Eat more vegetables to feel full if you want to lose weight.

What's a Healthy Body Mass Index?

We have all heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI), but what does a high BMI mean? To start off, calculate your BMI with the following formula:

BMI = weight / height2 (kg/m2)

If your BMI is between 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2, that's great – you have a healthy BMI.

Otherwise, your BMI shows that you have an unhealthy weight for your height. A BMI below the healthy range would mean that you are underweight and at risk of nutritional deficiency diseases and osteoporosis.

Why Is It Important to Maintain a Healthy Weight?

A BMI ranging from 23.0 to 27.4 kg/m2 however puts you at moderate risk for health problems, while a BMI at 27.5 kg/m2 and above means you're at high risk for weight-related health problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Some types of cancer
  • Bone and joint disorders

Like all things, the BMI has exceptions as well. So fret not if you are pregnant, have a muscular build or are below 18 years of age; the above BMI ranges don't apply to you.

Related: BMI Calculator

How Can You Achieve a Healthy BMI Weight Range?

There is no short-cut to achieving a healthy BMI range, but it is not worth losing sleep over your BMI.

Taking steps to make sustainable changes to your eating and exercise habits can definitely help you with weight loss and weight control.

Related: What is a Healthy Weight?

Concept of Energy Balance and How It Affects BMI

Ever wondered what your body does with the nasi lemak you just had for lunch?

Our body uses energy by burning calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat from the food we consume. When we consistently consume more calories per day than the amount burnt during physical activities, we tend to gain weight; the reverse is true as well.

Now you know: the key to a balanced height-and-weight proportion is to strike an energy balance. 

Related: An Introduction to Calories

Eat Right and Get Active for a Healthy Weight

Eat right, get light

Food high in fat, salt and sugar are the perpetrators of your weight gain. Perhaps you could substitute them for healthier choices that are lower in fat (e.g. soup-based dishes, low-fat dairy products), sugar (e.g. unsweetened beverages, fresh fruits), and higher in fibre (e.g. whole-meal bread, beans). Avoid high-calorie food and look out for alternatives that are lower in calories. Try opting for chicken porridge next time instead of paying your nasi lemak makcik a visit!

Related: Important Nutrients: What Should You Eat More Of?

Lighter food, lighter you

Smaller portions, lesser calories. Exercise restraint when spreading peanut butter on your bread. Reduce your meal sizes by consuming ¾ of your usual, or try sharing your food with friends. Sharing is caring, right? Eating less also means spending less on food. Either way, it's a win-win situation.

Even so, be patient and set small weight-loss goals as it takes time for your body to adjust to new, healthy eating habits.

Related: How Much to Eat? Perfecting Portions

Move aside, couch potato

Trade 30 minutes of your TV time a day for some moderate-intensity physical activities such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling for five days a week, and you'll become the fittest couch potato in town. If you're just starting out, accumulating 10-minute bouts of exercise is good too.

If you have existing medical conditions, play safe and consult your doctor before embarking on a new exercise programme.

Related: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

Energy Balance in Real Life

Be realistic – binging on free, good food at a party is sometimes unavoidable (and irresistible, I know). It's okay to let loose occasionally; a day of extra calories would not lead to immediate weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight, in the long run, depends on your energy balance over time.

To get back on track, you can consume smaller or healthier meals before or after your special event. Increasing your exercise duration (e.g. jogging for an extra 15 minutes) will help you offset the extra calories too. After all, you've fed yourself enough to fuel a tougher workout.

Related: Energy Balance – the Only Diet that Works

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