While many people view being underweight as a sign of good health, but in reality, it could be the sign of an underlying health condition. Being underweight leads to a weakened immune system infertility, osteoporosis, as well as having negative psychological effects such as a poor self-image. There are reasons why a person can be underweight.
Effects of being underweight
- Energy: When we eat more calories than we use our body stores this as fat. Of course, like most of the body’s behavior this is something that we have evolved, and it has been found throughout our development to be beneficial for our health and survival. We store fat for a reason and also to avoid storing it at all is folly and working against your body rather than with it.
- Mood: Having a very low bodyweight will make you low in energy as discussed and this in turn can lead to potentially depression, malaise, and lethargy. This of course is a cause for concern for any family or friends. Being underweight is also most a sign of being unhappy and we often lose weight when we are very unhappy due to loss of appetite and other effects. If someone rapidly loses weight, it’s normal for the friends and family closest to them to become concerned.
- Malnutrition: Underweight people are of course usually underweight as a result of not eating enough. This means that they don’t get much fat, but it will also mean they get less of all the other things that the body needs in order to operate effectively and thus there is a good chance that underweight individuals will be malnutritioned unless they have supplemented well and comprehensively.
- Looks: People who have once been overweight will often strive to lose more weight than they in fact should. Despite the image of promoted size zero models and much of the media, most people don’t actually find a complete lack of fat attractive as it leaves the person looking bony and having no shape and curves. A girl or a woman who loses all of her weight will lose her breasts which are made mostly of fat and will lose the shape of her buttocks and her hip-to-weight ratio. A man losing the same weight could end up looking very thin and so much weaker and unable to protect and provide for his partner. This is compounded by the malnutritioned look that consists of thin hair and damaged skin.
- Fertility: If women lose too much weight this can interrupt their biological clock and their menstrual cycle. And this can lead to irregular periods and eventually mean that they stop having periods altogether. In most cases, gaining weight again means that their fertility returns, but in other cases they can permanently lose the ability to have children.
- Anorexia: If you have lost a lot of weight rapidly this can be a sign of anorexia. And it can also lead to your losing more weight more quickly as you get hooked on the results that you are getting from dieting. Anorexia is bad as it causes you to lose your own self-image and this means you believe yourself to be overweight when you are in fact underweight and you will lose even more weight to the point where it becomes highly dangerous and the body has barely enough nutrition or energy to run. Extreme weight loss can eventually be dangerous and this is a real concern for those with anorexia.
What Can I Do About Being Underweight?
In setting weight goals, it is helpful to understand that one pound is equal to 3,500 calories. If one consumes more calories than one burns, your weight will gain back, and vice versa. Example, to gain one pound per week, you need to consume 500 calories more than were burned each day. Online calorie calculators helps determine how many calories an individual is burning during such activities, and how many average calories are contained in a food item. These tools help track your progress, and assists to determine how many extra calories one would need to consume in lieu of their activity in order to continue gaining weight.
There is more to gaining weight, than simple calorie intake. Being an overweight is no better than being underweight, and both conditions often indicates poor nutrition. Increasing the intake of foods that high in calorie lacks nutritional value, so called “empty calories,” will not remedy the situation. These foods doesn’t provide fuel for the body, and leads to unhealthy increases in body fats. It’s possible for a person to be underweight, but to have an unhealthy amount of body fat, is just as dangerous as being overweight with an unhealthy ratio of body fat.
The most sensible fix for being underweight is to follow the time-honored food pyramid, and to increase additional calories from healthy sources. It’s a good idea to increase the quality of calories, as well as the quantity. Regular or daily exercise is also important, increases appetite, adds muscle weight to the body, and helps the body to process the additional food intake correctly. And eating calorie-rich snacks between meals can also add weight.
Complex carbohydrates are notorious for their weight-increasing effects. Processed carbohydrates should be replaced with whole grain breads, brown or long grain rice, granola, and whole-wheat pasta. Dried fruits are less filling and equal in calories to fresh fruits, so one might be able to sneak in more calories by snacking on raisins, prunes, dried apricots, dates, and dried figs. Olives, nuts, avocados, potatoes, and beans are high in nutrients, calories, and healthy fats.
Another method to resolve being underweight is to maximize calories in the foods we already eat. Using honey to sweeten beverages also adds calories. Adding protein powder, milk powder, wheat germ or flax oil to shakes or hot cereal, or using milk in soups or sauces can also maximize calories. Though they are often high in sugar, mixes or drinks, there are other brands can add balanced calories to the diet, as well as providing more vitamins and minerals. Being underweight, is just like being an overweight, is a factor that most people can control. Finding a resolution for being underweight should be approached in the same way fighting obesity with intention, motivation, healthy choices, and balanced living.