Weight management is a healthy practice. Everyone should do it on a regular basis. There are tools available that can help everyone, including you, to stay on track of your health goals.
Weight Management and Weight Loss
More people desire to be fit, and many more aiming to lose weight makes it seem as if the world has become a healthier place. Unfortunately, most people do it for wrong, sometimes completely absurd, reasons and techniques.
Singer Demi Lovato once advised: “Don’t work out because you think you need to. Do it because your body deserves love, respect, and healthy attention.”
Manage your weight without the risks by getting to know three basic measures better:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
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1. BODY MASS INDEX (BMI)
BMI is a measure that factors in a person’s height and weight to determine body fat. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
“BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual.”
The basic measure for BMI applies to all adult men and women who are 20 years old and over. The body fat among younger populations are best determined by using BMI percentile.
BMI is only a screening tool to identify people who may need more accurate diagnostic tools to support them in managing their weight issues and accompanying health problems.
An individual may need to undergo further tests that include:
- Skinfold thickness measurements
- Underwater weighing
- Bioelectrical impedance
- Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
- Isotope dilution for proper diagnosis
Take note that BMI among individuals with a high amount of muscle in their bodies may also show high BMI values but, in no way does that make these individuals overweight or obese.
How to calculate your BMI
BMI is calculated using the following equation:
BMI = weight (kg) / [height (m)]2
For example: if your weight is 63 kilograms, and your height is 5 feet and 6 inches
- Step 1: Convert your weight to kilograms if it uses pounds or any other unit of measure for weight. In this case, it is already stated in kilograms so there is no need for conversion
- Step 2: Convert your height into meters. In this case, 5 feet and 6 inches is equivalent to 1.6764 meters
- Step 3: Square your height in meters. That means, 1.6764 m x 1.6764 m which is equivalent to 2.8103 m2
- Step 4: Divide your weight in kilograms by your squared height in meters
In this case: BMI = 63 kilograms / 2.8103 m2 = 22.42
- Step 5: Use the table below to determine if you are Underweight, Normal or Healthy Weight, Overweight or Obese. In this case, based on the table, your weight falls under “Normal”
How to interpret your BMI
The standard interpretation of BMI for Americans is defined as follows:
|18.5 – 24.9||Normal or Healthy Weight|
|25.0 – 29.9||Overweight|
|30.0 and Above||Obese|
Note that some countries, including Japan and Singapore have adjusted values for the BMI Table. Check if your country is following a different standard before interpreting your BMI result.
2. BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)
BMR is another measure which determines the minimum amount of calories a person of a specific weight, height, age and sex needs everyday.
The computation assumes only the energy needed to power up cells at rest, that is, no physical activity and no digestive activity.
In general, your body’s calorie requirements while at total rest makes up between 60 to 70 percent of your total caloric requirements, with the remaining percentage allocated for basic physical activities like walking or other mundane tasks.
This makes computing for your BMR crucial, most especially if your goal is either to lose weight or, to gain weight.
In weight loss, you need to spend more calories than what you are gaining. When trying to gain weight, you need to do the opposite.
There are three ways by which you can achieve either goal, and that is by adjusting your diet, adjusting your physical activities or, adjusting both.
How to calculate your BMR
The BMR uses the Harris-Benedict equation which has been revised several times, Harris–Benedict equations published in 1918 and 1919 computes BMR as follows:
BMR = 66.5 + ( 13.75 × weight in kg ) + ( 5.003 × height in cm ) – ( 6.755 × age in years )
BMR = 655.1 + ( 9.563 × weight in kg ) + ( 1.850 × height in cm ) – ( 4.676 × age in years )
- Step 1: Use the equation applicable to your sex above
- Step 2: Convert all weight measures into kilograms, and all height measures into centimeters
- Step 3: Calculate your BMR
Your BMR will generally recommend higher calorie intake as you engage in more physical activities throughout the day, and less as you remain mostly inactive. When computing for BMR.
However, the following factors must also be taken into consideration:
Age: Older people have slower metabolism which means that BMR generally tends to be lower.
Weight and height: Taller and bulkier individuals, require more calories to sustain their basic body processes at resting conditions.
Extreme dieting: In these cases, the body switches to starvation mode. That means, your body conserves energy and therefore your BMR is lower
Extreme climate conditions: When your body is subjected to either very warm or very cold temperature, your body needs to burn more energy to stay warm, so that BMR tends to be higher
Certain food and drugs: Caffeine, iron, L-carnitine and regulated drugs all increase BMR
Stress levels, illness and disease: These can all either drive up or decrease your BMR, depending on how your body reacts to these factors, and whether these are chronic or one-time conditions that your body is being subjected to.
Your basal body temperature is the lowest body temperature you attain during sleep or relaxation periods. If you want to buy a basal thermometer, the article about Best Basal Thermometer can be something you need.
