Why Upma is good for Weight loss

Medically Reviewed By DR. RASHMI GR , MBBS, Diploma in Diabetes Management June 27, 2024

Craving a South Indian twist to your weight-loss journey? Look no further than Upma! This savory semolina porridge is a breakfast staple for many reasons, but its potential as a healthy and weight-management friendly meal is often overlooked.

Packed with nutrients and fiber from semolina and vegetables, Upma is a light and satisfying breakfast that keeps you energized throughout the morning. In this blog, we’ll understand its nutritional profile and how it can be a delicious ally in your weight-loss goals. We’ll show you how Upma’s core ingredients and customizability make it a perfect fit for a balanced and satisfying breakfast, and how upma is good for weight loss.

Is Upma Good for Weight Loss?

Upma can be a helpful addition to your weight loss plan thanks to its low-calorie content and high fiber content.  This fiber keeps you feeling full for longer, potentially reducing cravings and overall calorie intake. Upma is versatile, too, allowing you to incorporate ingredients like semolina, rava, millet, and lentils. Semolina itself is a whole grain that boasts fiber and protein, further aiding in satiety. Don’t forget the veggies! Adding fiber-rich vegetables provides additional nutritional benefits, and upma can also contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and beta-carotene for an extra nutrient boost.

Why Upma can be good for Weight Loss

The comforting semolina porridge from South India, upma, helps in weight loss. Here’s why this dish deserves a spot on your menu:

Fiber for Satiety:

Unlike simple carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, Upma’s magic lies in its high fiber content. According to NutritionalValue, 1 cup (170g) serving of cooked Upma provides around 146 calories. Fiber slows down the digestive process. This keeps you feeling satiated for longer, preventing hunger pangs and impulsive snacking. By regulating your appetite and promoting a sense of fullness, Upma helps you stay within your calorie goals naturally. By starting your day with Upma; instead of reaching for a sugary mid-morning muffin, you’ll feel energized and satisfied until lunchtime, reducing your overall calorie intake.

A Heart-Healthy Fat Profile:

Upma itself is a naturally low-fat dish. Nutritional Value says that a single serving (170g) contains only 4.5g of total fat, with a mere 0.6g coming from saturated fat. This translates to just 6% of your daily recommended value of fat based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This is how upma helps in weight loss.

Traditionally, minimal oil is used for tempering the spices and vegetables that add flavor and texture. However, you can take it a step further for an even healthier option. Substitute regular cooking oil with heart-healthy alternatives like avocado oil or olive oil. These oils are rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to promote feelings of satiety and improve heart health.

A Canvas for Customization and Added Nutrients:

Upma’s true beauty lies in its versatility. It’s a blank canvas waiting for your creativity! Ditch the bland, processed diet foods and load it up with a variety of colorful vegetables like peas, carrots, bell peppers, and onions. These are packed with vitamins, minerals, and additional fiber, further enhancing Upma’s nutritional profile. Don’t stop there! Lean protein sources like lentils, tofu, or shredded chicken can be incorporated to create a well-rounded meal. This protein boost not only increases satiety but also helps preserve muscle mass, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy metabolism during weight loss.

Upma Calories for Weight Loss:

It is relatively low in calories. A typical serving of upma (around 1 cup) contains about 200-300 calories, depending on the recipe and the portion size. This is lower than many other traditional Indian breakfast dishes.

By incorporating these elements – fiber, minimal healthy fats, and a variety of nutrient-rich add-ins – Upma transforms from a simple dish into a delicious and effective breakfast or light meal option for your weight loss journey.

Read More: Best Indian Diet Plan Chart for Weight Loss

Healthy Upma Recipe Variations

Healthy Upma Recipe Variations

There is more than one way in which you can have upma for weight loss. These variations offer a delicious and healthy way to enjoy upma for breakfast or a light meal:

Classic Rava Upma (Semolina Upma):

This is a simple and nutritious base for all upma variations. Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 cup semolina (rava)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp chana dal
  • 1 green chili, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Curry leaves, a few
  • Salt to taste


  1. Dry roast the semolina in a pan on low heat for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Heat ghee/oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, urad dal, and chana dal. Let them splutter.
  3. Add curry leaves, green chili (if using), and onion. Saute until onions are translucent.
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock/water and bring to a boil.
  5. Add salt and roasted semolina. Stir well and cook covered for 5-7 minutes, or until the semolina absorbs the liquid.
  6. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander leaves (optional).

Nutritional Information (per serving):

  • Calories: Around 200
  • Carbs: 30-35 gms
  • Protein: 5-7 gms
  • Fat: 5-7 gms

Vegetable Upma:

This recipe adds a variety of vegetables to boost your fiber and vitamin intake. It’s a great weight loss upma recipe. You can use:

  • Peas: Rich in protein, fiber, and Vitamin A.
  • Carrots: Excellent source of Vitamin A and beta-carotene.
  • Beans (French beans, green beans, etc.): Provide fiber, protein, and essential vitamins.

How to add vegetables:

  • Finely chop the vegetables and add them along with the onions during step 3 of the classic recipe.
  • Adjust the cooking time depending on the chosen vegetable’s firmness.

