What's your BMI?

How are you doing today? I hope you got some decent sleep – remember sleep is so very important for our mood, body fat loss and energy levels. Not enough sleep every night will result in poor results. Can you improve your bedtime routine?

What water have you consumed so far this morning...coffee and tea doesn’t count guys!! Drink a glass of water now...and then another one. Come on...you are never far from water so reach out and grab a glass now.

And what movement is happening today? Have you planned a walk with the dogs, coming into the gym or doing a home workout..are you making it a must today? If not why ever not!! Can you get your 10,000 steps!! Come on then...jump up and get to it!

So today let's shed some light on the BMI we hear about so often at the doctors.

BMI is the Body Mass Index. But what does it really tell us?

Firstly it’s an estimate of your body fat and it’s used to predict your risk of chronic disease. It’s measured by calculating your weight relative to your height and is a good indicator of your likely hood of developing diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

It’s simple and noninvasive. However it has it’s restrictions. In the fitness industry, BMI is often thought to provide an incomplete picture of an active individual’s health, because it doesn’t take into account a lot of factors, such as body composition, age, and sex. Those factors, along with ethnicity, can all influence your body weight.

BMI also doesn’t take into account weight differences among the body’s tissues such as muscle, bone, organs, stored water and fat. When assessing someone’s body composition, we typically break the overall value into fat mass and fat-free mass. Fat-free mass contributes to overall health, along with essential fat (a component of fat mass necessary for survival and health), whereas an excessive amount of non-essential fat negatively contributes to health.

People who strength train consistently tend to have a greater amount of lean muscle mass than people who don’t strength train. Yet, with BMI all weight — fat mass and lean mass — is created equal. Of course, higher amounts of physical activity and lean muscle mass are protective for health and longevity, so take this into consideration when assessing your BMI value. BMI can’t identify types of body fat.

Not only do high amounts of excess body fat matter, but also where and how you carry your body fat makes a difference to your health risk. Body fat that is right under the surface of the skin that you can pinch is called subcutaneous fat. This type of body fat poses a lower risk of disease than visceral fat, that is, fat carried in and around the organs. Fat that is stored around the organs is more metabolically active. It releases fatty acids, inflammatory agents, and hormones that lead to higher LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, and your blood pressure.

Thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Another problem with BMI is that it assumes if you’re not overweight, you’re not at risk. This simply isn’t true. Thin individuals who lack of muscle mass and carry excess body fat are at just as much risk for chronic disease complications as their obese counterparts, especially when the excess fat is carried in and around the organs.

Yet, by BMI standards these individuals would not be considered at risk for chronic disease. If you’re concerned about better understanding your body fat and risk for disease, it is possible to use additional tools to obtain more information and gain greater insight.

Body Composition Testing BMI is only an estimate of body fat. There is no direct way of measuring body fat but there are a lot of convenient and inexpensive options for measuring body fat including skinfold callipers, bioelectrical impedance and the Bod Pod (air displacement plethysmography). Recommended body fat percentages for women for overall health are between 21 and 32 percent, and between 10 and 22 percent for men.

If you are concerned and want to gain more information about your visceral and subcutaneous fat, consider a bone densitometry scan (DXA). These scans are more expensive and may be more challenging to find and schedule, but they are considered the gold standard for measuring body fat because of the associated accuracy and reliability.

Waist Measurement If you want to skip the expense of a DXA scan, a simple measure of health risk is waist circumference. A waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men is considered as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. To measure your waist circumference, simply place a cloth tape measure around the smallest part of the waist while standing relaxed.

So team the take home message here is look beyond BMI to get a better assessment of overall health risk.

BMI has great utility in measuring health and disease risk in populations at large, but when it comes to your personal health, BMI may or may not matter given other health behaviours and where you carry your body fat. Excess body weight and obesity don’t typically show up by themselves. Most of the time excess weight is accompanied by other negative health behaviours such as poor diet, smoking, being sedentary, and high stress. By including regular strength training and a healthy diet, you can reduce excess body fat and overall risk for disease, regardless of what happens to BMI.

I hope that helps clear up a few things.

Now go and move about, drink some water and eat some food that will nourish your body and make you feel really good...and smile.

“You are only as strong as your weakest value”

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