Your Healthy Weight
We often take it for granted, but good health is one of the most precious gifts of life. A healthy weight maintained throughout life helps you achieve good health in many ways: look your best, feel your best, and reduce your risk for many serious and ongoing diseases.
What is a healthy weight? It’s the weight that’s best for you not necessarily the lowest weight you think you can be. A healthy weight actually is a range that’s statistically related to good health. Being above or below that range increases the risk of health problems, or decreases the likelihood of good health.
The smart approach to your best weight is really no secret only common sense. A healthful lifestyle, with regular physical activity and an eating pattern chosen for variety, balance, and moderation, makes all the difference. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is best for health. Do you need to be “every-day perfect”? No. Just try to manage your weight by eating smart and living actively most of the time.
What’s Your Healthy Weight?
The answer isn’t as simple as stepping onto a bathroom scale, then comparing your weight to a chart. Your own healthy weight is one that’s right for you. It may be quite different from someone else’s weight, even if you are the same height, gender, and age.
What makes the difference? Your genetic makeup plays a role because it determines your height and the size and shape of your body frame. A genetic link to body fat also may exist. Of course, genetics isn’t the only reason why weight differs from person to person.
Your metabolic rate, the rate at which your body burns energy, makes a difference. So does your body com-
position. Muscle burns more calories than body fat does. Your level of physical activity and what you eat both play an important role, too.
So what’s your healthy weight? That depends. Determining your right weight takes several things into account:
- your body mass index, or your weight in relation to your height;
- the location and amount of body fat you have;
- your overall health and risks for weight-related problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
The energy in Balance!
There’s nothing magical about controlling weight! Dietary Guidelines advise: To maintain weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended. In other words, let calories in equal calories out. Otherwise, you gain or lose weight.
The amount of calories you can consume to match your body’s energy (calorie) expenditure is your energy allowance. Think of it as a calorie budget. How do you want to “spend” those calories? If you need to lose or gain, tip the energy balance:
For weight loss: consume fewer calories than you burn each day. Either cut back on calories in or move more. Better yet, do both!
For weight gain: tip the balance the other way. Take in more calories than your body uses. Still, keep moving!
Why focus on energy balance? Your body stores most excess calories consumed as body fat. Just 100 extra calories a day adds up to about 1 pound a month or a gain of about 10 pounds in a year. Are your calories in balance? To reach energy balance, most people need to move more and perhaps trim calories in their food choices, too!
This post contains the content of the book American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide 3RD EDITION