(Updated Nov 11, 2022)
A lot of woman ask: What is a Good BMI - And is a BMI an accurate indicator of health?
We will go in depth of how to calculate your ideal BMI and when BMI should be taken with a grain of salt. As much as people want to simplify the process, here's the truth about BMI: It depends on your situation.
So if you're stressed you can't get back to your pre pregnancy BMI or you are one of the postmenopausal women who is trying to lose weight, we got you covered.
We'll go over BMI as well as share alternative methods to calculate your healthy weight. We'll also go over better ways to focus on health.
What is the Body Mass Index (BMI)?
The body mass index is is direct from calculating the mass (weight) and the height of a person. It's a convenient rule of thumb used to broadly categorize a person that is underweight, overweight, or obese based on muscle, fat, bone mass, and height.
BMI has its limitations - especially when applied to individuals with high muscle mass. The BMI does not distinguish between excess fat, muscle, or bone mass according to the CDC.
There multiple online calculators and tools online that can help you find your BMI as well as your ideal BMI.
What is the Ideal BMI?
When you input your height and weight into the BMI calculator, you’ll likely receive a double-digit number as the output. This is your BMI, the measurement of your body’s mass in relation to other factors like your height. If your number is between 18.5 to 24.9, you are considered a normal, healthy weight. If the number is less than 18.5, you are underweight. If the number is between 25 to 29.9, you are overweight, and if the number is 30 or higher, you are considered obese.
Once you have your reading you can analyze your health according to the BMI.
What's My Healthy Weight?
After taking your BMI, especially if it is high - you may be wondering: What's my healthy weight?
To figure this out, we need to take into account a couple of things:
Fat Composition (more belly fat or is it evenly distributed)
Frame Size - Waist to hip ratio
Activity levels (professional athletes have high BMI)
Body Fat Percentage And Health
When figuring out your best weight - it's important to know the facts.
A Landmark study found that grade 1 obesity is not associated by with higher mortality than healthy BMI. The study also found that being overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.
What's important to note that in the study grade 2 and grade 3 obesity was at a significantly higher risk for all-cause mortality. Grade 2+ is excess weight and a score above 35 on the BMI chart.
So if your BMI range is from 18 to 35 and you don't have underlying health conditions, you are likely in a healthy weight range. It may be worth contacting your healthcare provider if you have more questions.
Being underweight can also be a problem as well. Women with a BMI under 18.8 have health risks such as a weakened immune system, fragile bones, and other possible nutritional deficiencies. Weight gain may be recommended depending on your waist measurement and body shape.
Other Methods for measuring weight and muscle mass
There are number of other ways for measure body fat and and overall health.
Waist-to-hip circumference and Waist circumference
The waist circumference measures belly fat, which is a screening tool for someone who may have high risk for weight related disease. A simple way to measure the circumference of your waist is to use a soft tape measure.
Waist to hip circumference also measures abdominal fat and body fat distribution using the Waist to hip ratio to calculate your risk for weight-related diseases. The World health organization says a waist to hip ratio of .85 or below for women means they have low risk for weight related disease.
There are a number of diagnostic tests that may measure healthy weight ranges that the same BMI test would consider unhealthy.
Dual energy X-ray (DEXA)
This involves using a small amount of dye and doing x-rays to calculate the speed at which they pass through fat, muscle, and bone tissue. These X-rays are passed through fat, bone, and muscle to calculate the relative percentages of each. A DEXA scan is usually used measure health issues relaxed to bone loss.
Hydrostatic weighing: This involve health professionals measuring your weight on land as well as submerged in water. The comparison gives an accurate measure of body composition. This is preferred by healthcare professionals in a research setting.
Skin fold measurements: Also known at the pinch test. Doctors use calipers to pinch folds of skin and measure their thickness. Total body fat may be unevenly distributed. Skin fold measurements are great if people carry more fat in certain areas of their body.
What's A Better Measure Of Overall Health?
While body fat levels are important, a person's weight may not be a good indicator of overall health. This is especially true with pregnancy weight gain as well as older women. The medical community now relies on BMI less and less.
Bigger risk factors than your body weight are heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. While these signal obesity related conditions, this is not always the case. Even if we are in healthy BMI ranges, we need to manage our stress.
Medical research indicates that as much as 90% of our health problems are caused by stress. Stress also tends to be a precursor to more body fat as well as digestive issues.
Wellness professionals are starting to use levels of stress and issues with digestion to drive more and more health decisions.
What To Do If You Want To Lose Weight
Feel like your weight is a health risk? Focused on disease control? OR just want to shed a few pounds?
Developing a plan to lose weight is key.
We won't be going over the basics of light diet and exercise here. There are a number of resources to help you do this.
I do want to cover one area that is commonly overlooked when people want to lose weight (or add more muscle mass) is digestion and gut health. Most adults struggle with digestion as they age.
This is why a lot of diets fail and can lead to lower muscle mass and poor energy levels.
This is why we recommend digestive system peptides to restore proper digestion. We find many times once this happens, women are able to solve health problems and improve body fat levels without exercise.
You can read more about digestive system peptides here.
Our body mass index, while a widely used tool is not always accurate in accessing health risk. There are higher more important factors such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
A health BMI for women ranges from 18.8 to 24.9 according to some healthcare professionals. Yet, what's considered a high BMI range 25 to 34.9 has no adverse affects on overall disease related mortality.
There are other ways to measure health if your body mass index (BMI) is high like waist circumference and Hydrostatic weighing.
Last, make sure if you are trying to shed a few pounds you focus on digestive health and improving your energy levels.
You got this.