Barely anyone understands the problems of being a skinny individual with a visible pectus excavatum deformity and protruding ribs poking out of the shirt. When you combine anxiety and depression with being underweight, your health is put in danger.
Many skinny people who want to gain weight hear, “I like to have your issues too.”, typically from overweight individuals. We live in a world where everybody wants to lose weight. We continuously look at what the “perfect body” should look like.
We see the skinny models on TV and social media, thinking that is how we’re supposed to look.
BODY MASS INDEX AND PECTUS EXCAVATUM
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, BMI (Body Mass Index) calculates the individual’s weight in kilograms, divided by the height in square meters. Better Health Channel states that you’re considered underweight or malnourished if your BMI is below 18.5.
Even though it is not the best way to measure your health, it is still the simplest and easiest way to see whether you’re at risk regarding weight-related health issues. It has been used for over 100 years in studies by doctors, fitness trainers, etc.
However, you should consider BMI calculation cautiously because it doesn’t include muscle mass and body fat percentage. Being underweight is caused by different factors.
- Chronic illnesses
- Eating disorder
- Stress and anxiety
BMI OF PEOPLE WITH PECTUS EXCAVATUM
If you suffer from pectus excavatum, you’re probably naturally thin and have a BMI below 18.5. However, according to BMI, there is also a possibility to be below 18.5 and still be healthy.
Because of that, I recommend you eliminate possible health problems like eating disorders, hyperthyroidism, celiac disease, or type 1 diabetes. If you’re worried, you need to consult with your doctor and get your health checked.
BEING UNDERWEIGHT IS DANGEROUS
According to a 2008 study, being underweight, just like obesity, can cause adverse effects on your well-being and increase the risk of early death in both males and females.
Another research revealed that being underweight can degrade your immune system’s operation, increasing the risk of infections, osteoporosis, and decreased fertility.
IMPORTANCE OF GAINING WEIGHT
Gaining weight is not only essential to make your pectus excavatum less obvious, but it will also improve your overall well-being. Always prioritize health over anything else. In most cases, people with a BMI below 18.5 are considered underweight. You should consult a doctor to ensure you’re not suffering from a severe illness.
HOW TO GAIN WEIGHT QUICKLY WITH A SUNKEN CHEST
To gain weight fast and healthy, you must follow the right direction. Of course, you can quickly bulk up by eating people’s favorite foods like pizza, doughnuts, sugary soft drinks, candies, etc.
Even though you will feel satisfied, your health will deteriorate. If you’re a skinny individual with a funnel chest, please don’t do this. You don’t want to get an unhealthy pot belly, making your chest cavity even more apparent.
Instead, focus on building thick and dense muscles and some healthy subcutaneous fat, which is harmless and can protect from some illnesses, according to Medical News Today.
Accordingly, it is essential to eat healthily and exercise. In your case, it would be best if you follow a pectus excavatum exercise program, which will help you improve the deformity while gaining weight at the same time.
CONSUME MORE CALORIES THAN YOU BURN
As I mentioned, you must consume more calories than you burn to gain weight healthily and quickly. Eating 300-700 calories more than you are already consuming is recommended. To do this, you must first calculate how many calories you burn daily.
It will give you a feeling of how much you need to eat each day to gain weight. Don’t overcomplicate this. Some days you may eat more; some days, you may eat less. But, make it a habit to stick to caloric surplus while eating healthy.
HOW WEIGHT GAIN HELPS PECTUS EXCAVATUM PATIENTS
If you’re underweight, skinniness exaggerates the sunken chest and flared ribs. You won’t make a wrong decision if you gain weight. Gaining weight if you’re underweight improves your physique and appearance.
When you build up the chest muscles, the area around the indentation will start to “fill up,” making the deformity less obvious. In my personal opinion, I believe that the chest muscles look more defined when the chest cavity is mild.
Even though I have softer chest muscles and am weaker in the pushing exercises in the gym (bench press, incline dumbbell press, chest flyes) than some of my friends that are gym fanatics, I still get a lot of compliments about how my chest muscles are much more aesthetic than theirs.
