoghurts over greek yoghurts and top up with nuts and fruits.
- Salads:-Potatoes and starchy salads like corn-peas, sweet potato and some generous amount of virgin olive oil.
- Legume and nut-based salads like black-eyed beans, red beans, black channa with hung curd dressing, walnuts, pine nuts, etc., rather than leafy salads.
- Include buckwheat, soybean, whole wheat and corn flour to make chapatis (Indian bread).
- Prefer nut-cereal based granola bars with less sugar
- Include fatty fish to get your dose of omega-3 or include fish oil capsules.
Few More High-calorie Suggestions
- Fruit Juices:-Prefer cranberry, grape, pineapple and apricot juices over grapefruit, orange or vegetable juices.
- Include fruits like Bananas and some sweet fruits like custard apple, pineapple, mangoes.
- Dried fruits: raisins, dates, figs, prunes, dried apricots.
- Nuts: peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds.
- Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn, carrots, beets have more calories than broccoli, zucchini, beans and cucumbers.
- Soups: Black bean, lentil, barley or minestrone soups as they have more calories than vegetable or chicken broth soups.
- Drizzle maple syrup over pancakes.
- A glass of milk before bed.
The above-discussed foods are for a healthy individual without any existing medical condition. Although, in case of any concern, please refer to a nutrition expert.
Foods to be avoided
Never include processed foods like refined flours, high sugar-based drinks or beverages or fried bakery items, foods with high saturated fats like pastries, ice creams, etc.
Lift Weights and do Strength training - Make sure to include a moderate amount of physical activity in your routine to bulk up your muscles rather than growing fat.
To summarise, there are many medical conditions which can cause unhealthy weight loss or one could be just genetically underweight. You can gain back on health under an expert’s advice along with consistent efforts!
- Sharma. S. et al. (2016).An Epidemiological Study of Overweight and Obesity Among Women in an Urban Area of North India.Indian Journal of Community MedicineDOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.173492 .
- Clark. Nancy.How to gain weight healthfully. Sports Nutrition. SportsMedicine Brookline, Brookline, MA 02167.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Eat Right. Weight Gain/High-Calorie Meal Plan for Athletes