sattu for weight gain and growing muscle
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Who are you? Are you a youngster dreaming of getting a muscular body while pursuing your study or 9-5 office job? Are you an aspiring athlete or a bodybuilder? I know, a question as an answer to a question is not desirable. But these questions are extremely relevant to guide you with a correct, scientific answer.
Sattu (roasted Bengal gram flour) is highly nutritious. It contains good quality and quantity of protein compared to other plant-based proteins. If you are a normal office goer or a student wish to get a healthy body with lean muscle, sattu can help you when coupled with a good exercise routine.

sattu for weight gain and growing muscle 1

Sattu can help to weight gain and build muscle – the real-life experiences

Let’s look at 2 real-life examples to understand the power of sattu –

Focus on the physical structure of heavy workers. I mean cart puller, porter, construction labors, etc. Have you noticed their thin yet strong structure with lean muscle?
In India sattu is considered as “poor man’s food”. We often get to see/know these heavy workers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh or West Bengal consuming sattu regularly. Considering a monthly budget of a poor family in India, animal proteins like egg, fish or chicken are way too expensive for adequate regular consumption. However, sattu is affordable and manage to meet a large percentage of their daily protein requirement. Sattu helps to keep them energetic, full for a long time as well as help in developing lean muscle.

Traditionally, sattu had been an integral part of a diet for people who used to workouts in “akharas” – the so-called gym back then. The morning rituals of having gur-chana (jaggery with Bengal gram) or a fistful of sprouted chana- badam (Bengal gram and peanut) or sattu ka sharbat (sattu water) used to be common among bodybuilders.

These two situations indicate the desired change sattu may bring to your health when consumed along with proper exercise.

Why is sattu a good choice for weight gain and building muscle?

Muscle does not grow overnight. It’s not like a 100-meter race but a marathon that you are signing for. Therefore you need to focus on 4 aspects while choosing food for your diet for developing muscle.

  1. Protein quantity in the food
  2. Protein quality in the food
  3. Availability of the food
  4. Cost of the food

Bengal gram sattu is a perfect balance of all four.

Bengal gram (Cicer arietinum) comes under the pulse category. Bengal gram sattu is rich in protein. 100 g of roasted Bengal gram contains 22.5 g of protein. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition. (1)

Considering a plant-based protein, it has a high biological value of 74. Biological value is one of the indicators to assess the quality of protein. BV refers to how readily the digested protein gets utilized for protein synthesis in our body. It’s needless to say higher the number better the quality. (2)

Having a good balance in quantity as well as in quality, Bengal gram sattu is a good choice for long term goals like muscle building and weight gain. It is available in the market throughout the year and 500g of Bengal gram sattu costs around 60-70 Rs/- which makes it affordable for many.

Graph 1: Comparison of protein content (quantity) with biological value (quality) of Bengal gram along with few other foods

Reference- Nutritive value of Indian foods, NIN, 2016

But…Bengal gram sattu is not a complete protein – then?

Proteins are made up of amino acids. We have two types – essential and non-essential amino acids in our body. Essential amino acids are crucial for regular body function but our body can not produce them. We need to get them from the daily diet. Therefore when a food contains all nine essential amino acids in good proportion called a complete protein.

Pulses are generally lacked in methionine and cystine. Whereas Cereal lack in lysine. But mixing both incomplete proteins ultimately gives a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids in a satisfactory amount. (3, 4, 5, 6)

Bengal gram sattu is not an exception. It contains all the essential amino acids in appreciable amount except two sulfur-containing amino acids – Methionine and Cystine. Therefore having a cereal along with sattu in a 2: 1 ratio easily makes the combination a complete protein. (7, 8)

You may think of adding wheat/barley flour along with Bengal gram sattu to get the best protein benefit.

Bengal gram sattu for weight gain and growing muscle

Table 1: Comparison of essential amino acids profile of Bengal gram with other food

Essential Amino Acids mg per g N Bengal gram Green gram Wheat Barley Milk
Egg (Hen)
Arginine 570 500 290 300 220 400
Histidine 160 170 130 180 170 150
Lysine 440 460 170 230 500 440
Tryptophan 050 060 070 100 090 090
Phenylalanine 360 350 280 310 320 360
Tyrosine 180 100 180 180 300 250
Methionine 080 080 090 100 160 210
Cystine 080 060 140 100 050 140
Threonine 220 200 180 200 20 320
Leucine 580 510 410 420 600 520
Isoleucine 320 350 220 240 340 410
Valine 310 320 280 310 400 450

Reference- Nutritive value of Indian foods, NIN, 2016

Sattu contains less protein compared to animal protein or whey protein. Then why sattu?

Yes, sattu indeed contains much less amount of protein compared to animal or whey protein. Whey protein contains more than 3 times higher protein than Bengal gram sattu.

Table 3: Comparison of the nutritive value of Bengal gram sattu with animal and commercial whey protein

(per 100 g)
Bengal gram (Roasted) Milk (Cows) Egg (Hen) Commercial Whey protein
Energy (Kcal) 369 67 173 390
Protein (g) 22.5 3.2 13.3 78.9
Carbohydrate (g) 58.1 4.4 9.9
Fat (g) 5.2 4.1 13.3 3.3
Fibre (g) 1.0

Reference- Nutritive value of Indian foods, NIN, 2016

But please note, no matter how much protein a portion of food contains if your body is unable to utilize it, the food is in vain. Don’t but a bulky jar of whey protein just because you have enrolled in a gym or thinking of developing lean muscle.

