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victoria1

Low BMI and health

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Hi!

 

I am new here but have been practicing calorie restriction for about 6 months now and I must say I have never felt better. The only thing that has kind of been on my mind lately is my BMI, only because my doctor pointed out that I looked thin and wanted to weigh me when I went in to his office to get blood testes done. All of the testes came back great. He calculated my BMI to be around 16 which is classified as underweight. I knew that I had lost some weight because my clothes got a bit looser, but I feel really good, have tons of energy and just overall in good health that it never occurred to me to check my weight and BMI. Since my doctors visit I have been kind of worried, even though I feel great and my bloodwork is fine. And BMI doesn't really say that much about your health, but I just can't get it out of my head. So I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences? Or any knowlege about just how important BMI really is for your overall health?

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Hi Victoria,

 

Welcome to the CR Forums!

 

So I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences? Or any knowledge about just how important BMI really is for your overall health?

 

A low BMI per se is not a problem, and many of us experience more energy when practicing a healthy, CR diet. You're doing the right thing getting blood tests, and it's good to hear they all look good. Dropping to a BMI of 16 on CR is relatively uncommon, but not unheard of, particularly in women. As long as it doesn't become an eating disorder, the biggest things to worry about are amenorrhea (which might or might not be a problem), but which might be accompanied by osteoporosis. Some of us also have concerns about sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), which may cause trouble as we get older.  We hope that exercise (particularly resistance training and weight bearing exercise) can attenuate the bone and muscle loss, but only time will tell. Some of us are also experimenting with whole body vibration therapy for bone and muscle health.

 

Also watch out for getting sick frequently, or if your energy drops off once you've been at CR for a while longer. Those are other signs you're likely to be going too far.

 

Hope this helps!

 

--Dean

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BMI is of limited value.  A body builder may have very little body fat but have high bmi while a tall person with a slender frame might have a higher body fat percentage and score quite low.

 

I have a muscle wasting disease.  My BMI didn't look too bad but I eventually came to the realization that with my lack of muscle my body fat percentage had to be high and I would likely rank as obese if that was the metric.

 

Instead of targeting a 'healthy' BMI I'd try to decide what aspects of yourself if any you feel need tweaking.  Would you like more muscle?  Is your body fat percentage exceptionally low and needing a boost?  Maybe your bone density is low?

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Waist to hip ratio is a better metric than BMI -- it gives a better indication of the amount of visceral fat.

 

  --  Saul

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Saul (and Todd),

 

Are you serious? Victoria has a BMI of 16. Here is another woman (not Victoria!) with a BMI of 16:

 

xA99Ddz.png

 

Do you men really think Victoria is going to learn a lot about her level of visceral fat using waist to hip ratio rather than BMI? 

 

Clueless, as usual...

 

--Dean

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Todd,

Victoria didn't tell us anything about her height, weight, age, diet, exercise regimen or other health issues.

 

You are right, she told us only her BMI. 

 

Maybe she looks like this:

http://www.africanat...ics.org/?p=2187

 

Maybe, and that would be extremely impressive, but then she wouldn't have a BMI of 16 would she?

 

The athlete in your photo is Gladys Cherono, a Kenyan female marathon runner. Here is an even more impressive picture of her:

 

yeWgxqM.png

 

From her bio, Gladys is 1.66m (5'5") and 50kg (110 lbs), which equates to a BMI of 18.1.

 

In short, you can't have quad muscles like Gladys and a BMI of 16.

 

--Dean

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Dean, I confess I neglected to look up the BMI ranges and assumed Victoria was concerned with a borderline low BMI. In a quick search of BMI interpretation ranges I see most classify underweight as below 18.5 though there are places that show it at 19 or 18. And I've seen a couple places with extended ranges for extreme underweight and obesity with extreme underweight being below 17 or 16.5.

 

Which means Gladys who looks pretty healthy to me at 18.1 would be considered underweight by many and could run into the very scenario Victoria described of being warned about the dangers of excessive thinness in a typical American health clinic...

