What strikes you when we talk about weight gain? Well, while much associate weight gain with any kind of increase in body weight, gaining weight has a lot of complex dynamics linked with it, other than the well-known concept of exceeding one’s calorie quota per day. If you’re trying to gain weight, we’re pretty sure that you don’t want to pile up random patches of flab across your body. So, you are mostly looking to build muscle mass, and not FAT! And the key to gaining weight lies in chasing high protein foods judiciously.
No matter how skewed the concept of gaining mass appears to common folk, inculcating a diet high in protein and healthy fats, along with resistance exercises is almost certain to help you gain a healthy weight.
The Science & Approach behind Healthy Weight Gain
A plant-based diet, in comparison to popular animal-based (non-vegetarian) diets, essentially reduces one’s risk of developing many common lifestyle diseases of today, such as obesity, CVD (Cardiovascular Diseases), Diabetes, and also a few kinds of cancer.
Therefore, if you want to gain weight with a plant-based diet, you need to increase your calorie input. This lets you consume more energy than you burn.
Most nutritionists recommend the consumption of about an extra 500 calories per day. It is also important to mind how many calories you tend to burn per day with exercise to keep track of the calorie intake. It is equally imperative to procure those extra calories from different food groups, of which proteins & fats are quite necessary.
So, let’s list some underrated high protein foods which are great for gaining weight.
Millets are a power pack of nutrients & irrespective of how calorie-efficient most of these are, their richness in protein is often commercially underestimated.
Some millets that are excellent for their protein content are the likes of Buckwheat, Sorghum & Amaranth. From the Indian context of cooking, consuming traditional khichdi, porridge, or flatbreads (Rotis) made either from their grains or flour can contribute effectively to your daily quota of protein.
Plus, another way you can enhance your nutrition is by making millet sourdough bread. The addition of millets to sourdoughs renders a subtly sweet yet characteristic millet flavor to the bread & the presence of good bacteria improves gut health, as well. Millets are versatile and their flakes or idlis too are healthy and delicious.
Nut butter, such as those Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, etc are tailor-made foods for those trying to gain weight. They are not just protein-rich, but are irresistibly tasty, satiating, and contain good amounts of healthy fats; provided you source them rightly. Store-bought nut butter is usually loaded with hydrogenated oils, sugar & preservatives, which do more harm to your weight gain efforts than any good.
Dried goodies like raisins & berries are a bounty full of antioxidants, natural sugar, proteins & healthy calories. You can enjoy them, every day, moderately in more than just a stingy bowl. Add them to your smoothies, overnight oats, or milkshakes.
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds contain around 9 gm of protein. You can use them as a garnish over your favorite soups or simply roast them with some plain salt or oregano.
Just like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds are also great to boost your protein intake. 2 tbsp of sesame seeds contains approximately 4.5gm of protein.
Try making Tahini sauce or Hummus from these amazing seeds, or use them to sprinkle them over your baked food.
Chia seeds are popularly regarded as an ideal replacement for eggs, especially if you are vegan or a vegetarian. And that’s precisely why they are used in baking cakes and brownies. A lot of people today prefer adding them as an active ingredient while making homemade jam.
2 tbsp of Chia seeds contain about 4.4g of Protein.
From the Indian premise, Tofu is popularly being considered as a great replacement for the dairy-based Paneer. Besides, Tofu boasts of a better profile of amino acids than other common protein-rich foods. It is also one of the only plant foods to contain all 9 essential amino acids, which our body cannot produce independently.
A cup of cooked green peas has about 9 g of Protein.
According to a study, pea protein combined with resistance training led to a greater increase in muscle thickness after 12 weeks, as compared to a situation with only training. Interestingly, these results were more obvious in people starting their training & compared to another group that consumed Whey Protein for their protein supplement.
Pulses like lentils, chickpea & types of beans, provide an appreciable amount of protein that helps build muscle weight. Pulses also help you maintain high energy levels throughout the day since they contain slow-releasing carbs & fiber.
Amidst today’s maddening blast of supplement marketing in the fitness industry, you need to research the basics well & decide what you would hop on before you make changes to your diet. Ensure that your diet is sustainable, inexpensive & devoid of any side effects. That’s because nature already has solutions to all your problems. And they’re mostly LOCAL!