Free Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator with reference charts and tables for both child and adult, along with hundreds of other free calculators.
But this measure does not tell the whole story
It does not take into account body composition.
BMI can’t distinguish between fat and muscle, which tends to be heavier.
More toned individuals can tip into the overweight status, even if their fat levels are low.
Mr. Olympia, Phillip Jerrod Heath, would be considered obese class III during his off season and Obese class II during contest prep.
BMI also can’t tell the different types of fat.
Different types of fat and where the body stores it can have different metabolic effects on health.
Belly or abdominal fat, which is known as visceral fat, is more harmful than fat that’s simply sitting under the skin.
Visceral fat develops deep among muscles and around organs like the liver. These fat cells do more than just sit there and make your pants feel tight. They also change the way your body operates provoking inflammation and influencing hormone functions.
A person might also be compensating with harmful behaviors to keep themselves at that BMI (Anorexia, Binge Eating, Compulsive Exercisers, Smokers, Drug Users etc.)
Weight as a proxy or primary marker of health has its weakness.
Should you use it, you can but let’s take a quick look at some alternative you could also use.
Alternatives to BMI
Body Adiposity Index
BAI is unlike BMI as it does not use your weight in the calculation. In order to work out your percentage body fat, BAI multiplies your hip circumference by your height.
This body adiposity index calculator, or BAI calculator, determines your body adiposity index, also know as body fat percentage. Classification categories …
Waist circumference measurements
One of the most effective alternatives to BMI is the old-fashioned tape measure.
By measuring your waist you can get a good heads up of the amount of abdominal fat you are carrying.
Body Fat measuring with Calipers
Using a tool called a caliper, a trained tester can measure body fat at 3 to 9 sites by pinching the skin and the fat that lies under it. He pulls the skin and fat away from the muscle and places the caliper 1 cm (0.4 in) above or below. Two or three measurements are usually taken at each site.
CT scans, MRIs and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
These methods can provide a clearer glimpse at the body’s make-up by separating out fat from muscle or by measuring bone density.
But these are pretty expensive compared to stepping on a scale.
CT Scan or MRI
So why is BMI still the preferred way to measure weight and evaluate obesity?
Well, it’s a relatively easy measurement to take. Taking a person’s height and weight and plugging it into an equation that produces a number informs doctors about whether their patients are at high, low or no risk when it comes to weight-related health problems.
Perhaps doctors should rely on not just assessing body composition to assess general health but measuring hormones and biomarkers in the blood or urine to get a better handle on abnormal processes that may contribute to obesity and chronic disease.
I used to weigh myself every Sunday morning without exception. This was a weekly task written in my agenda that I could not skip. At that moment, I felt like I was about to wage war with myself. My ”Once-A-Week-Ritual” was creating unnecessary stress, pressure and I became fixated on my mass. For me, it wasn’t a numerical reflection of my relationship with gravity, no sir, this was a measure of my worth as a person.
That number on the scale determined my self-esteem for the next week. My entire mood became dependant on that number. If the scale went down, I was pleased (but it was never enough). If went up, my day was instantly ruined – I had failed.
Then one day, it clicked :
This number doesn’t define who I am.
It doesn’t need to dictate my value as a human being.
I rather set myself on fire than hop on that scale again to be honest so I wrote an e-mail to my coach telling him I had enough of this restrictive dieting lifestyle and that it interfered with my emotional wellbeing and happiness.
Why do we value thinness, leanness, slenderness, slimness?
Why do we believe it’s a symbol of beauty and associate it with being successful, happy and disciplined?
Does our culture pressure us with medias to determine our self-worth by our appearance?
Has our society become obsessed with the idea of losing weight?
Fat Shaming vs Fat Acceptance
We live in an a time where obesity has become a major problem. But is obesity considered a disease ? A disability ? Is it okay to be overweight ? Is our thin obsessed culture feeding this epidemic and damaging our healthcare further ?
There are negative comments everywhere about overweight people . While some of these comments come from mean-spirited people, others think fat shaming will motivate overweight folks to lose weight.
Some individuals (like John Bourque, see youtube link below) think that being overweight is lacking discipline and that fat shaming can be constructive and motivate obese individual to take responsibility of their health.
You’d think that only fit people engage in fat shaming, but you’d be wrong. Overweight people play a part, too. Fat people criticize others who are fat. Even worse, fat people stigmatize themselves.
I personally think this type of shaming makes people feel beyond shameful excluding them completely for the world of health and wellbeing.
It triggers overeating and leads to poor body image. People aren’t motivated to take great care of their bodies if they hate them right ?
It’s impossible to feel good about yourself if you’re constantly practicing self-destructive behaviors, I agree.
BUT, perfectly normal, healthy individuals are labeled plus sized or unhealthy simply because they don’t match society’s definition of health & beauty.
War against obesity
The word success and failure often describe folk that battle weight loss but losing weight isn’t as predictable and progressive at you might have been led to believe.
People will use 3 common strategies to lose pounds:
Specific macronutrient based diets
Increasing calorie expenditure by exercising
Usually the vicious cycle of weight loss looks a lot like this
Barriers to Weight Loss
There is a lot of factor that can interrupt a weight loss journey.
Stress, Anxiety or Depression
Overeating/Lack of portion control
Yo-yo dieting or Crash diets that leads to a reduced metabolic rate
While obstacles can often seem to stand between an individual and their desire to lose weight, they’re often there to allow us to demonstrate how badly we truly want to achieve those goals.
A better way of looking at it
I say: Try to be a little better tomorrow than you were today.
Try changing your behavior in a healthy way.
Independent of weight loss, eat whole food and increase your amount of daily exercise.
It’s healthy whether you lose weight or maintain it. Make these choices in consistent ways in opposed to crash diets or exercise plan where the primary purpose is to lose weight. Don’t focus solely on the scale. Remove that unrealistic goal of looking like a fitness model and that self-judgement based on whether or not you are able to lose weight.
Focus on being healthy.
The Way I see It
My perceptive is to live the healthiest life that you can ENJOY over time.
After all, isn’t life about maximizing your enjoyment while at the same time maximizing your health ?
Persistent effort and adherence over time is goal to weight loss. You need to devote substantial time in your day to exercise and maintain a caloric deficit.
But at the end, if you don’t like yourself fat, guess what, you won’t like yourself thin either.