Achieving your fittest body is all about being strategic and efficient with your time and efforts. For each person, the perfect instruction on how to achieve their best body varies. With complex and diverse genetic makeups and biological factors, it is not a simple task to develop a fail-proof weight loss or fitness plan for everyone.
While many programs will sell the idea of otherwise, it’s never truly guaranteed. Usually, it takes a process of steady trial and error for an individual to determine what works for them, even when working with a professional. Additionally, this information may change with age and lifestyle.
So, what information do we know we can rely on for understanding where we are in our progress toward improving our bodies? For many years, the BMI calculation has been regarded as a telling and essential body stat. It was understood as an effective method for drawing conclusions on where one’s metabolic health may stand.
What is BMI?
BMI, or body mass index, in an approximate calculation of measurement based on body weight and height. It was developed by academic Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, a mathematician, sociologist, statistician, and astronomer. The goal of the formula was to determine whether or not someone had a healthy weight based on dividing their weight by their height.
Where BMI is lacking
It has been concluded that BMI is not substantial enough information to assess body composition. Though, it is not totally obsolete. It should be regarded rather, as an asset to other information that is more accurate in depicting reliable body statistics. In addition, there are many other aspects to measure that can contribute to overall fitness.
More Reliable Factors
All of the following are important for assessing body composition.
- Sex: Differences in hormones and among genders can make a difference in body composition. Women tend to have more fat, and men more muscle, naturally.
- Age: As people age, their body composition goes through biological and environmental changes. Even if body weight does not physically change, fat mass is likely to increase, while muscle decreases.
- Body fat: Knowing body fat percentage is a critical statistic to have, and let’s an individual understand how much of their body is made up of fat. Body fat is most commonly measured by skin fold calipers, and taking circumference measurements/
- Muscle percentage: Muscle percentage is another strong indicator, allowing insight into how much of the body is muscle. It can be calculated by first calculating body weight, followed by multiplying it by fat percentage, and subtracting the result from body height.
Exceptions that Prove BMI is not a Determinant of Body Composition
There are various studies that support that a calculation of BMI is not necessarily a good way to measure healthy weight and body composition.
For example, one particular study emphasized the importance of calculating body composition, apart from BMI. In this study, participants were compared for their likelihood of mortality in proportion to their BMI. The results were misleading, as participants in technically “normal” range had more visceral belly fat.
Another study concluded that BMI was inaccurate in measuring obesity in children. It recommends that BMI should be used in tandem with circumference and fold measurements.
Another aspect to consider is that BMI does not register life changes pertaining to the body such as growing adolescents or pregnancy.
To answer the question as to whether or not BMI is really necessary, it appears that it isn’t the end-all-be-all of knowing your body composition. There is a case for BMI’s place in supporting other information, but you might not be missing out on much without an approximate measurement.