This week in our 52 Weeks To Wellness series we are going to talk about Understanding BMR, BMI & Body Fat Percentage & Your Health. These terms are often floating around in the world of health, nutrition and fitness. For the average person you may not understand what they mean or how they are important to you every day. All are important to consider, but some are more important than others. To find optimum health, it isn’t always about numbers but about your body as a whole. By understanding the roles each of these play in your body health you can better know what progress you are making.
Understanding BMR, BMI & Body Fat Percentage & Your Health
What is BMI?
BMI is your Body Mass Index. This number is suppose to account for how health you are by figuring how much fat and muscle your body height should have. The BMI number is used as an indicator of your overall health. When you fall in what is considered a healthy BMI range, that means that you are at a healthy rate for your height. Unfortunately, it really isn’t a great indicator of your health. While there are many who still feel that your BMI is the best way to gauge your overall health, we have to disagree. BMI does not take into consideration your body type, your amount of muscle or your overall fitness level. Someone can have a very low BMI but be very unfit because they smoke, drink a lot of alcohol and put unhealthy foods in their bodies. Being thin doesn’t mean you are healthy. Being fat isn’t healthy either. Two people can look very similar in shape and height but have vastly different BMI due to more muscle in one person versus another. Most body builders will have much higher BMI than is indicated for their height, but they are considered very healthy. So while this is a great number to know and yes, strive toward being in the healthy range, don’t beat yourself up if you are over the range a bit but have muscle, minimal fat and are fit in other ways. You can figure your BMI here.
What is BMR?
BMR is your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of energy your body burns at rest. This number is important for you to know what your body needs to maintain it’s current weight. By figuring your BMR, you are able to know how many calories a day your body needs to maintain itself. This gives you the ability to discover how many calories you should be eating to lose weight. So if your BMR is 2000 calories, you know that dropping your calorie intake down to 1500 calories per day will result in a deficit which then results in a weight loss. When you increase your activity level on top of that, you will see even more calories burned. However, you must account for both in a reasonable manner. Your body should never be pushed into what is starvation mode. When you do a drastic sudden calorie drop, your body will lose weight, but you do not want to push your body by exercising a ton, eating very little and making your body start conserving existing fat to feed itself. If you are working out a lot, you will need to eat more – even if you are trying to lose weight. BMR is a great way to learn what your body needs to maintain, and thus help you know what your suggested calories per day should be. One way to determine is to figure what the BMR would be for your next goal weight. Say you currently weigh 200 pounds, but you want to lose 20 pounds – you can figure the BMR for if you weighed 180 pounds. This would give you the number of calories per day you would need to eat to maintain a weight of 180 pounds. This gives you an easy daily calorie range to help you lose weight in a healthy manner. Never drop below 1200 calories per day, and always boost healthy calories when working out more than a regular routine of one hour per day. If you are training or exercising more than an hour a day you will need to eat more. Here is a great place to figure your BMR.
What is Body Fat Percentage?
Body fat percentage is basically the amount of fat that is present in your body. It tells you how much of what you weigh is fat versus water and muscle. Since our bodies are made up of mostly water, when your body fat is significantly high, it is obvious that you need to make changes. You can buy scales and tools that measure your body fat percentage, or go to your local gym or even doctors office and ask them to measure for you. Here is a great place to figure this with just information you can measure at home. It is not completely accurate, but will give you an idea of what your range is. For an average woman, a healthy body fat percentage is 25%-31%. For an average man, a healthy body fat percentage is 18%-25%.
These items are great indicators of your overall health. We want you to learn that this year getting healthy is more than just a number on your scale. Understanding what your body needs to survive each day is important. Understanding how body fat and muscle mass effect your overall health is also important. In coming weeks we will talk more about how you can lower body fat with specific exercises, as well as how to continue to stay within your healthy calorie range with yummy foods each day.