We have all heard of the Body Mass Index (BMI), but what does a high BMI means? 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’ve 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.

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 is 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.

Taking steps to make sustainable changes to your eating and exercise habits can definitely help you gain or shed some pounds!

Related: What is a Healthy Weight?

Concept of Energy Balance

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 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

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). 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. Reduce your meal sizes by consuming only 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 goals as it takes time for your body to adjust to new eating habits.

Related: How Much to Eat? Perfecting Portions

Move aside, couch potato
Trade in 30 minutes of your TV time a day for some moderate-intensity physical activities such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling for 5 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 calorie surplus would not lead to immediate weight gain. Maintaining your 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

Read these next: