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How can my friend gain weight?

Q: My 18 years old girlfriend weighs only 45 kg. She is a vegetarian but never eats green vegetables; she is not getting proper vitamins and minerals. She is very slim and has an odd figure. She eats only potato and paneer and nothing else. I am afraid that she may lack multivitamins. Please advise.

A:The basic principle of weight gain is simple: She needs to consume more calories than she expends.

  • Eat more calories - The approximate normal daily caloric requirement for an average female, it is 1,900. You need to eat around 1,000 extra calories per day to gain less than half a kilo a week. Eat larger portions and eat at least five meals a day.
  • Make smart choices - For example, choose dairy products, fish and meat over bread. Choose eggs over vegetables. Eat foods with high protein content such as beans, pulses and peas, and foods with high starch content such as potatoes, rice and bananas.
  • Protein is important - Increase your protein intake to include plenty of meat fish eggs, cheese, paneer, etc.
  • Snack a lot - Consume a lot of high-calorie snacks (not junk food) such as cheese sticks, milk shakes, dried fruits, dahi and breakfast bars.
  • Fluids help too - Drink a lot of fluids that supply nutrients and calories; milk, fresh fruit juices and energy drinks.
  • Intensify workouts - You need to exercise really hard and intensely to gain muscle mass.
  • Weights are the way to go - Focus on free weight exercises (which do not require machinery) that target your large muscle groups. For example, you need dumbbells, not fancy gym machines. Free weights put the most stress on muscles and stimulate the maximum number of muscle fibers. The best weight training exercises for building muscle mass are free weight exercises like squats, dead lifts, bench presses, barbell rows, pull ups and bar dips.
  • Space out your workouts - If she has a high basic metabolic rate - which means she spends a lot of energy even at rest - you need short intense workouts instead of long periods of low-stress activity.
  • Be consistent - It might take a long time, usually a few months, for the weight to actually show. Some people get frustrated and quit when they fail to see drastic results. Your body will only respond to a consistent schedule. No weight gain programme will work for you if you are not regular. If she follows these basic principles she does not require any additional supplementation. Try this for three months.

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