 

Seeing that some consider a BMI of 16 not just underweight but rather extreme underweight merits more concern, however a look at 14 year olds in villages such as where Gladys is from found an average BMI for boys of 15.5.

http://www.runnersworld.com/peak-performance/why-are-kenyan-distance-runners-so-fast

So one might imagine there are circumstances where 16 might not be all that low let alone extreme.

 

Now to hijack this thread down the dark scary hole of nutrition, the thought of lean Kenyan runners completely dominating competitive running lead me to Google search their secrets, in particular what is the diet of champions?

 

The majority of the best runners are members of the Kalenjin tribe with traditional rural lifestyles, people practicing subsistence agriculture and livestock herding on the western upper rim of the Great Rift Valley. It turns out they aren't fueled by an advanced technology that has outpaced our ability to optimize performance through supplements and concentrated soy protein. Rather they typically don't take supplements. Nor are they eating significant amounts of superfood seeds and berries such as quinoa, chia, or acai. Not even soy.

 

They eat a starch heavy diet with a lot of calories from plain sugar (20%!) and full fat milk or cream (14%) taken with tea which is typically their primary beverage, eclipsing plain water. They mainly eat plants but are not vegan purists. Their most common dish, ugali, is a cornmeal porridge with vegetables, often with a little goat meat, sometimes chicken or beef. And they eat some Fish. You are probably thinking they have made a faustian bargain choosing a diet to optimize short term performance but the devil quickly gets payback when they die young from diabetes and heart disease from the sugar and animal products. But I have not found evidence they suffer excessively from diabetes or heart disease. The life expectancy of the Kalenjin is among the best not only in Kenya, but of all Africa, apparently with infectious diseases being leading causes of death as opposed to dietary induced chronic illness.

 

Perhaps it's noteworthy that they aren't eating the modern miracles of our processed food industry. I just read a book, "Salt, Sugar, Fat" by Michael Moss and despite names like Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip it paints a fairly bleak picture of commercial processed foods where the driving motivation is maximizing profit which does not align well with maximizing healthfulness.

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Todd,

 

Seeing that some consider a BMI of 16 not just underweight but rather extreme underweight merits more concern, however a look at 14 year olds in villages such as where Gladys is from found an average BMI for boys of 15.5.

 

It is well known that kids have naturally low BMI due to their less developed physiques. That is why for young people, BMI percentile rather than absolute BMI is used to assess kids for obesity or underweight. See this article about BMI and children from the CDC. 

 

--Dean

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Hi Victoria,

 

Welcome to the CR Forums!

 

So I was wondering if any of you have had similar experiences? Or any knowledge about just how important BMI really is for your overall health?

 

A low BMI per se is not a problem, and many of us experience more energy when practicing a healthy, CR diet. You're doing the right thing getting blood tests, and it's good to hear they all look good. Dropping to a BMI of 16 on CR is relatively uncommon, but not unheard of, particularly in women. As long as it doesn't become an eating disorder, the biggest things to worry about are amenorrhea (which might or might not be a problem), but which might be accompanied by osteoporosis. Some of us also have concerns about sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), which may cause trouble as we get older.  We hope that exercise (particularly resistance training and weight bearing exercise) can attenuate the bone and muscle loss, but only time will tell. Some of us are also experimenting with whole body vibration therapy for bone and muscle health.

 

Also watch out for getting sick frequently, or if your energy drops off once you've been at CR for a while longer. Those are other signs you're likely to be going too far.

 

Hope this helps!

 

--Dean

 

Thank you for your response Dean!

 

What you are saying makes a lot of sense and I try to exercise every day to be sure I don't loose muscle mass. Amenorrhea is not really a problem, at least not yet as I still get my period. I am also aware of that people with eating disorders like anorexia often has a low BMI, but as far as I know it is complex mental illness that goes way beyond just food and weight so I am not worried about that me suddenly getting an eating disorder. I have not lost a lot of weight since I started practicing CR with optimal nutrition, maybe 7 kg in about 6 months. And it does not seem like I am dropping more weight, so I think it might just be my body getting used to the new lifestyle.

