Skinny BMI

What Weight Is Considered Skinny?

What is considered skinny or clinically underweight when it comes to weight?

Body Mass Index

Take a look at the BMI chart. The information is from two big health institutions—the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Find your height and your weight. If you’re in the “green,” you aren’t officially considered skinny.

BMI Guidelines from WHO, CDC and updated with an NIH study (using coloured dots)

Average Skinny Man Weight And Height

Let’s take the average male height at 5’8 or 176cm.

Clinically underweight or dangerously skinny:

  • BMI of 15, 16, 17, or 18
  • 100–120 pounds (46–55kg)

Most regular people would consider a 5’8 man was still skinny at:

  • BMI of 19 or 20
  • 120–140 pounds (54.4kg–63.5)

Average Skinny Woman Weight And Height

The average woman is 5’4 or 163cm. Clinically underweight or dangerously skinny for the average woman:

  • BMI of 15, 16, 17, 18
  • Under 100 pounds—110 pounds (50kg)

Most regular people would consider a 5’4 woman was still skinny at:

  • BMI of 19 or 20
  • 110–120 pounds (50kg–54.5kg)

About Body Mass Index

Aim To Be A Little Bit Heavier From Muscle

In 2010, a study from the National Institutes of Health found that people were still getting negative health effects from being underweight even in the 18 and 19 BMI “normal” bodyweight category.

That means, people were still getting negative side effects from being skinny, even if they had a “normal” BMI.

So if you’re trying to avoid the health effects of being underweight, you ought to aim for getting a BMI of at least 20, and probably aim to get closer to the middle, around 22-23 at least, from lean mass (not fat.)

Body Mass Index Isn’t Perfect But It’s Decent

It’s good to remember that the BMI measurement isn’t perfect. It has problems with shorter and taller people. And it doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat.

For example, an elite athlete might be considered “overweight” in terms of BMI just because they carry a lot of muscle.

They might otherwise have a perfect bill of health because they’re active, muscular, and put a high priority on health like eating well.

Someone who is skinny-fat might even be in the “normal” BMI category, despite having low levels of muscle and too much fat.

Saying goodbye to being Skinny

My personal opinion: it’s worth fixing a skinny body

If you are skinny, I’d highly recommend working on fixing it. This isn’t coming from a place of condemnation or judgement but rather encouragement. I was dangerously skinny at one point in my life. I was 6.0 tall (183cm) at 130 pounds (59kg), making me clinically underweight, or dangerously skinny. Once I rapidly added over 30 pounds in one month in an experiment my roommate and I dubbed “Muscle May,” many of my health problems were erased (alopecia, tendonitis, feeling weak, etc.)

I gained 4.75 inches on my shoulders, too.

Transforming From Skinny To Fit

If you’re skinny, ideally, that extra weight wouldn’t come from more fat, but from more muscle. Muscle is incredibly healthy as it plays a central role in metabolism and prevents a number of common diseases. (2006 review)

Now, this may seem unbelievable at first, but skinny guys and gals can build muscle so fast, that it’s almost on a steroid-like level — the reason why is because they are very far from their genetic potential in terms of muscle mass. Their body is practically begging to build muscle, and just need the right stimulus (resistance training), the right nutrition (such as lots of protein), and the right amount of quality sleep.

Programs That I Recommend

Skinny Women Transformations

If you’re a skinny woman who wants to improve their BMI through muscle, check out Bony to Bombshell (full disclosure, I co-founded it.)

Woman Gains 13 pounds

Skinny Man Transformations

If you’re a skinny man who wants to improve their BMI through muscle, check out Bony to Beastly (co-founded).

Bony to Beastly Transformation

If you’re either a skinny-fat guy who always seems to gain weight at the belly, check out the programs here on Outlive. They’re designed for skinny fat guys to build rapid amounts of muscle without getting fatter, and losing the gut.

The Skinny Fat Fix

4 thoughts on “What Weight Is Considered Skinny?”

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