Don’t Panic – Your BMI Is Just A Guide

February 5, 2021 / Nutrition Articles
Don’t Panic – Your BMI Is Just A Guide

Understanding What Your BMI Is Used For!

Over the years I have noticed many people get far too worked up over the status of their BMI (Body Mass Index). In this article I am going to explain to you that it is not your BMI you need to worry about, but rather yourself.

First let us look at what your BMI actually is.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by your height in square meters. By calculating your BMI, indicators of high body fat may be achieved, along with other weight related categories of concern.

Now this is the important part! You BMI is not a diagnostic tool for determining the overall health of a person. Nor can it determine the total body fat percentage of an individual.

I have been over my “healthy BMI range” for as long as I can remember. My entire working career has been manually intensive work. Contact sports and climbing have all been apart of my life. All of which have contributed to my “unhealthy BMI range”.

But not once have I been overweight or obese.

I’m Sorry – But You Are Overweight! (A short story)

A few years back I had to go for my Offshore Medical refresher (done every 2 years). There are several checks that are conducted, but during the first part of the screening tests, is your BMI check.

Some practices have different processes that they follow, but the overall system is the same. Normally a nurse will do the first part of the assessment, like BMI check, audiometry, urine samples…etc. Then hand the information over to the doctor who will do his final assessment.

I remember going through this first part, then waiting to be called into the doctor’s office. It was around February time in Scotland (so not the warmest of times) and I had on a long sleeve top and jacket.

It wasn’t long before I was called into the office. As I entered his office (he was sitting at his desk), he asked me to have a seat. What he said next I’ll never forget. “Mr Fox, I have reviewed the notes from your BMI screening and can see that you are overweight”. There was no, “Hello, how are you?” or “Thanks for coming in, how are you feeling?”.

Now contrary to popular belief, I do have particularly good control over my emotions. But hey! That day they got the better of me.

A Short Burst of Defiance!

I stood up and yanked the clothes off my torso and told the doctor to have one more look and that I defy him to tell me I am overweight. I’m not sure why I reacted this way. I think deep down I took offense at that, because I train hard and eat right and felt that should be acknowledged.

But then I think about it being winter and there is no way to tell what my physique looks like as I have no cause to wear any revealing clothes. Perhaps it was because he had assumed something about me, not long after meeting me.

Maybe I was just offended that his first approach to our encounter was one of a “negative nature”.

The doctor very quickly realized that his initial assessment of my weight was grossly misinterpreted. He did however proceed to tell me how I should rather be conducting my training routines. Talk about digging a hole for yourself. But that’s another story!

Why Your BMI Is Just A Guide?

Your-BMI-does-not-calculate-body-fatConducting a BMI screen gives an indication of your overall weight status. There are other factors that a BMI is used for, but the purpose of this article is not to focus on them. Rather the concerns I have heard many people talk about.

I am 5ft 9 (1.8m) and 14st (89kg) at 38 years old, so my BMI is “overweight”. A BMI can not tell if you are carrying too much fat or a lot of muscle. I am the latter.

Some people are just heavier or have a denser bone structure than others. I know of people that have started training weights in the gym as part of a weight loss routine.

Next thing their BMI reading is borderline “unhealthy” and they freak out. They don’t understand that they are training hard, eating right and slimming down, but the weight isn’t dropping.

What they don’t realize is that they are starting to increase muscle size and density with the training. Muscle is denser than fat. So, while you are in fact dropping fat, you are increasing your muscle density. Thus, giving the illusion that you are not losing weight.

Understanding Your Weight vs Your Body

It may be a bit of a controversial statement, but I was always under the impression it was about the inches and not the weight when it comes to females. My wife went through this the first time she started training weights in the gym.

I remember her getting all worked up about her weight not falling off, despite her hours in the gym. She told me that she couldn’t understand how she wasn’t losing weight but was fitting into all her smaller clothes.

Your body will change during exercising and you need to understand this. There are of course a whole bunch of scientific explanations for this, but I rather want you to know the simple version of it all.

When you get a BMI screen done, use it as a guide. But be honest with yourself. You will know if you are overweight or not.

This post is about understanding how to use your BMI reading. My shoulders are genetically broad. It is my dominant body part. If I were to bring my body into my “healthy” BMI reading, I would look emaciated. Not the look I’m going for.

Please feel free to leave your comments below. I welcome any feedback, suggestions, or experiences from my readers.

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Chris Fox is the founder of Live For Gym and endeavours to always provide useful and insightful information to his readers. Read more about him here and keep in touch with him by Subscribing to the Free Live For Gym Weekly Newsletter.

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