Diet

Calories in roti and is chapati good for weight loss?

Kannan
Aug 1, 2022

Roti or chapati is a staple food in most Indian households. It is eaten in different forms in different states of the country. It is often eaten with dal, sabzi and included in one or more meals of the day.

 

When it comes to its role in weight loss, there can be confusion on many points such as:

  • Is roti better than rice for weight loss?
  • Is rice better than roti?
  • Is wheat roti better or multigrain roti?
  • Can roti be had with dinner or better in lunch?
  • How many rotis are ok to eat?
  • Do you need to give up roti completely for weight loss?
  • Is roti high in calories?
  • What about the glycemic index (GI) of roti?  

In this article we will clear your doubts about these and other points and show you how to include rotis as part of a healthy and balanced weight loss diet.

In this article, we use roti & chapati interchangeably to refer to the same food.

 

How many calories are in a roti or chapati?

 

It depends. 

 

As we all know, rotis can come in many different sizes and can be soft and thin or thick. So we need to consider that in looking at the calories in a roti. A single roti can be anywhere from 30-50 grams in weight.

Let’s look at how many calories are there in 1, 3 or 5 chapatis. Here are the calories depending on the size of the roti:

  • Small chapati (30g) has 90 calories.
  • Medium size chapati (38g) has 113 calories.
  • Large chapati (50g) has 147 calories.

So if we take a medium size chapati, this is how the calories will add up depending on how many chapati you have:

  • 1 medium size chapati: 113 calories
  • Two medium size chapatis: 226 calories
  • Three medium size chapatis: 339 calories
  • Four medium size chapatis: 452 calories
  • Five medium size chapatis: 565 calories
  • Six medium size chapatis: 678 calories

roti for weight loss

As you can see, depending on how many rotis/ chapatis you have it can quickly add up to a lot of calories.

A single roti of 113 calories is a little whereas 6 rotis of 678 calories is a lot. If you add 1-2 teaspoons of ghee, that’s another 50-100 calories.

It is certainly possible to eat 6 rotis in a day, either in a meal or if you have it with lunch and also dinner. If you add oil or ghee to it, this adds even more calories.

Understanding Indian Chapati: what does it have?

It is important to recognise that every food contains a lot more than just calories. And the same is true for the roti also. Roti made with whole wheat flour has a number of healthy nutrients like:

  • Fibre
  • Protein
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • B Vitamins

There are also plans in India to fortify wheat with Iron, Folic acid and Vitamin B12 in order to prevent anaemia and improve health status.

Do not look at roti as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food. It clearly has nutritional benefits. The key is to include it in the right amounts.

This is an important point as you will come across diets that will ask you to completely eliminate all wheat from your diet. What you will not realize is that you will lose out on many nutrients as a result unless you carefully compensate for these lost nutrients through adding specific foods. This is a big reason that most diets end up causing serious deficiency in many nutrients. So do not take decisions like stopping all wheat lightly and do your research first. If you are allergic or intolerant to wheat, then it would help to eliminate it from the diet but otherwise, think about why and how you would need to approach this, and whether you really need to stop eating it completely.

Does chapati increase weight or make you fat?

As we have shown above, it is possible to have 600-800 calories in a day just from rotis. We then need to consider all the other foods in your daily diet. As an example, this may include the following foods:

  • Milk, tea, coffee
  • Rice
  • Dal
  • Vegetables / sabzi
  • Curd
  • Ghee and oils
  • Biscuits & snacks
  • Sugar & sweets
  • Fruits and juices

Adding all of these foods together can result in overeating by a large amount. In that sense, overeating a healthy food like roti can result in weight gain and fat accumulation.

Another important factor here is that roti is high in carbohydrates. Carbs are necessary for energy but overeating them causes problems.

One practical issue is that a meal high in carbs is not very filling. You will become hungry soon after the meal, unless your meal also has a good balance of fats, proteins etc.

This is a common trend we see among high-carb eating. This happens because carbs get digested by the body much faster than protein and vegetables. So a high-carb meal can be digested within 2-3 hours and you will find that you feel like snacking after that time. This is why a lot of people find that they need to eat every 3-4 hours. It may help a little to choose foods with low GI carbs but including other nutrients like protein, fats and vegetables is what makes a bigger difference.

We will discuss how to address this through a balanced diet, in the later sections of this article.

How many rotis/chapatis should I eat in a day to lose weight?

Let’s take an example to see how you can use chapati as part of a weight loss diet.

  • Let’s assume you currently eat 6 chapatis in a day. 3 with lunch and 3 with dinner. This is 678 calories.

  • If you reduce this to 4 chapatis a day, that will mean 2 with lunch and 2 with dinner. This is 452 calories.

  • You will increase the vegetables or protein in your meal to make up for the reduced chapatis and make the meal more balanced. This will also ensure you don't go hungry. In this example, let’s say you add a cup of vegetables to your lunch & dinner. Assuming the vegetables are non-starchy (i.e. not vegetables such as potato or raw banana), this will only add a tiny amount of calories.

By doing the above, you have reduced your daily calorie intake by at about 200 calories (226 calories reduced by removing 2 rotis and assuming approximately 26 calories added by the vegetables).

