A healthy body weight is the natural weight your body should be when you eat a balanced, nutritious diet, are physically active, and burn off the calories you eat with physical activity over a long period of time.
Body Mass Index and Your Healthy Body Weight
The combination of your age, genetics, metabolism, amount of physical activity, and your diet work together to determine your body weight and your risk for disease. Your body mass index (BMI), which is based on your height and weight, is another good indicator of your health. Your BMI is the calculation of your weight in pounds and height in inches (BMI = pounds x 700)(inches squared). The higher your BMI is, the more at risk you are of certain diseases including:
- high blood pressure
- coronary artery disease
- type 2 diabetes
- some cancers
Body Fat Percentage and Your Healthy Body Weight
Your body fat percentage is another health indicator. Most health practitioners agree that 10% to 25% body fat is a healthy body fat percentage for an adult man, and 18% to 32% body fat is a healthy body fat percentage in an adult woman. Your age, sex, and activity level will affect your percentage of body fat. A healthy body weight for teens, for example, might have a lower body fat percentage than the healthy body weight for senior citizens.
Maintaining Your Ideal Body Weight
If you are in overall good health, the best way for you to reach and maintain your ideal body weight is with regular exercise and a nutritious diet. Eating a balanced diet consistently over time is a healthier and more effective way to lose weight and keep excess weight off than trying quick diets for sudden weight loss.
A Balanced Diet of Basic Foods
To maintain a healthy body weight and prevent disease, it is recommended that you eat a balanced diet of foods from the basic food groups:
- whole grains
- low-fat or nonfat dairy products
- lean meats
- healthy fats
For weight loss and maintenance, limit your intake of:
- saturated fats
- trans fat
- added sugar
When choosing foods from the essential food groups, make sure you ingest the proper servings daily to maintain that healthy body weight:
- Two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables are recommended. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables. The more colors of fruits and vegetables you eat, the wider the variety of vitamins you are absorbing.
- Three or more one-ounce servings of whole-grain products are recommended everyday.
- Three cups of nonfat milk or low-fat milk are recommended everyday. You may substitute milk with one cup of yogurt or two ounces of cheese.
- Choose lean or low-fat meat, poultry, or beans, and limit your total fat intake to between 20 and 35 percent of your total calories.
- Most fats should come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils found in fish, nuts, and olive oil or canola oil for optimal health.