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Is the BMI bull? Or am I too skinny?

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  • Is the BMI bull? Or am I too skinny?

    Hey everyone,

    I started doing a primal/paleo-ish diet maybe 6 months ago to try to clear up some adult acne (I'm 26). I wasn't worried about losing any weight like most people are, simply because I've always been thin and at the very low end of my BMI. Well, the primal eating did help my acne, but it didn't clear it up completely... although this may be due to the occasional use of dairy.

    Anyway, my real concern here is that I've lost a couple of pounds over the last couple of months on primal and am now just below a "healthy BMI range." So my question is this: Do you think the BMI is bullshit? Should I be concerned about this and should I try to put on some pounds? I mean, I wouldn't mind a few extra pounds of muscle but am not really up to the commitment right now, especially on primal/paleo diet. I don't think I'm "skinny fat" because I have good muscular definition and feel generally pretty healthy. Like I said, I've always been thin and small-framed, small-boned or whatever.

    Here's my stats, since I imagine someone is bound to want to know!

    Male, 26 yrs, about 105 lbs. @ 5'6"
    I've tried to calculate body fat % and came up with anywhere from 5.6% to 10%, depending on the formula...

  • #2
    Of course you're not're plain old skinny! You need to start lifting weights to add some muscle, strength, and most importantly, bone density. Your kcal intake must be really low for you to be at that weight...what's your diet like? Were you always skinny as a kid?


    • #3
      i would increase calories, add muscle, and go for it.


      • #4
        I've ALWAYS been skinny. When I went to college and everyone else gained the "Freshman Fifteen" I stayed the same despite eating like crazy at the all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall. And I ate really terrible SAD food like pizza, ice cream, tons of bread, pasta, cheesecake, you name it.

        Anyway, now I still eat a lot and I'm losing weight nevertheless. I do eat lots of fat, too. A typical day I start with a big smoothie containing banana, berries, whey protein, whole fat greek yogurt, whole fat milk, flax oil, and coconut oil. I change up the fruits some, but it always contains a lot of fat. I know the dairy isn't really acceptable in a lot of paleo and primal circles, but I figured I needed the fat. The smoothie is usually accompanied by 3-4 hard boiled eggs and some mornings also bacon or sausage or something like that. Dinner is usually a big piece of steak or fish along with lots of greens. I also tend to snack on fruit to try to keep my carbs a little higher to maintain weight (not working), along with a decent portion of nuts and the occasional 90% dark chocolate.

        So I don't know an exact number of calories and maybe I'll try to pay more attention to that, but I honestly don't feel like I could eat more than what I am without constantly stuffing myself. I've tried maintaining my calories at 3000 or 3500 per day in the past when I was on the SAD and it truly destroyed my digestion, and I didn't gain weight anyway, so I'm cautious about that particular approach.


        • #5
          105 lbs is too skinny for a guy unless you're a midget or anorexic.

          Start a good strength training program, could be starting strength or westside for skinny bastards for example (but a program with barbells, progress with bodyweight exercises is a lot slower). Strength training will boost your appetite, but stuffing yourself is still key really. 3000 calories may be enough for your current bodyweight, but based on your past experiences it probably isn't and you should aim even higher, 4000+.

          Eating that much with clean foods is hard work in and off itself, but people do it myself included. Some things that help the process:

          Increase meal frequency - sounds like you're eating twice a day, start eating 3 times a day or 4 times a day so you won't have to eat as much at once.

          Drink your calories - you're drinking a smoothie already, but instead of eating it as a meal in and of itself drink it together with your solid meals so your appetite won't be blunted in the same manner. I do 1/2gomad but I am scandinavian and tolerate it well. If you do aswell it is an option.

          Add fats to stuff - apart from cooking oils, a lot of egg and beef dishes do well with a generous scoop of creme fraiche, vegetables do well with butter or animal fat, add some whipping cream to your skillet and make a quick sauce etc. When it comes to meat you should also choose fattier cuts. Chicken with skin, 20/80 ground beef or w/e. Ditch the lean expensive stuff.

          Eat some starch: pretty simple, some white rice, peeled potatoes, sweet potatoes/yams etc. Eat these on a regular basis.
          Good luck on your journey


          • #6
            diet alone isnt going to do it! when I was late teens early 20's i could eat anything and everything and not gain weight

            your body needs signals that it needs to add muscle, this doesnt come from diet but from exercise. LIFT HEAVY THINGS. If you do that, your body will say "holy cow, somethings different we need more muscle" then it will use the extra claories you consume to build some muscle.

            an interesting read is that herschel walker put on substantial weight in highschool just with pushups sit ups and sprints. the body weight exercise and the testosterone associated with the sprints helped him add strngth and mass.

            stress your body with heavy lifts and sprints and it should respond by adding muscle. If all you do is up your calories without giving yoru body the signals it needs to know what to do with the food you eat then all the extra calories you consume will turn either to fat or crap.


            • #7
              thanks for the advice Pandadude... I don't really think I'm going to be able to do GOMAD and I'm pretty sure it would exacerbate the acne problem, especially with store bought milk. And if I'm going to consume that much milk it would have to be cheap stuff, not farm fresh raw grass-fed! I can't afford a gallon of the good stuff every single day and would be lucky to even find it in my area. It doesn't seem worth it to trade a little *possible* weight gain for the health drawbacks of consuming mass amounts of factory-farm dairy.

