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Too skinny? Add Muscle, not Fat

Weight gain should always be in the form of muscle, not fat. To build muscle, start a weight-bearing exercise program. Go to a gym and learn how to do the weight training circuit. It only takes 15 extra grams of protein a day to build a pound of muscle a week -- so you really won't need to eat a lot more. Muscle is far more dense than fat. Once you are exercising regularly and gaining muscle, your appetite will probably increase and you will eat more without any conscious effort. Most muscular people and heavy exercisers will eat plenty to meet their calorie needs. The training tables for football teams are piled high with every kind of food.

It's never too late to start a weight training program. Underweight older people look and feel frail because they have lost most of their muscles, not because of lack of fat. If you are inactive, you lose muscle mass to the point where you are unable to carry out daily activities -- climbing stairs, getting up out of a chair -- because your muscles are not strong enough to move the weight of your own body. Don't try to add fat to a weak body. Overweight older people often have the double burden of weak muscles AND 20, 40 or more extra pounds to lug around with them every day.

Checked 3/29/12

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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