How do you know what your ideal weight should be? This question is not as simple as one would think, since a person’s weight can depend on their frame size (small, medium or large), as well as body composition, i.e. ratio of muscle to fat.
Someone may be over their ideal weight, but have a very low percentage of body fat and increased muscle mass, in which case an “ideal” weight would not apply. The goal of your diet should not just be to lose weight, but to lose body fat.
A popular way to calculate ideal weight has been using the Hamwi formulas. Dr. Hamwi created these formulas in the 1960s. The formulas are:
For women: 100 pounds for the first 5 ft, add 5 pounds for each additional inch
For men: 106 pounds for the first 5 feet, add 6 pounds for each additional inch
Using these formulas, a 5’5” woman’s ideal weight would be 125 pounds, while a 6’0” man’s ideal weight would be 178 pounds.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all ideal weight. While the Hamwi formula provides a baseline ideal weight, a person can still fall within a healthy range by weighing a bit less or a bit more than the ideal weight.
By calculating your BMI you can determine whether you are within a healthy weight range. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. BMI is calculated using your weight and height and can be a good indicator of your risk for developing certain health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, osteoarthritis and certain cancers. A higher BMI indicates greater risk for developing disease.
There are a few limitations to solely using BMI as an indicator of your health. For example, BMI does not take into account body composition, or the ratio of fat to muscle. This means that someone who has more muscle than the average person, such as an athlete or bodybuilder, may have a high BMI but not be at risk for developing the disease.
On the other hand, an older adult who has decreased muscle mass and a high body fat percentage may have a normal BMI. For the general population however, it is a simple screening tool that can identify possible weight problems for adults.
To calculate your BMI, simply divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, and then multiply by 703. Here’s an example:
Weight: 160 pounds, Height: 5’6” (66 inches)
[160 / (66)2] x 703 = 25.8
25.8 is the BMI in this example.
So what do the numbers mean? See below for further explanation:
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 – 39.9 Obese
40 and above Morbidly Obese
So what can you do to reduce your BMI? Starting a weight-loss plan that includes a healthy, balanced diet as well as regular physical activity is the sure way to see lasting weight loss and improved health.
Eat foods are all nutrient dense as they provide maximum nutrients compared to the number of calories they provide. It’s also important to include some fat in your diet; choose plant-based fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds as your primary source of fat and limit saturated fats found in animal products such as high-fat meats and full-fat dairy.
Remember, when starting any weight-loss plan, the focus should be not just on losing weight but on losing fat. Excess fat, especially around the midsection, increases risk of developing disease, particularly heart disease and diabetes. This is best achieved following a calorie-controlled, balanced diet and regular exercise. Once you reach a healthy BMI you can decide whether you feel comfortable staying at that weight, or whether you think you would be more comfortable losing a few more pounds. Everyone is unique and will have their own ideal weight that makes them feel comfortable.