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Most women who are trying to lose weight have a goal weight they’d like to reach in their weight loss journey. But how do you decide what your ‘ideal’ weight is? There are lots of factors at play like age, height, muscle mass and body type. Sometimes we refer to body type as being small or big boned. While there’s not usually much different in actual bone size or weight, there are different types of bodies out there – those that genetically carry more fat or muscle mass than others that will influence ideal weight.
There are thousands of online body weight calculators out there. Try one body weight calculator and you could find that your ‘ideal weight’ is 10 or 15 lbs less than it was using a different calculator. So what’s the best way to figure out your ideal weight?
BODY WEIGHT CALCULATORS
Let’s have a look at some results using different body weight calculators. We’ll start with a woman who is 5’2”, 35 years old and weighs 122 lbs. She feels and looks thin, but has just started Athlean-XX for Women with the goal to increase muscle mass to achieve a more athletic, toned physique. She tries four different body weight calculators and gets the following results for her ideal body weight:
Calculator 1) 115 lbs
Calculator 2) 104 – 137 lbs
Calculator 3) 121 – 135 lbs
Calculator 4) 110 lbs
Two out of four calculators consider her current weight to be ‘ideal’ while the other two consider her to be 7 – 12 lbs above ideal. Calculator 2 has a 33 lb range for what’s considered a healthy weight for her height. A 33 lb range is a pretty big difference! With the wide variety in these results, how can you know what’s a realistic goal?
If our 5’2” friend is interested in becoming athletic and lean, she’ll be building a good amount of lean muscle. How much might that muscle weigh and how does it fit into her ‘ideal weight’ calculation?
BODY MASS INDEX (BMI)
Calculator 2 above is based on Body Mass Index, which is perhaps the most common ideal body weight calculator. It is the one most commonly used by medical doctors to determine whether a person is ‘overweight,’ ‘obese’ or has a ‘healthy’ body weight. The BMI calculator has some major drawbacks. For one, it is based on weight only and doesn’t take into account whether that weight is made up of fat or muscle, so it’s not a particularly helpful measure for women who are already fit and muscular or are working to gain muscle. It’s also got its problems even to determine whether a person is ‘overweight’ or not because it doesn’t take into account where the person carries that weight. For example, if a woman is at the upper end of the ‘healthy’ weight range, but she carries nearly all of her weight in her middle, she may continue to be at risk for heart problems and diabetes. Some doctors prefer to use hip to waist ratio to help determine ‘healthy weight,’ but this measurement still fails to take into account fat mass versus muscle mass.
BODY FAT PERCENTAGE
The fitness industry uses Body Fat Percentage to measure ‘healthy weight’ as well as ‘leanness.’ It’s a more helpful measurement than BMI or the ‘ideal weight calculators’ because it takes into account what percent of your body’s mass is made up of fat versus what percent is made up of a combination of muscles, bones and organs. The American Council on Exercise body fat percentage chart is the most commonly used set of body fat ranges.
There are a few different ways to measure body fat percentage. The most accurate are using a skinfold caliper or hydrostatic weighing (being weighed in water), both of which can be performed by a professional. You could also purchase a caliper and measure it yourself. Another method which is less accurate is to use an online body fat percentage calculator. Just like with the ideal body weight calculators, you can get a wide variety of results using different calculators.
Let’s take the example of our 5’2” woman. She tries three body weight calculators that factor in weight, height, age and a few different body part measurements. Here are her results:
Calculator 1) 26.75%
Calculator 2) 29%
Calculator 3) 30%
She decides to make a quick visit to her local gym to be tested. Her body fat percentage is calculated at 27% – within the ‘average’ range. 90 days later, she’s completed the Athlean-XX for Women program and still weighs in at 122 lbs, however her body fat percentage has decreased to 23% – within the ‘athletic’ range! Although she weighs the same, she can see the difference in her body composition and the new muscle she’s put on. Her clothes fit differently, she’s had to purchase a smaller pants size, and she looks incredible in a bikini.
BEST WAY TO CALCULATE IDEAL BODY WEIGHT OR BODY FAT PERCENTAGE
When it comes down to it, any method you use to calculate ideal body weight or ideal body fat percentage is just an estimate. You might prefer to use body fat percentage as a measurement over focusing on the scale, since it takes into account muscle mass and fat mass instead of just weight. It’s not even necessary to have body fat percentage measured – you might choose a pair of your favorite jeans or other item of clothing as your way of ‘measuring’ the changes in your body as you begin a new fitness and nutrition plan. ‘Ideal’ body weight is also very subjective – it should be based on how each woman feels inside her own body. You may decide you prefer to carry a few extra pounds to hang onto some curves or you may wish to be as lean and muscular as possible. It’s up to you! What’s most important is to feel good inside your skin – sexy, confident and strong!
What method do you use to determine your healthiest weight? Do you prefer your body lean and toned or fit with curves? Leave your comments below!
Are you looking to sculpt a lean, sexy, athletic body? Give Athlean-XX for Women a try. You’ll be amazed at what you can do for your body in just 30 minutes per day at home. 30 minutes might sound short, but our workouts are challenging strength circuits. You’ll get your strength training and your heart-pumping cardio in one fell swoop! Join us on Team Athlean and check out our Athlean-XX for Women SuXXess Stories to see what others have been able to do with minimal equipment and 30 minutes per day. Will you be neXXT?
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