When it comes to maintaining a healthy body, the weight on the scale isn’t the only number you should be paying attention to. Body mass index, or BMI is a calculation that puts you in a certain category: underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. Here is some information about how BMI is calculated and what you can do to achieve a healthy BMI the natural way.
Calculating You BMI
BMI is an easy way to screen a person for overall health, and there are online calculators available to take the guesswork out of the math. If you want to do the math yourself, it’s just your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has a calculator that requires you to only input your height and weight to get this calculation. The results reveal your BMI number and weight status, as well as what the normal weight range would be for your height.
As a general rule, a healthy BMI for an adult is between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI under 18.5 means you are in the underweight range, between 25 and 29.9 in the overweight range, and between 30 and 39.9 in the obese range. Unlike your weight on a scale, BMI takes your height into consideration. But since muscle weighs more than fat, weightlifters and bodybuilders who have a BMI in the obese range may actually be at a very healthy weight considering their muscle mass. A person’s ethnicity affects BMI, while women tend to have more body fat than men and older people more than younger people.
Why BMI Matters
BMI is used by medical professionals as a screening tool to determine if weight is a health risk for other medical conditions. There are other ways to assess this as well, such as measurements of skin folds and evaluations of a person’s diet and level of exercise. For children and teens, BMI is considered alongside growth charts and shown as a percentile ranking based on data from youth across the U.S. population. By maintaining a healthy BMI, you can help reduce your risk of serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.
Steps to a Healthy BMI
Some people who find out that they have a high BMI believe they need to eat less food to lose weight. However, this is not necessarily true because it is the types of food you eat that really matter when it comes to consuming fewer calories than you burn during the day. Choosing nutrient-dense foods keep you feeling full for longer is a great way to help you stick to a diet instead of starving yourself and feeling hungry all the time.
Another step to a healthy BMI is eating five or six smaller meals during the day instead of three big ones to keep your metabolism working steadily and burning calories in an efficient way. Limiting saturated fat and trans-fat, while also replacing processed foods with fruits and vegetables, can get you on track for a better BMI number.
Track your weight loss progress in a journal or mobile app so you can stick to your goal, and consider monitoring your food and water intake too so that you can discuss any concerns with a medical professional you trust. Yes, BMI is just a number, but it’s an important one that provides a snapshot of overall health and one that you can move in the right direction with a few natural lifestyle adjustments.