Although I still have a minor indentation, building the pectoral muscles and gaining weight made my chest look natural.
GAINING WEIGHT IMPROVED MY PHYSIQUE
When I was a freshman in high school, I was very skinny, and my pectus excavatum was at the worst stage. In my senior year, I weighed 68 kg (150 lbs) at 180 cm (5 feet 11 inches). At the time, I thought that I was in excellent shape.
HOME GYM HELPED ME GAIN LEAN MUSCLE DURING QUARANTINE
Nowadays, I built a home gym during the quarantine. In the last few months, I gained about 6 kg (13 lbs) of lean muscle. I am currently weighing 74 kg, and the difference is very noticeable.
I can feel that my self-confidence drastically improved. I am surprised how much of an impact appearance has on confidence, even though it is not supposed for things to work this way.
Most importantly, I am no longer depressed and anxious daily. The part that amazes me the most is that everybody has the power in their own hands to change the way they appear in the world.
I’ve been mostly following a push/pull/legs routine in the gym, doing yoga, cycling, and going for a swim. It is essential to build a balanced physique. Don’t neglect the back and legs.
Protein is the building material for all body elements, including muscles. It would be best if you consume plenty of protein to gain weight. Follow a protein-rich diet to help you build muscle mass and avoid gaining unhealthy body fat.
Most nutritionists recommend consuming about 1.5 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram a day for a healthy gain. Protein-rich meals will make you feel full. Because of that, it can be challenging to bulk up by following a protein-rich diet.
When my deformity was at the worst stage of my life, I found it hard to eat enough. My nutritionist recommended I consume my protein and calories in the form of protein shakes.
I find it more comfortable and more effective to drink my protein and calories to satisfy my daily caloric requirements. Additionally, protein-rich foods for healthy bulk are:
- Various meats
- Fatty fish high in Omega-3
For example, my favorite breakfast food for healthy weight gain is a cream quark with nuts and fruits or scrambled eggs, cheese, and wholemeal bread.
Besides eating high-quality foods that contain lots of protein, you shouldn’t skip on fast if you want to increase weight quickly and healthily. Try to remove low-fat foods from your diet.
As a replacement, you should add high-fat quark high in K2 vitamin, cheese, Greek yogurt, fatty fish like salmon high in omega 3, and healthy vegetable oils like olive, coconut, or canola oil.
Additionally, it would be best to eat various nuts and seeds as a healthy snack option. They are rich in healthy fats that your body requires for optimal functioning. Always check the product’s Nutrition Facts Label when choosing foods high in fats.
According to Medline Plus, ensure they don’t contain a lot of saturated fat, increasing heart disease chances. As an alternative, look for foods with unsaturated fatty acids. They are beneficial for your health when they replace saturated fats.
Carbohydrates are made of three elements:
As suggested by the national health Service (NHS), starchy foods are the primary source of carbs and play a significant role in a healthy diet. Such foods are:
- Wholegrain bread
They are excellent sources of energy and nutrients. Simple carbs are:
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- Concentrate fruit juice
According to Healthline, many unhealthy and straightforward carbs are added to foods in the American diet. Even though they are not healthy, excessive consumption will lead to weight gain. However, we don’t need this type of dirty bulking. In bodybuilding, there are two ways you can bulk up.
This is when you eat and drink anything to satisfy your caloric intake goal. You don’t pay special attention to the quality of the food you’re eating.
In this case, you are eating a balanced diet consisting of lots of fruits and vegetables. This is harder to follow and often costs more. Ideally, it would be best to do a clean bulk.
As I previously mentioned, most people have trouble with self-discipline. It is hard to bypass a McDonald’s drive-through billboards of juicy burgers and fries when you’re hungry.
ALWAYS READ THE NUTRITIONAL FACTS LABEL
To control your simple carbohydrate consumption, always read the Nutritional Facts Label. Comparatively, complex carbohydrates are calorie-dense, which is excellent for gaining weight. However, to gain health, you must consume carbs in moderation. Always add healthy vegetables to your high-carb meals.
Limiting carbohydrate consumption will make more room for lean protein, scientifically proven to speed up your metabolism. Also, you’ll have more room to include healthy fats in your diet.
