Health & Fitness Tips

Body Mass Index Advantages and Disadvantages

SYLVIE TREMBLAY

Body mass index, or BMI, is an easy-to-calculate measure of obesity based on the ratio of your weight and your height. It’s convenient to use because it doesn’t require expensive equipment or a clinical setting to measure — just knowledge of your height and weight — and it’s useful for most people to get a general idea of your disease risk. BMI isn’t perfect, however, and while it’s beneficial in some circumstances, it has some major limitations if you’re trying to use it to gauge your individual disease risk.

Advantages: Accurate Measurements Across a Group

Body mass index works well for what it was intended to do; measure rates of obesity in a population. Because it’s a general measure of obesity that will work for most people, looking at changes in BMI level allow researchers to get a good idea of how rates of overweight and obesity differ over time, or between populations, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because it’s a relatively simple way to measure obesity in a population, this allows health researchers to more easily gather data they can use to investigate the obesity epidemic or, for example, look at how dietary patterns affect the risk of obesity in large groups of people.

It’s not prohibitively expensive to measure — unlike, for example, body fat measurements — so researchers can afford to can look at larger groups of study subjects to pick out trends in larger segments of the population.

BMI can also help your physician gauge your general risk of obesity-related diseases, though BMI is best used in combination with other measurements to get a more complete look at your health.

To calculate your BMI, use this equation: BMI = weight / (height X height) X 703. Plug in your weight in pounds and your height in inches. Alternatively, use an online BMI calculator that does the math for you. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy weight.

Disadvantage: BMI Misses Normal Weight Obesity

Because BMI is simply a measure of your weight versus your height, it doesn’t take into account where that weight comes from — lean tissue or fat. For this reason, you might have a normal “healthy” weight, according to your BMI, but still face health risks due to excess body fat. For example, excess abdominal fat that pushes your waistline to larger than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men ups your risk of obesity-related diseases, according to the National Institutes of Health, regardless of your BMI. And normal weight obesity — which happens when you’re overfat, but not overweight, according to BMI — increases your blood lipid and blood pressure levels, which increases your risk of heart disease.

Disadvantages: BMI Overestimates Risk for Some

While BMI might underestimate the risk for people with normal weight but high body fat, it can overestimate the risk for muscular, healthy people. Someone putting in serious time at the weight room might have a body weight that pushes their BMI into the “overweight” or “obese” category, even if they carry very little body fat — and therefore have a lower risk of obesity-related diseases than someone at the same weight with more fat tissue.

BMI also doesn’t distinguish between the type of fat you carry — subcutaneous or visceral fat. While subcutaneous fat — the fat you see under your skin, which you can pinch — affects the way you look, it’s visceral fat — “hidden” fat located deep in your abdomen that surrounds your internal organs — that poses the highest health risk. If you’re slightly overweight, but most of your fat is from subcutaneous fat — for example, in your hips and thighs — you’ll face a lower health risk than someone who has the same weight and fat level, but stores most of his fat as harmful visceral fat.

Take a Holistic Approach to Measurements

Take a more holistic approach and use several measurements to asses your weight and health. In addition to BMI, consider your waist size — to ensure you’re under the recommended waist size for your gender. Instead of measuring weight loss in terms of where you fall on the BMI scale, look at a combination of pounds and inches lost and consider a professional body fat measurement to get an accurate look at whether you have a healthy body fat level.

Stay motivated and happy with your health routine by focusing on performance-based goals instead of simply aiming to fall into a certain BMI range. Reward yourself for making healthful meals at home for the week, eating your recommended intake of veggies for the day, running faster without losing your breath, or lifting a heavier weight during your workouts, for example, rather than being able to check the “normal weight” box when it comes to BMI.

