Healthy weight management is critical for having a fresh, happy, and energetic lifestyle. With innumerable diet plans, measuring standards, and weight loss workout plans in the market, it becomes essential to filter out the best strategies for ourselves.
Questions like “what is my healthy weight?” or “how can I lose weight?” can be answered well only when we have an answer to what exactly does a ‘healthy weight’ means.
Read on to learn the definition of a healthy weight and discover the common myths surrounding indicators of a healthy weight.
What is Your Healthy Weight? – Let’s Determine this First!
Undoubtedly, you can look great in a wide range of weights. However, it’s important to note that being underweight or overweight is associated with poor health outcomes. Here’s where the search for ‘healthy weight’ begins.
People aiming for a healthy weight can be divided into two categories:
- Looking to lose weight
- Looking to sustain their lean muscles
In both categories, it’s often a struggle to manage your weight when you don’t know how to calculate it. Studies prove that BMI is outdated and weight is an inadequate predictor of health.
Is Weight a Great Indicator of Good Health?
“How much should I weigh?” is a common question. However, the answer isn’t as simple as looking at a chart or your weighing scale. In fact, weight is a bad indicator of health for several reasons. Primarily, it doesn’t provide an accurate estimate for the body’s periodic fluctuations and water weight.
In addition, simple weight measurement doesn’t tell you where the fat is. To truly know whether you’re healthy, you need to use other body measuring methods such as body composition analysis or waist-to-hip ratio.
Why Is BMI a Bad Indicator of Healthy Weight?
BMI is an outdated 200-year old technique that was invented just for statistical purposes. However, people started adopting it because its calculation is quite easy, hence jeopardizing how the bodyweight should actually be measured. Here are four drawbacks of using BMI:
BMI Doesn’t Take Body Measurements into Account
BMI is oversimplified by the formula as it considers just the weight and height. It doesn’t account for the body ratio proportions. If we talk about BMI calculators for women, they’re not specific as they don’t always factor in conditions like pregnancy or menopause.
Unreliable for Athletes
BMI’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t distinguish between lean mass and fat. A common error related to BMI is discussing people who are perfectly fit but have higher body weight.
For instance, consider muscular athletes. They may have a higher BMI because of extra lean mass but their BMI might indicate them as overweight or obese.
BMI Doesn’t Factor Bone Mass
BMI doesn’t factor bone mass. As we know, bone is denser than muscle and muscle is denser than fat.
An individual with large and dense bones will have a higher BMI than someone with small or a lower bone density, assuming their height is the same.
Body frames vary across ethnicities. For example, a Chinese ethnic would have a much smaller frame than a Caucasian or African American. Here, if the Chinese individual has the same Body Mass Index as a Caucasian individual, the Chinese individual might have significantly more body fat to reach that BMI results, owing to their small bone and frame size.
Consequently, BMI should not be used as the only measure to assess whether one’s weight is healthy or not.
What are Good Indicators of Healthy Weight?
Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)
A person’s waist-to-hip ratio compares their waist size to their hips. Research proves that a higher waist-to-hip ratio increases the risk of heart diseases, LDL cholesterol, obesity, and much more.
For this reason, the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) provides a better weighing estimate.
How Can You Calculate Waist-to-hip Ratio?
1. Measure around the waist in the narrowest part (usually above the belly button) and around your hip at its widest part.
2. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.
Let’s suppose a person’s waist is 24 inches and their hips are 35 inches. In that case, we will divide 24 by 35 and this will give us a figure of 0.68.
Interpret the Ratio
WHR’s ratio varies for men and women because of their difference in body shapes. According to Harvard Health, a ratio below 0.85 is a good ratio for women. For men, it’s best to maintain a ratio below 0.90.
Here’s a table outlining the same for your reference.
WHR is a better predictor of complication risks than BMI because it considers fat distribution perfectly.
Body Composition Analysis
Body composition analysis gives you a detailed overview of your health, describing the percentage composition of fat, protein, minerals, and body water. Along with this, it describes your overall health better than traditional methods.
How Is Body Composition Analysis Done?
You should get the body composition analysis done by a health professional for better accuracy. A common method for measuring body fat percentage is the skinfold measurement in which we utilize special calipers to pinch the skin.
The tissue on your abdomen, thigh, chest (for men), or upper arm (for women) will be measured.
Other fat measurement techniques include:
- Underwater Weighing- hydrostatic body fat measuring
- Air Densitometry- weight measured by air displacement
- Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis- advanced analysis to estimate body fat and muscle mass
- Smart Scales- measure body fat, body water, BMI, muscle mass, bone mass, and much more!
Studies prove that weighing scales or BMI can’t be a good estimate of your healthy weight. They can’t tell you how much of your weight loss is due to reduction in fat, muscle, or water. On the other hand, body composition can be a great predictor of your healthy weight as it offers a detailed insight.
Knowing your body is the first step to maintaining a healthy one. Take BMI and traditional weighing methods with a pinch of salt and move towards the scientifically-backed body composition measurements to drive your weight management decisions.