Exactly how much you weigh is a matter of genetics and your body composition. Instead of aiming for a particular number on the scale, make feeling fit and fabulous your goal. Your body type influences how your weight distributes, what exercises best suit you and what you should eat to fuel activity. Regardless of your shape, avoid an excess of body fat, which puts you at risk of chronic diseases related to having overweight or obesity.
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Body Types Explained
Body type describes how you look, and it may also dictate how your respond to exercise and nutrition. A mesomorph, for example, tends to gain muscle fairly easily. When following good nutrition and exercise, this person usually has wide shoulders, a small waist, a medium bone structure and low body fat.
Long, lean and thin defines the ectomorphic body type. These people have trouble putting muscle on their small frames and seem to never gain weight, no matter how much they eat.
Endomorphs are the opposite; they're heavier and fuller-figured. They gain weight easily, have a large bone structure and experience trouble creating muscle definition.
Ideal Height and Weight
Ideal height and weight charts usually present weights in a range to cover all the different types of bodies. For example, a person who is 5 feet, 2 inches tall is considered healthy if she weighs between 104 and 135 pounds. An ectomorph may fall into the lower end of this weight range, while an endomorph might fall into the higher range. In another example, a man who stands 6 feet tall is at a healthy weight between 140 and 183 pounds -- with ectomorphs being on the lighter side, and endomorphs falling on the higher side.
These weight ranges put a person at a healthy body mass index, or BMI. The body mass index is equal to your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared. Health practitioners use BMI to estimate body fat and possible health risk related to weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Using Frame Size as a Weight Reference
Your frame size gives you a clue to your body type and can help you gauge where you should fall in the range of height and weight. Frame refers to a person's bone structure, and is used in clinical settings to adjust for bone heaviness when determining a healthy weight. Large-framed people usually have characteristics of endomorphs, medium-framed people are usually mesomorphs, and small-framed folk are ectomorphs.
A large frame size indicates that you will be in the higher weight range for your height. Determine your frame size by measuring the circumference of your wrist. A person who is 5 feet, 2 inches, for example, has a small frame and is likely an ectomorph, if her wrist is less than 6 inches around. Her frame is large if her wrist is more than 6.25 inches around. A woman taller than 5 feet, 5 inches whose wrist is 6.25 inches around is small framed, but a wrist of 6.5 inches around indicates a large frame. A man taller than 5 feet, 5 inches is large framed with a wrist wider than 7.5 inches around and small with a wrist 5.5 to 6.5 inches around.
Limitations of Ideal Weight Ranges
Even with a range of weights, ideal height and weight charts don't give you any idea of the composition of your weight. If you're of normal, or ideal, weight for your body size, but too many of those pounds are made up of fat, you are at greater risk for health problems related to having overweight or obesity. For example, a man who has 20 percent or more fat or a woman with 30 percent or more fat -- even with a normal weight or BMI -- is at greater risk for weight-related health problems, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Sedentary people and older adults are at particular risk.
Some people, particularly mesomorphs who accrue a fair amount of muscle, may exceed the ideal weight dictated by a chart or BMI measure. This is because muscle is denser than fat, so they weigh more than average. A muscular person who has a BMI or weight that puts them in the category of having overweight isn't at the same health risk as someone who has overweight due to an excess of fat. If you're concerned about your weight, consult a health care provider who can run additional tests, such as blood screenings and blood pressure checks, to evaluate your health.
- Precision Nutrition: Body Type Eating
- Medline Plus: Calculating Your Frame Size
- Rush University Medical Center: How Much Should I Weigh?
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Relations Between Frame Size and Body Composition and Bone Mineral Status
- Today's Dietitian: When Thin is Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Adult BMI