While obesity has become a serious health issue, we must not forget a reasonable percent of the population who are underweight. If a person is overweight there is a lot of hue and cry to reduce the excess weight but if a person is underweight, people are not very worried. Instead people think an underweight person to be lucky as he/she can eat anything, which is a completely a wrong notion. Underweight is a condition where in the body weight is 10 -20 % less than the average expected for one’s height.
An Underweight individual can face one or more of these problems
It results in decreased work efficiency and a lower productivity.
Underweight people are more prone to diseases as there is lowered resistance to infections
Underweight during pregnancy increases the risk of complications and may also lead to the baby being underweight or may also increase the risk of mortality
Undernourished children have lowered resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments like diarrheal disease and respiratory infection.
There can be lot of reasons for being underweight. A person who has a higher metabolic rate compared to others (metabolic rate is the amount of energy spent at rest or energy utilized by organs in body for their functioning) would lose more calories on an average as compared to person with low metabolic rate. Dietary habits of a person also can be a cause for being underweight e.g if a person engaged in sport like Soccer consumes food which is low in energy and quantity, ends up being underweight. Certain other factors also include Pathological conditions like fevers, cancer, tuberculosis in which appetite is poor and energy needs are greatly increased.
Whatever may be the risk factor, the best way to gain the ideal weight is by following a well balanced diet with some amount of exercise. To gain weight does not mean that a person has to eat high fat food to become fat but weight gain in terms of muscles and tissues is the ideal and the right way. So it is necessary to include proteins, carbohydrates, fat and fiber in all the meals that you consume. Certain tips to gain weight are as follows:
Starting with breakfast which is the most important meal of the day. Never skip your breakfast. Good options are include cereals like oats with milk and dried fruits or egg (either boiled or in the form of omelet) with toast, cornflakes with milk or stuffed parathas with curd or idli/dosa with vegetable curry or vegetable sambar. Only fruit juice or only bread toast is not balanced and will not give enough energy and proteins to sustain for the day.
Both lunch and dinner should be balanced by including cereals like rice, chapathi with a vegetable source like sabji, pulses like plain dhal/ veg sambar or curries like Rajma, chickpea accompanied with curds/buttermilk and vegetable salads which includes sprouts as well.
For a non-vegetarian, egg, chicken and fish are a very good option to increase the protein content of the diet. Along with three main meals, include healthy snacks in between, fresh fruits like banana and also dried fruits like walnuts, raisins, cashews, you can also include sandwiches, fresh fruit juices, milkshakes, soups and so on.
Also insure that you drink around 8-10 glasses of water everyday to keep you well hydrated and also help to stimulate your appetite. Please remember that changes in the diet should be gradual, if you are not used to having snacks in – between, start with a small amount and slowly increase the quantity of food at each meal. Along with diet it is also required to include exercise for at least 20min everyday which will help to stimulate the appetite and also help to build up the muscle mass or help to tone the muscles.
Remember, changes in weight and body shape take time. Be consistent and regular with your diet and exercise plan and this will definitely help you to reach your goal. If you are underweight consult a doctor and dietician before you go for any weight gain programme. If you want more personalised dietary advice from a dietician on gaining weight you can chat with us online and get more tips.
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