              Like I said, I'm not really interested in trying to "get big" or spend all my time lifting. So maybe there's not much I can do... I want to be healthy and was just concerned about the weight. You say "midget or anorexic" which I can assure you I'm neither. I'm fine with my body image, I just had concerns about health. Seems like a lot of people are after a certain weight for vanity issues, and yes that includes dudes trying to get ripped or whatever. I don't mean to offend anyone if that's your thing, but it's not really one of my goals here...

              Also, with 4000+ cals.... How in the world could you digest it properly??? That was the worst part when I tried that before. My stomach hurt all the time and I was eating 4 or 5 times a day. And like I said, I didn't gain any weight for all that... I felt miserable! My goal is to improve my health and quality of life, and jumping through a lot of hoops and messing up my digestion in the process sounds diametrically opposed to that goal.


              • #8
                I would relax about it. Increased satiety on paleo can be a problem, so it's a good idea to check your calorie intake for a week to ensure you're hitting your requirements. Paleo made my body weight set point drop by abour 6 pounds, and I was already skinny. Now I'm muscley skinny though, and I've decided to ignore BMI nonsense. If this is the weight my body wants to be when I'm eating the best food available to man, so be it.
                My primal journal
                You might find these handy: Free gluten free restaurant cards in 50+ languages
                In Praise of the Primal Lifestyle


                • #9
                  The fact that you're only 6lbs heavier than me - a 5'3" teenage girl- certainly makes me think yeah, you're a bit too skinny! I'd definately start upping the fats and doing some muscle-building exercises. Muscle gain doesn't instantly equal 'getting big' or ripped, so don't worry about that! Don't start over-eating either, I don't see the sense in that. Eat until you're full.. just eat the right stuff!
                  Bunny trainer extraordinaire!


                  • #10
                    Muscle-building isn't just for looks, but for health, too. There's positive correlations with long life and higher muscle mass and higher bone density, both of which result from lifting heavy things.

                    BMI is a useful tool for looking at statistics of populations, but not really for individuals.
                    Last edited by jfreaksho; 08-25-2011, 05:24 AM.


                    • #11
                      BMI doesn't say much about individual health, no. But 105 lbs on a 5'6" man is way, way too skinny for health or vanity. I weigh 105 lbs and I am 5'5" and so very tiny and bony (and I have at least 17% body fat!)... I can hardly imagine what my size looks like on a guy. Most 13-year-old girls weigh more than us.

                      I too have always been skinny but I have gained weight, not lost, on a primal diet due to meal planning and strength training. I had to add starches (100+g daily) back in to feel my best and meet my fitness and weight goals. If you used to be heavier pre-primal you should be more than capable of gaining back to that point. I also destroyed my digestion stuffing myself pre-primal - yay IBS! As long as I avoid trigger foods it's been no problem to eat 3000+ cals on primal - mostly from fat, at least 100g daily of protein as well. I consume a great deal of heavy cream, butter, and coconut oil (but always along with 'real food', I can't understand people who can drink plain fat - I saturate my mashed potatoes, eggs, veggies, meat and fish with fats is all).

                      And if you really want to know if we think you are too thin - pictures would help. I suppose it's possible you have a skeleton even tinier than mine...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JBoogie View Post

                        I mean, I wouldn't mind a few extra pounds of muscle but am not really up to the commitment right now, especially on primal/paleo diet.
                        The OP is not up for the commitment right now. Don't know if anyone else noticed this.

                        JBoogie, how do you feel at this weight? How are your energy levels?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JoPaleo View Post
                          The OP is not up for the commitment right now. Don't know if anyone else noticed this.
                          Well nobody should pat him on his back and say that he is at a healthy weight. Starting strength takes an hour a day 3 times a week, hardly "being in the gym all day" imo. Still if thats too much even a well programmed bodyweight program can improve your physique and add some much needed mass.

                          To the OP: I didn't say you had to do GOMAD, just that it's easier to get cals in with liquid calories, and something similar to your smoothie should be fine. Digestion isn't an issue if you have a healthy gut. Obviously this isn't the case if you're eating tons of grains, but if you keep the food clean it shouldn't be a problem (toilet visits will probably increase though). Ramping the calories up gradually will help aswell.


                          • #14
                            He posted basically asking if he was too thin. The answer is certainly 'yes'. If he doesn't want to do anything about it, that's his choice, but I'm not going to be supportive of anyone being so underweight.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pandadude View Post
                              Well nobody should pat him on his back and say that he is at a healthy weight. Starting strength takes an hour a day 3 times a week, hardly "being in the gym all day" imo. Still if thats too much even a well programmed bodyweight program can improve your physique and add some much needed mass.
                              And I agree with you on the strength aspect of your post. I also don't know the OP and I'd rather ask him some questions to find out where he is at first.
                              What classifies as underweight? Is it just the numbers? Other factors?

                              Maybe he will change his mind about committing to lifting, maybe not. Like animalcule said, that's his choice.