 

The thing is that I feel amazing. And it would never occurred to me to calculate my BMI if it wasn't for my doctors concern. Before CR I often felt lethargic, depressed and had acne. Now my acne has almost gone away, I am no longer depressed and I have a lot of energy to do things I want and exercise. I now exercise almost every day, before I hardly had energy for 1 workout a week. I don't get sick more often than before either. But I am still worried about that BMI number. I am not sure why, because every other aspect of my health is great. Maybe because it has been pushed as an fairy important tool for assessing your health status my medical professionals? It's just a formula..

 

 

Saul (and Todd),

 

Are you serious? Victoria has a BMI of 16. Here is another woman (not Victoria!) with a BMI of 16:

 

xA99Ddz.png

 

Do you men really think Victoria is going to learn a lot about her level of visceral fat using waist to hip ratio rather than BMI? 

 

Clueless, as usual...

 

--Dean

 

This picture is actually a very accurate representation of how my body looks. I am not very muscular, but not very thin.

 

Victoria didn't tell us anything about her height, weight, age, diet, exercise regimen or other health issues.

 

When it comes to my diet it is based on a lot of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I also eat some pasta, potatoes and rice.

Edited by victoria1

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Victoria,

 

It sounds like you are doing great - congratulations! I really hope you'll stay and engage with us on these forums. We have far too little participation from women. Your perspective would be greatly appreciated!

 

--Dean

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Victoria,

 

It sounds like you are doing great - congratulations! I really hope you'll stay and engage with us on these forums. We have far too little participation from women. Your perspective would be greatly appreciated!

 

--Dean

 

Thanks, I will keep updating. I am glad I found a community where people are supportive and understand what I am doing.

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Victoria, it seems risky to me that you are at a low weight and you are on a calorie restricted diet and you are not actively tracking your weight and you don't seem to have goals beyond how you feel.  We can have trouble perceiving slow changes in ourselves and if you are still slowly losing weight you might not realize it until you feel quite a bit worse.

 

Also, it sounds like when you started restricting calories you made changes to optimize for nutrition.  In which case, you might be feeling better due to improved nutrition instead of the reduction in calories.

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Victoria,

 

I think Todd does have a point.  It is probably not enough to just go by how you feel.

 

And while a BMI of 16 is probably perfectly fine when you're relatively young (BTW, how old are you, if you don't mind me asking?), you do need to be concerned about not losing more weight, and in particularly not losing bone mass and muscle mass, which get harder and harder to maintain, to say nothing of replace, as you get older. Fortunately it sounds like your weight is stable now, but I too would say it would be wise to start tracking your weight (maybe once per week) just to make sure you don't lose more, and to make sure you get enough weight-bearing exercise, including some resistance training in your regime as well.

 

But what you really should do first and foremost, given your presumably low calorie intake, is to run a typical few days of your diet through CRON-O-Meter to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs. It is really quite straightforward, especially if you eat a clean, mostly whole food diet, which it sounds like you do. 

 

--Dean

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Victoria, it seems risky to me that you are at a low weight and you are on a calorie restricted diet and you are not actively tracking your weight and you don't seem to have goals beyond how you feel.  We can have trouble perceiving slow changes in ourselves and if you are still slowly losing weight you might not realize it until you feel quite a bit worse.

 

Also, it sounds like when you started restricting calories you made changes to optimize for nutrition.  In which case, you might be feeling better due to improved nutrition instead of the reduction in calories.

 

Thanks for your answer Todd!

 

My goal is to do a lifelong "experiment" and see for myself if the science is right, so essentially my goal is to live a longer, healthier and happier life. So you're right, that is what matters to me, not my weight and BMI. But my doctor kind of disagree, and it seems like many others do too. So I wonder why that is? Is really BMI an important diagnostic tool? And may I ask why you think it seems risky? My doctor made me think that my BMI is important, but didn't stress about it because all my bloodwork came back fine. 

