When you step on the scale, the number that pops up typically evokes an emotional reaction. You may be satisfied because the number seems low enough, or you may be disappointed because the number is higher than you had hoped. Many people count calories, macros, or points as they eat throughout the day in an attempt to lose or maintain their weight, and they rely solely on a scale's proclamation to determine if they are heading in the right direction toward ideal health. Even if the number on the scale is to your liking, are you really in optimal shape? When you hear terms like body mass index, body fat percentage, and body type, the answer may be confusing. Understanding what each of these indicators means and how they apply to your body will help you to identify how you can achieve a healthier physique.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple calculation that a doctor may use to determine whether or not you are underweight, overweight, or obese, which is helpful in assessing your health risks. The formula for determining your BMI, which requires your height in inches and your weight in pounds, is calculated as follows:
- weight divided by (height X height) X 703 = BMI
Therefore, a 31-year-old male who is six feet tall and weighs 180 pounds would begin the calculation by converting his height to 72 inches, and then proceed as follows:
- 180 divided by (72 X 72) X 703 = BMI of 24.4
A resulting BMI figure is then classified for adults as follows:
- Less than 18.5 indicates that the individual is underweight.
- 18.5 to 24.9 indicates that the individual falls within a healthy weight range.
- 25.0 to 29.9 indicates that the individual is overweight.
- 30.0 or greater indicates that the individual is obese.
Interpreting your BMI is a starting point in determining whether or not you need to change your weight for better longterm health. However, how much of your body weight is fat, as opposed to muscle?
Body Fat Percentage
If you work out at the gym on six days each week, your BMI may place you as being overweight, even though you may be at the peak of fitness. This is because a good portion of that weight on your frame is muscle mass. Since BMI cannot differentiate fat from muscle, your body fat percentage is a more accurate indicator of your body condition. You can find online calculators that will determine your BMI and your body fat percentage, but if you like to play with numbers, there is a simple formula that uses your BMI to give you a rough idea of your body fat percentage.
If you are an adult female:
- (1.2 X BMI) + (0.23 X age in years) – (10.8 X 0) – 5.4 = body fat percentage
If you are an adult male:
- (1.2 X BMI) + (0.23 X age in years) – (10.8 X 1) – 5.4 = body fat percentage
Using the individual described in the section above, his body fat percentage calculation would appear as follows:
- (1.2 X 24.4) + (0.23 X 31) – (10.8 X 1) – 5.4 = body fat percentage of 20.21
As with BMI numbers, the resulting body fat percentage is then categorized to determine whether or not the amount of fat is healthy.
For females, body fat percentages are interpreted as follows:
- 10 to 12 percent is considered the essential fat range, meaning that this is the minimal amount of fat that women should carry.
- 14 to 20 percent is considered the athletic range.
- 21 to 24 percent falls within the fitness range.
- 25 to 30 percent is an acceptable range.
- 31 percent or greater is considered obese.
For males, body fat percentage ranges are interpreted as follows:
- Two to four percent is considered the essential fat range, meaning that this is the minimal amount of fat that men should carry.
- six to 13 percent is considered the athletic range.
- 14 to 17 percent falls within the fitness range.
- 18 to 25 percent is an acceptable range.
- 26 percent or greater is considered obese.
The man in the example above falls within the acceptable range. If he starts to engage in a workout, then he can decrease his body fat percentage until it falls into the healthier fitness range.
To devise a workout routine that will reward your efforts with the best results when it comes to burning fat, achieving a healthy target weight, and building muscle mass, determining your body type can be helpful. There are three body types, and they can be described as follows:
Endomorph is characterized by a large frame, large joints, and a stocky, round physique. Endomorphs carry more fat because they gain fat easily. Thus, muscles do not appear defined. Endomorphs should focus on engaging in cardio workouts as frequently as possible to burn fat.
Mesomorph is described as the perfect body for athletics and bodybuilding. Mesomorphs are large in frame and in defined musculature, giving their bodies a strong, hard appearance. They are curvy, with narrow waists and shoulders that are wider than their hips. Mesomorphs can gain weight easily, but they also build up their muscles easily. The ideal workout routine for a mesomorph is a balanced regimen of cardio and weight training.
Ectomorph is characterized by a long and slender frame with small joints, long limbs, and slight shoulders. Ectomorphs have high metabolisms, so they have a tough time gaining weight. They are lean, right down to their muscle mass. Ectomorphs should keep cardio workouts to a minimum and focus primarily on weight training to build up their larger muscle groups.
If you are like most individuals, you are likely a combination of two or three of these body types, and your workout routine and diet should be adjusted accordingly to achieve your goals. For more help, contact a personal training service like Brass Performance.