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How Nutrition Affects Your BMI

There is a direct connection between nutrition and body weight. Whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Your daily nutrition should support your weight and health goals. BMI (Body Mass Index) can be an indicator of a healthy weight.

A healthy body weight depends on factors, such as; genes, sex, age, physical activity, diet, and more. If you want to lose or maintain a healthy weight, start with knowing your BMI. BMI is a reliable indicator to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. The first step to determine if you have a healthy weight is by knowing your BMI. Once you know your BMI, you can use nutrition to help you reach a healthy weight goal.

1. What is BMI?

BMI is the calculation of your body weight in relation to your height. It does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. So, more muscle mass will also have a higher BMI without the appearance of being overweight. Also, keep in mind that this formula uses weight and height only, so BMI is not a direct measure of body fat.

The formula used to calculate the BMI for an adult person is:

BMI = Weight / Height2

The BMI is the average weight divided by height squared. You can calculate your BMI by using a variety of online calculators.

  • A BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • A BMI between 18.5 to 25, is normal.
  • A BMI between 25 to 30, is in the overweight range.
  • A BMI of 30 or higher, falls in the obese range.
    • Class 1 (low-risk) obesity, if BMI is 30 to 35.
    • Class 2 (moderate-risk) obesity, if BMI is 35 to 39.9
    • Class 3 (high-risk) obesity, if BMI is equal to or greater than 40

If you fall into a high-risk category, talk to your doctor about how much weight you should lose.

2. Counting Calories

When energy intake is greater than energy expenditure, an increase in body fat is likely to occur. To lose weight you have to use more calories than you take in. To maintain, you have to match the calories you take in with those that you use. Based on your BMI, you can decide on the number of calories you need for your age and activity level. Making good nutrition choices and being active can help you reach either goal.

3. Glucose Versus Fat

The body prefers energy in the form of glucose over fat. This is because it's the quickest and easiest route. Yet, sugar provides no nutrition aka "empty calories". Burning energy from fat vs. glucose can promote weight loss. To do this, reduce glycogen (excess glucose) stored in the liver and the muscle with a low-carb diet.

4. Fats and Cholesterol

Not all fats are equal. Some low-fat products have fewer calories but may have more sugar, so ‘low fat’ doesn’t make it healthier. Be aware when eating high-fat (or fatty) foods such as butter, cheese, and cream. The fats you do eat should be “unsaturated” or “polyunsaturated” fats. You should be eating the smallest amount of saturated and NO trans fat. Fat is the most energy-dense nutrient and carries twice as many calories as carbohydrates. Fats are also very high in calories. So, cutting down on total fat intake is helpful.

5. Fruits and Vegetables

Your diet should include the most nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Usually, the more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the more it is nutritious. For example, dark green spinach has more nutrients than light green iceberg lettuce.

6. Whole Grains and Wheat

Choose whole-grain cereal, pasta, rice, and bread. Many foods that claim to be “whole wheat” or “whole grain” are actually from white, processed flour. Always check the ingredients to see if “whole wheat” or “whole grain” is the first ingredient listed.

7. Portion Control

Eating five or six times a day can be a better way to lose weight than eating only three times a day! This only works, if you take care to control not only the calorie content but also the amount of food you’re eating. The goal is to eat a small amount of food – like a cup of no-fat yogurt, for example – every three hours or so. Eat only enough so that you don’t feel hungry, but never so much that you feel stuffed.

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Final Thoughts

If you don't know whether your BMI is healthy, then you should try using an online calculator or ask your doctor. Your can also consult with a personal trainer at your gym who might also be able to measure it for you.

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