The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep for Weight Loss

Are you looking for a little bit of weight loss motivation? We’re here to help. One way to get excited about the whole process is by learning how to meal prep for weight loss. If you like to cook, then you’ll probably be a natural at meal prep. If not, we’ll show you that it doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

Weight loss motivation through meal prep

Sometimes, if you want to dive headfirst into a new lifestyle, having a project that keeps you focused can make all the difference. For some of us, the project that keeps us going is meal prep. When it comes to losing weight, having tasty and ready-to-eat meals on hand can make all the difference, whether that means setting aside a few hours to meal prep on a Sunday, or simply making a big batch of your favorite dinner and packing up the leftovers for lunch at work.

Imagine it – you’re on your weight loss journey, and you’re desperately hungry. You decide to grab a burger at lunch that leaves you feeling sluggish and bloated. Chances are, if you’d have prepared a wholesome veggie bowl or a bean burrito with some salsa on the side, you wouldn’t have ordered the burger and wouldn’t have derailed your day.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever have a burger – indulging is just fine in moderation! It’s more a matter of making better choices to keep from overindulging on the regular. By spending just a little bit of time preparing ahead, you’ll have a much easier time staying on track. We often reach for fast food simply because it’s convenient, so by making healthy food that’s already good to go, we’ll remove some of the temptations that can veer us off course on our healthier lifestyle.

Meal prep for weight loss: Our top tips

Just because you’re starting to meal prep doesn’t mean that you need to go full force with meal prepping every single thing you eat – doing so may produce the opposite effect and cause you to burn out. Instead, go easy on yourself! If you only want to meal prep just a couple of your lunches, that’s also completely ok. The main thing is that you start thinking about what you’re going to eat, rather than just winging it.

Without further ado, check out some of our three top tips for meal prep for weight loss:

Frozen vegetables FTW!

There’s a misconception that frozen vegetables are somehow less healthy or less delicious than fresh ones. In reality, it’s quite the opposite – frozen veggies and fruit get harvested at the height of freshness before being flash frozen, packaged, and shipped across the country. Because they’re frozen at their prime, the vegetables retain much of their nutritional value and health benefits.
Frozen vegetables are excellent because they require little to no prep. All you have to do is add them directly to your stir-fry, heat them in the microwave or pour them into soups and you’re good to go. When we meal prep for weight loss, we like to add frozen vegetables to our quinoa or brown rice. Just add them in with a splash of water, and they’ll cook up right with the grains. They may come out a little soft, but they’ll give your food more volume so that you will feel fuller.

Go grain

Speaking of frozen vegetables and cooking, can we just take a moment to reflect on how perfect whole grains are for weight loss? There are a seemingly endless number of food combinations that can come from just a big pot of brown rice. After making several servings at once, you could divide the brown rice (or other grains) into four to five servings and top them with any number of different vegetables, beans or proteins (plant-based or meat).

If you’re vegetarian, you can get all the essential amino acids you need in a meal from beans and brown rice. And, if you’re planning your lunches for the coming week ahead, divide a can of beans among your already-separated brown rice servings – then season and refrigerate. Alongside your beans and rice, pack some tomato and avocado if you’re taking your meal on the road. Once you’re at work (or wherever you are), you can then reheat the beans and rice and top them with sliced avocado and tomato for a filling, healthy and delicious meal!

Elevate your snack game

For some folks, grazing throughout the day is what keeps them from reaching their weight loss goals. The good news is that you don’t have to stop snacking altogether – you just have to change what you’re snacking on and eat mindfully.
Homemade popcorn is one good example – check out our recipe in the 8fit Pro recipe book! Popcorn is great because you can easily bag and take it with you as a snack for when the munchies strike in the afternoon. It’s also an excellent source of fiber and is low in calories as long as you don’t go overboard with toppings.

