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Underweight - Know The Symptoms And What Your BMI Is Telling You

Meredith Miller Published: June 14, 2018 Updated: April 26, 2018

Jeans measuring belt

How much a person weighs, and specifically how much a person should weigh, is one of the most discussed health topics of the last few decades. There are seemingly endless resources available about what your healthy weight should be, and no shortage of dietary advice primarily aimed at helping a person lose weight and reach a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI). Almost all of these resources are for those who are overweight and need to lose it, but when it comes to the topic of being underweight and how to safely gain it, there is a noticeable lack of information available.

Despite this, being underweight can be just as bad for your health as being overweight. It is something that you should know the signs and symptoms of, and how to go about reaching a healthier weight. While this article can help you understand some of the important facts about being underweight, remember it is always important that you talk to your doctor or another medical professional about your health concerns.

What It Means To Be Underweight

Like obesity, whether or not you are considered underweight is based on your Body Mass Index. BMI is the agreed upon measure in the medical field to determine what a person’s healthy weight should be. Because things like gender, height, age, and muscle mass all differ between individuals, just relying on what a person weighs is not accurate in determining whether or not that weight is healthy.

Your BMI is calculated by using your age, height, and weight. There are many calculators available online that can help you determine your BMI. If your BMI comes out lower than 18.5 than you are considered medically underweight. However, it is important to remember that these are just estimates. They can give you an indication of whether or not you may be underweight, but you would need to see a doctor to determine that for sure.

Underweight Symptoms and Side Effects

Your BMI is a great way to determine if you technically have an underweight BMI, but there are also some underweight symptoms and side effects that you can keep an eye out for.

Frequent illness can be a sign that you are not at a healthy weight. Your immune system and other important bodily functions that keep you healthy rely on a steady supply of vitamins and nutrients. Because having an underweight BMI usually means you are not eating enough, you can be lacking in some of these essential nutrients, causing your body to not resist disease and infection as easily. If you notice frequent colds, stomach discomfort, or other reoccurring or hard to treat illnesses, it could indicate that you are underweight.

Hair loss is one of the more common underweight symptoms. Like your immune system, your body does not operate well when it is not getting the fuel it needs. In this case, the fuel is the food you are putting in your body. If you notice an excessive amount of hair in the shower or on your brush, or that your hair is looking thinner, that could be a sign that you need to gain weight.

Fatigue can often be the first symptom experienced by underweight BMI individuals. A lack of daily calories can drain your body of resources and force it to only provide energy to the most vital parts of your body. Body functions like muscle repair and digestion can become delayed. You may feel the need to sleep all the time, or become exhausted very quickly after even minor physical exertion. There are other underweight symptoms and side effects that can be harder to diagnose. Things like hormonal imbalances and the concentration of vitamins and nutrients in your body can all indicate whether or not you are at an underweight BMI. It is best to consult your doctor to determine if any of these are impacting you, as well as to discuss the underweight symptoms listed above.

How To Reach A Healthy BMI

If you have determined that you are at an underweight BMI, there are some things you can do to help gain weight and relieve some of the underweight symptoms you are experiencing.

Obviously, you will want to begin eating more. But that doesn’t mean stuffing your face full of junk food or other less than nutritious options. You should strive to eat as healthy as possible to help your body replenish the vitamins and nutrients that it is lacking currently.

Tracking your calories and nutrition intake on a calorie counting app is also recommended. It is very difficult to accurately estimate what your calorie and nutrient intakes are without any help, and these apps make it easy and simple.

Finally, always remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any diet or new health care plan. While being underweight may simply be a result of not eating enough, it can also indicate a potentially serious illness. The only way to be safe and sure is to consult with a medical professional.

Taking control of your weight and reaching a healthy BMI can be life-changing. You will experience greater energy levels, a healthier body, and even an improved mood and outlook on life. Take charge of your health, and take charge of your weight.