Ideal Body Weight

To know if you are obese or not you need to know what is your ideal body weight. If a person’s weight is 20% or more than his ideal body weight he/she can be considered obese. Normally obesity is referred to as a medical condition where the excess fat in the body is stored in the form of fat tissue under the skin and also around various organs and joints.

Height and weight link

Ideal body weight depends on the height of the person. So, a person can be considered as having healthy weight when he/she has the suitable weight for his/her height. In case one’s body weight is more than the ideal body weight for their height, that person is overweight. If it is less, he/she is underweight.

Calories and weight link

A calorie is a measure of energy value of food and the usage of energy by the body to maintain normal functions. If your food intake has the equal amount of calories your body burns, then your weight remains constant. But, if your calorie intake is more than what your body burns, you gain weight. The excess calories are stored in the form of body fat, thus increasing your weight. One pound of fat equals to 3500 excess calories.

Fat helps you maintain good health when you lack natural energy necessary to carry on your daily activities. Your body burns the fat and derives the energy for maintaining bodily functions. Body fat also protects your internal organs. But, when there is an accumulation of body fat it causes many health problems.

What is Body Fat?

Body Fat is a type of tissue, called adipose Tissue.

It mainly reserves lipids which gets converted into energy when our body needs it. Body fat also gives our body a cushion-effect. Body fat acts as an insulator to our body organs by saving against the heat and cold. Obesity deals with the amount of body fat present in the body not the weight. Adipose Tissue also produces hormones like – Leptin, Resistin and Cytokine TNF-alpha.

This was discovered by Conrad Gessner in 1551. Two types of Adipose Tissue are found. They are:
White Adipose Tissue and Brown Adipose Tissue.

Our body fat is categorized into three types based on their locations:

  • When the fat is located beneath the skin, it is called the subcutaneous fat.
  • When it is present around internal organs, it is named as the visceral fat.
  • And when it is in bone marrow, it is known as Yellow Bone Marrow.

A severely obese person will have excess adipose tissue hanging from his abdomen. This is called as a panniculus (or pannus). Only exercise and diet cannot treat this condition. Surgery is needed. Fat in the abdomen is called ‘belly fat’. This is located inside the abdomen between organs. The abdomen protrudes due to abdominal fat.

What is Body Composition?

Body Composition is used to measure the percentage of fat, muscles and bones in the body. The muscle mass in the body is designed to take up less space than fat tissue. Hence, an increased body weight in general indicates an increase in body fat.

The percentage of body fat differs from individual to individual. Two people having the same height and weight may have different percentage of body fat and lean muscle tissue.

Ideal References of Body Composition

The National Institute of Health puts forth the following recommendations for men and women.

  • An adult male who is healthy should have between 6 and 24 percent body fat.
  • An adult female who is healthy should have between 14 and 31 percent body fat.
  • Any body fat percentage beyond this could be behind the excess weight.
  • Athletes, individuals who exercise regularly and individuals who are muscular generally have lesser body fat than those described in the ideal reference range.

How to measure body composition?

The three different methods of measuring the above are as follows:

1. Underwater Weighing
Underwater or hydrostatic weighing would refer to the practice of weighing a person while submerged in a large tank of water. This method of determining the key composition of fat and muscles is based on the following tenets.

  • Lean tissue has more density than water.
  • Fat tissue has more density than water.
  • The densities of fat mass and fat free mass are constant.
  • A person with more body weight will register less under the water than when measured outside it.

It is a very effective and accurate method of measuring composition of fat and muscles in the body. However, more advanced methods do exist like the next one.

2. Skin fold Thickness Measurements
A tool known as skin fold calipers is used to pinch off a double layer of skin, so that includes the fat layer beneath the skin but excludes the muscles. The calipers are again applied one centimeter below the location and the average of the two readings is taken. If done by a skilled tester, it is quite accurate.

3. Body Mass Index
It is a widely used method of estimating the body fat percentage based on the individual’s height and weight.It is an indirect method of estimation but indicates the body fat percentage quite reliably.

Examples of ideal body weight:
For a woman of medium body frame with 5 ft. height, the ideal body weight is between 103 lbs to 115 lbs (46.72 kg – 52.16 kg).
In case of a woman of large body frame with 5 ft 8 in. height, the ideal body weight is between 144 lbs – 163 lbs (65.32 kg – 73.94 kg).

Why does my body weight fluctuate throughout the day?
If you too have this question in your mind then read on.
You may be a health and fitness freak. You eat right and exercise. But whenever you weigh yourself multiple times throughout the day your weight varies by at least 4-5 pounds. There are various reasons why that happens.
But before that you need to know two things. The first one would be to make sure that, your scale is right. And the second one would be the fact that weighing yourself everyday, that too multiple times, is not a good idea. If you are a soldier in the weight loss battle, it is absolutely fine to weigh yourself just once a week. Make sure you weigh yourself at the same time every week.

  • Variations up to 4-5 pounds in scale weight throughout the day is normal. It may increase immediately after a meal. It may decrease after a bowel movement. This variation could be up to 0.5 to 1 pound. Undigested food causes the increase in the scale weight. Similarly, the discharge of the wastes from the body brings about the weight loss.
  • You are at your lightest probably right after waking up from sleep in the morning. This is because throughout the night there is no water intake. And the body has lost a lot of water during the night through the basic processes of respiration (breathing in and out) and transpiration (through the skin). Using the rest room is the first thing anyone does in the morning. Taking the scale weight after that can cleaarly show a fluctuation of 1- 2 pounds since the night before.
  • It is surprising how much water can weigh. On an average, an individual discharges about 1.2 liters of water as urine every day and 1 liter in the basic processes of respiration and transpiration. 2.2 liters of water amounts to around 5 pounds. Depending on your water intake, water retention in the body and the time you choose to weigh yourself there could be a variation of 4-5 pounds. Weighing oneself right after a bath can add an additional 2 pounds because of the water absorbed in the body.

It is a difficult task to gain 5 pounds of body weight overnight. The fluctuations are normal and there is no point losing your night’s sleep on that.