Dietary considerations for Weight Gain

Weight has always been an issue for most of us. Some are tired of following various diets to shed some pounds while some are fed up of being skinny and underweight. Just as losing excess weight is difficult, in the same way gaining a few kilos is also a difficult task. There is a lot of research for obesity and also a lot of diet plans have come up for weight loss.  The topic of underweight and weight gain is still an issue less probed into. A lot of medical problems like hyperthyroidism, type 1 diabetes, chronic fevers, improper digestion, psychological problems like anorexia etc. can be the reason for being underweight. These problems can be overcome by dietary modifications, a proper exercise regime, regular health checkups and positive affirmations.  

A person with BMI (Body Mass Index) < 18.5 is considered underweight. The best solution to a steady and permanent weight gain is to eat more calories than what your body needs.  Increasing your intake by 500 calories in a day will be good enough.

Dietary recommendations for Weight Gain

  • High Protein Intake (1.5 – 2 gms/kg body weight) Refer following blog posts for high protein foods for Vegetarian ( & Non Vegetarians (
  • Moderate Fat (whole milk, cheese, butter, ghee, nuts)
  • High Carbohydrates (cereals, fruits, pulses, roots and tubers)
  • Include all the foods from the food pyramid and ensure that your body gets all the required nutrient

Foods recommended for a healthy weight gain

  • Whole cereals and their products like whole-wheat flour, Dalia, oats, semolina, and unpolished rice
  • Breakfast cereals like cornflakes, wheat flakes, and muesli
  • Roots and tubers like potatoes, tapioca, sweet potato, carrots and beetroots
  • Pulses and legumes are high in protein and are a much-needed ingredient in weight gain
  • Whole Milk and its products like butter, cheese, curd, as these are good source of protein, carbohydrates and calcium
  • Whole eggs, as they are rich in protein as well as vitamins like A, D, E
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashew nuts) and Dry fruits (raisins, dates, prunes)
  • Fruits like Bananas, chickoo (sapota), grapes, pomegranate, mango are good
  • Chicken and fish are very good sources of protein
  • Red Meat (mutton, pork) and organ meats (liver, brain) are rich source of iron
  • Drink a lot of water to keep your body well hydrated but avoid it along with your meals. If you do so, you’ll end up eating less

Breakfast ideas when on a weight gain plan

  • Peanut butter Sandwich
  • Whole Egg (Boiled, Scrambled, French toast, omelets) with brown bread slices
  • Oats porridge/Dalia/Nacchani (Ragi) porridge
  • Stuffed Roti (Potato/Cheese/Cauliflower) with curd
  • Iddli/Stuffed Dosa (paneer/potato) with coconut chutney and sambhar
  • Besan chilla with sauce/chutney
  • Poori,  chana/ potato subzi
  • Cornflakes/ wheat flakes with milk and nuts

Include a glass of Milk shake (banana/ mango/chikoo) or hot milk or fresh fruit juice and a few nuts in your breakfast.

Snacking ideas

  • Corn- popcorn, boiled corn
  • Home made snacks (Bajjiya and Pakoras)
  • Muffins
  • Roasted Chana
  • Sprouts
  • Boiled Soyabean
  • Assorted Nuts and dried fruits
  • Roasted lotus seeds
  • Tofu or Paneer cubes
  • Vegetable soups with cream
  • Chocolate or peanut bar
  • Cheese slices

Lunch and dinner options

  • Roti/ rice along with vegetable preparation (Potato/Colacasia/yam, carrot, peas) and Dal (Rajma, Chana, Black dal, Moong)/Chicken/Mutton/Fish
  • Avoid salads along with your meals
  • Include a bowl of fresh curd
  • Add ghee/ cream/ cheese/ butter to your food to make it calorie dense
  • You can include homemade chutney/ pickles

Having a bedtime snack like a glass of hot milk along with a handful of nuts is helpful. This will also help with your sleep.

General Tips

  • Always eat in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy your food in a good mood
  • Eat your meals mindfully (being aware of your body needs, the flavor, taste, texture of the food your are eating)
  • Have a feeling of gratitude for the food that you eat and also give yourself positive affirmations that the food you are eating will help you attain your goal
  • Keep a daily record of how much you eat and how much you burn if you’re weight training
  • Keep a track of your weight gain; be patient with the results
  • Choose from a wide range of foods from the food pyramid
  • Avoid intake of beverages such as coffee and tea immediately after meals, as this hinders the absorption of minerals like iron
  • Follow a good routine of exercise; it is advisable to talk to your personal trainer regarding your weight gain goals
  • A good nights sleep of 7-8 hours is highly recommended for a healthy weight gain

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