The Truth About BMI
You have probably heard that the Body Mass Index – or BMI, is a great way to estimate your health and the weight range you should be within.
Unfortunately, there are some obvious flaws with this method and you should be aware of them when evaluating your health.
This article will discuss some of the problems with using BMI and provide you with some alternative methods for determining a healthy range for your weight.
It is important to understand what the body mass index attempts to do and why most health professionals use it. The body mass index is a method that takes into account your height and weight and provides you with a number that is an estimate of your body fat.
It was originally developed only for population studies, and not meant for individual diagnosis. However, due to its simplicity, health professionals began using it to evaluate their patients or clients. The body mass index classifies individuals into four categories – underweight, normal, overweight, and obese.
The biggest problem with the body mass index is that it does not take into account the amount of muscle mass you have. Your frame size and muscularity can make a significant difference in your weight, and therefore lead to a higher or lower BMI calculation. For example, an athlete with a large percentage of muscle mass compared to body fat will often fall into the overweight or obese categories on the body mass index scale.
Conversely, those with a large percentage of fat compared to muscle mass can be classified as normal – even though they are probably very unhealthy. For this reason, the body mass index is a good way to estimate body fat quickly and inexpensively, but it is not very accurate and should not be the only method used to determine your body fat.
One of the alternatives to the body mass index is the skin fold test. This is done using calipers and pinching the skin to determine the amount of subcutaneous fat thickness. While this is more effective than BMI, the accuracy of this method is largely dependent on the person performing the test – and a large degree of deviation can occur.
A body fat meter is a second alternative to the BMI method. A body fat meter reads the total volume of water in the body and uses this to calculate your percentage of body fat. These are fairly accurate, however they can fluctuate depending on how much water or food you have consumed before the test.
Perhaps the best way to estimate body fat is the bod pod or hydrostatic weighing. The bod pod determines lean body mass by taking into account your mass and volume, while the hydrostatic weighing calculates your lean body mass by hypothesizing that a person with more body fat will weigh less underwater than someone with less body fat. Both of these methods have been considered the most accurate for determining body fat percentage. Also, they are relatively inexpensive!
Hopefully this article has helped you understand why BMI is ineffective for determining your body fat percentage. Try some of the other methods and get an accurate portrayal of your body fat!