Calculating BMI, or Body Mass Index, makes for an interesting party game, but as a gauge of health and fitness it definitely has its limits. BMI does one thing- it tells you how much weight you are carrying over your body in relationship to your height. That’s it. Given that muscle is denser than fat, and by extension weighs more per inch, a denser body (more muscular body) will have a higher BMI than one that is composed of more fat. It is possible that a person with a BMI of 22 (considered healthy) with a body comprised of more fat could be less healthy and “fit” than a person with a BMI of 26 (considered overweight) with a lean body mass.
Considering that 1 lb of muscle is about the same size as a lacrosse ball, while the same 1 lb of fat is about the size of a shot put, the lower BMI individual may also have the appearance of a less healthy individual. Chasing BMI could potentially result in outcomes that are less than aesthetically desirable as well as decreased wellness.
So, why not rely on the body composition tests for a more accurate and useful gauge of fitness? Body composition is great information, but it’s like waiting to get a speeding ticket to find out how fast you’re driving. It’s looking in the rear-view. Seeing the results of lifestyle choices is great, especially in keeping motivation. However, it shows you how you’ve done in the past, not what you can do today or in the future.
Knowing your BMR puts you in control of your decisions and choices.
Your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) tells you how many calories your body needs to sustain basic functions while awake- like sitting at your desk, keeping your body upright, breathing, maintaining cardiac functions and occasionally moving your eyes across a screen. If you intend to think while awake, brain function requires about 20% of your daily caloric intake.
BMR is the starting point in considering your nutritional needs. From there, knowing what your body needs as your activity levels change gives you the information you need to manage your lifestyle. Sitting in a car all day on a cross country trip? How many calories will that require?Working out 3 days this week? How many calories will that require? The human body is dynamic, as is our daily life. Looking in the rear-view mirror is a great way to celebrate achievement, but it’s yesterday’s news.
myVitFit has created a BMR Calculator that provides your baseline BMR as well as easy tools to allow you to quickly see how those change in various circumstances. We’ve also included a suggested breakdown of basic macronutrients for three weight goals- maintain, lose or gain weight.
When using any calorie estimator or nutritional tool, please note that nothing is as useful as speaking with your physician or dietitian. The mVF tool is provided as a starting point. While the mVF team strives to provide you the best information we can, we encourage our users to keep in mind the nuances of their particular health.
I’d Rather Have A Speedometer.
If you are anyone you know suffers from an eating or body perception disorder, know that there is support. Please contact the National Eating Disorders Association helpline by calling or texting (800) 931-2237.