COPD and Weight Loss
It is estimated that 24 million U.S. adults show evidence of impaired lung function. One of the most common lung diseases is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term used to describe the chronic cough, shortness of breath and frequent respiratory infections associated with COPD. COPD is a progressive form of lung disease that ranges from mild to severe.
Many of those who suffer from COPD experience unwanted weight loss. It is estimated that one in four people with COPD have a less-than-optimal body weight. WebMD estimates a person with COPD burns 430 to 720 calories per day from the simple act of breathing. However, COPD sufferers can combat unwanted weight loss by adjusting their diet and exercising.
Try These 6 Tactics to Prevent Weight Loss with COPD
- Eat Healthy Fats. The way the body digests fats is less taxing on the respiratory system than other foods. Therefore, focusing on eating healthy fatty foods is a great way to take in more calories with less stress on the body. Eating more calories might prevent the body from destroying muscles to obtain fuel. Registered dietician Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, stated, “You’re adding more flavor but adding a compact source of calories that’s very efficiently metabolized, so it helps the effort of breathing.” Include healthy fatty foods in your diet such as salmon, olive oil, avocados, nuts, peanut butter and eggs.
- Choose Lean Meat. Eating more protein will help you keep on more weight, however, choosing lean meats is a better option because lean meats are lower in saturated fats and cholesterol. Dr. Gerbstadt suggests marinating a lean meat in a vinaigrette and making a London broil or stir-fry, which allows you to add a healthy fat by cooking the meat in something like olive oil, rather than consuming animal fat with a fattier cut of meat.
- Eat Dessert First. It’s more difficult to eat when you’re struggling to breathe. Shake things up. Start with dessert. Desserts like ice cream, pudding, custard or cake are often made with eggs, which is a great way to add fat and protein to your diet, not to mention delicious.
- Learn to Love Nutritional Shakes. Try substituting a meal with a nutritional shake, which can be easier to consume and loaded with healthy fats, proteins and other nutrients. Look for a supplement with high protein, fiber and fat, but low in carbohydrates. Some brands even make nutritional shakes specifically for COPD patients.
- Eat Six Meals a Day. Eating six smaller meals a day that are high in healthy fats and proteins is a great way to maximize your calorie intake. Smaller meals are easier to prepare and consume. Planning and preparing meals and snacks ahead of time makes it easy to grab something when you’re hungry.
- Pump Some Iron. Maintaining and building muscle mass is crucial to supporting healthy breathing and reducing flare-ups. While it is certainly more difficult to exercise in the advanced stages of COPD, you can do it if you take it slow. Start exercising in the early stages of COPD to develop healthy habits and help reduce future problems. Some strengthening exercises to try include: sit-to-stand using a chair, biceps curls, squats and wall push-offs.
If you are worried about weight loss, work with your physician to develop a healthy diet and exercise strategy, possibly in combination with medication. Keep an eye on the scale to help you determine daily calorie needs to meet your weight goals. Furthermore, many COPD sufferers experience an improved quality of life following alternative treatments such as stem cell therapy. If you or a loved one suffers from COPD, the Lung Institute might be able to help using a minimally invasive stem cell therapy procedure. Contact one of our patient coordinators today at (800) 729-3065 for more information.