Many people believe that their body weight is the best measure of their health.

It’s why they’re so keen to know what their “ideal” body weight is and why “ideal body weight calculators” and “ideal body weight charts” abound online.

And for good reason—a healthy body weight is a good barometer of your overall health, and drastically reduces your chances of illness and early death.

That said, you should never look at your body weight as the sole determinant of your health.

In this article, you’ll learn what a healthy body weight is and why it’s important, how to find your ideal body weight, how to change your body weight for the better, and more!

What Is a Healthy Body Weight?

A healthy body weight is one that minimizes your risk of disease, disability, and dysfunction, optimizes your physical health and performance; and makes you feel comfortable, confident, and vital. 

Thus, there are physical and mental dimensions to an “ideal” body weight.

As for your physical health, studies show that being overweight significantly increases your risk of a number of diseases including type ll diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney, liver, and heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and overall mortality

What’s more, research also shows that the risk of severe illness with and death from Covid is much higher when you’re overweight. 

Your mental health is also affected by your body weight. I’ve helped tens of thousands of men and women transform their bodies, and one of the most common wins they share with me after getting in shape is the feeling of relief

Finally, they say, they’ve slayed that infernal little hobgoblin on their shoulder that was always jeering at them for being too pudgy, eating too much, moving too little, etc., and gained a sunnier headspace (which is also conducive to better physical health).

-- DAYS
-- HOURS
-- MINUTES
-- SECONDS

What Is My Ideal Body Weight?

How do you find your body’s goldilocks zone? 

Although imperfect, especially for those who are fairly muscular, calculating your body mass index (BMI) is a good starting point for assessing your body weight. If your BMI is over 25, then it’s likely that you need to lose weight to minimize your risk of disease and dysfunction (again, unless you’re muscled), and if it’s under 18.5, then you should probably gain weight. 

For instance, a man who’s 5’10 and 200 pounds has a BMI of 28.7, which is overweight, and if he were 120 pounds, he’d have a BMI of 17.2, which is underweight. A healthy weight for him, then, is likely between 130 and 175 pounds. And for a woman who’s 5’4, a healthy weight is likely between 105 and 145 pounds. 

Now, if your body weight is somewhere in the “healthy range,” you should consider how you feel in your skin. 

For instance, if your BMI is 23.5 but you feel flabby, you can work to strip away some fat and add some muscle until you’re satisfied. And similarly, if your BMI is 20 but you feel twiggy, you can focus on gaining muscle and strength until you feel sturdier. 

Ultimately, the goal shouldn’t be to meet someone else’s standards of “fitness” or “beauty” but to be healthy and happy with what you see in the mirror.

For most men I’ve worked with, that requires gaining 20-to-25 pounds of muscle and losing fat until they’re around 10-to-15% body fat (the percentage of body weight that’s fat), and for most women, gaining 10-to-15 pounds of muscle and getting down to 20-to-25% body fat is the ticket.

A Better Way to Know if You’re at a Healthy Body Weight

Tracking your progress is a vital part of your fitness journey. As I explain in my fitness book for men, Bigger Leaner Stronger:

Only when you can measure your progress (or lack thereof) and express it in real numbers can you know whether you’re headed in the right direction. If you don’t have any consistent, objective way to measure it, however, then you’re going blind, hoping for the best. This is one of the major reasons why so many people fail to achieve their fitness goals. If you don’t track your progress correctly, it doesn’t matter how well you understand everything in this book—you will end up in a rut, and probably sooner rather than later.

How do you measure your progress “correctly,” though?

In short, not using BMI. 

BMI is based on your height and weight, and your height isn’t going to change.

Thus, tracking your BMI is no different than tracking your body weight.

Tracking your weight is helpful, but that doesn’t tell you whether you’re gaining or losing muscle or fat, which is what you should pay attention to if you want to improve your health, appearance, and vitality.

In other words, your body composition is a better indicator of your health, fitness, and appearance than your weight or BMI, which is why it’s worth tracking.

