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Discover Your Healthy Weight

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Finding and maintaining a healthy weight is a crucial aspect of overall well-being. A healthy weight helps you achieve physical fitness. It also plays a big role in preventing chronic disease and improving overall health.1

But a healthy weight for 1 person may be different from a healthy weight for another. Every person is unique and has different needs. If you are curious what a healthy weight is for you, there are several tools that can help you figure it out.2

Find your healthy weight

Finding your healthy weight involves a combination of assessments and tools. Many of them can be done on your own, but consulting a healthcare professional is necessary to confirm what you find. You also should seek guidance from a professional before pursuing any weight loss goals.1,2

Tools to help you find your healthy weight include:1,2

  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Waist circumference
  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Body mass index

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height? A helpful way to know is to calculate your body mass index (BMI).1

BMI is a basic tool that assesses whether a person’s weight is within a healthy range based on their height. There are many online BMI calculators that will help you calculate your BMI score.1,2

If your BMI score is:1,2

  • Less than 18.5, you are considered underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.9, you are considered to be in a healthy range
  • 25.0 to 29.9, you are considered to be in the overweight range
  • 30.0 or higher, you are considered to be in the obesity range

While BMI is a useful initial screening tool, it has limitations. For instance, it does not account for variations in body composition, muscle mass, or how fat is distributed on the body. That is why it is important to be evaluated by a healthcare professional.1

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Waist circumference

Another helpful way to determine a healthy weight is measuring your waist circumference. Circumference is the distance around your waist. Excess fat around the stomach is particularly concerning because it is linked with an increased risk of chronic diseases like:1,2

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Certain cancers

To measure your waist circumference, use a measuring tape positioned around your stomach at the level of your belly button. Take the measurement after exhaling. Do not pull the tape too tight or let it sag. Generally speaking, you may have an increased risk of health issues if you are:1,2

  • A man with a waist circumference of over 40 inches
  • A non-pregnant woman with a waist circumference of over 35 inches

It is important to note that this applies only to adults and people who are not pregnant.2

Basal metabolic rate

Basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the number of calories your body needs to carry out its basic functions while it is at rest. These functions include:3

  • Breathing
  • Circulating blood
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Maintaining organ function

BMR accounts for the majority of the calories you burn each day. Understanding your BMR can be helpful for weight loss because it provides a baseline estimate of the minimum number of calories your body is currently using. By consuming fewer calories than you burn, you can begin losing weight.3,4

Your BMR can be affected by many factors, such as your:3,4

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Activity level

To calculate your BMR, you can use an online calculator. Because many factors impact your BMR, it is best to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist before taking any action. They can provide personalized guidance based on your health history and weight loss goals.3,4

Losing weight with a calorie deficit

The foundation of weight management is the principle of calories in versus calories out. To shed excess pounds, you will need to create a calorie deficit. This means consuming fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. Generally speaking, to lose 1 pound a week, a person would need to eat about 500 fewer calories a day.5,6

But this is not as simple as it sounds. The specific number of calories required for a calorie deficit varies from person to person. It depends on many factors, including your:5,6

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Activity level

There are many apps and online calculators that can estimate how many calories you need to eat per day to create a calorie deficit. It comes down to a simple math equation: Subtract your calorie deficit goal from your daily calorie needs.3,5,6

For example, let’s say your daily calorie need is 2,000 calories a day and you wish to have a 500-calorie deficit. Your new daily target is to eat 1,500 calories per day (2,000 – 500 = 1,500).5

Because every body is unique, it is best to meet with a dietitian or nutritionist to calculate this for you. Also, a calorie deficit is not recommended for people who are pregnant or have certain health conditions, such as:5

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney problems
  • High or low blood pressure

Look beyond the scale

Focusing solely on the number on the scale can be misleading. If you are exercising more, you may be replacing lost fat with muscle. That is a good thing. More muscle helps you boost your metabolism and get stronger.4

If you are on a weight loss journey, consider tracking your progress in other ways beyond the scale. Consider taking regular progress photos or body measurements. Or you can monitor how your clothes fit.

Talk with your healthcare provider

If you have questions about whether your weight is in a healthy range, talk with your doctor. Consulting with a healthcare professional, registered dietitian, or nutritionist can help you develop a tailored plan that takes into account your lifestyle, goals, and health history.