 

Victoria,

 

I think Todd does have a point.  It is probably not enough to just go by how you feel.

 

And while a BMI of 16 is probably perfectly fine when you're relatively young (BTW, how old are you, if you don't mind me asking?), you do need to be concerned about not losing more weight, and in particularly not losing bone mass and muscle mass, which get harder and harder to maintain, to say nothing of replace, as you get older. Fortunately it sounds like your weight is stable now, but I too would say it would be wise to start tracking your weight (maybe once per week) just to make sure you don't lose more, and to make sure you get enough weight-bearing exercise, including some resistance training in your regime as well.

 

But what you really should do first and foremost, given your presumably low calorie intake, is to run a typical few days of your diet through CRON-O-Meter to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs. It is really quite straightforward, especially if you eat a clean, mostly whole food diet, which it sounds like you do. 

 

--Dean

 

Why do you think it is not enough? I have been thinking about this a lot and I would rather disregard my BMI and weight than gaining weight, and possibly feel worse, just so I can have a "normal" BMI number. I just turned 21, so I am quite young. I hope that by starting CRON now, I will be able to get the benefits from it, as I said above, if the science really is right. 

 

Thank you for the tip, I have just ordered a scale that measures weight, body fat and muscle mass. It also said that it measures bone mass, but not bone density which can only be measured by doing a scan. So I wonder how do I know if I am loosing bone density? I do exercise once a day and I do mostly resistance training at home. The only "cardio" I get is from walking, about 20-30 minutes each day, so not a lot but better than nothing.

 

I will try to track my daily intake tomorrow, but I am sure it is good because I did track it when I first started and I haven't changed much since than really.

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Victoria,

 

First off, you said:

 

This picture is actually a very accurate representation of how my body looks. I am not very muscular, but not very thin.

 

Am I reading that right? You consider woman in the photo I posted (model Constance Jablonski who has a BMI of 16) to be "not very thin"? Please correct me if I'm misinterpreting your words, since if you really think that, it seems a bit troubling to me.

 

My goal is to do a lifelong "experiment" and see for myself if the science is right, so essentially my goal is to live a longer, healthier and happier life. So you're right, that is what matters to me, not my weight and BMI. But my doctor kind of disagree, and it seems like many others do too. So I wonder why that is? Is really BMI an important diagnostic tool? And may I ask why you think it seems risky? My doctor made me think that my BMI is important, but didn't stress about it because all my bloodwork came back fine. 

 

and:

 

Why do you think it is not enough? I have been thinking about this a lot and I would rather disregard my BMI and weight than gaining weight, and possibly feel worse, just so I can have a "normal" BMI number. I just turned 21, so I am quite young. I hope that by starting CRON now, I will be able to get the benefits from it, as I said above, if the science really is right. 

 

Wow - I'm impressed. You've really got your head in the game at 21 - Good for you! I didn't realize from your first post how serious you were, and how your goal is to optimize health and longevity.

 

Now that I know better where you hope to be headed, I've got some bad news for you. Your doctor and mom are (almost certainly) right. A BMI of 16 is riskier to maintain than a "healthy" BMI in the neighborhood of 20-22, if the available data is to be believed (which, admittedly, some smart people dispute). 

 

The evidence is discussed in great detail several places on these forums, most notably in this thread about the Optimal Late-Life BMI for Longevity (short answer at least a BMI of 21-22, probably closer to 25-26), and more relevant for you since you're young, this one called Will Serious CR Beat a Healthy Obesity-Avoiding Diet & Lifestyle (short answer based on the evidence as I see it - 'No'), and this one called Relationship between BMI and Disease, Longevity (which also points to 21-22 being the optimal BMI in middle age, even for healthy non-smokers), and finally this one called Body Mass Index and All-Cause Mortality (same conclusion).

