The Drawbacks of Using BMI as Your Measurement for Weight Loss

Your Body Mass Index is a commonly used measurement for weight measurement as you strive to lose weight and improve your overall health. However, it does have some drawbacks.

BMI stands for body mass index and is simply a ratio based on your height and weight. Your weight is considered normal if your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, overweight if it is between 25 and 30 and anybody with a BMI of 30 or more is officially diagnosed with obesity.

Similar to our weight loss experts at Physicians Premiere Weight & Wellness Center, nearly all healthcare professionals use the BMI measurement because it provides a global view of overall health. Your BMI also allows us to anticipate your risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and other diseases associated with excess weight.

Although the BMI measurement is widely used, it does come with flaws. One of the biggest flaws is that BMI is that it does not consider your body fat versus your muscle mass. As you likely know, muscle weighs more than fat. Therefore, BMI will inevitably be higher in more muscular athletic individuals.

For example, an athlete who is 6 ft tall and weighs 220 pounds has a BMI of 29 which puts him in the overweight category. However, this individual is made of more muscle mass and very little fat mass, which is actually absolutely healthy. On the other hand, you could have someone who is 5’2” and weighs 125 pounds which is a BMI of 23 which is in the normal weight range. But what if this individual is made up of mostly fat mass and very little muscle mass?

This is, in fact, very common and just as unhealthy as having obesity. So basically, rather than relying on your BMI alone, it is more accurate to assess your fat mass as well as your muscle mass. So how can you do this? This information is easily obtained by doing a body composition test. In fact, this measurement is very helpful to monitor throughout your weight loss and weight maintenance journey to ensure that as you lose weight, you are losing fat – and not your lean body mass/muscle – which coincidentally drives your metabolism.

Another more accurate measurement than a BMI is the waist to height ratio. In fact, keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world. Pretty amazing!

Thus, a 6 ft-tall individual should have a waist circumference of 36 inches or less, while a 5 ft 4 in individual’s waist should have a waist of 32 inches or less. Remember, when taking a waist measurement, it has to be done correctly. Start at the top of your hip bone, then bring the tape measure all the way around your body, level with your belly button.

Dr. Trupti Patel and her entire team at Physicians Premiere Weight & Wellness Center in Northern Virginia complete and interpret such measurements every day. If you have a desire to learn more about our weight loss and wellness services, please reach out to us at