Have you ever calculated your Body Mass Index? If so, you have wasted 30 seconds of your time. Before you get all indignant, let me quickly explain why you should not pay attention to your BMI and why measuring Body Fat Percentage is a superior method.
First of all, let’s talk about what Body Mass Index is. Essentially, it is a number generated using your height and weight. Let me rephrase that. Literally, it is a percentage generated using only your height and weight. No other factors are taken into consideration. Not gender, not muscle mass, not body type.
Muscle is more dense than fat. Using your height and weight as the only two data points to calculate if you are a healthy weight simply isn’t enough information. For example, I myself am 5’11” and 180 lbs. My BMI is 25.1%, which puts me in the “Overweight” category.I certainly am no Greek god or fitness competitor, but I definitely don’t consider myself to be overweight.
How about a few more notable examples? LeBron James is 6’8” and 250 lbs. That gives him a BMI of 27.5%, also “Overweight”. Phil Heath, 7-time Mr. Olympia winner, is 5’9” and 250 lbs. That puts him at a nice 37% BMI, classified as “Obese”.
These may be some extreme examples, but the point is clear. Body Mass Index simply isn’t effective in measuring healthy weight. In fact, measuring weight isn’t an effective way to measure healthy weight. That’s right. The only thing that really matters is how much fat mass and lean mass you have.
Enter Body Fat Percentage. Your Body Fat Percentage is just what it sounds like – how much of your body is made up of fat mass. This is infinitely more important than what a number on the scale says. Again, muscle is more dense than fat. If you are losing fat and gaining lean muscle (very common when you start working out), you are going to look and feel great, even if your weight stays the same or even increases. That’s why whenever clients tell me they want to lose weight, I always respond “No you don’t. You want to lose fat.”
Sure, waking up and hopping on the scale each morning is a quick and easy way for people to get instant feedback. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the correct feedback, and certainly not the most accurate feedback. When it comes to your health, tracking your Body Fat Percentage is by far the best bet.