A woman holding the waist of baggy pants with lungs on her shirt

Trying to Gain Weight with Severe COPD

Have you ever noticed that people are usually trying to lose weight? All those adverts and commercials on the TV and social media stating how to lose weight. How about those trying to gain weight? I'm one of those that need to keep the weight on.

It is hard work

I've always been small built - I'm what some people would call "lucky." I can eat and eat and very rarely put weight on (if I do, it's not much). It is not luck and it is hard work to maintain my weight. As I'm an anxious person, I burn calories that way.

It was difficult for me to put on weight with COPD

When we have COPD it's hard to maintain a good, healthy weight. I have severe emphysema. I burn a lot of calories by breathing, so even if I'm just sitting down I'm burning up those calories. It's so important to eat small meals and often. Plus if you smoke, stop ASAP. I used to so I stopped just over 3 and half years ago (smoking does suppress the appetite). I was on build up drinks for over 12 months but been off them a couple of years.

My current weight gain plan

Eating a high calorie diet with a few cheeky snacks, I'm able to maintain a healthy weight of 9 stone 6lb (59.874 kilo, 132lbs). When exercising I make sure I drink plenty of squash. When I've finished the exercises, I have a snack of 3 biscuits with cheese - that way calories burnt are replenished. 

How can someone living with COPD gain weight?

It's not an easy battle to keep the weight on but you learn to adjust to what your needs are. I felt I needed to share this as we're always hearing about how to lose weight and not much about how to gain weight which is just as important and can be just as hard. To gain the weight we need to put it on gradually (like those who need to lose it gradually). That way we get to have the chance to keep the weight on that we have gained.

Eat small meals and snack a lot

Many people say I am so lucky to be small and oh how they wish they could lose weight and be like me. Well, I look at them and think 'oh I so wish I was like you'. Smoking dampens the appetite, so once I quit I did start to eat better and eat more, but the severity of my COPD means I burn a lot of calories just in my breathing.

Nice things high in calories

I eat small meals regularly and snack a lot in between. Nice things high in calories, like a KitKat or Mars bars or even cakes. It's the only way I can keep my weight on. But my meals are always healthy. After exercising I would have something like cheese and crackers with an apple just to bring my calories back up that I would've burnt off.

It becomes second nature

You tend to learn as you go along and then it becomes second nature in what you do. Somehow I do think it is harder to gain weight and maintain it than to lose it. But once it's on you can keep it on. All things are possible with perseverance.

Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Debz passed away in October of 2021. She is deeply missed but her positivity and resilience live on through her articles. Thank you for everything, Debz.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.