There are many blogs, diet plans, videos, etc floating on the internet for Weight Loss. But, there is a certain group of people for whom these articles and videos are of no use. They are people who are struggling with Weight Gain. Extremely lean and underweight people may have low immunity, infertility, fragile bones, and malnutrition. Gaining Weight in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is even more challenging. IBS patients especially with Diarrhea as common symptoms, have a hard time gaining weight as their body is unable to absorb the nutrients from the food. Be assured with the correct diet and lifestyle you can gain a healthy weight in IBS.
How to gain weight in IBS?
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for health. It lowers the risk of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and various cancers. People suffering from IBS struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Frequent bouts of diarrheas and loss of appetite in IBS can cause loss of weight. Weight loss also occurs due to strict diet restrictions to cope up with the disorder. Neglecting weight loss in IBS can further lead to many other problems due to Malnutrition.
If you are thinking gaining weight is easy compared to losing weight then you are extremely wrong!! Weight gain must be done scientifically like weight loss. You must detox your body and then reboot it again with a proper diet and lifestyle for proper weight gain. Do not overdo with sugar and fats to gain weight, this will cause serious health complications. Focus on building muscle instead of increasing fat content in the body. (1) (2)
If you are noticing drastic weight loss within a few days of starting the restricted IBS diet plan, contact your physician immediately.
Three tips to gain weight with IBS in a healthy way.
- Correct Diet
Finding the correct diet through eliminating and reintroducing certain foods can help you manage a healthy weight in IBS. Stick to LOW FODMAP’s food while planning the meal for you. There are no fixed guidelines for increasing weight in IBS through diet. Foods that can help an individual may cause serious digestive disturbances in others. Try to figure your food allergies, intolerances, and tolerance level of each food item before concluding your meal plan for weight gain.(3) (4) (5)
A qualified nutritionist or Dietitian can help you to make a tailor-made diet plan for improving your IBS symptoms and achieving a healthy weight.
- Focus on protein intake :
Protein can help in building muscles so stocking up on them can help gain weight. Even smooth muscles that make the gastrointestinal tract function smoothly require good protein sources. High-protein foods are not only important for weight loss but they are important for weight gain as well.
The following table shows the good source of proteins from Animal and Plant sources for gaining healthy weight in IBS without triggering IBS symptoms.
|Animal Proteins Safe for IBS||Plant Proteins safe for IBS|
|Chicken (skinless)||Tofu (in moderate amount) and cottage cheese|
|Eggs||Lentils (in moderate amount) – Moong Dal and Masoor Dal|
|Seafood||Chickpeas (In small quantities)|
|Low-fat Beef||Nuts like Brazil Nuts, Almonds|
|Low – Fat Milk (If not lactose intolerant)||Seeds like Sunflower, Sesame, and Chia seeds|
|Half a teaspoon of Peanut.|
|Almond milk, Oat milk and Rice Milk.|
- Focus on Healthy Fats :
Fats help in weight gain as they contribute more calories than Carbohydrates and Proteins. If an IBS patient isn’t sensitive and can tolerate fats well, then you can include 20-30% of your calories from Fats and Oils. Other than being a source of energy, Fats are also required for Proper Functioning of the Brain, Protecting your organs, carrying fat-soluble vitamins, and muscle building.
Adding an extra dose of fat doesn’t mean increasing oil while preparing your meals, if you overdo oils in cooking then it may trigger IBS symptoms. Instead, you can add a teaspoon of olive oil on your salads (boiled) or a teaspoon of go ghee on your Idly or Kuttu ka Roti.
Not all the fats from food are the same. So, include only healthy oils and fats.
|Fats to Exclude in IBS||Fats to Include in IBS|
|Trans Fat ( Present in all processed foods)||Coconut Oil|
|Hydrogenated Oils||Extra virgin olive oil|
|Saturated Fats ( In red meat and butter)||Fruits like olives|
|Deep-fried and Greasy foods||Seeds like flax and chia|
|Nuts like pecans and Walnuts|
|Fishes – Salmon and Sardines|
- Choose Right Carbs :
Simple and Refined Carbohydrates will trigger IBS symptoms. Foods that are high on FODMAP’s must be avoided to prevent triggers of IBS symptoms. Keep healthy carbs in the diet instead of eliminating carbs from the diet. Carbohydrates are required to fuel the brain and Nourish Gut Microbiota. Along with grains fruits and vegetables also have carbohydrate content in them. Choose carbs from low FODMAP’s list.