200 calories a day might seem small, but that is 6,000 calories a month. And 72,000 calories in a year.

This one small change can make a huge difference to your weight loss plan.

If you would like to see how you can make your plate more balanced while also eating Indian food, see our article on low-carb Indian food.

So is wheat chapati good for weight loss?

As we have seen above, Chapati can definitely be used for weight loss, as long as you do not overeat them, i.e. you eat them in reasonable numbers while also consuming adequate protein and vegetables.

Whole wheat flour has healthy nutrients and by making small reductions to how much you have, you can continue to enjoy it while also working on your weight loss. We have also discussed alternatives to wheat rotis below.

If you would like a sample 7-day meal plan that includes roti, see this Indian diet plan for weight loss.

What are the substitutes to chapati for weight loss?

If you are looking for substitutes for chapati, you can consider foods like oats or millets including ragi, jowar and bajra. They are grains and can be used either in roti form or in other ways as part of your diet. But as we have discussed in this article, you really do not need to give up roti or swap it for something else for weight loss, unless you are allergic or intolerant to wheat.

It is also worth looking at the glycemic index (GI) of various grains when looking at other options. This is particularly relevant if you are worried about your blood sugar. Choose lower GI grains to help with managing blood sugar levels, and more importantly, have a balanced meal with adequate protein and vegetables when you consume these.

which roti is best for weight loss
Source: Dietary Guidelines for Indians, National Institute of Nutrition.

Types of chapati and multigrain benefits for weight loss

As mentioned above, roti can be made from many different grains like jowar, bajra, ragi etc. Let us look at the nutrition of these different grains and how that compares to wheat.

Nutritional content of wheat and healthier wheat substitutes*†1

Name of grain Name in major Indian languages Total calories (Kcal) Total carbohydrate (grams) Total dietary fiber (grams) Total protein (grams)
White (refined) wheat flour 49 Maida (Hindi) 364 76.3 2.7 10.3
Whole-grain wheat flour49 Atta (Hindi) 340 72.0 10.7 13.2
Millet flour49 Bajra (Hindi) 373 73.0 3.5 10.8
Sorghum flour49 Jowar (Hindi) 361 77.5 6.6 7.9
Finger millet12 Ragi (Hindi) 328 72.0 3.6 7.3
Amaranth49 Rajgira (Marathi) 371 65.33 6.7 13.6
Spelt49 No Indian equivalent 338 71.2 10.7 14.6

*Values are based on 100g (uncooked) portion

†100g (uncooked) of any of these wheat or wheat substitutes makes 2–4 chapatis, depending on the size of the chapati and amounts of other ingredients in the recipe.

As you can see, the total calorie and carb content is not very different from that of whole wheat. What is a little different is how fast they get digested. You will find that Ragi or Bajra get digested slower and therefore help you feel fuller for longer. So it is certainly worth trying to use some of these options to see if they work better for you.

is makki ki roti good for weight loss
Makki ki roti & Sarson ka saag

But swapping one grain for another will not solve the main issue we noted earlier, which is the high amount of roti and overall carbs in the diet.  So keep an eye on total intake of roti and carbs.

Which is the best chapati for weight loss?

The best chapati is the one that you:

(a) like;

(b) is practical; and

(c) suits your body and digestive system.

What you enjoy is a big factor to think about in any weight loss diet plan. If your diet plan has many foods you do not like, you will just not stick to it after some time.

It should also be practical for you. You need to be able to make it without too much extra effort.

In addition, it should also suit your body and digestive system.

These three points play a big role in sustainable weight loss.

When it comes to roti, while there are differences between the various grains, they are small in the context of your overall diet. So if you want, you can certainly have whole wheat roti and try to include options like bajra, ragi and jowar sometimes to add variety.

jowar roti for weight loss
Jowar Roti served with green chilli thecha 

Conclusion

Do not get carried away by advice that pushes you to do things you are not comfortable with. Roti or chapati has been a staple of the Indian diet for generations and it is a healthy food, as long as you are not allergic or intolerant to it.

 

The most important point is to use it as part of a balanced diet that includes enough of the other food groups like vegetables and protein. Once you do this, you will find that roti fits easily into a weight loss diet and can help you (a) achieve your weight loss goal and (b) stay at that lower weight for the long term.

The Daily9 system for weight loss 

We’ve worked with thousands of Indian men and women and understand the unique challenges they face when trying to lose weight or find a weight loss diet plan. You can see some of our success stories here. The Daily9 system is proven to work as an effective weight loss diet plan. The expert coaches at Daily9 have developed practical ideas and strategies that work in real life and improve the weight loss that you can achieve with Daily9. This helps with weight loss and also many health conditions that Indian men and women face like digestive issues, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid, fatty liver and joint problems from excess weight.

While there are many calorie counters out there, we believe that a focus on quality & nutrition (and not just calories) is critical for any weight loss diet plan. Instead of tracking calories, we believe in tracking healthy habits at Daily9. 

Most importantly, the Daily9 approach to weight loss is practical and suits an Indian family environment. This will set you up for success with weight loss and also weight maintenance in the long run.

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