BMI & Your Scale Don’t Tell Whole Tale

BMI or Body Mass Index and Ideal Body Weight (IBW) are among the most common measures used to gauge fitness. The BMI is a ratio of weight to height and generally correlates well with the total amount of body fat a person has. IBW is a more antiquated measure based upon life insurance morbidity and mortality tables dating back to the 50's, 60's, and 70's. While both measures offer a good starting guideline for average sedentary individuals (read: most Americans), their use with athletes has been criticized because neither formula adequately accounts for lean mass. Very recently, researchers in England have confirmed another fault of BMI and IBW: they don't tell where the fat is.

Using MRI machines over the last 14 years, the British research team scanned hundreds of individuals to determine body fat compartmentalization. What they found is that individuals who relied upon diet rather than activity (or diet with exercise) had much greater visceral fat deposits… even when they appeared slender and had BMI measurements that were within normal limits.

The Bigger Picture: While the external fat that causes your belly to roll over the top of your belt is unsightly, many doctors believe that the fat that you can't see (the visceral fat that surrounds organs like your heart, liver, pancreas, and intestines) is much more detrimental to your wellbeing. Good health is about more than outward appearances. Rather than relying solely upon the reading on your scale or the way that your clothes fit, eat clean, exercise regularly, and supplement when appropriate.
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