Body composition refers to how your body breaks down in terms of fat, muscle, water, bone, etc. There are a few different methods for calculating body composition, but we’ll stick with a simple one for the purposes of this article—one that separates your body into two categories:

  1. Fat mass, which includes all of the fat in your body.
  2. Fat-free mass, which includes everything that isn’t body fat, like muscle, water, bones, organs, and minerals.

By monitoring these things—as opposed to BMI or just body weight—we can better understand our health and how quickly we’re moving toward our physique goals.

Estimating your body fat percentage isn’t hard, but since every method has its pros and cons, your best bet is to use several different techniques to get a more accurate reading.

The best ones are:

  • Body fat calipers
  • Waist circumference
  • Progress pictures and the mirror
  • How your clothes fit

To learn more about how to use these methods to accurately estimate your body fat percentage, check out this article. And if you’d like to learn how to estimate and track your body fat percentage, check out the Legion Body Fat Percentage Calculator

How to Get a Healthy Body Weight

The best way to reach and maintain a healthy body weight is to build muscle and lose fat.

If you want a fitness program that does just that, and that’s specifically designed to help absolute beginners at any age and fitness level get in the best shape of their life, check out my newest fitness book for men and women, Muscle for Life.

Or, if you just want to know the broad strokes, here’s what you need to do:

1. Use an aggressive calorie deficit. Research shows that eating 20-to-25% fewer calories than you burn every day will help you lose fat lickety-split without losing muscle or wrestling with excessive hunger, lethargy, and the other hobgoblins of low-calorie dieting.

(And if you’d like specific advice about what diet to follow to reach a healthy body weight, take the Legion Diet Quiz.)

2. Eat a high-protein diet. High-protein dieting beats low-protein in every way, especially when you’re trying to reach a healthy body weight. 

Specifically, you should eat about 1-to-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.

And if you’re very overweight (25%+ body fat in men and 30%+ in women), this can be reduced to around 40% of your total calories per day.

3. Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting. Lifting weights doesn’t just help you build (or hold on to) muscle—it helps you lose fat, too. If you want to maximize the fat-burning effects of weightlifting . . .

FAQ #1: What is an “ideal body weight calculator?”

While a BMI calculator is often referred to as an “ideal body weight calculator,” it’s probably more accurate to call it a “healthy body weight calculator.

That’s because a BMI calculator can’t tell you if your weight is “ideal,” but it can give you an indication that your weight is in a healthy or unhealthy range. 

If you’d like to calculate your BMI, use the Legion BMI calculator here.

FAQ #2: What is an “ideal body weight chart?”

Many people refer to BMI charts as “ideal body weight charts,” but as I just mentioned, it’s probably more accurate to refer to them as “healthy body weight charts.” 

Here’s a BMI chart that you can use to gauge whether your weight is in a healthy range or not:

BMI-Image

FAQ #3: What’s an ideal body weight for women?

Body weight is affected by many factors, including height, age, and body composition.

Since no two women are the same, there’s no such thing as an “ideal” body weight for all women.

If you’d like to know whether your body weight is considered a healthy body weight for females, use the Legion BMI calculator or chart above.

Or, if you’d like a more thorough understanding of how healthy you are based on the proportion of your body weight that’s fat mass and fat-free mass, calculate your body composition using the advice in this article:

What Is Body Composition and How Do You Measure It?

FAQ #4: What’s an ideal body weight for men?

Body weight is affected by numerous factors, including height, age, and body composition.

Since no two men are the same, there’s no such thing as an “ideal” body weight for all men.

If you’d like to know whether your body weight is considered a healthy body weight for males, use the Legion BMI calculator or chart above.

Or, if you’d like a more thorough understanding of how healthy you are based on the proportion of your body weight that’s fat mass and fat-free mass, calculate your body composition using the advice in this article:

What Is Body Composition and How Do You Measure It?

+ Scientific References