What BMI is Considered Skinny?

BMI Categories

See Related: Calculate Your BMI

Many people concerned with healthcare and eating healthy have learned how to track their normal range of weight loss and gain on a daily or weekly basis. 

Your ideal weight is not necessarily a full picture of your health. In fact, it's quite common to be underweight or at a healthy weight and still face health problems.

One of the most frequent of these issues being an unhealthy Body Mass Index (aka being skinny fat).

  • Underweight: <18.5
  • Healthy: 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: 25.0-29.9
  • Obese: 30.0

What is "Skinny"?

What exactly counts as being "skinny?" Some healthcare experts believe a BMI in the 15-18 range to be clinically underweight.

This seems to fall pretty close to what many everyday people consider to be "skinny" with a BMI of 18 or lower frequently listed as the indicator of someone considered to be slim.

Of course, there is always the issue of body fat percentage. A person could appear to be thin or at a normal weight but have an unhealthy amount of body fat, making them ultimately unhealthy.

BMI Indicators by age and sex

While it's easy to throw out a number and say that is the sign of a low BMI, there are a lot of factors that go into your overall body health. Age, sex, and weight all play a role in determining whether or not your body mass index is too high or too low. (Or just right!) 

A man who is six feet tall and weighs 190 pounds is likely to have a BMI of 26, while a man weighing 190 pounds but only measuring five feet tall would come in with a body mass index of 37, which would put him very squarely in the range for obesity.

This theory holds true for women, as well. The shorter the person is, with a higher weight or body mass index, the more likely they are to be considered obese or overweight. 

While the calculations for determining BMI are similar for both genders, women are still expected to come in at a slightly lower weight than men for optimum health.

A woman standing five feet tall might be expected to weigh 108 pounds, while a man of the same height would aim for an average of 115 pounds.

Skinny-fat vs. Skinny-fit

In the end, does it really matter if you are skinny-fat or skinny-fit?

For some, simply looking thin may be enough, but many health experts believe there are hidden dangers to being skinny-fat. While skinny-fit people lose weight via exercise and healthy eating, giving them slender but toned and muscular physiques, skinny-fat people are often just naturally small -- but they are not necessarily healthy.

A skinny-fat person will look thin, especially when wearing clothes, some may not be able to tell the difference between a skinny-fat person and a skinny-fit person when seeing them side-by-side.

But skinny-fat people may have slightly flabby stomachs under their clothing. Even if they don't, many health experts agree that they will carry more body fat -- especially visceral fat in the stomach -- than skinny-fit people do. 

This can be dangerous, as an increased level of body fat, regardless of the actual body weight, is considered to cause a higher risk of long-term medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, and more.

Body Recomposition: Skinny to Healthy

Are you tired of the typical weight-loss transformation dieting and exercises?

Recomposition combines fat-loss and muscle gain exercises and diets to create a completely new physical outlook in your body. A common misconception is that to lose weight; you have to eat less. That is, you have to consume fewer calories.

On the contrary, people simultaneously believe that they have to eat more to gain muscle. That is, consume a lot of calories. The misconception pops in the way as people think that it is impossible to initiate and continue these two things together. This is most certainly not the case.

Remember, recomposition is not about weight-loss; it is about fat-loss. Fat is what makes a person with a BMI of lower than 18.5 "underweight" or simply "skinny-fat." In order to improve the BMI, the skinny-fat person can tone up and recompose his or her body to move into healthier BMI values. Again, try to remember that BMI utilizes the weight and height value to calculate the body mass ratio. 

Despite the fact that you want to lose the fat on your body, you can consume carbs according to your diet plan. A diet plan is highly critical to aid you in your recomposition journey. Moreover, you can also consult experts and professionals from the field to ensure that you are on the right track. It all comes down to diet in training. You can go for strength training when you are opting for "lean muscle" growth. BMI will improve according to the weight that you lose while the muscle mass you maintain, but not all the factors influence the value of the BMI.

A clear disclaimer for you before you start recomposition is that it is not necessary that your weight might fluctuate. It is possible that the weight may remain the same even when you are going through recomposition. This entails that fat is the enemy of health conditions. Therefore, maintaining a low amount of body fat is key to maintaining a healthy body and mindset.

Another tip to note is that often during diet plans, certain people experience a sudden surge of appetite. This generates eating disorders that can lead to different problems. This again calls for proper and detailed care and planning that will allow you to be successful in your transition from skinny to healthy.


Imperfections of BMI

Some health-conscious people and personal trainers might make it a point to focus on a healthy BMI reading, but not all doctors will take this measurement completely seriously.

It can be a useful tool in their arsenal, to be sure. But some take issue with the current BMI system, pointing out that while height, weight, and sometimes gender are taken into consideration when calculating body mass index, other important factors are frequently left out.

For example, a person with an unusually high muscle mass could also present with a higher BMI, but their body fat percentage will also be lower, as their BMI is made up of more muscle and less fat. 

These issues have led some to believe that body fat percentage is a more accurate reading of someone's overall health. Some have also taken to conducting full body composition scans in order to see just what a person's body mass index is made up of.

