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Does BMI really help with weight loss?

by Tatiana Plesco
Weight loss

When reading into how to lose weight, one acronym might pop up more than you would have expected: BMI. It stands for body mass index and is a commonly used calculation that mixes together with your weight and your height. It’s supposed to deliver a relatively accurate understanding of your weight and how it relates to your height. While there is obvious wiggle room with such a calculation, it has become a staple for general wellness in the weight loss industry.

Does it really help you to lose weight, though? Let’s take a look.

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Recognizing BMI limitations

First off, you need to appreciate that while the BMI is a useful calculation, it should not be used as standalone evidence. For one, it has to be given the proper context. For example, someone who is in good physical shape and has a lot of muscle *could* fall in an unhealthy range for their body type. Why?

Purely because the BMI does not take into account that muscle is different from fat. You could be in excellent, muscle-bound shape but still, be outside of the 18.5-25 BMI rating that often is determined as healthy for your weight.

Strong muscle definition is always going to have a minor impact on the results of your BMI test. For that reason, you should look to try and better understand what BMI means in relation to your own body. Since you are reading an article about weight loss, though, we are going to assume that you are not in muscle-bound shape!

For that reason, it’s safe to say that your BMI can be a useful barometer of your transformation. Alongside some other key determining factors, your BMI is useful if you want to get consistent help with losing some weight.

How do I work out my BMI?

Most of the time, the best place to start with is using a free BMI calculator. This allows for easy calculation, as the actual mathematics behind your BMI can be hard to work out alone. This means that you get more time to better evaluate your BMI and make sure that you are making the right progress.

So if you want to work out your BMI, we recommend that you avoid getting out the abacus and instead use a BMI calculator. It’s quicker easier and saves a lot of time getting figures wrong!

Why you should use your BMI in weight loss

For one it’s an easy way to help estimate the level of body fat that you carry. Body fat is not necessarily a good thing, and it’s an easy way to help accurately determine the amount you have – and how much you need to lose. It’s quite accurate and provides you with an easy way to get yourself into the right frame of mind towards losing weight.

BMI in Weight LossBasically, if you are under a BMI of 18.5 then you are underweight and need to improve your weight. If you are between 18.5 and 25, then you are a normal weight for your height. If you are over 25, then you are overweight and if you are over 30 then you are obese. Naturally, anything over 25 means making the time to start making genuine lifestyle adjustments.


Using your BMI in a weight loss campaign, then, allows for faster changes to your lifestyle. Since you can easily estimate body fat, you can quickly know how much work will have to go into your workouts and your dietary changes. Thanks to the BMI calculation, you now have a genuine target to work towards.

Learning to use BMI effectively

However, there are some limitations to what the BMI can offer you in terms of weight loss guidance. For example, it’s possible for you to be able to walk out of a doctor’s office with a ‘healthy’ BMI, but still, be overweight. This can mean that you become ‘skinny fat’ – a very dangerous issue. Someone with a high body fat percentage might not look overweight, but could be ‘fat on the inside’ – the most dangerous kind of fat.

Those with fat on the inside might produce the right BMI results but are at high risk of things like heart disease and diabetes. If you only use your BMI as a guiding factor, then you are not giving yourself the best chance to fight off the problems that you face – period.

You need to have your body fat properly assessed alongside using your BMI. If you do this, then you are much more likely to get a more positive set of results. Being ‘fat on the inside’ is actually worse for you than being overweight: so don’t only take a BMI reading as your sole way to know if you are making progress.

Instead, have your body fat content assessed as much as your BMI. This will let you know how much work still has to be done. So, while the BMI is a very useful weight loss tool, it must be used in conjunction with other analysis or it can paint an incomplete picture.

We recommend, then, that you start taking a closer look at using your BMI effectively. Like any other kind of stat, using it wrong can be downright dangerous. If you learn to use it right though, it can be a wonderful tool in your battle to get into the best shape of your life!

Updated: 11 April 2019

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