We are constantly bombarded in the media and the online world with information on losing weight. In an ideal world, we would all have a “healthy weight,” eat a nutritious and balanced diet, and exercise at least five times a week. In the real world, however, this is almost impossible to achieve. There is the added difficulty of most of us not truly understanding what a healthy weight really means. We have some knowledge about the BMI (body mass index), but we don’t really understand what this means. Additionally, although the BMI is the most accurate type of measurement, it doesn’t actually indicate how healthy you are. For instance, you could have what is considered to be a perfect BMI, but only because you don’t have any real muscle tissue. This is because the BMI does not take into consideration individual measurements.
For example, a super fit Olympic athlete may have the same height and weight as an unfit couch potato – they would have the same BMI. However, the couch potatoes body measurements would be completely different.
Waist Hip Ratio
Another value that is often used to determine how healthy we are is the waist hip ratio (WHR). This measures the narrowest part of the waist and the widest part of the hips and compares these values. This value is important because it is believed to be an indication of the risk of cardiovascular problems. For men, a WHR below 0.9 equals a low risk of such health problems. For women, a WHR below 0.8 means the same. However, the WHR does not take into account body shape. Someone with a pear shape, for instance, would have a completely different reading to someone with an hourglass shape, where the pear shape may actually be healthier than the one with the hourglass shape.
Body Fat Percentage
The body fat percentage is a pretty accurate form of measurement. As humans, we have a number of essential fats that we must store in our body in order to survive. The ideal values for this measurement are different between men and women. Then, there is also storage fat.
This is the fat you accumulate beneath your skin, in certain specific areas inside your body, and in your muscles. It also includes the deep fat that protects your internal organs from injury. Men and women have similar amounts of storage fat.
Although some storage fat is required, there should not be too much of it. There are two problems with measuring body fat percentage, however. The first is that it measures both essential and storage fat, so it is hard to determine which one someone should work on. The second major problem is that it is actually very hard to measure this without specialized equipment. Technologically advanced – and expensive – machines are required to take a true measurement of body fat percentage. In terms of the readings, men with a percentage over 26% and women with a percentage over 31% are classed as obese and would need to lose fat. The acceptable readings vary depending on how active a person is, however, with athletes having very low readings that would otherwise be cause for concern.
So what is healthy weight? People are generally recommended to calculate their BMI and their WHR, because these can be done without any specialized equipment. Indeed, they can simply be done at home. If these two readings show either very high or very low measurements, then it would be recommended to book in for a body fat percentage measurement. There are now certain scales that can give an estimate of this body fat percentage, which means that you can have an initial reading and find out whether more information is needed.