Problem Caused By Being Underweight

Being underweight in a third world country usually means being poorly nourished and/or infected with parasites. In developed countries, the underweight person is more likely to have a higher metabolism, fewer fat cells, “lean genes” or just not care about food. Stress causes some to overeat and gain weight and others to lose appetite and weight. Weight loss can also be due to wasting diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Hyperthyroidism, eating disorders and excessive physical activity must also be considered.


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Problem Caused By Being Underweight

Symptoms - Metabolic  

Difficulty gaining weight

Conditions that suggest Problem Caused By Being Underweight



Being underweight and male is associated with a risk of depression.



Risk factors for Problem Caused By Being Underweight






The Immune System  



Problem Caused By Being Underweight suggests the following may be present





Elevated SHBG

SHBG levels respond to extreme changes in body weight, increasing in individuals with anorexia nervosa.

The Immune System  



Being underweight and male is associated with a risk of depression.


Problem Caused By Being Underweight can lead to

Drug Side Effects  

Chemotherapy Side-Effects/Risks

As a general principle, when weight loss has occurred or is significant prior to the start of chemotherapy, the survival rate is reduced. The prognostic effect of weight loss prior to chemotherapy was analyzed using data from over 3000 patients enrolled in 12 chemotherapy protocols. The frequency of weight loss ranged from 31% for favorable non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to 87% for gastric cancer. Median survival was significantly shorter in 9 protocols for the patients with weight loss compared to those without weight loss.



Recommendations for Problem Caused By Being Underweight

Amino Acid / Protein  


Glutamine is one of the favorite supplements of body builders and others who exercise a lot. Strenuous exercise such as weight lifting causes tiny injuries to the muscle tissue. By donating nitrogen, glutamine helps build proteins and repair the muscle, as well as help build up more muscle. Part of its muscle-building action may be due to its ability to induce the release of growth hormone. Serious fitness fans take glutamine both before and after workout. Taking 2-3gm after workout is particularly recommended.


Increased Calorie Consumption

Eating is the first and most important factor that is needed for proper weight gain – put simply, you need to eat more calories than you burn. Taking meals and snacks more frequently will help accomplish this. Eat every 2.5 to 3 hours; focus on foods higher in protein along with fruit, vegetables and assorted types of nuts. What you eat is the most important ingredient in a successful weight gain program.



Coconut oil consumption may encourage weight gain if you are underweight, but it can also encourage weight loss in obesity, possibly due to an increase in metabolic rate.


Therapeutic Fasting

“There is no reason why the emaciated person should not fast. Indeed, there is often every reason why he should. The fast is sometimes the only thing that will enable him to gain weight. Special weight gaining diets are not required. . . .

I am convinced, from my own experience with patients, that a too rapid gain in flesh following the fast does not build as solid and healthful flesh as a slow rate of gain. Milk diet enthusiasts produce a flesh-gain after a fast, by their over-feeding, which is almost as rapid as the loss during the fast. But such flesh is watery, flabby and soon lost when one becomes active and returns to other foods. I prefer to feed patients an abundance of fresh fruits and green vegetables and limited quantities of proteins, starches and fats. Flesh gained at a slower rate is more solid and stays with the patient. A too rapid growth in children is not productive of sound tissue. I am convinced that the same is true of a too rapid gain after a fast.

A few do not gain rapidly for more than a week or two weeks after breaking the fast. With many, a short fast does not suffice to occasion a gain in weight. Many factors are at work to prevent a gain in these cases and the short fast is not sufficient to restore the nutritive functions to a vigorous state.

The most rapid gains in weight are seen after a long fast. All cases, however, will gain at a fairly rapid rate if the underlying causes of defective nutrition are corrected. This depends on many factors other than fasting and the intelligent person, be he doctor or patient, will not fail to attend to all necessary factors and influences.

In those animals that periodically undergo protracted periods of fasting, a tendency to acquire, during the feeding season, large stores of fat, is seen. Among these animals, as the Russian bear and the Alaskan fur-seal bull, the period of abstinence from food is often of long duration, so that a large supply of nutriment is necessary. Frequent fasting in man may result in the same tendency although I have never seen a clear case of the development of such a tendency from repeated fasts.” [The Hygienic System By Herbert M. Shelton, D.P., N.D., D.C., D.N.T., D.N. Sc., D.N. Ph., D.N. Litt., Ph. D., D. Orthp.]



Weight Training

Working with weights three times per week may be the most productive way to gain weight. Weight training provides the greatest amount of muscle growth for the energy expended without the risk of burning up all those extra calories you are consuming. Aerobic type exercises will just burn off those extra calories without much weight gain. Without any exercise, gained weight will tend to be fat – not muscle.

You should lift hard and then recover until the next workout. Focus on the big exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, chin-ups, bench press and military press. These are the exercises that will turn those extra calories into muscle. You need the multiple-joint lifts that will shock your system and stimulate your body into growth. Focus on getting strong by adding a small amount of weight each workout. If you focus on strength, size will follow. If uncertain what to do, get help from a professional trainer, friend or someone at the gym with experience.

Lab Tests/Rule-Outs  


Test for Parasites

Unusual weight loss may be associated with the presence of parasites, especially after recent foreign travel.


Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
Avoid absolutely



An organism living in or on another organism.


The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.


Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.


An abnormal condition of the thyroid gland resulting in excessive secretion of thyroid hormones characterized by an increased metabolism and weight loss.

Anorexia Nervosa

An eating disorder characterized by excess control - a morbid fear of obesity leads the sufferer to try and limit or reduce their weight by excessive dieting, exercising, vomiting, purging and use of diuretics. Sufferers are typically more than 15% below the average weight for their height/sex/age and typically have amenorrhea (if female) or low libido (if male). 1-2% of female teenagers are anorexic.


A treatment of disease by any chemicals. Used most often to refer to the chemical treatments used to combat cancer cells.


Any tumor of the lymphatic tissues.

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