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Tipping the Scales: What is a Healthy Weight?

January 18, 2018
Published in: Fitness, Nutrition

Woman measuring herself

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what other factors play into being healthy? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and helps prevent you from developing several diseases or conditions. If you are overweight or obese, you are at a higher risk of developing serious health complications including heart disease, high blood pressure, breathing problems, and certain cancers. Being underweight may compromise your immune system making you more vulnerable to illnesses such as the flu. Being underweight may also be a sign of nutritional deficiencies.

What is the difference between underweight, overweight and obese?

Underweight is classified as being below what is considered a normal weight for your height. Overweight is defined as having extra body weight from muscle, bone, fat, and water. Obesity is having a high amount of extra body fat.

Measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a great tool to determine where you fall in terms of a healthy weight. BMI is an equation that takes height and weight into consideration. Even though BMI does not directly correlate with body fat, the equation appears to be strongly correlated with various adverse health outcomes due to higher body weight. The bracket to aim for is between 18.5 and 24.9. Someone who is underweight has a BMI that is less than 18.5. A person is considered overweight if their BMI is 25.0-25.9. Obesity is divided into three different classifications:

  • Class 1: 30.0-34.9
  • Class 2: 35.0-39.9
  • Class 3 "Extreme or severe obesity": 40.0 and higher

What do I do if I’m overweight or obese?

To lose weight, you must consume fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. In some instances, excess weight is an indicator of a more serious health problem. It's important to talk with your doctor about an exercise and diet plan that's safe for you. Losing weight is often easier said than done, so here are some tips and tools to help you get started!

  1. Eat more at breakfast. Studies suggest starting your day with a high-protein meal to help you feel fuller longer. Also, people who eat more at breakfast and less at night tend to lose more weight.
  2. Take progress photos. Achieving a healthy weight involves losing fat and gaining muscle. The scale isn't always the best measure of your overall achievements. Keep photos to remind yourself that you are making progress even though the scale may slow down.
  3. Use an App. Certain apps will let you log your calories and help set your goal for total calories intake. My Fitness Pal is a popular option that allows you to track weight progress, log your exercise history, and keep track of calories accurately.
  4. Purge your home. Keep any foods you need to avoid out of sight. If you don't see them, you're less likely to eat them. Add fresh foods such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains to keep your fridge or pantry full of healthy snacks instead.
  5. Pre-plan your day. Creating a game plan is a great way to make sure you stay on track. Plan your meals, make grocery lists, and determine your exercise schedule.
  6. Talk to a professional. Struggling to figure out where to start? Talk to a nutritionist to help you figure out a healthy way to shred the pounds. They are also the perfect person to switch up your nutrition plan if needed.

What can I do if I am underweight?

Strive to put on weight safely. Contact a nutritionist and create a meal plan that incorporates a well-balanced diet. The plan should include the right number of calories for your age, height, and activity level. The goal is to gradually gain weight until the normal weight zone is reached.

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of your overall health. The Augusta Health Clinical Nutrition Team can help! Contact us at (540) 213-2537.