Thursday, November 25, 2010

Body Weight, BMI, and Body Composition

Nutrition is a hot topic.  There is so much misinformation out there that trying to make heads and tails of it is almost impossible.  So, this is my attempt to give you all a starting point when considering a nutrition or fitness program by helping demystify some common measures of health.

Body Weight

Most people are aiming to "lose weight" without thinking about what that actually means!

Think about it, if I told you Mike weights 230lbs and Jim weighs 180lbs, what does this tell you?  Nothing.  Mike might be a 6'7 basketball player, and Jim might be an obese 8yr old.

Put it this way, would you buy a steak from the supermarket by weight alone?  No way.  You'd want to see if it is mostly fat, or if it was a good lean cut.  Body weight is, by itself, a useless measure of health.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The BMI is simply a ratio of height to weight.  While this does provide one more piece of information, it is equally useless.  Think of the steak example again.  Two boxes are both marked Sirloin: 2lbs, 8in.  Do you think the two are the same?  Not likely.

Body Composition

Body composition is a measure of the relative proportions of fat, muscle, bone, etc. that make up an individual's total mass.  Imagine the steak example again, but this time the following info is provided:

Sirloin A:  2lbs, 60% Fat, 30% Lean, 10% other
Sirloin B:  2lbs, 15% Fat, 70% Lean, 15% other

Although you'd still like to see the cuts (nobody wants green meat), you now have enough information to make a wise nutritional decision.


If you are looking to get healthier, throw your scale out the window.  It is a dirty liar, and it will only make you feel horrible about yourself.

You should be concerned about FAT LOSS not WEIGHT LOSS.  Find yourself a cheap pair of fat calipers... they don't have to be expensive or particularly accurate.  You just want to establish a trend in your measurements... hopefully, a downward one.

Also, find a pair of jeans that are 1-2 sizes smaller than your current size.  Try them on once every other week.  You will be surprised to find how much progress you are making even though you don't FEEL like your losing much.

Making the decision to get healthy is hard enough.  Don't let your scale mislead or derail you.  You can do it!

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