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Healthy BMI for men

healthy male in nature

It can be really easy to assume it’s only women who want to lose weight, but the fact of the matter is, men can also have weight loss goals they want to achieve too.

Weighing yourself on your scales will obviously tell you how much you weigh there and then at any given time, which is a valuable insight in itself.

However, what it won’t tell you, is how your weight stacks up compared to your overall body composition and if your height is healthy based on key factors, including your age and how tall you are.

That’s what BMI’s for.

It’s a useful indicator for assessing whether you are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight, obese or severely obese, depending on your overall body make-up.

More importantly, your BMI reading can flag if you’re at risk of developing certain health conditions because of how much you weigh.

Keep reading for more details about BMI for men, including what’s classed as being healthy and why BMI’s so important for your overall health.

What is your Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body Mass Index, or BMI for short, is a method that’s used for calculating how healthy you are, using key measurements, including your weight.

Your BMI involves looking at your overall body mass and then assessing how healthy it is in comparison to how tall you are.

Calculating your BMI involves using several measurements, such as your muscle mass, bone density, body fat and water weight to work out your overall mass.

Then, once you know this, you can use the male BMI chart to see which of the 5 health bands you fall into.

It’s important to flag here that because measurements, such as your muscle mass and bone density aren’t as easy to identify as your weight, BMI is used as a barometer for indicating your risk of developing certain health issues (more on these below).

Summary

Body Mass Index (BMI) helps measure how healthy you are, using key measurements, including your weight.

It’s widely used as a barometer for determining the likelihood of developing certain health issues.

Why does your BMI matter?

BMI calculations are widely recognised as being a useful indicator in relation to your overall health, mainly because they tell you if you’re a healthy weight for your height.1

Because of this, they provide you with a reading that’s tailored to you and your body make-up.

To work out your BMI, you need to find out your weight in kilograms and then divide it by how tall you are in metres.

BMI calculation

1

Divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres.

2

Divide that figure by your height.

3

The figure you now have is your BMI figure, which if you take a look at the chart below, should fit within 1 of the coloured weight bands.

If your BMI reading is high, it’s possible that you have high fat levels within your body.

As a result, BMI is often used to detect weight-related issues that could potentially lead to health problems.

All you need is your BMI figure and a male BMI chart, like the one featured below, to find out if you are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight, obese or extremely obese.

To work out your BMI, you need to find out your weight in kilograms and then divide it by how tall you are in metres.

You can then plot this reading on a BMI chart to find out how healthy you are.

Why is BMI important for men?

For many men, there’s a strong relationship between having a high BMI and being at an increased risk of developing certain types of diseases.

This is linked to carrying excess body fat, especially visceral fat, which is a form of fat that’s stored around the body’s vital organs.

Having a high BMI can lead to an increased risk of developing certain health issues, including: 

  1. Type 2 diabetes
  2. Heart disease
  3. Stroke
  4. Some types of cancer
  5. Fertility issues
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Fatty liver disease
  8. Osteoarthritis
  9. Kidney disease2

However, this isn’t the case for all men.

Those with a high level of muscularity (e.g. men who take part in regular weight training, have manual jobs that involve handling heavy loads or who are naturally more muscular due to their genetics, will have a higher BMI due to having higher muscle mass rather than fat mass.

In these circumstances, having a high BMI, will not increase the risk of developing health issues like those listed above.

In fact, regular resistance training provides a wide variety of health benefits, which includes promoting bone density and reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, and helping to manage low mood and anxiety.

BMI and BAME individuals

According to the NHS, people from black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds are at a higher risk of developing long-term health conditions, especially type 2 diabetes. Adults with a BMI of:

  • 23 or more - are at increased risk
  • 27.5 or more - are at high risk

Summary

For many men, there’s a strong relationship between having a high BMI and being at an increased risk of developing certain types of diseases.

This is due to the fact the body is carrying excess visceral fat, which builds up around the body’s vital organs.

Understanding the BMI bands

All you need is your BMI calculation to be able to use a BMI chart and see if you’re a healthy weight, or if need to put on some weight or lose some pounds.

If you’re underweight:

This could be because you’re not taking on enough calories or you may have an underlying illness that’s stopping you from putting on weight.

If your BMI reading falls within the underweight band, speak to your GP about the possible cause and any measures you can take to help you put some weight on.3

Just as being obese can potentially lead to certain health problems, being underweight may also lead to issues, such as a weak immune system, osteoporosis, anaemia and palpitations.4

If you’re a healthy weight:

Great news, especially if you’re able to maintain the weight! One of the best things you can do to help achieve this is to eat a healthy, balanced diet and take part in regular exercise.

If you’re overweight:

Being in this band is a sign that you need to lose some weight, ideally through a combination of having a healthy diet and taking part in regular exercise.

Look out for certain online calculators that provide you with your ideal daily calorie allowance – they’re really useful for making sure you don’t lose too much weight too quickly, and that you lose a healthy amount of weight overall.

