While society may go through cultural shifts on what is an ‘attractive’ weight, a healthy weight isn’t so subjective. Like so many things related to health, that doesn’t mean there is a singular approach or global answer.
Healthy isn’t a regiment to be adopted and adhered to or else, it is an individual pursuit with individual parameters. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
Confused? It’s because there is a subtle difference between individual results and subjective standards. Your healthy weight is personal to you but you arrive there by knowing the basics and customizing them to your body.
Defining Healthy Weight
Learning about healthy weight involves understanding the differences and intersection between metabolism, body composition, and age.
A healthy body weight, at base, is one that puts the least staring on your systems and keeps your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and malnutrition down.
Nutritionists and doctors at a medical weight loss clinic measure body weight across several parameters including BMI, lifestyle, and water intake.
This gold standard of measuring weight is slowly being dissolved. The body mass index (BMI) looks at a person’s height and weight and arrives at a ratio.
A person within 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy while those above and below fall into the under and overweight categories.
Unfortunately, BMI doesn’t take into account multiple important factors including muscle mass, fat distribution, and waist-to-hip ratios.
Like BMI, this ratio compares two measurements to determine where a person falls within a statistical mean.
Measurements are taken around the waist, near the belly button, and from the widest part of the hips. The ideal waist-to-hip (WHR) ratio is below 1.0.
What is a healthy weight for men and what is a healthy weight for women differs in the WHR by a full 0.1.
Of course, body morphology plays a role in this as well, with some people having shallow hips, longer legs, or broader shoulders all mucking up the veracity of the index.
the above data is further filtered by the age and general lifestyle of a person. The older you get, the less weight you are expected to have across other standards because as your body ages it stores less and loses density in various fashions.
Those who are are more sedentary will have lower metabolic rates and higher fat ratios. Those who actively build muscle will have higher muscle to fat ratios but still weigh more than their index bracket suggests.
A person with a mono-diet is more likely to have health problems than one eating a varied diet. A person with a good index ratio eating nothing but rice and beans is likely to be less healthy than an overweight (by index) individual eating a robust diet with multiple food groups and dense nutrients.
For those on the borderline of ratios, water weight fluctuations are a concern. It’s not uncommon to face a five-pound swing in weight from one day to the next depending on fluid intake and exertion.
To figure out what is a healthy weight for you, you need to look at multiple sets of data and compare these over time. Charting your weight and your diet across a month will yield a better picture of your metabolic health.
Contact a doctor or nutritionist to learn more about how to manage and measure your needs.
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