It’s common to lose weight after having COVID-19, just like any viral infection. In severe cases, this could lead to complications. However, some tips may help you regain unintentional weight loss.

There’s much we still don’t understand about COVID-19 and its short- and long-term effects on our bodies. One interesting pattern is that many people with COVID-19 reported weight loss. Specifically, people have reported muscle loss, which healthcare professionals call “cachexia.”

Weight loss from COVID-19 can potentially impair your recovery by affecting your energy levels, among other things. If you’ve noticed unintentional weight loss post-COVID, keep reading to learn why and discover suggestions on regaining weight safely.

There are several ways in which COVID-19 can affect your appetite and your body’s ability to use calories from food as energy. A combination of factors probably causes some people to lose weight related to COVID-19, including:

According to a 2020 study, the longer you have COVID-19 symptoms, the more likely you are to experience weight loss.

In one study of COVID-19 patients 1 month after hospital discharge, 30% of people had lost more than 5% of their baseline body weight. More than half were at risk for malnutrition.

Weight loss can vary after COVID. The more weight you lose, the more concerning this can be because you could be malnourished (not getting the nutrients your body needs to function at its best).

As a general rule, maintaining muscle mass helps you live a healthier, more functional life. While the term “weight loss” may be positive for those wishing to lose weight, unintentional weight loss related to COVID-19 can result in malnutrition and muscle loss.

Researchers have also connected COVID-19 weight loss with health effects, including:

  • higher C-reactive protein levels, which can indicate inflammation
  • longer disease duration
  • reduced kidney function

Additionally, COVID-19 can induce fibrosis (scarring) in your body’s tissues, including important organs like your heart and lungs. This fibrosis can also worsen muscle wasting.

Research regarding weight loss and COVID-19 is still emerging. Even less is known about how to regain weight after the virus. Most advice about regaining weight is similar to what you should follow after unintentional weight loss after a prolonged illness.

You may consider the following:

It’s best to speak with a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program to ensure you can do so safely.

The following are commonly asked questions about COVID and weight loss or gain.

Can even mild COVID cause you to lose weight?

Reports of COVID-related weight loss occur even with mild illness. But those with more severe illness tend to report greater amounts of unintentional weight loss.

How long does it take to regain weight lost from COVID?

How long it takes you to regain weight after COVID may depend on several factors, including your overall health and the severity of your illness. Talk with a healthcare professional about a reasonable time frame to regain weight based on your circumstances.

Can COVID cause weight gain?

Some people reported weight gain during the COVID lockdown periods, often because they were sedentary and indoors. But weight gain explicitly related to the virus is much less common than weight loss.

Researchers have reported many cases of weight loss after COVID-19, especially after prolonged hospital stays or severe illness.

If you have unintentionally lost weight after COVID, talk with a healthcare professional about safe ways to regain muscle mass. Doing so may aid in your recovery and help you feel better overall.