If you are worried that you don’t weigh enough or feel like you are too skinny, the first thing I suggest is that you make an appointment with your local primary care physician. Even if there is no apparent health issue and you feel perfectly fine physically, being underweight may be a sign of other underlying health problems.
If you feel embarrassed or shy about talking to your doctor about personal things, just remember there are millions of people who can relate and your doctors are there to help you and make sure that you are healthy. The last thing they want to do is to make you feel bad or hurt you. At the end of the day, your doctor is an experienced medical professional and wants to make sure you’re okay. They are not there to make fun of you or punish you for doing something wrong.
Being underweight is nothing to be ashamed of and it is far more common than you might think. There are estimated to be over 6 million Americans who struggle with gaining weight, and many more people in other parts of the world. While there are a far higher number of overweight individuals in the United States and obesity is talked about more often, there are still tons of people who have a hard time gaining muscle and building body mass.
Signs That You Might Be Underweight
Sometimes you’re not getting all the nutrients that your body needs and this can lead to visible changes on the outside. While it may not always be so easy to tell if you are underweight just by looking at yourself in the mirror, there are other signals or visible changes to take notice of. Some of these may be visually detectable and others may cause you to feel different or unusual.
Signs that can be used to help you determine if you are underweight:
- hair loss
- weak or fragile bones – you break bones easily
- irregular period or difficulty getting pregnant (guys, read past this one)
- weakened immune system – you get sick often
- feeling cold
- lack of energy
If you are getting sick all the time, this might mean that you are not getting enough nutrients. 1
Other signs may include:
- your clothes don’t fit right anymore
- frequent mood swings
- very thin arms or legs
- you’re always thirsty
Assessing Your Weight
If you are curious about checking for yourself before you can get to the doctor, there are some measurements that you can do at home. Body Mass Index or BMI and waist circumference are some tools used to estimate your weight in relation to your disease risk.
A BMI of less than 18.5 would put you in the category of being underweight.
The chart below will give you a rough estimate. If you are not sure what your height and weight are, you can find out with a tape measure and regular bathroom scale.
As an example, if you are 5 ft 7 (67 inches) and weigh less than 121 pounds, your BMI would be around 18.5.
You can also try out this handy BMI Calculator from the Centers for Disease Control website.
What Can I Do If I Am Underweight?
Most importantly, don’t panic! If you decided that you would like to gain some weight, it is definitely not impossible. There are many reasons that a person might want to gain weight and everyone’s body is different. Some people are able to do it very easily, and for others it’s a daily struggle. Don’t feel bad if you are just one of those people who has a faster metabolism or loses weight faster than others. The most effective way to achieve your goals is through a healthy diet, proper exercise, and in certain cases, other dietary supplements like protein shakes or protein powders.
Here is a shortlist of tips that have helped others successfully gain weight:
- Extra calorie consumption – eating more calories than your body burns
- Eat foods with a lot of carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal)
- Regular weight lifting exercises
- Quitting smoking
If you are like me, and getting to the gym always feels like a chore, ask a friend to go workout with you. I find that it is always easier to get started when you have someone else to push and motivate you. There are also experienced gym members and personal trainers who can come up with a workout plan for you and get you on the right track. If there are no gyms close to your house or you can’t make it there today, try some at-home weight lifting exercises.
You Can Do It!
You are not in this alone. Many famous people, friends, co-workers, and experienced professionals have faced similar problems. Whether you are trying to gain weight for health reasons, because someone said you look too skinny, or you just want to change the way you look, there are many options available. There are also many support groups on the internet and people you can talk to about what you’re going through. Some links below will lead you to some online forums where you can ask questions or get additional information.
If You Feel Sick or Unhealthy
If your weight is causing you serious medical issues, or if you have trouble eating or building up an appetite, please get a checkup from your regular doctor. Many of the links that I’ve included are based on information from government health agencies such as the CDC and National Health Institute but they are not to be taken as definitive medical advice. Always make sure to research topics on your own and seek help if you think you have an urgent medical problem. My goal is to provide you with interesting information and give you guidance or at least be able to point you in the right direction.
If you just need someone to talk to or have a question about any of the content on this website, please feel free to email me