If you’re obese:

Losing weight is a priority, which can be achieved through exercising and healthy eating.

Some people who are obese take medication to help them lose weight.

If you are obese, speak to your GP about the best way for you to safely lose weight.

They will also be able to advise you on whether or not taking medication is an option for you.

Summary

Depending on your BMI reading, which is based on measurements, including your height and weight, you can either be underweight, a healthy weight, overweight, obese or severely obese.

What are the factors that impact men’s BMI?

As we’ve already established, a person’s BMI is calculated by taking their height vs. their weight into account.

A person’s height tends to usually stay the same once they’re past their early 20s (though it can decline in older age), whereas a person’s body weight can fluctuate.

It’s this fluctuation in body weight that’s responsible for triggering changes in a man’s BMI.

Increases in body weight can be in the form of either stored fat or muscle mass. In either case, increases are caused by taking in more calories than are being burnt.

Controlling calorie intake and staying physically active can help maintain a lean and healthy body.

It’s important to note though that men who take part in regular weight training or who are naturally muscular, should not be concerned if their BMI is high.

It’s more important they specifically keep a closer eye on their levels of body fat.

A good everyday way to monitor this is by focusing on your waist size and making sure it is no more than 37 inches.

Maintaining this waist measurement is a sign of there being a healthy level of stored body fat.

Summary

Changes in height is one of the main factors that impact people’s BMI reading.

Increases in body weight can either be caused by stored fat or muscle mass. In either case, these increases are caused by taking in more calories than are being burnt.

What can men do to improve their BMI?

Having a healthy BMI isn’t unachievable, not when there are everyday habits you can adopt that will help you lead a healthier life, and help you lose weight in the process.

We’ve listed some of them below for you to take a look at.

In order to make sure your BMI reading falls within the healthy range, you need to keep your calorie intake down, which can be achieved by:

  1. Reducing your intake of sugary foods and foods that are high in refined carbs, e.g. sweets, chocolate, crisps, cakes and biscuits.
  2. Eating fewer foods that are high in fat.
  3. Basing your meals and snacks around food that’s high in fibre and contains slow-burning carbohydrates, such as legumes, wholegrains and fruit and veg.
  4. Eating plenty of protein-rich foods, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy, legumes, Quorn products, soya products and small intakes of nuts and seeds. This type of diet keeps you feeling fuller for longer and is good for stabilising blood sugar levels. In turn, this means you feel more satisfied after eating and are less likely to pick between meals.
  5. Exercising on a regular basis – the key to doing this is finding something you enjoy, you will stick to and can easily be incorporated into your everyday routine. Ideas include: gym sessions, running, walking, playing sports, gardening, and even, housework! 

Summary

Cutting back on sugary, high fat food and eating more protein-rich food, as well as exercising on a regular basis can help men achieve and maintain a healthy BMI.

Takeaway

Weighing yourself, and knowing your BMI in particular, is important for both men and women.

Not only is it a valuable way of identifying how much you weigh, but you can take that measurement and use it to help determine how healthy you are overall.

As a general rule of thumb, men with a BMI reading of between 18.5 and 24.9 are classed as being healthy.

But if you happen to work out and are muscly as a result of doing so, or maybe your job is manual and you’re frequently shifting heavy things around, or perhaps your natural make-up is muscly, don’t panic too much if your BMI score puts you in the overweight category.

BMI doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat; it works on weight as a whole.

If, for any reason, you are unsure about your BMI reading, go to your GP, who will be able to calculate it for you, as well as advise you on any measures you may need to take.

Your BMI is not an exact measurement, but a useful indicator of your weight and how it may potentially impact your health.

If you are at all concerned about your health and want more detailed analysis, speak to your GP or another medical professional. 

For more on calculating your BMI, check out this article, ‘How to calculate BMI.’

You also asked...

What is a good BMI for a man?

We put this question to our nutritionists, and they told us that a healthy BMI for the majority of men is between 18.5 and 24.9.

However, for those in minority ethnic groups, an ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 22.9, due to evidence showing that there is a greater risk of certain diseases for BMIs of 23 or higher in these groups.

 

What is a healthy BMI for a 5”11 male?

We also put this frequently-asked question to our nutritionists, and they told us that if you’re 5ft, 11 inches tall, then most men ideally need to weigh between 61kg and 79kg to keep within the healthy BMI range, though a man from a minority ethnic background should try to limit their weight to around 75kg.

 

Is a BMI of 22 good for a man?

Having a BMI of 22 falls within the healthy BMI range for all men, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds, and is therefore considered as being a good/healthy reading for men.

 

What is overweight for a 6ft man?

Men who are 6ft tall and over, and weigh 86kg or more, would be classed as being within the overweight band. Being over 6ft tall and weighing 86kg gives them a BMI of 26, which is considered to be a high BMI.

 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 23 November 2021

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