Our society has a fixation on the scale. I’ve seen so many people obsessed with their weight, even weighing themselves multiple times per day and freaking out over gaining a mere pound. But, your weight doesn’t tell the whole story.
Then there’s Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of a person’s weight compared to their height. It can help predict if you’re overweight or obese and at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. But, often, this number can be misleading because it doesn’t distinguish fat from muscle.
So, what metric is most important? Answer: Body fat percentage, as it DOES distinguish fat from muscle and calculates the percentage of fat in the body.
One reason weight and BMI aren’t an accurate measurement of total health is that you can be in a “healthy” weight zone, but be over-fat (we’ve all heard the term “skinny-fat”). Conversely, you can be in a “high” weight zone and be rather lean.
I’ll give some personal examples.
True story.: when Rob contracted COVID last year, the monoclonal antibodies were only for people designated as “high risk.” Because of his high weight for his height, his BMI is high (he was deemed obese) and he was able to receive treatment. If you know Rob, he’s lean as hell and sits at around 9% body fat.
Here’s another: I tend to be in the high-normal range of body weight for my height. But, I am on the low end of body fat. At my lowest body fat over the past 10 years, I was at my highest scale weight. Yet, when solely looking at my scale weight, I’ve had doctors tell me I need to lose some lbs.
According to InBody, body fat is ideal between the range of 6-17% for men and 14-24% for women. Up to 25% for men and up to 31% for women is “acceptable.”
Losing weight is not the same as losing fat. You can actually lose scale weight and increase your fat (because you lost muscle). So, it’s ultra-important that, if you want to lean out, you eat lots of protein and do strength training consistently. And don’t focus solely on the scale.
Also know that it takes TIME to lose fat. If the scale is up a pound one day, don’t freak out. Look for trends over time, how you look, feel, perform and fit in your clothes.
There are several ways to calculate body fat percentage: using calipers (but there’s room for human error), a DEXA scan (a low x-ray beam), hydrostatic weighing (where you are submerged in water) and an Inbody scan (which uses electrical current).
We offer the Inbody scan, which also calculates your basal metabolic rate (how many calories your body burns at rest in a day), hydration and visceral fat. Results are delivered to you on an app so that you can see your progress over time.
If you’d like to schedule a scan ($40), reach out and we will get you going.