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A Healthy Weight Means a Healthy Body Composition

Many people want to know the answer to this question: How much should I weigh? However, there is not one ideal healthy weight for each person, because a number of different factors play a role.

Therefore, it is essential to weigh yourself based on body composition.

Your body is composed of two types of mass: body fat and fat-free mass:

  • Body fat can be found in muscle tissue, under the skin (subcutaneous fat), or around organs (visceral fat). Some fat is necessary for overall health. It is called essential fat and it helps protect internal organs, stores fuel for energy, and regulates important body hormones. But you may also have excess storage of fat and non-essential body fat.
  • Fat-free mass includes bone, water, muscle, organs, and tissues. It may also be called lean tissue. These tissues are metabolically active, burning calories for energy, while body fat is not.

Having an electronic body composition scale and weighing yourself on a weekly basis helps you watch out for problems before it’s too late and helps keep track on the progress of your lifestyle changes.

Below is a summary of what you should measure:

Body Fat %:
Athletes tend to have lower body fat, which may be beneficial for performance in sports such as running and cycling. But having an extremely low body fat percent is a health problem.
If you are overweight or obese, you have an excessive amount of body fat and a high body fat percentage. You can improve your body composition by gaining lean body mass through building muscle and bones, and through losing excess body fat.

Visceral Fat:
Visceral fat is located deep in the core abdominal area, surrounding and protecting the vital organs.

Muscle Mass:
Muscle Mass is the predicted weight of muscle in your body.
Muscle mass includes the skeletal muscles, smooth muscles such as cardiac and digestive muscles and the water contained in these muscles.
As your muscle mass increases, the rate at which you burn energy (calories) increases which accelerates your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and helps you reduce excess body fat levels and lose weight in a healthy way.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):
BMR is the daily minimum level of energy or calories your body requires when at rest (including sleeping) in order to function effectively.
Increasing muscle mass will speed up your basal metabolic rate (BMR). A person with a high BMR burns more calories at rest than a person with a low BMR.

About 70% of calories consumed every day are used for your basal metabolism. Increasing your muscle mass helps raise your BMR, which increases the number of calories you burn and helps to decrease body fat levels.

Your BMR measurement can be used as a minimum baseline for a diet program. Additional calories can be included depending on your activity level. The more active you are the more calories you burn and the more muscle you build, so you need to ensure you consume enough calories to keep your body fit and healthy.

As people age their metabolic rate changes. Basal metabolism rises as a child matures and peaks at around 16 or 17, after which point it typically starts to decrease. A slow BMR will make it harder to lose body fat and overall weight.

Total Body Water
Total Body Water is the total amount of fluid in the body expressed as a percentage of total weight.

Body water is an essential part of staying healthy. Over half the body consists of water. It regulates body temperature and helps eliminate waste. You lose water continuously through urine, sweat and breathing, so it’s important to keep replacing it.
The amount of fluid needed every day varies from person to person and is affected by climatic conditions and how much physical activity you undertake. Being well hydrated helps concentration levels, sports performance and general wellbeing.

Experts recommend that you should drink at least two liters of fluid each day, preferably water or other low calorie drinks. If you are training, it’s important to increase your fluid intake to ensure peak performance at all times.

The average TBW% ranges for a healthy person are:

  • Female 45 to 60%
  • Male 50 to 65%

Bone Mass
Bone Mass is the predicted weight of bone mineral in your body.
While your bone mass is unlikely to undergo noticeable changes in the short term, it’s important to maintain healthy bones by having a balanced diet rich in calcium and by doing plenty of weight-bearing exercise. You should track your bone mass over time and look for any long-term changes.

You need strong bones. Until you are about 30, your bone mass will normally increase. However, after that it will start to slowly decrease. That does not have to be as bad as it sounds. If you take good care of your bones they will likely remain dense enough to avoid any issues. If they deteriorate too quickly, or if you had low bone mass to begin with, you are at risk. Bone issues aren’t noticeable until it is too late. It is therefore smart to keep track of your bone mass and check if you are doing well.
A good diet is a big factor contributing to healthy bones. The following nutrients play important roles:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

If you are getting the nutrients above, you are definitely on the right track. However, some things can affect your bone mass negatively. Keep in mind to not overdo it on the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking

Protein %:

The average human body is made up of 60% water, 17% fat and only 5% carbohydrate.
Protein comprises a similar proportion of the body as fat at 17% and forms essential components of all body tissues structure such as cell membranes and genetic material and plays a major role in metabolic systems in the form of blood hormones, antibodies and enzymes.
All protein in the body has a function and as such there is no storage pool of protein as there is for fat in the form of adipose tissue or carbohydrate in the form of glycogen.
Body protein can be divided into three functional pools which are listed in order of size with muscle mass being the largest:

  1. Muscle protein
  2. Visceral (abdominal organs) protein
  3. Plasma proteins and plasma amino acids

Weight & Body Mass Index (BMI):

BMI is a ratio of weight to height, used as a general indicator of health.
BMI is a good general indicator for population studies but has serious limitation when assessing on an individual level.

When to Weigh Yourself
Weighing yourself first thing in the morning is usually best. Because of variations in food and fluid consumption, we often "gain" different amounts of weight throughout the day.
If you're weighing frequently, remember that daily fluctuations in weight are common. Just because you're heavier today than yesterday doesn't mean your weight control program isn't working. Best practice is to weigh yourself on a weekly basis.

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