Indian Low FODMAP foods (To be included)
|Vegetables||Carrots, Cucumbers, Tomato, Zucchini, Eggplant, Potatoes, Turnip, Ginger, Olives, Bell pepper, Spinach, Chives, Chillies, Sweet potato|
|Fresh Fruits||Bael fruit, Banana ( not over-ripened), Guava, Papaya, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, oranges, sweet lime.|
|Dairy/ Non-Dairy Milk Products||Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Coconut Milk, Brie (soft cheese made from goat’s milk), Cheddar cheese, and Parmesan Cheese|
|Meat||Chicken, Eggs, Fish, Prawns, Lamb, Pork, Prawns.|
|Grains||Parboiled/White Rice, Brown Rice, Oats, Quinoa, Corn Flour, Buckwheat, Jowar Millet, Tapioca, Psyllium Husk Fiber (Isabgol)|
|Beverages||Water, Green Tea, Black Coffee, Black Tea, Mint Tea, and Fresh Fruit Juice.|
|Nuts||Almonds, Peanuts, Pine nuts, Walnuts, and Pecans|
|Others||Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Soya, Tofu, Pepper, salt, mustard, White Vinegar, Basil, Indian Sweet Rasogulla|
|Oils||Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, and Ghee|
Indian High FODMAP foods (to be excluded)
|Vegetables||Onions, Garlic, Cabbage, Broccoli, Beetroot, Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Spring Onions, Peas|
|Fresh Fruits||Apples, Mango, Water Melon, Avocados, Cherries, Plums, BlackBerries, Prunes, Peaches|
|Dairy Non-Dairy Products||Milk, Soft Cheese, Yoghurt, Paneer, Ice Cream, Custard.|
|Sweeteners (natural/artificial)||Honey, Jams, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Hummus, Inulin, Isomalt, Agave Nectar, Xylitol, Malitol.|
|Grains & Pulses||Wheat and Rye based bread, cereals and Pasta, Barley, Besan flour, Chickpea Flour, Coconut Flour, Semolina|
|Beverages||Apple Juice, Coconut water, cocktails, Alcohol, Ready Made Sports drinks, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coco-Cola, Tetra Pack Juices, Juice concentrates like roohafza and Rasna|
|Nuts and Dry Fruits||Cashew Nuts, Pistachios|
- Take care of Micronutrients :
Micronutrients like Vitamins and Minerals are very essential in maintaining Gut health. They are also required to carry out many biochemical reactions in our bodies. The most important nutrients are Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A required for healthy digestion.
Choose fruits and vegetables which are low in FODMAP’s. Consult your physician or Qualified Dietitian to help you with supplements in case of severe malnutrition and deficiencies.
- Fiber Foods :
Fiber is very essential to keep the Gut healthy. Fiber tolerance is different for different people. Certain people tolerate well with insoluble fiber whereas for others it can worsen the IBS symptoms. It is also been observed that few individuals cannot tolerate soluble fiber from beans. Your dietitian can recommend Soluble Fiber supplements if you are unable to tolerate the fiber from the foods.
Soluble Fiber: Mostly found in Fruits, Beans, and Oats.
Insoluble Fiber: Mostly found in Whole Grains and Vegetables.
- Make your drinks count :
Hydration plays a crucial role in dealing with IBS. It is compulsory to consume 3 liters of fluid every day. Water soothes stomach distress. You can improve the quality of hydration for weight gain in IBS. Not all fluids have the same effect on the stomach, So make a wise decision while choosing your liquids in IBS and for weight gain in IBS.
|FLUIDS to be included in IBS||Fluids to be excluded in IBS|
|Pepper Mint Tea, Fennel Tea, Turmeric Tea, Chamomile Tea||Coffee, Tea, and other caffeinated drinks|
|Banana smoothie, Blueberry Smoothie, Strawberries Smoothie||Carbonated Drinks like Soda and Cola|
|Spinach Smoothie||Artificial energy booster Drinks|
|Whey protein powder(In moderation, if not milk protein allergic)||Fruit Juices with a high fructose content|
|Brown Rice protein isolate powder||Coconut water|
Soy protein isolate and Pea protein isolates are also safe for IBS sufferers. But, both are controversial as Pea comes under high FODMAP’s list and ingredients in Soy Isolate have been shown to be toxic and decrease mineral absorption. So, it is advisable to consult your dietitian and Physician before taking them for weight gain.
Make time from your daily schedule for Exercise. Every individual with IBS will have their strengths and weakness. Find out your strengths and work on them. Exercise will also improve the appetite and relieve certain IBS symptoms like Gas & Bloating. Please take the help of a certified trainer for the exercise. Try any of the below forms for physical activity-
- Strength Training ( for muscle building)
- Low impact cardio exercises.
- Yoga like Bhujangasana , Dhanurasana, Mathyasana etc.
3. Lifestyle Changes
- Have a regular meal pattern.
- Small and frequent meals to give your gut time for digestion.
- Try not to skip meals.
- Try to avoid eating late-night dinners.
- Sit down and chew your food properly.
- Get enough sleep.
- Try de-stress therapies like meditation and music.
Weight loss in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common problem. How to gain weight in IBS? Why does it happen? It occurs due to extensive restricted diet and malabsorption of nutrients due to weak gut resulting from frequent bouts of diarrhea. It is very important to maintain a healthy weight to prevent many other diseases related to being underweight like hypertension, low immunity, and fragile bones. Weight Gain in IBS is tough but possible by following a healthy Low FODMAP diet and lifestyle. Along with diet exercise also helps in building muscle and improving appetite. Try building healthy lifestyle habits to achieve the goal. Consult a qualified Nutritionist and Dietitian for healthy weight gain in IBS scientifically!!