 

If you are really serious, I recommend you read all four of those threads and judge for yourself based on the evidence presented. As for the explanation for why it's not so good to be very thin, I recommend reading this post in particular from the third of those four threads (and elaborated here in the fourth) for a range of explanations, including what I still think is the best explanation via an analogy between the survival of chubby "flasks" and skinny "test tubes" in a laboratory setting.

 

In short, being extremely thin like you are might not be so bad at age 21, since your body is fairly bulletproof (he says with irony and great sadness almost exactly 2 years to the day since losing to cancer someone he loved dearly and who would be about your age now...). But being very thin makes you more "fragile" at any age, and less able to recover from health challenges and setbacks caused by injury or disease, and therefore more likely to succumb to them. This fragility disadvantage of being very thin grows with age, but so do the negative effects of being overweight/obese. So the sweet spot appears to be a BMI in the low 20s (25-26 when older) where you have enough meat on your bones to weather life's slings and arrows, but not so much to as to damage your health via an increased risk of major killers, like CVD, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.

 

So there you have it. I know it's not what you want to hear, but if you seriously want to maximize your chance of living a long and healthy life, ironically my advice would be to forget about CR per se, gain some weight (to a BMI of at least 18), while eating a super-healthy diet and pursuing a healthy (physically and mentally active) lifestyle.

 

I'll be curious if any of the heavyweights around here (figuratively speaking, of course. You know who you are) would care to chime in with a contrary perspective. If not, I rest my case in advance...

 

--Dean

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Victoria, If you are not consuming much in the way of animal products it is super important to take supplemental B12.  You won't feel a thing in the early stages of B12 deficiency but the silent damage can be horrendous.  Many well meaning vegetarians and vegans have died early or done themselves irreparable harm due to B12 deficiency, myself included, simply because they weren't paying sufficient attention.  The is a common and fairly easy to avoid pitfall.  B12 deficiency comes on slow.  Your liver stores a huge amount of B12 compared to what you need on a daily basis and can prevent your blood level from falling into the danger zone for a very long time.  If your blood level gets low, your liver is depleted and you need massive doses to keep your blood level up while your liver recharges.  The whole thing is complicated by the fact that a small number of people have significantly reduced ability to absorb dietary B12 and everyone's ability to absorb it declines at somewhat varying rates with age.

 

If you don't already know that you have been tested for serum B12 in your blood tests and found at a healthy level, you want to find out ASAP.  If you weren't tested, demand to get tested right away and after testing and consultation with someone able to evaluate the result and your dietary history to determine if your ability to absorb B12 is normal or impaired make a plan for how you will get/maintain sufficient B12 going forward.

 

On a low calorie diet there may be other nutrients that can become challenging to get at sufficient levels which is why Dean is recommending you track your diet with the CRONOMETER software available for free use through a web browser.  Vitamin D is a common deficiency especially when one doesn't get sufficient sun (and too much sun damages skin and promotes cancer) and calcium deficiency can range from minor to severe but even a minor deficiency may accelerate bone loss which is a common problem for people as the age and a bigger issue for thin people.  Calcium has the additional complication that diets high in certain otherwise very healthy vegetables can promote deficiency by interfering with one's ability to absorb calcium.

 

Also, nutritional science is incomplete and opinions on what is ideal and what is essential are in flux.  Most believe that a diet that meets/exceeds currently known needs is likely to be sufficient for unknown ones as well but the closer one hangs to edge the greater the risk of coming up short on something unknown.

 

In summary, while it *might* be possible to significantly extend lifespan staying uncommonly thin on a low calorie diet, the more aggressively one pushes it the more challenging it is to avoid dietary insufficiencies which can be more harmful than being overweight.  You are in the aggressive zone and if you wan to stay there without harming yourself you want to be diligent.  That is the reason for the suggestion to maintain a higher BMI.  It is statistically easier to be healthy at a BMI of 20 than at 16.

 

And women have an additional concern/risk with pregnancy.  Pregnancy adds to the nutritional sufficiency challenges for both mother and baby and being very thin in pregnancy increases the challenge and risks for both mother and baby.

