Body Fat: Your Ideal Weight

Should You Be Skinny?

The pressure to be thin and attractive is one of the reasons women, in particular, form the majority of the people who are forever on a diet of one sort or another. Constantly battling their bodies, these women race out to get the latest-greatest low-fat or low-calorie item as soon as it hits the stores. Spurred on by visuals of slender women, many of whom are underweight, most women have no idea what their own ideal weight should be. Somehow, in their eyes, the best weight is the one that makes them look pale and skinny and is likely not healthy for them.

Muscle vs. Fat

If you go by the old insurance tables that gave you a chart for height and weight for women and men in particular age brackets, you'd be convinced that everyone at a particular age and height should weigh the same. Obviously, the charts are flawed, but they did make a solid impact upon the mindset of women. The fact is that we're all built differently with different genetics and our body shape has a big influence on how much weight we can carry in a healthy way. On top of that, fit women will always look slimmer yet can often weigh more because of the muscle mass they are carrying on their fit bodies. Muscle weighs more than fat. Conversely, it is possible to be a normal weight but have excessive fat in your body.

Body Mass Index - What's Yours?

To get a relatively accurate idea of what your ideal weight should be, using the Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best method for those who don't have access to the more sophisticated methods. Although it cannot take into account the variations of fat, bone, organs and muscle weight, it does provide a means of identifying the percentage of body tissue that is actually fat. Your BMI is the ratio of your height to your weight and is calculated this way:

BMI = your weight in pounds divided by the square of your height in inches X 703

The really simple way to figure it out is by putting your height and weight into an online BMI calculator.

The meaning of the number you get as a result of your calculation means one of the following:

Under 20 You're underweight

20-25 Your weight is normal

25-30 You are overweight

30-40 Obese

Over 40 This is dangerously obese

One of the best ways to measure body fat is with the use of a bioelectrical impedance device. These devices are now available for home use (they look like a regular scale) and they use electricity to measure fat in the body. An electric current is passed through the body and the machine measures how long it takes for the current to come out, providing a measurement of your total body fat. Lean tissue, like muscle, is a much better conductor of electricity than fatty tissue, so the machine is able to measure the percentage of fat in the body.

Still Don't Like How You Look?

Often women go on a diet to lose weight and rather than losing fat, they lose precious muscle. The number on the scale in your bathroom is not the most accurate number when it comes to knowing what a healthy weight is for your body. The Body Mass Index can give you a good idea of whether your weight is in the healthy range, and if it is and you don't feel you look like you are a normal weight, then perhaps it is time to take up a fitness program.

Regular aerobic fitness along with strength training that incorporates core strength training as well is an ideal way to lose fat and shape and tone the body. If you discover there is more fat than is ideal for your body, then seeking the help of a professional may be the answer for you. Coupling healthy eating with regular fitness is the best way to get the best body for you.


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