Although not a perfect measurement, BMI can be a good indicator of how much fat your body carries and the risks associated with it.
Your body mass index (BMI) is a way to measure and track your weight loss goals. You’ve been hearing doctors talk about BMI, or body mass index, for a long time, and you may know yours from the get-go, especially if you’ve been told your number is in an unhealthy range. Technically, BMI is used as a good, albeit rough, indicator of how much body fat you are likely to have.
Here’s how BMI ranges are categorized:
Underweight is a BMI lower than 18.5.
Normal weight corresponds to a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
Overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9
Obesity is a BMI of 30 or more.
There is a lot of talk about the negative effects of overweight and obesity on health, but that is not all. Excess body fat, especially visceral fat (that which covers the inside of the body and accumulates on internal organs), is associated with increased blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, which can affect the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. . BMI is only one correlate of this phenomenon, as generally speaking, the higher the BMI number, the more fat you are likely to carry.
This means that BMI has its limits in what it can and cannot tell you about your health and need to lose weight. Just like age, gender, ethnicity, and muscle mass can skew BMI when it comes to body fat. For example, if you are extremely athletic and have a lot of muscle mass, your BMI may indicate that you are obese when you are healthy.
This means that if your BMI is in the upper range and your waist circumference also indicates that you are at risk for health problems, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight, which is likely to lower your BMI.
Here are steps backed by science and experts to help you achieve lasting results.
1. Get an accurate reading of your personal BMI
There are a number of online BMI calculators, but you should get your official BMI data from your doctor, someone who weighs you and measures your height. “If you ask most of us how much we weigh, we’ll say we weigh less than we do, and we’ll say we’re a bit taller. That would lead to an understatement,” says O’Neil.
2. Set a realistic goal if you’re trying to lower your BMI
According to the CDC, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can have significant health benefits. (5) For some people, this means your BMI may still be in the overweight range, and that may be okay. It is unrealistic and unnecessary for everyone with a BMI of 30 or more to achieve a BMI in the normal range. The importance of BMI for health is not told by the number it represents today, but by the fact that today’s BMI is higher or lower than yesterday’s. In other words, it’s about whether you’re making progress toward a healthier future. Your goal should be to lose some weight and then reassess your progress.
3. Track your weight loss progress
Know where you are today and where you were yesterday. Then pat yourself on the back. Self-control is really important when it comes to weight control. Record your food or calorie intake for a few days to understand what your eating habits are. This may be the reality check you need to change your ways. Use whatever method works best for you, whether that means writing in a journal or using an app on your smartphone. One study showed that the longer participants used a web app to track their eating habits over a six-month period, the more weight they lost.
4. Know how much you move
As with watching your diet, you need to know what your physical activity level is. Whether you have an Android or an iPhone, there are tons of apps and fitness trackers you can wear on your wrist.
5. Weigh yourself regularly to see what’s working (and what’s not).
Step on the scale once a week. Then write down your weight (this is easily done through the app. This way you’ll know if you need to change your approach to losing weight or stay the course.
6. Now get moving with the exercise of your choice
If you know you need to start exercising more and your activity log shows it, you’ll want to exercise. It doesn’t have to mean getting into kickboxing or trying CrossFit. It is better to choose an activity that you find fun or tolerable, such as walking the dog or going for a walk, and make it a regular exercise.
7. Set training goals so you’re more likely to stay on track.
It is not enough to say that you will start exercising “more”. Rather, you have to plan it. Commit to walking for 20 minutes three times this week and plan when and when, for example after work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And if something unexpected happens, know that you can shorten the session to 5 or 10 minutes, whatever counts. Start by forming a habit of an activity, then focus on its duration and intensity.
8. Prepare your diet to ensure your diet is effective.
Diet tips abound when you want to lose weight. Additionally, research shows that focusing on diet and exercise is the best combination for successful weight loss. But because diets vary greatly from person to person, your co-worker might swear by a low-carb diet when it would make you miserable—research suggests the quality of your diet may be more important.
For example, one study found that foods like chips, processed meat, red meat, and sugary drinks were associated with weight gain, while foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and yogurt were associated with weight loss.
9. Stay consistent even if you don’t see results right away.
Even if you feel like the weight isn’t going fast enough, stay the course. Research shows that only if you make a consistent effort to eat well, exercise more, and maintain other healthy habits that affect your weight (like getting enough sleep) will the pounds disappear for good. Researchers have found that when weight goes up and down, likely due to inconsistent exertion, people are more likely to give up on their goals. Remember: you can do it.