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If you've got no serious underlying health conditions then I don't see why you can't maintain a BMI of 16 and be healthy, especially at your age. When I started CR, I also maintained a BMI of around 16 for quite a long time, about 5-6 years in fact, and don't recall any major problems while being that low. I was near your age when I started as well. I think the only time I was concerned was when I did catch the flu, and had a fever for about a week and no appetite... a little worrying, but my weight didn't drop as I managed to get a few meals and snacks in. As Dean mention already, one of the risks is that you don't have a lot of reserves.... But girls seem to be able to survive more extreme (lower) BMI's than males.  Besides, at your age, if you're healthy and fit, the risk is still very small. Just use extra some extra caution and be aware of your body... get regular tests and make sure you're getting all the nutrition you need.

If your body is similar to that of the woman above, I think that looks fine :) 

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If you've got no serious underlying health conditions then I don't see why you can't maintain a BMI of 16 and be healthy, especially at your age. When I started CR, I also maintained a BMI of around 16 for quite a long time, about 5-6 years in fact, and don't recall any major problems while being that low. I was near your age when I started as well. I think the only time I was concerned was when I did catch the flu, and had a fever for about a week and no appetite... a little worrying, but my weight didn't drop as I managed to get a few meals and snacks in. As Dean mention already, one of the risks is that you don't have a lot of reserves.... But girls seem to be able to survive more extreme (lower) BMI's than males.  Besides, at your age, if you're healthy and fit, the risk is still very small. Just use extra some extra caution and be aware of your body... get regular tests and make sure you're getting all the nutrition you need.

If your body is similar to that of the woman above, I think that looks fine :) 

 

Thank you for sharing your experience. I still feel like I am doing the right thing by listening to my body, even after reading the threads Dean linked in the post above. After a lot of research and from my own experience, I have come to the conclusion that, for me personally, BMI is a fairly useless indicator of health. My blood tests, energy levels and mental health tell a lot more. And I get all the necessary nutrients and exercise.

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Victoria,

 

First off, you said:

 

This picture is actually a very accurate representation of how my body looks. I am not very muscular, but not very thin.

 

Am I reading that right? You consider woman in the photo I posted (model Constance Jablonski who has a BMI of 16) to be "not very thin"? Please correct me if I'm misinterpreting your words, since if you really think that, it seems a bit troubling to me.

 

My goal is to do a lifelong "experiment" and see for myself if the science is right, so essentially my goal is to live a longer, healthier and happier life. So you're right, that is what matters to me, not my weight and BMI. But my doctor kind of disagree, and it seems like many others do too. So I wonder why that is? Is really BMI an important diagnostic tool? And may I ask why you think it seems risky? My doctor made me think that my BMI is important, but didn't stress about it because all my bloodwork came back fine. 

 

and:

 

Why do you think it is not enough? I have been thinking about this a lot and I would rather disregard my BMI and weight than gaining weight, and possibly feel worse, just so I can have a "normal" BMI number. I just turned 21, so I am quite young. I hope that by starting CRON now, I will be able to get the benefits from it, as I said above, if the science really is right. 

 

Wow - I'm impressed. You've really got your head in the game at 21 - Good for you! I didn't realize from your first post how serious you were, and how your goal is to optimize health and longevity.

 

Now that I know better where you hope to be headed, I've got some bad news for you. Your doctor and mom are (almost certainly) right. A BMI of 16 is riskier to maintain than a "healthy" BMI in the neighborhood of 20-22, if the available data is to be believed (which, admittedly, some smart people dispute). 

 

The evidence is discussed in great detail several places on these forums, most notably in this thread about the Optimal Late-Life BMI for Longevity (short answer at least a BMI of 21-22, probably closer to 25-26), and more relevant for you since you're young, this one called Will Serious CR Beat a Healthy Obesity-Avoiding Diet & Lifestyle (short answer based on the evidence as I see it - 'No'), and this one called Relationship between BMI and Disease, Longevity (which also points to 21-22 being the optimal BMI in middle age, even for healthy non-smokers), and finally this one called Body Mass Index and All-Cause Mortality (same conclusion).

