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.

BMI screens for weight categories that may lead to increased risk of health problems, but it does not diagnose the body fatness or health of an individual. Body Mass Index is one of the many useful tools individuals can use to track their health. 

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 may not 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.

Taking steps to make sustainable changes to your eating and exercise habits can help you with healthy weight management.

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 and basic metabolic 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 saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar are the perpetrators of your weight gain. Substitute them for healthier choices that are lower in fat (e.g. lean meat, low-fat dairy products), lower or no sugar (e.g. unsweetened beverages, fresh fruits), and higher in fibre (e.g. whole-meal bread, brown rice). 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 moderation when spreading peanut butter on your bread. Reduce your meal sizes by 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.

Related: How Much to Eat? Perfecting Portions

Move aside, couch potato

Trade 30 minutes of your inactive time every day for some physical activity. You'll become the fittest in town by meeting the recommended minimum 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity weekly. This includes activities such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling. If you're just starting out, accumulating shorter bouts of exercise (e.g: 10 minutes) is a good start 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 and active lifestyle does pay off in the long run.

To get back on track, you can consume smaller or healthier meals before or after your special event. Increasing your exercise duration, frequency and intensity (e.g. jogging for an extra 15 minutes) can help you offset some 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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