Did you know that achieving a healthy body weight is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing? The problem is, it’s sometimes difficult to find out how much you should weigh!
After all, no two bodies are the same. You can be a bit overweight and still run charity marathons. Or you can be skinny and really struggle with fatigue and a general feeling of un-wellness.
And perhaps more significantly – sometimes you’d rather not know, because changing your habits is just too hard!
But take heart – today we’re going to shed some light on healthy body weight to clear things up. We’ll look at five things that are relevant here:
- What’s a healthy body weight using the BMI system?
- Does being skinny equal being healthy?
- Determining your ideal weight – a look at body fat!
- When you can or should ignore the scales – phew!
- Benefits of maintaining a healthy body weight for you.
1 What’s a Healthy Body Weight Using BMI?
You probably know about the most popular measurement tool – the body mass index (BMI). It’s use as the only arbiter has been questioned recently. Results can be thrown off by a number of things we’ll mention later.
But it’s a numerical graph expressing the relationship between height and weight. You input your height and weight and the number you get tells you if you have a healthy body weight (or not).
- Under 18.5 is underweight
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 is healthy
- Between 25 and 29.9 is overweight
- Over 30 is considered obese.
As we said, BMI on its own is not totally accurate. For example, it can’t take into account what happens inside your body, such as muscle mass and fat distribution.
In addition, determining your healthy weight also depends on your age, sex, genetics, body frame, existing medical history, and lifestyle habits, as well as your weight as a young adult.
Nevertheless, BMI can be a useful starting point in the discussion around healthy body weight.
Does Being Skinny Mean You’re Healthy?
Just because someone looks skinny doesn’t necessarily mean they’re healthy. Let’s have a look at why. It’s to do with visceral fat.
Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds your organs in your abdomen and protects them.
However, even if you have a BMI in the “healthy range” you still might have a too-high body fat percentage – which means you’re carrying a lot of visceral fat that can’t be seen.
In other words, you look nicely slim, even skinny. But having too much visceral fat increases your risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The way your body accumulates and distributes visceral fat depends on a few things.
- Genetics (determines your body shape and how your body stores fat).
- Lifestyle (poor diet and lack of exercise vs. balanced diet and active lifestyle).
- Stress (too much stress activates cortisol and the storage of more visceral fat).
How to Determine Your Ideal Body Weight
If the scales and BMI cannot tell you how healthy you really are, what other measures can you turn to that don’t simply rely on weight?
In other words, which other measures give you a more accurate picture of your health? Here are three to try on for size (sorry!):
- Waist measurement: Measure your waist just above the hip bones. The maximum number for women is 35 inches and for men 40 inches.
- Waist-to-hip ratio: Measure your waist size and hip size and then divide your waist size by your hip size (it’s okay – we’ll allow you a calculator!). Your waist-to-hip ratio should not be higher than 0.85 for women and 90 for men.
- Waist-height ratio: Divide your waist size by your height. For both men and women, it should not be higher than 0.5.
After you’ve measured your body fat, you can estimate that 10% of that is visceral body fat. If your body fat is higher than the average range, your visceral fat will be too.
When It’s OK to Ignore the Scales!
It’s important to remember that the number on the scale is not the be-all and end-all of your health.
The scale does not always reflect your health. Here’s when the number on the scale does not matter:
- If you’re in the middle of changing your diet and lifestyle, your body composition is changing too. So, you might expect a quick change in the number on the scale. But that’s not always the case. When you’re in the process of gaining muscle and losing fat, your overall weight might stay the same. But it will be a healthier body weight!
- Right after an intense workout, you might either weigh less because you’ve been sweating, or you might weigh more because of water retention in your muscles.
- Travelling can disturb your body’s balance, as it can lead to bloat or constipation.
- Weight fluctuates every day – often because of water retention from high salt intake or hormones.
- Weight fluctuates throughout the day too, from morning to evening, depending on what and how you eat and drink, and how active you’ve been.
The upshot of the scales problem is that when we weigh ourselves, we feel the number on the scale tells us how much fat we have.
But we should keep in mind that the scales weigh everything else in our body (bones, muscle, organs, etc.).
There are so many factors at play when it comes to keeping a healthy body weight -– so don’t let a specific number define you!
If you focus only on a number, you can find yourself taking up unhealthy behaviors, such as crash-dieting or excessive exercising.
That’s why we say it’s important to ignore the scales from time to time and focus on your overall wellbeing. There are many benefits to doing just that!
Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight for You
Unnecessary weight gain can have serious implications in the long term. Together with your healthcare practitioner, and using several measurement tools, you can discover a healthy body weight for you and decrease your chances of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
What’s not to love?
And in the meantime, if you’d like to read a bit more around weight loss, have a look at these posts:
We Can Help You Find Your Healthy Body Weight
At Evexias Denver, we’re your partners in health. Your wellness is our passion! Our certified nurses can discuss your concerns and customize a treatment program to help you achieve your healthy weight goals. Contact us today for an appointment.