Whey protein is a concentrated form of protein. It’s not like the health drink your mum gave during your school days. Only taking supplements will not help you. You have to exercise hard to utilize the protein in your body. You can’t afford to miss training for a busy schedule or lethargy and keep taking the supplement. Remember doing this may lead to serious health issues in the future.(14, 15)

If you are a regular office goer/ student, wish to stay fit by developing lean muscle, you don’t need supplements. You need protein-rich foods like sattu which is safe and will provide overall nutrition. (12, 13)

Don’t follow athletes/models/ bodybuilders or your favorite actor’s diet when you can’t train or rest like them. It’s their job to look a certain way and they have a complete dedicated team to help them. They use protein supplements because they undergo extensive training. (9, 10, 11)

sattu for weight gain and growing muscle- protein supplement or sattu

But sattu create gas/ acidity/ indigestion, what to do?

If you suffer from gas/indigestion or acidity, it indicates you have a weak digestive capacity. So stop blaming sattu and focus on improving your digestion.

Avoid taking all types of refined sugar, refined flour, refined oil –which are abundantly present in all packaged and processed food (eg- soft drinks, ice-cream, biscuits, instant oats/noodles/pasta/fruit juice/ popcorn/soup, readymade snacks, cornflakes, muesli, commercial baked products etc).

Start taking natural probiotic and prebiotic for improving gut health. Include some traditional homemade fermented preparation in the daily diet – curd, idli, dosa, pickle, kanji, Panta bhat, etc.
Lastly, try to make your sattu at home. Don’t panic. It’s not too time-consuming or requires any cooking skills.

The recipe –

• All you need to do is soak raw Bengal gram and barley/ wheat (in 1:2 ratio) overnight and allow them to germinate (sprout).
• Drain the excess water, wash with some freshwater and let it dry.
• Once dried, roast them in a hot simple pan for 10-15 minutes on a medium to low temperature/flame until they get completely dried.
• Allow them to cool down and then grind to make flour using a grinder.
• Sieve the flour to remove the seed coat or bigger coarse particles.
• Store in an airtight dry clean jar for future use.

Benefits of this recipe –

• Soaking, germination and roasting help to make sattu nutrition more available to your body.
• Complex nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals) split into a simpler version and get utilized in the body much faster.
• Mixing sattu with cereal (in 1:2 ratio) improves the protein quality becomes a complete protein.
• Antinutritional factors that may create bloating /acidity or, hamper mineral absorption (iron, calcium, zinc) get removed by soaking, germination, and roasting. (16, 17, 18, 20)

How to take sattu? How about pre/post-workout drink/meal?

You can have sattu the way you want. Feel free to make a porridge adding milk, banana, nuts, and seeds. You may add the sattu flour to your regular wheat flour and make roti. If want to keep it simple, add with water/milk and have it. You can add the tastemaker like jaggery/ lemon or spices as per your taste.

Sattu contains fiber. It takes time to get digested and absorbed in the body. Post-workout you need nutrient in the readily absorbable form which gets absorbed easily in your body. Therefore sattu may not be a good choice if you are particular about your post-workout drink. You can try taking raw beetroot juice instead for better blood circulation and recovery. But you can take 2 scoops of sattu as pre-workout drink adding with water for better energy during your training schedule.

sattu for weight gain and growing muscle- is protein supplement necessary

How much of sattu is enough for weight gain and muscle development?

You cannot bank on one food item. Sattu should be a part of your daily diet along with other pulses, nuts, seeds, milk, and other protein-rich foods. Take 30 -40 g of sattu in a day depending on your digestion capacity. Note that since you want to gain weight you cannot eat anything and get away with it. Your daily calories should come from wholesome nutritious foods not from food with empty calories.

Is it only sattu enough for weight gain and muscle building?

As mentioned earlier, you can never rely on a particular food to fulfill your wish. It always demands a combination of a good clean diet, planned exercise routine, enough rest n sleep and lower mental stress to achieve a well-built body.
You must stay conscious of what you are feeding your system. Since you want to gain weight you cannot eat anything and everything. Your daily calories should come from wholesome nutritious foods not from food with empty calories.

Bottom line

Sattu is a desi superfood. Have you heard of Mr. Manohar Aich? No? Just google and see how the power of natural food can make a man Mr. Universe back in 1952. Don’t get carried away by fancy protein supplements. All you need is whole food like sattu for good weight gain and developing lean muscle to stay fit in your regular life.

Dr. Soma Chakrabarty has done her Ph.D. in Food and Nutrition in 2017. She is based in Hyderabad. She has 12 yrs of working experience in nutrition. Dr. Soma guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve the goal of wellness. She believes in a sustainable diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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Avarage Rating:
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  • Anonymous , 27th July 2021 @ 12:01 pm

    Your information helped me too muchh 🙌
    Thank you for the information.🙌

  • A Acharya , 16th August 2021 @ 2:14 am

    Fitness Industry is blinding the ambitious youth for making money out of it. Thanks for this eye opening article. Hopefully it will reach more people. All the best from my side. Keep doing this noble job. May God bless you .

  • A Acharya , 16th August 2021 @ 2:17 am

    Thanks for the noble job you are doing.
    Keep it up.

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