What is the ideal weight?

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:

  • height
  • sex
  • 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 isn’t 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.

How much should I weigh by height?

The following chart lists the weights in the different BMI ranges for adults at different heights.

HeightNormal (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.

If your height and weight distributions aren’t included here, then you’ll want to consult the calculator. But be aware that BMI isn’t as accurate for individuals who are outside of the chart above. (In other words, taller and shorter people will have a BMI that may not be representational of their health).

BMI does have some drawbacks. 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. Females generally have higher body fat than males. 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.

What are some other methods to determine healthy weight?

There are several other methods you can use to hone in on how much you should weigh.

Waist-to-hip ratio

The ratio of your waist circumference and hip circumference creates what’s 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 yourself, follow these instructions:

  1. 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.
  2. Then take your tape and measure around the largest part of your hips and buttocks. This number is your hip circumference.
  3. Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference to get your WHR.

A healthy ratio for females is 0.85 or less. For males, it’s 0.9 or less. A WHR higher than 1 may indicate an increased risk of heart disease and related conditions for both males and females.

This chart provides more information about how to read your WHR:

Health riskFemalesMales
low0.80 or lower0.95 or lower
moderate0.81 to 0.850.96 to 1.0
high.86 or higher1.0 or higher

This method does have its drawbacks, as well. 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 won’t 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 also isn’t recommended for children.

Waist-to-height ratio

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 rangeUnderweightHealthy weightOverweightObese
femalesless than 42%42%–48%49%–57%greater than 58%
malesless 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. Certain sensors and scales 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, which 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.

What’s the ideal weight for males and females?

You may have noticed that the ideal body weight percentages differ for males and females. That’s because females typically have more body fat than males.

Fat is also distributed differently on the body, as females tend to store more in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. For females, it’s typically considered healthy to have between 21 and 24 percent body fat. For males, 14 to 17 percent is generally the healthy range.

Scientists don’t know exactly why females store more fat than males. Some believe it has to do with a mix of hormones, hormone receptors, and different enzyme concentrations.

How should I manage my weight?

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 staying at a healthy weight.

If you’d like to lose some weight, 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.
  • Keep a food diary to track calories. 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.

The takeaway

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 exam. 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.

Read this article in Spanish.