 

If you are really serious, I recommend you read all four of those threads and judge for yourself based on the evidence presented. As for the explanation for why it's not so good to be very thin, I recommend reading this post in particular from the third of those four threads (and elaborated here in the fourth) for a range of explanations, including what I still think is the best explanation via an analogy between the survival of chubby "flasks" and skinny "test tubes" in a laboratory setting.

 

In short, being extremely thin like you are might not be so bad at age 21, since your body is fairly bulletproof (he says with irony and great sadness almost exactly 2 years to the day since losing to cancer someone he loved dearly and who would be about your age now...). But being very thin makes you more "fragile" at any age, and less able to recover from health challenges and setbacks caused by injury or disease, and therefore more likely to succumb to them. This fragility disadvantage of being very thin grows with age, but so do the negative effects of being overweight/obese. So the sweet spot appears to be a BMI in the low 20s (25-26 when older) where you have enough meat on your bones to weather life's slings and arrows, but not so much to as to damage your health via an increased risk of major killers, like CVD, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease.

 

So there you have it. I know it's not what you want to hear, but if you seriously want to maximize your chance of living a long and healthy life, ironically my advice would be to forget about CR per se, gain some weight (to a BMI of at least 18), while eating a super-healthy diet and pursuing a healthy (physically and mentally active) lifestyle.

 

I'll be curious if any of the heavyweights around here (figuratively speaking, of course. You know who you are) would care to chime in with a contrary perspective. If not, I rest my case in advance...

 

--Dean

 

Thank your for the informative post and I will definitely keep all that in mind for the future. But as I said to Matt above, I have come to the opinion that I will disregard the whole BMI aspect, at least for now. I agree that it might be worth thinking about when I am older. I feel like striving to fit into a specific category or number will not really do me anything good. I already feel great!

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I'm pondering after having read the above, surely a concomitant use of both BMI and WHR (waist to height ratio) would give a more complete view of the bodily structure and plotting values with BMI on one axis and WHR on the other may allow to define regions with different characteristics (starvation, overnutrition, resistance or endurance training, and so on). At least if WHR is low with an high BMI we can rule out visceral fat and rule in muscle mass or distributed fat mass. I wonder if anyone has already built some 2D plot like that.

 

16 BMI, even on a woman, in my subjective opinion looks like a periambulating skeleton. It may also be that Ms Victoria is an outlier and will go on enjoying superior health with her very low BMI, although I concur with the usefulness of a fat storehouse in emergency situations. Also, fat triggers some hormonal signals if I get it right and too little may suggest potential problems.

 

Right now I've a BMI=22. The lowest I went was 17, and that was at a starvation point after a reckless stint of raw veganism. I was also weak and anaemic though. 17, after having experienced it, is a near-death value to me.

The highest I went was 25 but after heavy bodybuilding. In the latter case I was extermely muscular but not obese.

 

I wonder about the usefulness of more elaborate indexes like the SBSI described here:

 

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0144639

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Hello again!

 

I just thought I would write a little update here since it's been a while now. I have a BMI slightly under 16 and no one have said that I look like a skeleton or even commented that I look thin, probably because I have a small frame. I just look normal to other people obviously, so I am not worried. My doctor says I'm fine when I go for regular check-ups and I feel good.

 

Still doing CR, haven't really changed much in my diet except cutting out cereals, which just seemed like unnecessary processed sugar to me and incorporated a bit more soups. I am changing up my diet continuously as I don't feel comfortable eating a lot of exactly the same food for long periods of time. But my diet still largely consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

 

For those who see this(just unrelated question): How do you feel about fats and protein in general and omega-3? Are macro nutrient ratio important to you?

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Hi Victoria, pls note there is nothing personal here and of course everyone has absolutely the right to look as they want. 

 

However, the fact that nobody told you that you look like a skeleton does not necessarily mean that nobody thought that. Also, clothings or appearances may deceive. Anyway, objective health of course rules and if you are healthy with your extremely low BMI then you are above any objective criticism. And as far as preferences go, it is a known fact that people like totally different things and appearances. 

