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Thread: BMI and running

  1. #1
    Member AmyK's Avatar
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    BMI and running

    Just wanted some opinions really.

    At the moment if I calculate my BMI I come up as underweight (it's 17.5). I am pretty skinny but eat what I think is a healthy diet and my mum and sister are a similar size, and don't think I look unhealthy. However, the NHS website seems to think I need to worry about it and I was wondering whether anyone's got any advice. Should I be trying to gain the extra half a stone to hit a 'healthy' weight and if so...

    • What do I eat to gain weight healthily whilst also running 3 times a week (I guess I'm averaging about 20 miles a week at the moment)?
    • Will gaining weight make me slower? - I feel like being little means I've got less to lug uphill, and less to bang down through my knees coming down, but this is probably psychological.
    • Will not gaining weight make me injury prone? Have read that underweight female runners are specially prone to stress fractures.


    I'd like to be able to run as far and fast as my body's able. It's also not impossible that I'll be thinking about kids in the not-too-distant future and I wonder whether pregnancy might take less out of me if I've a bit more meat on my bones.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dave_Mole's Avatar
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    I'm sure someone more versed in these things will be along soon, but there's a "syndrome" called the female athlete triad you might want to look at:
    http://womensrunning.competitor.com/...te-triad_30807
    BUT, as far as I know, this isn't related directly to BMI, which a lot of people don't consider to be a true reflection of the relationship between body shape, weight and overall health. IMHO if your weight is stable and you're eating healthily, then you're doing OK. I don't really think half a stone is here or there.

    BUT: I am not an expert and be very careful indeed when taking health advise from a forum on the internet!!!!!!!!!
    ....it's all downhill from here.

  3. #3
    Master Alexandra's Avatar
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    I usually have a BMI of around 18. At present it is nearer 17. I don't think you should worry unless you are steadily losing weight without trying, AND running slower than before. BMI is generally agreed nowadays to be a poor measurement in any case, as "weight" can be composed of various proportions of water, fat and muscle. Rugby players famously come out as having high BMIs but are not necessarily fat, just very muscular. Very inactive people, particularly older ones, can have a low BMI when their muscles have wasted away but most of what is is left is fat! Bathroom scales that measure one's fluid/fat percentages can be bought quite cheaply these days. I find mine useful & I think this is a better guide than BMI. Competitive female athlets usually have a pretty low fat percentage.

    IMO underweight females may be prone to stress fractures because they don't eat properly, particularly don't consume enough calcium, through fear of putting on weight or just due to being typical young people who are busy and ill-informed and eat junk. You might be able to put on some healthy weight by doing some weight training, but frankly if you don't have that sort of physique in the first place you will struggle to put on many lbs.

    I suggest you celebrate your low weight, as long as you feel OK. I find there is always more to learn about healthy eating and I suggest you prepare for a possible future healthy pregnancy by researching that now. In particular, the latest thinking seems to be that it's best to give up ALL alcohol well BEFORE getting pregnant, as the baby is most vulnerable to the bad effects of alcohol at the earliest stages, before you would necessarily know it was there.
    Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

  4. #4
    Master mr brightside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmyK View Post
    Just wanted some opinions really.

    At the moment if I calculate my BMI I come up as underweight (it's 17.5). I am pretty skinny but eat what I think is a healthy diet and my mum and sister are a similar size, and don't think I look unhealthy. However, the NHS website seems to think I need to worry about it and I was wondering whether anyone's got any advice. Should I be trying to gain the extra half a stone to hit a 'healthy' weight and if so...

    • What do I eat to gain weight healthily whilst also running 3 times a week (I guess I'm averaging about 20 miles a week at the moment)?
    • Will gaining weight make me slower? - I feel like being little means I've got less to lug uphill, and less to bang down through my knees coming down, but this is probably psychological.
    • Will not gaining weight make me injury prone? Have read that underweight female runners are specially prone to stress fractures.


    I'd like to be able to run as far and fast as my body's able. It's also not impossible that I'll be thinking about kids in the not-too-distant future and I wonder whether pregnancy might take less out of me if I've a bit more meat on my bones.
    Personally i wouldn't worry about being underweight unless you have an eating disorder, and i wouldn't try to put weight on by any artificial means. Running the miles and frequency you are talking about will require suffucient nutrient intake to repair muscle fibres, add density to connective tissue and strengthen bones along the axes of force...which is sort of obvious anyway, but depending on your metabolic rate you might be surprised how close to the wind you are sailing.

