All You Need To Know About Healthy Weight
Many strive to reach the sacred “90-60-90” body shape, while others direct their efforts to the weight loss. However, what is an ideal weight and is it the same for everyone? The answer is “No, there isn’t an ideal weight which would suit everybody”. If you are feeling a bit out of shape or if you are struggling with body loss, feel free to take the previous sentence as your guiding line. And if you ever feel dissatisfied with your body shape in comparison with that of your friend or celebrity, do reread that sentence. There is no ideal weight standard. None.
Nowadays we are constantly bombarded with photos of celebrities, actors and models with perfect body shapes. However, one should always take into account the immense power of Photoshop. The people you strive to look like may not look the same way in real life as they do on photos. Under no circumstances, let those ideal pictures make you question your attractiveness. We are all humans and we all have our own flaws. And that’s beautiful. Take for example Britney Spears who used to be a sex-symbol of the decade. She has gained a kilo or two (or maybe 10?) but she is still beautiful because she illuminates confidence. Thus, your inner peace and energy are far more important than your weight or body parameters. However, while there is no ideal weight, there is a healthy weight. There are a few methods to assess whether your weight is healthy, so let’s dive right into them.
Method 1. Body Mass Index (BMI)
The main takeaway from this method is that there actually is a direct dependence between one’s weight and height. BMI is calculated as a ratio between one’s weight and a squared height. Thus, if a particular person weighs 143 lb and is 5` 9``, the BMI would be 21.1. In order to assess whether this index falls into the healthy weight category, we will compare it to the standards provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
· BMI <18.5 means that a person is underweight.
· BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is ideal.
· BMI of between 25 and 29.9 is overweight.
· BMI >30 indicates obesity.
Having estimated the information above, we may conclude that the person examined has an ideal healthy weight as 21.22 is right between 18.5 and 24.9.
However, as body mass index is quite easy to calculate, it does not always come up with totally reliable results as the calculation accounts for a person’s height, but omits the waist or hip measurements, proportion or distribution of fat and proportion of muscle mass. For example, professional athletes tend to have very little fat and a lot of muscle weight. They may have higher body mass indices, which, however, would not indicate obesity. Thus, BMI results should be treated with additional consideration.
Method 2. Waist-to-Hip ratio (WHR)
As can be inferred from the name, Waist-to-Hip ratio compares one’s waist size with the hip size. Consequently, higher waist measurements lead to bigger health risks. To assess WHR, you should estimate the ratio between the measure of your waist in its narrowest part to the measure of your hips in the widest part. For example, if a person has a waist of 25,6 inches and hips of 37,4 inches, the WHR will be 25,6/37,4 =0.68. This index should be compared to the standard ones shown below:
· <0.9: health risks are low.
· From 0.9 to 0.99: health risks are moderate.
· >1.0: health risks are high.
· <0.8: health risks are low.
· From 0.8 to 0.89: health risks are moderate.
· >0.9: health risks are high.
While WHR is a decent health risk predictor, it does not account for the fat distribution and thus may sometimes not be fully reliable.
Method 3. Body Fat Percentage
The whole method comes down to a single simple formula: the weight of a person’s fat divided by the total weight. The index received is called a fat percentage. However, one should remember that not all fat in the human body is redundant. A person needs some fat in order to survive: for men, the index of essential fat varies between 2% and 4%, for women this index is gradually higher – 10-13%. Apart from the essential fat, storage fat is also vital for survival as it protects the internal organs in the chest and abdomen. Body fat percentage also heavily relies on activity levels in everyday life. For example, professional athletes with low fat percentage and fit non-athletes with a slightly higher percentage of fat may both fall in the same category of people with a healthy weight.
Body fat percentage is mostly calculated by doctors who use special calipers to pinch the skin. This procedure is called a skinfold measurement. It is rather accurate and helps to estimate a person’s fitness and overall health. It is also important to remember that high fat percentages are almost always indicators of one or several of the following diseases: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke.
To sum up, there is no such thing as an ideal weight, there is only a healthy one. Various ways of estimating whether one’s weight is healthy have been developed, the most common of which are Body mass index, Waist-to-hip ratio and Body fat percentage. While the former accounts solely for height, the latter two take into account other factors such as fat percentage or waist and hips measurements. The most efficient way to assess one’s weight is to visit a doctor, but the methods described above also give results which may indicate a problem in case there is one. All in all, the key takeaway from this article is not to aim at an ideal weight but simply strive to be healthy.