Consuming complex carbohydrates is always the best idea. Avoid simple carbs like white sugars, brown sugar, corn syrup, high fructose syrups, etc.
EAT AT LEAST 3 MEALS A DAY
If you want to gain weight to make your overall physique and pectus excavatum more appealing, you must eat regularly. Make it a goal to have at least three big meals daily. If you’re feeling hungry between meals, you can have some healthy snacks to satisfy the caloric surplus required for weight gain. Such snacks are:
- Dried fruits
- Muesli bars
- Protein bars
- Protein shakes
ADJUST TO EXTRA CALORIES
To consume more calories, you need to adjust to it. You won’t always feel hungry when you need to eat your next big meal. If your goal is to gain weight, you must motivate yourself to eat.
Like you’re training at the gym, start training your “eating.” It is essential to stick to your daily diet to see the fastest results, even when you don’t feel like doing it.
Discipline plays a huge role in gaining weight. However, this may take away the pleasure of eating, which can be a big problem. Because of it, I highly recommend you cook the food fresh and sprinkle it with your favorite seasoning.
While cooking the food, the beautiful smell will make you hungry and willing to eat the hot food, even though you weren’t hungry before. Drinking your calories can be very helpful in reaching your goal.
MAKE SLIGHT CHANGES IN YOUR DIET
Minor eating modifications in your diet will make a huge difference. To gain weight, always choose the high-calorie alternatives to your foods. For example, why don’t you make a delicious, classic Bolognese with ground beef chuck, fresh tomatoes, and red wine instead of bland spaghetti with a high-salt and sugar tomato sauce?
Instead of eating the “America’s Favorite Cereal, the HoneyNut Cheerios, why don’t you make delicious oatmeal with Greek yogurt, nuts, banana, almond milk, rolled oats, cinnamon, peanut butter, and cocoa? Dress your favorite salads with healthy oils.
EAT THE FOLLOWING HEALTHY FOODS
- Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
- Dried fruits, such as plums, dates, and cranberries
- Vegetable oils, such as olive, coconut, avocado, and rapeseed. Avoid vegetable oils high in omega-6, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut, sesame, and rice bran.
- Whole grain cereals, such as whole grain rice, bread, and oats.
- High-fat meat, such as the meat from the belly or ribs (poultry, lamb, pork, or beef).
- White potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Nut butter like Hazelnut butter, peanut butter, almond butter, etc
- Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate
Small changes in your diet will make a massive difference in the long run. Slight modifications in your diet will make a huge difference. All you need is to replace some ingredients in the food you’re eating with something healthier.
FOLLOW A PROVEN WORKOUT PROGRAM
Following a healthy diet isn’t enough if you want to improve your physique and pectus excavatum. You must combine it with a properly constructed workout program.
In our case, you need to follow a custom workout program to strengthen the weak muscles worsening your pectus excavatum deformity and stretching the tight muscles, causing you a “pectus posture.”
If you’re not familiar with weightlifting, I recommend getting help from a personal trainer for a few months. After you learn the main movements like the squat, bench press, overhead press, barbell row, deadlifts, dips, and pullups, then you can start following a workout program for a sunken chest.
Combining the two will build muscles in the shortest time frame without gaining excess fat. If you’re trying to gain weight, I wouldn’t recommend you do endurance training like running and cardio. Alternatively, I would advise you to make short-distance sprints, go swimming, or do yoga.
To conclude this article, I am going to share the most important things you need to remember:
- To gain weight, eat about 300-700 calories more than you burn daily.
- Eat foods high in protein. 1.5-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended.
- Consume unsaturated high-fat foods like avocados, fatty fish, Greek yogurt, nuts, vegetable oils, and cheese.
- Every meal should be balanced, containing carbs, protein, and fat.
- Whenever you feel hungry, eat some healthy snacks. If you’re still having trouble gaining weight, choose caloric-dense foods like cream sauces, foods baked with cheese, eating peanut butter out of a jar, etc.
- Last but not least, you must weight train for your body to develop sufficiently with the high-quality food you are consuming.