It's no secret that excess weight doesn't just affect how you look -- it also increases your risk of chronic disease. While there are a few methods to figure out whether you're at a healthy weight -- like measuring your BMI or body fat percentage -- you can calculate your ideal weight, using one of two simple equations. From there, you can figure out a weight management plan to help you reach your goal.
Hamwi Ideal Body Weight Formula
You can figure out your ideal body weight easily, using the Hamwi formula. Start with 106 pounds, then add 6 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. If you're a 6-foot, 2-inch male or a 5-foot, 4-inch female, this means your ideal weight is 190 or 120 pounds respectively. The default formula is based on a medium frame. Add 10 percent if you have a large frame and subtract 10 percent if your frame is small. So, for example, a small-framed, 5-foot, 4-inch woman would have an ideal weight of roughly 108 pounds, while a large-framed women of the same height would have an ideal weight of 132 pounds.
Ideal body weight calculators are meant for you to use as a general guide for what may represent a healthy weight for your height and frame. Overall health and fitness trump the scale when it comes to your well-being. So, avoid narrowing your focus on a specific number.
Devine Ideal Body Weight Equation
Calculating your ideal weight using the Devine formula is just as easy as the Hamwi method, though the formula varies slightly. Start with 110 pounds if you're male, 100 pounds if you're female, then add 5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. So, for example, a woman who is 5-foot, 7-inches tall would have an ideal weight of 135 pounds, while a man with the same height would have an ideal weight of 145 pounds.
Some people use the Hamwi and Devine formulas together to come up with an ideal body weight range. It helps give you a general idea of a goal range, but is by no means the perfect measure of your ideal weight.
Advantages and Drawbacks
Ideal body weight formulas are not hard and fast rules -- they're meant for you to use as a general guide and tool in assessing your body weight. There is no indication that these formulas have an advantage over other standard measurements, such as body mass index -- they're just an easy way to get a general idea of a healthy weight based on your height.
In addition, these formulas aren't suitable for all populations. Athletes tend to have much lower body fat and higher lean mass than the average person, so they'll be healthy even at a higher-than-ideal weight. On the other hand, someone with very little muscle mass might be at their ideal weight, but still have too much body fat -- and face the same risks associated with obesity.
It's Not All About Weight
Your weight isn't the be-all and end-all of wellness. The nutrient density of your overall diet and your fitness level are essential elements to your health and well-being, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal in 2012. When researchers evaluated overweight, but physically fit volunteers, they found they were at no higher risk of heart disease or death than normal weight participants. What's more, it's estimated that the "fat but fit" group had a 30 to 50 lower risk of dying or developing heart disease than the unfit overweight participants.
Make a few well-rounded goals that include nutrition and fitness -- for example, getting your veggies every day, running a mile in a specific time or lifting a certain weight. Track the nutrient-density of your diet using a food diary. And consider flexibility when making your health goals. A sit-and-reach test, where you sit on the ground with your legs outstretched and record how far you can reach past your toes, can give you an idea of your flexibility level.