We all know that it is unhealthy to be too fat or too thin. However, many people do not know exactly what a healthy weight is for them. Not surprising, because that depends on your height and age, among other things. It is therefore different for everyone.
Yet you can easily estimate your ideal weight by calculating your BMI. But what is a healthy BMI ? And how can you calculate your BMI reliably? You can read it all below!
First, let’s see what we mean by a “healthy weight.” Simply put, it simply means that you are not too heavy and not too light – the latter is sometimes overlooked by many people.
Of obesity , we know that it increases the risk of certain diseases and disorders. People with obesity are more likely to get type 2 diabetes , cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer . All those excess kilos can also cause back and joint problems.
However, being underweight is no less dangerous. It often means that you are short of all kinds of essential nutrients, and can therefore cause, among other things, an extreme lack of energy and a malfunctioning immune system.
What is the BMI?
BMI is an abbreviation for Body Mass Index (an index that is also called the Quetelet Index). This index looks at the ratio between your weight and your height. Based on this, it is checked whether your weight falls within a healthy limit.
The advantage of the BMI is that you can calculate it very easily. The disadvantage of that simplicity is of course that the BMI is not always 100% accurate. Sometimes it gives a slightly too simplistic picture, about which more later. Calculating your BMI therefore mainly gives an indication of your health, not a definitive analysis!
Finally, keep in mind that it can only be used for people between the ages of 18 and 70. Slightly different limits apply outside that age range.
How do you calculate your BMI?
As stated earlier, the BMI indicates the relationship between your weight and your height. You therefore only need those two data to calculate this index! The formula is valid for men and women.
The formula for your BMI is as follows:
- Weight (in kg) / Length x Length (in meters) = BMI.
So if you are 1.70 meters and weigh 60 kilos, you have a BMI of 60 / (1.7 x 1.7) = 20.8. If you find it too much hassle to calculate your BMI manually, you can also use an online BMI calculator .
What is a healthy BMI?
It is generally said that a BMI between 20 and 25 is healthy. Only under 18.5, however, there is medical underweight, so there is still some leeway on that side.
With overweight there is less room: above 25 a BMI indicates that you are overweight, and above 30 there is obesity, or dangerous excess weight. In an overview:
- Lower than 18.5 -> underweight.
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 -> healthy.
- Between 25 and 29.9 -> overweight.
- Between 30 and 39.9 -> seriously overweight.
- Above 40 -> morbid obesity, severely overweight.
Incidentally, it should be noted here that the boundaries for some population groups are slightly different: Asians, for example, have a different physique, which means that a healthy BMI for them differs from that of Europeans.
Cons of BMI
As you can see it is very easy to check whether you have a healthy BMI. However, we said it before: that simplicity also has a disadvantage! There are a few situations in which the BMI does not give an optimal picture of your health:
If you have very muscular muscles, it often means that you are also quite heavy. Muscle tissue simply weighs relatively much. The result may be that you officially have an unhealthy high BMI. And that while a lot of muscle tissue is certainly not bad for you …
Lots of belly fat
Some people don’t have a lot of fat – but if the fat they have is stored on their stomachs. They then have a healthy BMI, while that is not entirely justified. Fat around your organs does indeed entail health risks. In this case it would therefore be wiser to lose weight.
To compensate for these disadvantages, you can measure the circumference of your waist in addition to your BMI. If you are very muscular, that circumference is still representative. And if you have a relatively large amount of belly fat , your waist will also give a better image.
You measure the circumference of your waist in the middle between your lower rib and the top of your pelvis. Read the circumference when you have exhaled, but do not hold back your belly.
Healthy waist men
For men, the following waist circumference values apply:
Less than 79 cm – underweight
79 to 94 cm – healthy weight
94 to 102 cm – overweight
More than 102 cm – obese
Healthy waist women
For women, those values look like this:
- Less than 68 cm – underweight
- 68 to 80 cm – healthy weight
- 80 to 88 cm – overweight
- More than 88 cm – obese
Measure fat percentage
Do you really want a detailed picture of your fat percentage and physique? Then just your weight is not enough, because you cannot deduce anything about the ratio between muscle mass and fat. In that case it is therefore better to have your fat percentage measured.
The most accurate way to measure your fat percentage is with a skin fold measurement . You can have that done for free at many gyms. You can also buy a skin fold meter to get started at home! That way you know for sure that you not only have a healthy BMI, but also a healthy fat ratio.