Read More: Is Diabetes An Unexplained Reason For Weight Loss?

Millet Upma:

Millets like Jowar (sorghum) and Ragi (finger millet) are excellent substitutes for semolina (rava) for a healthier and more filling upma. Adding these makes up for a great upma for dinner for weight loss recipes. Here’s why:

  • Jowar: Rich in fiber, protein, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Ragi: High in calcium, iron, and known to promote weight management.

How to make Millet Upma:

  • Roast the millet flour (finely ground) instead of semolina in step 1 of the classic recipe. You may need slightly less water/stock for millets as they absorb more liquid.
  • Follow the remaining steps of the classic recipe.

Oats Upma:

This is another fiber-filled upma recipe for weight loss. Oats are a fantastic alternative for a gut-friendly and weight-loss friendly upma.

  • Benefits of Oats: Rich in fiber, beta-glucan (promotes satiety), and helps manage cholesterol levels.

How to make Oats Upma:

  • Use rolled oats instead of semolina. You might need to cook them slightly longer than semolina, around 7-8 minutes.
  • Follow the remaining steps of the classic recipe.

Protein-Packed Upma:

For an extra protein boost and increased satiety, try these options:

  • Eggs: Scramble one egg and add it along with the onions in step 3 of the classic recipe.
  • Tofu: Crumble and saute tofu with the onions for a vegetarian protein option.
  • Paneer: Cube and pan-fry paneer for a protein-rich twist.


  • Experiment with different spices like turmeric powder, coriander powder, and garam masala for additional flavor.
  • Use chopped nuts and seeds for added texture and healthy fats.
  • Adjust the amount of vegetables and protein based on your preference and dietary needs.

Tips for Making Upma Lighter:

By following these tips, you can enjoy a delicious and healthy upma that fits your lighter eating goals:

Oil Management:

  • Use minimal oil: When tempering the spices and sauteing vegetables, use just enough oil to coat the pan. A tablespoon or less should be sufficient.
  • Healthy alternatives: Avocado oil is a great choice as you mentioned, it has a high smoke point and adds a subtle, nutty flavor. You can also experiment with healthier fats like nut oils (groundnut oil) or even a small amount of ghee for a richer taste.

Spice it Up:

  • Metabolism-boosting spices: Ginger, cumin, black pepper, and chili powder are all excellent choices. They add flavor without packing extra calories and may also help aid digestion and boost metabolism.
  • Don’t be shy with the spices: While you want to keep the oil down, don’t be afraid to be generous with these spices. They add a lot of flavor and depth to your upma.

Portion Control:

  • Mindful serving sizes: This is key! Upma can be quite filling, so a smaller portion is perfectly adequate. Aim for 1-1/2 cups per serving.
  • Visual cues: Use a smaller plate to trick your brain into thinking you’re having a larger portion.

Here are some additional tips for a lighter upma:

  • Vegetables are your friend: Load up on veggies like chopped onions, carrots, peas, or grated cauliflower. They add bulk, fiber, and nutrients without adding many calories.
  • Lean protein: If you want some added protein, consider including chopped boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, or lentils.
  • Low-fat dairy: If you enjoy your upma with a dollop of yogurt or buttermilk, opt for low-fat or fat-free versions.

Read More: Lose Your Weight to Reverse Diabetes


Upma shines as a weight-loss friendly breakfast for a few reasons. First, the semolina base, often rava, provides fiber which keeps you feeling fuller for longer, reducing cravings and potential overeating. Second, Upma is naturally low in fat and can be prepared with minimal oil, keeping the calorie count in check. Plus, many recipes incorporate vegetables for a boost of essential vitamins and minerals.

Upma’s beauty lies in its versatility. Beyond the classic rava version, explore options with other grains like oats or millets for added nutritional benefits. With a variety of vegetables and spices at your disposal, the possibilities for healthy and delicious Upma creations are many! So, explore different recipes and discover your perfect weight-loss friendly Upma breakfast.

Read More: 7 Best Foods That Burn Fat & Help You Lose Weight

FAQ’s(Frequently Asked Questions)

Is upma healthy for weight loss?

Upma can be a healthy addition to a weight loss diet for several reasons. Made with semolina (often called suji), which is a type of whole grain, upma offers fiber and protein. These nutrients keep you feeling fuller for longer, potentially reducing your overall calorie intake.

How to include upma in your weight loss journey?

Make your upma weight-loss friendly by choosing whole grains like whole wheat rava or oats, adding plenty of veggies, and using healthy fat for cooking. Remember to keep your portion size in check and avoid adding high-calorie ingredients like cashews and excess ghee.

What are some upma benefits for weight loss?

Upma offers several benefits that can aid weight loss:
Fiber that keeps you feeling full and reduces cravings.
Protein to help build and maintain muscle mass, which can boost metabolism and burn more calories at rest.
Traditional upma is a relatively low-calorie dish, especially when compared to heavier breakfast options.

Can I have upma for dinner for weight loss?

Upma can definitely be a part of your weight loss dinner plan. Since it’s easily digestible, it’s a good option for an earlier dinner. Remember to follow the same healthy preparation tips mentioned above to keep it a weight-loss friendly meal.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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