Body Mass Index (BMI) is an excellent tool that indicates if you are at a healthy weight. This information is important, as being heavy or obese raises your risk for type-2 diabetes, various cancers, heart attacks and strokes.
BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by your height.
In addition, keep in mind that your BMI can differ depending on your age and gender.
Studies show, for instance, that people 65 and older may benefit from a slightly higher BMI of between 25 and 27. Also, the recommended amount of body fat differs for men and women.
Body Mass Index: Gender Differences
For women, a BMI showing body fat of 20 percent to 21 percent is considered ideal. The average American woman has about 22 percent to 25 percent body fat.
For men, the recommended amount of body fat is between 13 percent and 17 percent. The average American man has approximately 17 percent to 19 percent body fat.
One way to determine your desirable body weight is to use the following formula:
- Women: 100 pounds of body weight for the first five feet of height plus five pounds for each additional inch.
- Men: 106 pounds of body weight for the first five feet of height plus six pounds for each additional inch.
But if you have a small body frame, you should subtract 10 percent from that number. For a large frame, add 10 percent.
Healthy Diet Is Key
Stay physically active and eat a balanced diet — it can help you maintain your healthy weight. Some tips:
- Limit red meat: A good habit to get into is to eat meat no more than once a day.
- Eat fish and poultry: Both are less fattening than red meats and processed meats.
- Avoid fried food: Bake or broil your food — it’s much healthier. If you do fry foods, use polyunsaturated oils, such as safflower, sunflower or corn oil.
- Reduce your sodium intake: Limit your use of table salt and flavor intensifiers that contain salt, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- Eat fiber: Healthy fiber is found in green leafy vegetables, fruit, beans, bran flakes, nuts, root vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
- Eggs are good for you: Eggs are a good source of protein, and they’re low in saturated fat. But they’re also high in cholesterol, so it’s best to avoid eating more than four eggs per week.
- Snack smart: Choose fresh fruit for dessert, rather than cookies, cake or other sweets.
- Eat a balanced diet: Follow the recommendations of the food guide pyramid.