Are you surprised about the headline? Or do you already know why you shouldn’t care about your weight nor BMI (Body mass index) – if not, continue to read and if you already know why, please continue anyway as I will give you a small present further down.
If you have Googled “weight loss” at some point you are not alone. Approximately 6 million people Google that phrase every single month, with a peak in January :-). Everybody seems to want to lose weight at some point and with the rising numbers of people suffering from obesity, it’s not that strange. Losing weight is a huge topic and the industry around, a giant money machine.
If you are a little bit more into it, you might have considered your BMI as well and not just your weight. Taking into account how tall you are, compared to your weight seems like a logical way to figure out if you are overweighted or “normal”. A BMI around 20-25 is considered to be good.
The problem with BMI:
If you look at the photo below you will see a picture of me during a workout. My BMI is 24.7, so I’m just on the border to be defined as “overweighted”. What do you think?
The BMI is asking how much mass your body has but what it doesn’t ask is what kind of mass. And there we have the problem with BMI
Let’s say you go to the butcher and ask for one pound of meat? Would you do that or would you actually ask for a specific kind of meat? BMI doesn’t ask that question. Mass is mass no matter if it’s bones, muscles water or fat. You see the issue with BMI?
According to BMI a person with a lot of muscles but no fat could easily be defined as overweighted. Where a person with little muscles and remarkable fat could be defined normal.
The problem with weight focus:
Years ago when I started on my fitness journey the following happened with my weight.
The first 6 months I gained 5KG. Say what? How can that be? Well very simple. As I hadn’t been physical active for several years my muscles mass had decreased a lot and when I started to work out it was natural for me as a man to gain muscles. Therefore the extra kg was simply me putting on more muscles.
After the first six months, something strange again happened. I suddenly started to lose weight. No, much but around 1kg a month. So how could that be? Without changing the amount of workout or my nutrition?
Muscles in contrast to fat require energy, even when you are resting. So the extra muscles I had gained suddenly upgraded my “body engine” from a V4 to a V6 – my body simply needed more energy and as I didn’t add more, it started to tear from my body fat.
Summaries of the problems:
BMI doesn’t care if it’s fat, muscles, bones or water – therefore it’s not interesting.
Weight control has the same problem. It’s just a weight and again it doesn’t matter what.
When you start to workout you will probably gain weight and thereby raise your BMI as you put on muscles – which in the long run is good as muscles raises your metabolism.
So what to measure then?
What we learned above was that muscles mean more weight but on the other hand, it also means raised metabolism levels, which again helps to burn fat even when we rest. So if it’s fat we want to get rid of, why then just measure that. Or in other words, measure our “body fat %”
If you look at my picture again and I tell you that my body fat % is around 18% which is a good level, not fantastic but absolutely acceptable. Does that then make more sense than the “overweighted” label from BMI?
Also if we go back to my journey I can tell you that I started out with 25% body fat and what happened during the years was a steady drop. No sudden peaks nor drops.
The good, the bad and the evil body fat:
Before you go out to throw your body scale in the bin, there is one more thing we need to know about body fat.
Fat is important and can be healthy to have. However, there is one area where we really want to get rid of it for several reasons.
Belly fat is what I’m talking about. Many want to get rid of it because of aesthetic reasons. It’s not nice to look at and it hides the six-packs below it.
But what is even more important is the belly fat is really bad for your health – especially the deep fat between your organs. What it does is that I keep your body in an inflamed condition which higher your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and in general makes it very difficult to keep control of your weight.
So we need to keep an eye on our waist and measure it.
In my case my waist almost had the same path as my body fat % It slowly decreased from 102cm to 86cm
Levels to aim for & how to measure:
I promised you a small present and you are almost about to get it. Hang in a bit more.
So we now know that we want to focus more on our body fat % & waist than weight and BMI but how to measure and what to aim for?
Here is the downside. Body fat % is very difficult to measure. The body weight scales on the market with body fat % are of very different quality and the cheap body fat measuring calipers have the same issue. Therefore getting a 100% correct measurement can be tricky but if you can live with a 97-99% correct measurement. I have the solution.
Click the image and get the free body & fitness analyzer from Fits-Me. All you have to do is to measure your neck, waist, height and hips (If you are a woman) and fill in the numbers to the form.
Instantly you will get your body fat % and at the same time an indication of your levels for both body fat % and waist measurement. If you don’t like this you can of course also Google a calculator but make sure it’s reliable.
So, forget about your weight and BMI but start to track your body fat %. Especially the fat around your belly.