 

 

Rotating foods is probably right for you since it's going to ensure some variety in nutrients. My personal feelings about the nutrients you mention:

 

Fats: I'm presently eating 50% to 60% fats. Lots of nuts, EVOO, cocoa butter. I live in an area where there is one of the best olive oils in the world, so I've always eaten lots of fats. I feel all right with that and my lipid profile is good. In your case lots of healthy fats according to your preferences would also be advantageous I reckon. Fats on their own do not stimulate the anti-longevity metabolic pathways and signals (mTOR, Insuline, IGF-1).

 

Protein: I'm presently restricting proteins because that's what my intuition says is right. I may be wrong but I trust some recent research, in particular Valter Longo and collaborators. Pls note that restriction does not mean protein deficiency. In the health & longevity context it means checking that you do not eat significantly more than your minimum requirement, which varies across individuals (pls see the thread: Caloric or proteic restriction?' for details). In your case, due to your very low BMI, I believe that 1 g of protein per kg bodyweight per day would be all right, this would also satisfy the current RDA, based upon the 0.8 value corrected by ideal weight (raw estimate). 

 

Omega-3: I'm definitely not the most nutritionally erudite guy here in this forum. I've neglected to check my omega-3s for the last 40 years (without apparent drawbacks but my diet has always been rich in vegetable fats), but now I've started to check them as a precautionary measure since I'm getting old and besides literature might be right after all. Ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts are the main vegan sources of ALA AFAIK. ALA has a low conversion rate to EPA and that might be an individual feature or maybe an adaptive one in vegetarians (probably so). There are vegan EPA and DHA supplements and if you are concerned about possible deficiencies it might be a good idea to take them. I might even take them and see if my cognitive faculties increase. That would be pretty darn good.

 

Are macronutrients ratio important? Not necessarily IMO. I follow my instinct, just checking proteins and the result is 10% protein, 50-60% fats, 30-40% carbs. Some people may pursue particular targets and restrict carbs+proteins, or restrict fats+proteins. Requirements are usually loosing weight or checking diabetes or preventing or checking CVD or There is another thread on the apparent similar benefits of diets with totally different nutrients ratios.

In your case, I'd just forget about ratios, as far as you make sure to eat your minimum requirement of nutrients. If longevity is your concern, your mTOR is surely in deep slumber, your IGF-1 is most probably ocean-bottom low, your AUC of insuline is most likely ridiculously low. 

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Victoria,

 

It sounds like you are doing great - congratulations! I really hope you'll stay and engage with us on these forums. We have far too little participation from women. Your perspective would be greatly appreciated!

 

--Dean

 

Regarding low BMI, I now discover that it is possible for little old ladies to get anorexia.  The doctor suggested I was losing my muscle mass as well this time.  So now, in addition to gaining weight (even typing it gives me the creeps), I suppose I need to increase work with weights.  My question is do I need to do this in conjunction with increasing protein?  I have found cutting my protein/fat proportions quite invigorating, for variety and energy reasons. Olive oil and yogurt have been suggested as body building.  My go-to's are sweet potato and peanut butter.  I bet I would really enjoy durian if I ever got a chance to try it.  I loved jack fruit and breadfruit when I was in Kona in December.  Thoughts, anyone?

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Essential amminoacids are needed to start MPS (muscle protein synthesis), plus the mechanical stimulus from loads. Not the amount used by bodybuilders, but probably your protein intake should be in the region of 1 g kg-1d-1 or more, even because if you are 65 or more it seems that more than the RDA (0.8 g kg-1d-1) is best. The best protein to build up muscle is whey protein (lots of leucine), from milk, yogurt and even grassfed powdered whey (isolate, not hydrolized). Whole fat dairy products are all good to gain weight. At the same time you should keep your energy intake higher than usual, especially by eating enough carbs.

 

Are you already lifting weights?

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