Thanks to advances in technology, everyday people can bring this option into their own homes with the help of body composition scales that provide readouts of muscle mass, bone mass, body fat percentage, water weight, and more so that a more accurate representation of not just a person's body mass index but exactly what is making up their body can be obtained.

Health Risks of Being Too Skinny

As we know, there are many dangerous side effects that can affect your overall health when you have a high body fat percentage. But there can be just as many unhealthy issues when facing a lower BMI, as well.

Those with a too low body mass index may find their immune system compromised, causing them to get sick easily or more often. They may struggle with breathing issues like respiratory diseases.

Bone-related dangers can be common, since they likely suffer from brittle bones or a lack of strength in their skeletons.

Osteoporosis is one such bone-related issue that can be common in people with a low body mass index. Just like a high BMI, an increased risk of cancer may be a danger faced by people with a low body mass index.

Skinny Vs. Healthy

Being overweight can cause a long list of health issues and concerns for obese individuals. There is the loss of "metabolic fitness" and proper wellness in an obese (overweight) individual. The chances that many other health conditions can pop up increases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart/ liver/ gallbladder diseases, and the possibilities of different types of cancers.

Sleep problems may occur due to being overweight, and you may suffer from improper rest. Obese females experience unusual and abnormal menstruation and fertility problems. These are the vulnerabilities of overweight people to possible risks.

However, is being skinny the solution for this? There are some things that prove otherwise. There are various risks and negative health conditions associated with being underweight. These health conditions are:

  • Immune system weakening
  • fertility issues
  • osteoporosis
  • physical growth issues
  • malnutrition, mineral deficiencies

You should know how this tells you that being skinny does not mean that you are fit or "healthy." In fact, it is possible that a person is skinny due to any health problem or sickness. An example is HIV/ AIDS, in which a person loses the bodyweight drastically before death. Unhealthy dieting may be another reason why it is possible for a person to stay skinny, even when he has increased his appetite. 

Another thing to note is that the BMI only uses weight and height to calculate the body mass ratio. However, this is not the case. The fat in the body is what raises concerns for health problems, even in skinny-fat people. The mental health of a person can also deteriorate due to stress or depression that can also cause weight loss. Being skinny poses the risk of getting diabetes, as the blood sugar will deteriorate heavily if this is the case. Skinny people thus, become highly insulin resistant.

 Belly fat is usually common in skinny-fat people, and that is a further hint that being skinny is not necessarily healthy.

Statistical Concerns

BMI is not a solid or perfect measure of health. Nonetheless, it is useful in various aspects of determining any outlying medical conditions for a skinny or overweight person.

It gets easily detectable when you are spiraling down the unhealthy bracket, for example, when you start gaining weight more than in proportion to your height. Or it can be vice versa. 

Moreover, it is highly significant to know about the concerns that are valid and found due to being skinny and a very low BMI that suggests you are "underweight." With the knowledge of the statistical concerns, it will be easy to realize any fluctuations in your normal BMI.

Your doctor or any health organization you seek for your medical care will also make use of the BMI value to assess your situation.

Furthermore, certain statistics suggest a few details and possibilities for the people who are skinny/ "underweight" on low BMI. A study suggests that skinny/ "underweight" people are highly susceptible to death than obese people due to vivid weakness in the body.

It is also of valid belief among scientists and researchers, and further backed by a study, that skinny people are unable to heal their wounds quickly. As a matter of fact, it is possible for them to experience infections in their wounds more often than others. All this points to the weak immune system.

On top of that, you should not forget that being skinny is a privilege against being obese.

The complications that arise due to being underweight have their own tendency to disturb the lifestyle of skinny people that can further deteriorate their physical and mental state. Do not forget that it is not okay for you to be "underweight" up to a point where all the above situations deem possible.

Different BMI measurements can tell you things that will help you determine your body condition. For example:


Body Fat Percentage

Body fat is the key component of being "skinny-fat." Statistics suggest that the body fat for healthy men is somewhere between 10 to 20 percent. However, for females, the body fat range is considered between 18 to 20 percent.

Bone Density

Bone density is influenced as a person gets skinny-fat and starts going towards the "underweight" category. The BMI value already suggests that the weight and height may not be in proportion with proper body fat and muscle mass. Thus, the bones may be weak. As told earlier, being skinny pertains to the fact that the body is weak. This also links to the ability of the body to sustain healthy growth both in the physical as well as the mental aspect. 

Hence, there are chances to develop and experience various physical conditions such as osteoporosis. This means that the bones in the body will be susceptible to shattering and breaking due to insufficient nutrients that can be due to insufficient diet (malnutrition).

Activity Levels

Activity levels are a large influence on this. This means that being a skinny fat person entails that you might suffer from a feeling of sluggishness and loss of energy. This again occurs due to high body fat and very low muscle mass in the body that contribute towards little energy before tiring.

What does It Mean to Be Skinny Fat?

Being skinny-fat entails various problems and difficulties in the lifestyle of a person. Simply put, the BMI is low that suggests that the height and weight might be appropriate for the person, but the muscle mass and body fat are not in accordance to sustain a healthy body.

This generally refers to being "skinny-fat" or "underweight." One of the biggest reasons why people become skinny-fat or develop high body fat in proportion to the body's muscle mass and weight is the sedentary lifestyle, or simply "sitting disease."  Some of the very common factors