You’ve probably wondered at one time or another how much you should weigh. The answer isn’t always as simple as looking at a chart. Your ideal weight depends on a number of different factors, including:
- fat and muscle composition
- frame size
- other factors
Body mass index (BMI) is one of the most popular ways to calculate an ideal weight range. Getting your current BMI is as easy as plugging your height and weight into a calculator. A result between 18.5 and 24.9 means you’re in the “normal” weight range for your height. If your result is under 18.5, you’re considered underweight. Between 25 and 29.9 means you’re considered overweight. And if your number is 30 to 35 or more, you’re considered obese.
BMI is not always accurate, however, because it doesn’t account for factors like frame size and muscle composition. Read on to learn more about BMI and other ways to determine an ideal weight.
The following chart lists the weights in the different BMI ranges for adults at different heights.
|Height||Normal (BMI 18.5–24.9)||Overweight (BMI 25–29.9)||Obese (BMI 30–35+)|
While a chart isn’t always the best way to determine your ideal weight, it can be a good guideline. BMI does have some drawbacks, however. For one thing, it doesn’t take into account all the variables that might affect your healthy weight.
For example, older adults often store more body fat than younger adults. Women generally have higher body fat than men. Athletes may have dense muscle that contributes to a higher weight. In all these examples, the BMI number may not be the best indicator of whether a person is at their ideal weight.
There are several more methods you can use to hone in on how much you should weigh.
The ratio of your waist circumference and hip circumference creates what is called your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). This number shows you how much of your fat is stored in your lower body, which includes your waist, hips, and buttocks.
Your doctor can help you figure out your WHR. If you’d like to do it at home, follow these instructions:
- Stand and breathe normally. Then breathe out and use a measuring tape to measure the inches around your natural waist, which is the smallest part above your belly button. This number is your waist circumference.
- Then take your tape and measure around the largest part of your hips and buttocks. This number is your hip circumference.
- Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference to get your WHR.
A healthy ratio for women is 0.85 or less. For men, it’s 0.9 or less. A WHR higher than 1 may increase the risk of heart disease and related conditions for both men and women.
This chart provides more information about how to read your WHR:
|Low||0.80 or lower||0.95 or lower|
|Moderate||0.81 to 0.85||0.96 to 1.0|
|High||.86 or higher||1.0 or higher|
This method does have drawbacks. It’s not always easy to record the most accurate measurements, especially if you’re measuring yourself. Body composition varies for a number of reasons as well. You may have a skewed reading if you have muscular hips, for example.
There are people who will not get accurate results with WHR. This includes people who are shorter than 5 feet tall or who have a BMI of 35 or higher. This method is also not recommended for children.
Fat around the midsection may be one of the biggest indicators of your health. The waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is often used to assess risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality.
To calculate your own WHtR, take your waist circumference in inches and divide it by your height in inches. If your waist measurement equals less than half of your height, you’re usually in the healthy range.
You may compare your results with this chart:
|WHtR range||Underweight||Healthy weight||Overweight||Obese|
|Women||Less than 42%||42–48%||49–57%||Greater than 58%|
|Men||Less than 43%||43–52%||53–62%||Greater than 63%|
Body fat percentage
Your weight isn’t the only indicator of how much fat you have on your body. Depending on the type of lifestyle, diet, and activities you engage in, your body will have a different composition. Muscle and fat weigh different amounts. An athletic person may get an inaccurate BMI if their body is made of mostly muscle because it will cause them to weigh more. So, a body fat measurement may be more effective.
To get your body fat percentage, you may visit your doctor or personal trainer or use an online calculator. The measurements you’ll need include your height, weight, waist and hip circumferences, and wrist and forearm circumferences.
There are also special tools to help determine your body fat percentage. Some people may use a tool called calipers to pinch fat from certain areas of the body and measure the amount of fat. There are also different sensors and scales that can send a current through the body to get a reading.
Water displacement, where you submerge your body in a tank of water, is the most accurate way to get your body fat percentage. However, it’s expensive and you need to visit a special lab to have it done.
Once you know your body fat percentage, you can compare with this chart that shows the healthy ranges by sex and age:
With all the measurements needed to calculate your body fat percentage, it may be difficult to get an accurate number at home. Unless you’re trained to use skin calipers, it would be best to leave this method to a professional. It’s easy to perform the test incorrectly and get an inaccurate reading.
You may have noticed that the ideal body weight percentages differ for men and women. That’s because women typically have more body fat than men. Fat is also distributed differently on the body, as women tend to store more in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. For women, it’s typically considered healthy to have between 20 and 25 percent body fat. For men, 10 to 15 percent is generally the healthy range.
Scientists don’t know exactly why women store more fat than men. Some believe it has to do with a mix of hormones, hormone receptors, and different enzyme concentrations.
There’s no magic pill, secret diet, or special workout plan that will help you maintain your weight. Instead, maintaining healthy habits is the key to keeping trim. If you’d like to shed pounds, consider making an appointment with your doctor to create a plan.
You can also try these methods:
- Eat a diet of healthy, whole foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean protein, whole grains, and nuts are good choices. You’ll usually find these foods along the perimeter of the grocery store.
- Get regular exercise. Each week, aim to get 150 minutes of a moderate physical activity, like walking, or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity, like running.
- Consider keeping a food diary to see how many calories you take in each day. Burning more calories than you take in is the key to weight loss. You may notice that you snack mindlessly while watching TV or eat portions that are too large while out at restaurants. A diary will help you notice these patterns.
- Get support from friends, family, and other sources. Overeaters Anonymous is a support group for people with eating disorders such as compulsive overeating, anorexia, food addiction, bulimia, and more.
There are many different ways to calculate your ideal weight. Most of them have some margin of error, especially when done at home. If you have concerns about your weight, consider visiting your doctor for a physical. Your doctor can also help you create a plan to lose or gain weight. Eating well and moving your body more are simple ways to start your journey toward a healthier body today.