This morning one of my clients mentioned to me she was very happy that her weight sat within the recommended range for age and it got me thinking. Sometimes as a trainer things I think everyone should know, they don’t. I think I forget I am the professional I have been practicing and perfecting my craft for years and I’m still learning. With that being said I wanted to make sure everyone understands why BMI (body mass index) and weight recommendations are not always accurate.
Having just put my BMI into an online calculator I came out as 29 which means I am over weight. Oh no!! Who would think someone who typically sits around 10-12% body fat and trains 4-6 times a week could be overweight. Last time I checked my abs were still fairly visible and I don't really have any areas on my body I would deem as fat. If I compare my body fat % to a body fat percentage chart my body fat is more then ideal. So how can I be over weight? Which chart should I follow?
The body fat percentage chart will give you a better idea of where you are. BMI scales do not account for muscle mass. This is the fundamental reason why we simply cannot use a BMI scale to determine someones body composition. If your body fat percentage is below 15 and above 8 I would argue that your weight is probably ok. Anything outside of these numbers is probably not ideal long term for most people. As with most things there exceptions which are beyond the scope of the point of todays post. Between 8-15% simply means over 85% of your body weight is lean weight (organs, skeleton, muscle, water etc). Thats a good thing.
Seeing as Im suggesting you go off your body fat percentage rather then your BMI I imagine you are wondering how to do this. Again there are online calculators. You can also purchase handheld devices, skin fold callipers and scales just to name a few. I must also point out that most body fat calculators will never be as accurate as you might think. Im not a fan of equipment where you hold on to handles or stand on the sensors i think there is a bit too much variance in readings and its dependant on a lot of factors which you can manipulate quite easily. However, if this is all you have to go with it.
You can use this to get a rough estimate of where you are and then make adjustments to your training and diet to meet your goals whether the decreasing or increasing body fat. Over time off the readings are going in the direction of your goal then you are probably losing fat regardless of whether the overall percentage reading os correct.
My final thing today on this is most people probably don't need a calculator to tell them if they are carrying too much body fat. Don't spend time getting hung up on BMI’s and heathy weight ranges and spend more time on making sure you are happy with what you see in the mirror every morning. If you can honestly say for the most part you are happy with what you see, the chances are your weight and body fat percentage is fine.