A man who weighs 97kg and is 175cm tall, packed full of muscle, is considered overweight under the BMI. Read that again. Doesn't make sense does it? 1kg of muscle is way more dense than 1 kg of fat. So a man who is packed full of muscle be really lean is considered overweight, when he is not.
BMI was created in the 19th century by the Belgian mathematician and statistician Lambert Adolphe Quetelet as a way to measure obesity in the general population. This formula has been with us for over 200 years now. Science has evolved with new research. Humans have evolved. Somehow, we still use this formula from the 19th century even though it is no longer relevant in present times.
A friend told me recently that she had to lose 10kg as her BMI stated she is overweight. She isn't plus sized. She is very healthy for her height. I don't see how she can lose another 10kg unless she wants to look like a bag of bones. The fact that she works out and has lean muscle mass in her small frame makes it impossible for her to lose another 10 kg of fat. She'd have to run around the shower just to get wet if she loses another 10kg.
If looking at BMI is out of the question, then what metric should we look at? Body fat percentage.
In a nutshell, this is the percentage of body fat in your body. The goal is to bring your body fat percentage to your ideal healthy range. Do remember that our bodies still require a certain amount of body fat in order to function. So don't go thinking of going down to 0%. Excluding the models, athletes and influcencer-wannabes, we should all strive to get our body fat percentage to the healthy range. Women have a wider range for a healthy body fat percentage as they require more body fat. Here's the range for you to consider.
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 21%, Healthy: 21-33%, Overweight: 33-39%, Obese: Over 39%
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 23%, Healthy: 23-35%, Overweight : 35-40% Obese: over 40%
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 24%, Healthy: 24-36%, Overweight: 36-42%, Obese: over 42%
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 8%, Healthy: 8-19%, Overweight: 19-25%, Obese: over 25%
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 11%, Healthy: 11-22%, Overweight: 22-27%, Obese: over 27%
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 13%, Healthy: 13-25%, Overweight: 25-30%, Obese: over 30%
Not too sure how to test for your body fat percentage? Step on BODITRAX at any Fitness First Singapore gym, key in some details, take the measurement and VOILA! You'll know your results in less than 5 minutes.
Getting real with yourself is key when you're starting on your journey to fitness. Knowing metrics like your body fat percentage gives you an idea of where you are and where you want to be so you can plan and make adjustments along the way.