BMI, bodyfat % etc, etc. What is important?

You may have been at the gym and some trainer comes up to you and offers to test your bodyfat.  Or the doctors office gives you a BMI number and you don’t exactly know what that means.  A lot of times, insurance companies use these numbers to determine how healthy you are.  What is this all about, what do those numbers mean and do you need to be concerned.  The answer can be a little foggy.  

Bodyfat percent is determining what percentage of your overall weight is fat weight.  There are a number of different ways to figure this out however they aren’t always very accurate.  The two that are most commonly used at gyms are probably the least accurate.  You can have your fat pinched (sounds pleasant doesn’t it?) or you could have what is called bioelectrical impedance.  With having the skin pinched, there are typically 4 or 5 different areas that are used to get a number then you look at a chart to find out what your bodyfat is.  The problem is that many times the person who is doing it doesn’t get the pinch correct.  You could also have two different people do this and get two completely different numbers.  With the bioelectrical impedance, you hold on to a machine and it sends a very low electrical wave out to determine what your percent is.  I always tell people to be consistent with your test.  Use the same trainer each time if you do the skin folds or the same machine.   The most accurate, and there is usually a cost with this, is water immersion.  

BMI, or body mass index, is a simple math problem.  It is taking a height to weight ratio and coming up with a number.  Typically your number should be between 20-25 to be in a good range.  The problem here is it doesn’t take muscle weight into the equation.  The more muscle you have the less accurate the number will be.  

When you get these readings, you need to also take into account your other numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and things like that.  You can’t just take one number to determine your wellness level.  

Let me know if you have any questions.

Until next time…

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