BMI has long been used as a way to track how healthy an individual is. Standing for Body Mass Index, it compares a person’s weight with their height in order to separate them into a certain category. The four categories are:
In more recent years, BMI has gained some flack as it’s not entirely accurate at predicting how healthy a person is. At the end of the day, it’s only comparing two sources of data together and health comes from a variety of things.
Not to mention, weight can mean anything carrying mass such as bones, water, fat, muscle, and organs. You can easily skew this data by not being hydrated, going to the toilet, or eating more food. Therefore, BMI should not be taken as a stand-alone source of information.
However, in terms of weight loss, BMI can be useful as long as you also use another set of data such as fat mass, waist circumference, and progress pictures. When losing weight, you want to make sure that the majority is coming from fat and not muscle.
Many people simply focus on the weight on the scale or the figure put out by their BMI, but muscle is an extremely useful and health-promoting component of our physique which can be put in jeopardy when we go on a diet.
Therefore, it’s important to track your physique as accurately as possible when losing weight to make sure the focus is laced on fat and nothing else which waist measurements, fat percentage, and progress pictures can show.
For those who are obese, BMI can be a fantastic tool as nobody becomes obese due to muscle mass alone, and if you’ve highlighted that you have a large amount of fat, then BMI can be useful by monitoring your progress towards a healthier body.
A healthy BMI is anything between 18.5-24.9 whilst anything higher than 25 is considered overweight and obese. When you’re obese, it doesn’t only make you feel worse and it isn’t a question about how you look in the mirror, it can actually be life-threatening.
Therefore, tracking your BMI isn’t just helpful when looking at your progress, but also for seeing how much healthier your body is becoming.
If you’re overweight, then it’s important to look at your BMI compared to your body composition. As we’ve already mentioned, weight can come from anything and therefore, your BMI might say you’re overweight just because you’re carrying a larger amount of muscle.
For these people, BMI might not be that useful because you want to retain as much muscle as possible, meaning you might still be in the overweight category despite losing a large amount of fat. This also accounts for those who are trying to change their body composition opposed to just strictly lose weight i.e. people who are trying to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously opposed to just lose weight.
For these cases, BMI may not be the best tool and trackers such as waist measurements, fat percentage, and progress pictures will be more useful.
It’s a mistake to place all of your confidence into BMI, but it’s also a mistake to completely abandon it. The reality is that BMI is just another set of data you can use to measure your progress and can be a motivating figure to see go down.
In itself, regardless of whether it does measure your health or not, it can be an extremely useful tool. Motivation is a powerful and often underrated component of tracking as it’s helpful for the mind to see that you’re making progress.
This is where tracking tools really come into fruition: to make sure you’re heading in the right direction and also to keep you motivated to continue to do so. Many weight-loss efforts can break down because people think that they’re spinning their wheels when in reality they just don’t know how to track properly.
Though, if you find BMI to be bothersome, then it’s not a necessary tool you need to use, either.