Another hack to use when meal prepping for weight loss is to always have boiled eggs on hand in the fridge. If you have a big pot, you can boil an entire carton of eggs to last you the whole week. Keep them in their shells inside your fridge, then pack the eggs alongside some fruit or nuts to snack on when you’re on the go. They’re a great source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Best foods for weight loss

Some of the best foods for weight loss that are also perfect to add to your meal prep regimen include:

• Celery
• Spaghetti squash
• Oatmeal
• Greek yogurt
• Quinoa and other whole grains
• Potatoes (sweet and regular)
• Tomatoes
• Berries
• Watermelon

As always, it’s essential to make sure you eat these foods in moderation. Be sure to watch out for pre-packaged sauces and other processed toppings – they’re often high in calories or sugar and can derail your efforts!
Have fun experimenting with meal prepping and while you’re at it, check out the recipes in your 8fit app for meal-prep meals and snacks that are perfect for your weight loss journey.

Everything you need to know about bulking up if you find it hard to gain weight


“Aren’t you lucky – you can eat what you want.”

In a world where most people want to gain weight, being blessed with a bulletproof metabolism is a double-edged sword. For naturally slim men, trying to bulk up or gain muscle mass can be a real struggle.

Sure, it’s nice to be able to eat whatever you want without gaining a gut. On the flipside, your biceps haven’t grown since you were in your teens and the only thing you gain in the gym is a new circle of casual acquaintances.

So what can you do to make a difference and see some real gains?

Tailor your approach to your body type

Most gym programs are designed for the natural athletes or “mesomorphs.” Men who are naturally slim are called “ectomorphs” and their metabolisms process food much better than other body types.

Tracking your calories may be something you associate with losing weight but ectomorphs should also track what they eat. Many ectomorphs underestimate how many calories they’re consuming so tracking it is one way to measure intake against results.

It’s a simple equation – you need to eat more calories than you’re using if you want to succeed.

What to eat

Ectomorphs who want to bulk up should eat between five and seven meals a day to beat their accelerated metabolisms. Aim for a diet that’s roughly divided into 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat.

Protein is a vital macronutrient when you’re trying to build muscle and you should be eating it with every meal. Great sources of protein include lean meats like lean mince, chicken, turkey and fish as well as eggs and protein powder.

Ectomorphs burn through carbs much quicker than an average person but complex carbs can take longer to break down. Complex carbs are going to be your new best friend. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include sweet potato, brown pasta, quinoa, oats and brown rice.

Avoiding food with low calorie density is an obvious step. You want everything you eat to count. Examples of calorie-dense foods are nuts, avocados, dried fruit, salmon and beef but it’s easy to find more comprehensive lists with a bit of research.

Shake it up

One way to squeeze in a few extra calories is with shakes. Making your own shakes can avoid the high sugar levels of some commercial products.

Add more calories by including the likes of nut butter, Greek yogurt, ground oatmeal or other additions. You can use almond milk or coconut milk if you’re not a big fan of milk.

Don’t overdo the gym work

Less is more when it comes to gym work. That may sound counterintuitive but bear with us.

Ectomorphs can sometimes think that they need to spend even more time in the gym to build more muscle. It’s an understandable theory but exercise breaks muscle down and it needs time to recover and grow.

Muscle builds up when you’re resting and recovering. People with high metabolisms burn through calories quicker and take longer to recover so they need to limit their gym time.

Limiting yourself to three or four 45 minute sessions a week will actually do more good than hammering away for six days a week.
Focus on shorter workouts and compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench presses and rows to get the best results. This type of strength training is the best way to bulk up.

Build up to longer sets and larger weights over time. You need to give your body time to adjust to this type of programme. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid endurance cardio when trying to gain muscle.

Take it easy

Ectomorphs tend to be restless sorts so they can find it hard to sit still without tapping their feet or fidgeting. They also tend to burn muscle as fuel so it’s important to avoid unnecessary activity. Any activity is more likely to burn calories so try to focus on resting when you’re not working out.

Sleep is also vital. Try and get eight or nine hours a night to let your body go into deep recovery. This may seem like a lot but it’s the best way to increase your chances of muscle gain.

“Eat, sleep, repeat” will form the backbone of your training plan and it’s the first step towards leaving your skinny days behind!