3. TOTAL ENERGY EXPENDITURE
TEE or, sometimes termed as the Total Daily Energy Expenditure, measures the total calories that you burn considering both your BMR and the nature of physical activities that you engage in based on the assumed energy exertion which is estimated using an assigned activity multiplier.
In essence, TEE tells you how many calories you need to consume everyday to sustain your body at rest plus support the energy you need to support you in accomplishing your activities.
How to calculate your TEE
- Step 1: Calculate your BMR. Follow the steps enumerated in the previous section to derive your score
- Step 2: Use your BMR and the appropriate activity factor that captures your activity level, based on the table below
|Activity||Daily kilocalories needed|
|Little to no exercise||BMR x 1.2|
|Light exercise (1–3 days per week)||BMR x 1.375|
|Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week)||BMR x 1.55|
|Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week)||BMR x 1.725|
|Very hard exercise or sports and a physical job or 2x training||BMR x 1.9|
PRACTICING HEALTHY WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Your BMI, BMR and TEE are established measures that can help you assess whether or not you are within the healthy range of these measures. Getting your score can help indicate your health and fitness levels.
Doing so can have practical implications for your overall health, most importantly if you are at high risk for the onset of obesity or development of cardiovascular diseases.
On the global and local scales, such standard measures are important in assessing the state of the health of communities. For instance, as a result of national records of Body Mass Index (BMI), the World Health Organization is able to present the following reports
Among adults, 18 years and older, 1.9 billion adults were overweight, 600 million of whom were obese in 2014
In the same year, 41 million children under 5 years of age were obese
These alarming figures have prompted countless studies about urban diets and questioned the nutritional value of fast food.
One of the earlier experiments on the unhealthy impacts of fast food that made an impact globally was the 2004 documentary film, “Supersize Me” directed by Morgan Spurlock.
In the film, Spurlock went on a “Mcdiet” where he ate nothing but any food from the McDonald’s menu for 30 consecutive days.
None of the professionals approached for the show was able to predict how drastically his health deteriorated in just one month.
HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU NEED?
Your TEE tells you your ideal calorie intake to support your BMR and the energy your body needs to perform the physical activities that you engage in.
Using your TEE, do the following to meet your weight management goals:
To maintain your weight
maintain your diet and the physical activities that you normally engage in. If you lessen your activities, you will also have to lessen your calorie intake so as not to pad on extra weight.
To lose weight
decrease the amount of calories from your food by incorporating more low calorie meals or, increase calorie burn by engaging in more intense physical activities.
In general, you need to lose 3,500 calories to lose just 1 pound on the scale. Healthy weight loss dictates that you should only lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, any more than that is not good for your overall health.
It will also only drive your body to go into starvation mode. When it does, it will conserve calories by slowing down your metabolism – now, that boomerangs on your weight loss plan.
Follow these other tips to lose weight in a more sustainable manner:
Set goals to lose inches
Measure your vital stats: chest, waist and hips.
Determine the ideal measurement you want to attain. When you lose fat and it gets replaced by muscle, the scales do not automatically go down but you get leaner. That’s when these measurements become important.
Build more muscle
Muscle burns calories at a much faster rate than does fat
Eat for quality rather than the quantity of calories
When you eat the right kinds of food, most especially fiber and proteins, the calorie count will naturally follow. You eat less when you eat more nutrient dense foods.
Timing and sequence can make a difference on how you pack in calories
Keep in mind the golden rule of good eating: eat like a king during breakfast, a prince during lunch and a pauper at dinner time.
Always reach for veggies and fruits first to tell your body to start releasing enzymes that will help digest your food and make you full with nutrient dense food first.
Next, reach for your protein. Then, you eat your starchy carbs and just a tiny bit of fat. The portion sizes are just as ordered. Most days, skip the desserts.
Mind how your food is prepared
Cook your own food whenever you can. Always go for boiled and steamed. Skip the fried, even when it’s fish or veggies.
To gain weight
You need to create an energy surplus so that more calories are stored rather than spent by your body.
If you maintain your physical activities, you need to increase the number of calories from your diet or, maintain your diet but decrease activity.
You can also strike a balance between increasing calorie from your diet while decreasing your physical activities.
The goal of BMI, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), and TEE is to help keep your health and fitness levels within the healthy range.
In reality, however, there are more factors that you need to consider to strike a healthy balance when it comes to your weight and body size. These factors include your age, fitness level, health condition and presence of any disease or illness.
In the same way, practices such as healthy weight loss practices, the proper sequencing of food groups, and how the body, particularly digestion and metabolism, reacts to your diet, should also be taken into context when managing your weight.
Although your BMI, BMR and TEE scores start you off on your journey to better health, know that these are only baseline indicators and that you may have to eventually go beyond keeping track of these indices to be able to sustain your newfound health.