Weight and Fitness Logo
Left Fitness Menu Lose Weight - Gain Weight Weight and Fitness Spacer How to Build Muscle Weight and Fitness Spacer General Fitness Articles Right Fitness Menu
Lower Weight and Fitness Logo
Gradient Left Articles
Weight and Fitness Advisory Home
Contact Information
Privacy Policy
Lose Weight, Gain Weight Articles
Ideal Body Weight
How to Lose Weight Quickly
Quick Weight Loss Tips
Weight Loss Recipes
Weight Gain Diet
Weight Lifting Program
Fitness Grey Spacer Fitness Grey Spacer Fitness Grey Spacer

Ideal Body Weight

What is your ideal body weight? Most people have no idea, and the results are startling. There is a link to a free body weight and progress tracking spreadsheet at the bottom of this article.

America is currently in the middle of an obesity epidemic, with an estimated 60% of the population either overweight or obese. Even if you are happy or comfortable being overweight, it has profound implications for your health, with obesity now the leading preventable cause of early death in the US.1

Ideal Body WeightMaintaining or achieving an ideal weight is thus one of the most important steps you can take if you want to improve your health.

Excess weight is associated with a wide range of illnesses including:

• Type 2 Diabetes
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure (hypertension)
• High cholesterol
• Sleep apnea
• Varicose veins
• Breast, endometrial, prostate, and colon cancers
• Arthritis
• Gallbladder disease


In addition, excess weight can make everyday tasks like climbing stairs and carrying groceries more difficult.

Conversely, those who lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain an ideal body weight can move more easily, have a significantly reduced risk of many illnesses, even think more clearly!2

However, although the media portrays skinny as good, there are also risks in being underweight. For those who are clinically underweight, there are increased risks of:

• Anemia
• Bone loss and osteoporosis
• Nutrient deficiency
• Heart irregularities
• Amenorrhoea (loss of periods in women)
• Depression and anxiety

It is thus clearly important to maintain an ideal body weight – but what is an ideal body weight? People come in all shapes and sizes, so how do you know if you are the ideal weight for your size?

To calculate your ideal weight, you have to factor in variables such as age, gender, height, even lean muscle mass. The most common method, and one used widely by the medical community, is the BMI, or Body Mass Index.

The BMI calculates your ratio of height against weight in Kilos or pounds – there are separate charts for men and women. While this is not a 100% accurate method – it is distorted, for example, if you are a very muscular athlete – it does give a good idea of ideal body weight for most men and women.

Calculating the BMI is easy:

BMI = (Weight in Pounds / (Height in inches ) x (Height in inches ) ) x 703

Or, if you prefer, use one of the many online calculators to assess your BMI, such as the one at the National Institutes For Health website:


With your BMI score in hand, you can use the BMI classification, below:

BMI Classification:

18.5 or less Underweight
18.5 to 24.99 Normal
25 to 29.99 Overweight
30 to 34.99 Obesity
35 to 39.99 Obesity
40 or greater Morbid Obesity

If this seems like too much trouble, an alternative, and much simpler method, is to measure your waist. For men, it is recommended that you maintain a waist measurement of 37 inches or less, for women, 32 inches or below.

The BMI is a useful tool, but is prone to error depending on your genetics, muscle mass, etc. A more accurate way of measuring risk is to measure your percentage of body fat. Body fat can be measured in a number of ways:

Bioelectrical Impedance

Bioelectrical Impedance involves a very low level electrical signal passing through the body. This is typically done by standing on a body fat monitor – the sensors send out a signal that travels quickly through lean tissue, which has a high percentage of water, and more slowly through fat, which has a lower percentage of water.

The speed at which the signal travels is then used to calculate body fat percentage. Until recently this was an expensive laboratory test, but you can now purchase body fat monitors/scales that can be used at home and really help you reach your ideal body weight.

Skinfold Measurements

Commonly used at gyms and health clubs, this involves the use of a caliper to pinch predetermined sites on the body. The tongs pull the skin and fat away from the muscles and bones, thus measuring the thickness of the fat.

For consistent results, it is best to have the test performed by a professional. However, even with an experienced tester, this method has an error factor of around 3%.

Hydrostatic Weighing Tanks

This method is the most accurate – and the most expensive – method of measuring body fat. The method is simple – you blow all the air out of your lungs then submerge yourself in the water completely and sit on an underwater scale.

Using your body fat percentages requires a chart. There are various versions of this, the one below is based on World Health Organization and National Institutes of Health recommendations, and takes age into account.

Age-Adusted Body Fat Percentage Recommendations

20 - 40
Under 21%
21 - 22%
33 - 39%
Over 39%
41 - 60
Under 23%
23 - 35%
35 - 40%
Over 40%
61 - 79
Under 24%
24 - 36%
36 - 42%
Over 42%


20 - 40
Under 8%
8 - 19%
19 - 25%
Over 25%
41 - 60
Under 11%
11 - 22%
22 - 27%
Over 27%
61 - 79
Under 13%
13 - 25%
25 - 30%
Over 30%

Free Ideal Body Weight Chart and Progress Monitor

If you are interested in a great tool for calculating your ideal body weight AND tracking your progress, here is a link to download your Ideal Body Weight Chart for Women.

Here is a link to download your Ideal Body Weight Chart for Men.

Both require Microsoft Excel 2003 or later.


Whether you use the BMI or your body fat percentage, it is important to maintain your ideal body weight. You will look better, feel better, and in all likelihood live longer.

1 http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/

2 Teresa Liu-Ambrose; Lindsay S. Nagamatsu; Peter Graf; B. Lynn Beattie; Maureen C. Ashe; Todd C. Handy
Resistance Training and Executive Functions: A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial
Arch Intern Med, Jan 2010; 170: 170 - 178.

3 Gallagher et al. Am J Clin Nut 2000; 72:694-701

Back to top of Ideal Body Weight


Gradient Right Articles
Bottom Fitness Spacer Left

Privacy Policy - Copyright © 2010 Weight-and-Fitness-Advisory.com
All Rights Reserved

Bottom Fitness Spacer Right