    I'm skinny like you and i pretty much eat for 2 people without getting fat because my metabolic rate is ballistic; but i have protien shakes after a run as i don't tend to eat much protien, and for maximum uptake protien has to be taken directly after exercise and i don't want to be carrying Kippers around with me.

    Oh, before we go on where did you read that underweight female runners get stress fractures?? that sort of clap-trap is usually found festooning the pages of mags like 'Runners World' which should be ignored, in my anecdotal opinion.

    Different people have different ideas about what a balanced diet is. If you like to eat Special K for breakfast, dodge lunch and have a Weight Watchers ready meal for tea i'd say you are eating a bad diet, but the adverts will have you believe i'm wrong. I eat porridge for breakfast, several large sandwiches for lunch and pies/casseroles for tea with chips; all padded out with raw veg, fruit, crisps etc. and my weight stays at 65Kg +/- 1Kg. I eat a lot of saturated fat, but i also eat a lot of other stuff which is very good for you. Like a lot of people on this forum i also drink beer, not as much as some ruddy-cheeked members i might add, but if i listened to the NHS i'd have a very dull diet full stop. I also weigh myself regularly, you could start doing that too.
    Can't climb for toffee...

  5. #5
    Member AmyK's Avatar
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    Cheers all. I'll chat to my GP if it starts really worrying me, but was just after some opinions and common sense. I don't eat ready meals and tend to stick to stuff that seems less messed-about(butter not marge,wholemeal not refined, sugar or honey not sweeteners etc) and thanks to lovely husband who's a dab hand in the kitchen the occasional pie and a reasonable quantity of cake alongside a mostly high fibre, low meat diet.

    And gin not beer, which is probably less wonderful, and will of course stop before I start properly thinking about babies (I quite fancy doing some longer runs first; am still new to it all!)

  6. #6
    Master Swoop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmyK View Post
    Cheers all. I'll chat to my GP if it starts really worrying me, but was just after some opinions and common sense. I don't eat ready meals and tend to stick to stuff that seems less messed-about(butter not marge,wholemeal not refined, sugar or honey not sweeteners etc) and thanks to lovely husband who's a dab hand in the kitchen the occasional pie and a reasonable quantity of cake alongside a mostly high fibre, low meat diet.

    And gin not beer, which is probably less wonderful, and will of course stop before I start properly thinking about babies (I quite fancy doing some longer runs first; am still new to it all!)
    Don't worry Amy. If you feel good the BMI doesn't matter. Mine is about 17 and I feel fine and have run over 100 races in the last 12 months. I eat a lot of fibre and a lot of cake (Danish pastries, Belgian buns, scones etc - not cream cakes or gateaux!) A few beers but no gin (or any spirits for that matter!)

  7. #7
    Senior Member superflyguy's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure BMI is has been widely discredited. Certainly as a tool to use on it's own. You need to have a much more rounded view of you body composition, diet and exercise. Your GP may be able to help. (although the last one i saw would have difficulty diagnosing a broken leg!)

    naywho, I wouldn't worry about it. I'm borderline overweight, which is frankly ridiculous.
    Adam Speed
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  8. #8
    Master mr brightside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmyK View Post
    Cheers all. I'll chat to my GP if it starts really worrying me, but was just after some opinions and common sense. I don't eat ready meals and tend to stick to stuff that seems less messed-about(butter not marge,wholemeal not refined, sugar or honey not sweeteners etc) and thanks to lovely husband who's a dab hand in the kitchen the occasional pie and a reasonable quantity of cake alongside a mostly high fibre, low meat diet.

    And gin not beer, which is probably less wonderful, and will of course stop before I start properly thinking about babies (I quite fancy doing some longer runs first; am still new to it all!)
    Gin, woah, old schooling it eh.
    Can't climb for toffee...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Tahr's Avatar
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    If your doctor is a good as the one I used to have I wouldn’t put to much faith in what they say, mine told me I was edging overweight at 11:7lbs and 5:10” high, this of cause is due to them using BMI, as said it is now considered by most as a unreliable indicator of health. If you are eating a health diet but your weight is low due to a fast metabolism and your running then I would say you have nothing to worry about. If it is kept low due to a restrictive diet then you might not be getting all the nutrients your body needs which might lead to problems in the long term. Have you actually worked out how many calories you are consuming a day on average? I am no expert BTW.
    ATB

    Tahr
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  10. #10
    Master karen nash's Avatar
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    Mine comes out at 17 point something. But I feel I eat lots, eat healthily on the whole. Yes I drink, perhaps more than I should. I run, enjoy it, eat what I enjoy etc. yes I am slim but not underweight or malnourished. my mm partner is a GP as it thinner!

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