Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

COPD Health Center

Font Size

COPD: Ways to Avoid Weight Loss

By Susan Bernstein
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD

Breathing is hard work if you have COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Your inflamed lungs and partially blocked airways make it a struggle to get air in and out. That effort to breathe burns a lot of calories -- way more than someone with healthy lungs, says Albert Rizzo, MD, chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Christiana Care Health System.

As a result, you could lose too much weight. And if you fall below a healthy weight, that makes it more likely your immune system won’t work like it should. It could set you up for more infections, Rizzo says.

Recommended Related to COPD

Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds

If you have emphysema or chronic bronchitis, you know how miserable it feels when you catch a cold. After all, breathing is difficult enough with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Not only does catching a cold worsen your ability to breathe and be active, but the cold virus increases your chance of getting a more serious respiratory tract infection. Here's what you should know to stay well.

Read the Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds article > >

Long-term inflammation, like the kind that comes with COPD, drains your energy too. You may not feel like exercising, which makes it hard to stay healthy and fit.

To stay at a healthy weight, get the most calories and nutrition in each bite of food you have during the day, says Joan Salge Blake, RD, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University.

“You want to get good, healthy calories and enough protein,” she says. “Make every bite as nutrient-rich as possible.”

Follow these simple tips to help you get more calories throughout your day so you keep your weight and energy levels healthy.

Eat more often. Frequent small meals may help you get more calories than you would by eating one or two big meals a day, Rizzo says. Large meals might make you feel too full, and that may make breathing even harder, he says.

You might not have the energy to cook a large meal, either. So opt for small dishes that are quick and easy to prepare.

Tip:Top a turkey pita sandwich with a slice of cheese and fresh avocado.

Mix in natural protein sources. Protein-rich foods like nuts or eggs help build muscle mass that you lose when you shed pounds, Blake says.

Tip: Toss a handful of almonds or walnuts into Greek yogurt for breakfast or as a snack. Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs on Sunday nights. Grab these to add to meals throughout the week, or as a quick snack.

Today on WebMD

man talking to his doctor
Check your COPD risk.
woman using inhaler
What is the top cause of this condition?
chest x-ray
7 early warning signs.
Senior couple stretching
10 exercises for people With COPD.
Bronchitis Overview
Senior woman blowing dandelion
Living With Copd
human lung graphic
Energy Boosting Foods
red heart and ekg
Living With Copd
Senior couple stretching