Is weight gain bad for weakening legs?

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Forum Supporter
May 29, 2021
Loved one DX
I had a previous post in September while planning on my mom’s visit and consultation with Duke ALS clinic.

It’s been more than 2 weeks since her arrival, she has gradually recovered from 30 plus hours long journey. Not much to do around here except for going out for a walk, and also I try to pack her with protein drink and food, she started gaining some weight which worries her a little bit. Her doctor in China told her to maintain her weight but watch out for putting on more, otherwise the added weight will burden her limbs. All I heard here is to try to gain weight even to the extent of overweight.

She has upper limbs onset and both upper limbs have progressed with reduced function, she also started experiencing weakness in her legs from time to time. What her doctor told her, is it plausible for patient who is still mobile? Is high BMI only apply to bedridden patient?

When she mentioned that she is gaining weight and also feeling weakened legs, I don’t know if they are correlated or her doctor’s word has some psychological effect on her.
We don't advocate that people should gain weight to the extent of obesity.
We do acknowledge that a higher BMI than average can often contribute to slower progression.
Definitely, losing weight rapidly will hasten progression, we have that over and over.

The search function here is pretty good, so when you have time, do some searching of past conversations here and you will see a fairly well rounded lot of information, including putting on too much weight.

We can't really say whether there is a correlation or causation in gaining weight and feeling weakened in the legs. One can just never say if her legs would have progressed at this rate or not.

I would personally look at maintaining weight, eating well with whole foods, and getting exercise she can tolerate and keeping active even in the mind as much as is possible.
Had she lost weight after ALS onset? Is she very skinny? I do think there is some value is gaining a little weight then. Most PALS end up losing weight especially around the time that swallow starts to be an issue even if you go for a feeding tube as it often takes some time to arrange even if the PALS doesn’t procrastinate. My sister was slender, super skinny when she agreed to a tube and dangerously emaciated when she got it. Otherwise at this point maintaining is a good goal
You can use a BMI calculator on line and see where she falls. 30-35% can be considered a sweet spot, but body types differ and that is not an absolute. The best weight is where she feels most comfortable and is well nourished.
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