Please contact us if you have any additional questions that are not covered on our FAQ list below. Helpful answers on the following subjects can be found below, just click the subject you are most interested in.
Q1: How do I know if I weigh too much?
A1: The most common way to judge your weight is what’s called the Body Mass Index, or BMI. It is the ratio of your weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of your height (in meters). Calculate your BMI
Q2: How do I interpret my BMI number?
A2: Here are the standard BMI categories:
18.5-25: Healthy weight
Above 30: Obesity
OK, now that you have re-checked your weight and height…
BMI is a general guide to weight status. It’s used because it is quick and easy to obtain. Remember that obesity is actually excess body fat. BMI is closely related to percent bodyfat across people, but there are exceptions. Some people are heavily muscled and have a BMI that might seem high although they don’t have too much bodyfat. However there are fewer of these people than there are people who think they fall in this category! Unless you are playing for the Panthers or working our very vigorously, let’s just assume your BMI is a good ballpark reflection of your level of body fat. (However, your BMI number is not the same as your percent bodyfat number; see below.)
Q3: So, how should I use my BMI?
A3: The above categories are rough guides to see where you are starting. They are NOT meant to indicate YOUR ideal weight.
If you fall in the healthy-weight range, stay there!
If you’re in the overweight range, consider your other health indicators (e.g., other health screenings, body composition, diet, physical activity, family medical history) and use them to decide if a little weight loss might be helpful.
Even if you are in the healthy-weight or overweight ranges, recent weight gain can lead to health problems. If you have been gaining weight, you can use Lighten Up Charleston to stop the gain and maybe knock off a few recent pounds.
If you are in the obese range, you should consider weight loss. However, it is not necessary, or realistic, for every person to get to a BMI below 25, or even 30. Losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can improve your health! So for example, someone who is 200 pounds might shoot for a 10-20 pound loss, at least to get started. What is important is to see where you stand now and take some action if needed.
Q4: Is BMI calculated and interpreted the same way for children and teens as it is for adults?
A4: Although the BMI number is calculated the same way for children and adults, the criteria used to interpret the meaning of the BMI number for children and teens are different from those used for adults. For children and teens, BMI age- and sex-specific percentiles are used for two reasons:
- The amount of body fat changes with age
- The amount of body fat differs between girls and boys
Because of these factors, the interpretation of BMI is both age- and sex-specific for children and teens. BMI-for-age growth charts are used to take into account these differences and allow translation of a BMI number into a percentile for a child’s sex and age. You can find a BMI calculator and BMI-for-age growth charts here: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/
Q5: Is BMI different from body composition?
A5:Yes. Although BMI is related to percent bodyfat, the numbers are not the same. Your BMI is not your percent bodyfat. To get that number, you have to have your body composition measured.
Body Composition FAQs
Q1: What is Body Composition?
A1: Body Composition is the relative proportions of fat mass and lean mass in the body. Some amount of body fat is essential for good health, but as individuals increase their body fatness beyond a certain level, they often increase their risk of developing health problems related to excess weight (or more specifically, excess body fat).
Fat mass consists of two types of fat: essential and nonessential fat. Lean mass refers to bones, tissues, organs, and muscles.
Essential fat is the minimal amount of fat necessary for normal body function. Fat above the minimal amount is nonessential
Q2: How is body composition measured?
A2: The two most practical ways to measure body composition are Skinfold Thickness and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). The Skinfold Thickness technique is the estimate of body fat that is calculated by measuring skinfold thickness at specific sites on the body. It is important to have an expert perform this test to ensure accuracy.
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis is the method of measuring body fat percentage by measuring how long it takes a low level current to travel through the body. The current travels at a slower rate through fat tissue and travels more quickly through muscle tissue due to its high water content. Bioelectrical Impedance is a common feature on many “at home” digital scales.
Q3: What should my body composition be?
A3: According to American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the average body fat percentage for adults is as follows:
Males: 15 – 18%
Females: 22 – 25%
An athlete may have a lower body fat percent such as:
Males: 8 – 14%
Females: 14 – 21%
Q4: Where can I get my body composition tested?
A4: Body composition testing is available at many gyms, including the MUSC Wellness Center, which offers both of the above mentioned body composition testing methods.
Q1: Are fat-free and low-fat foods low in calories?
A1: Not always. Some fat-free and low-fat foods have extra sugars, which push the calorie amount right back up. The following list of foods and their reduced fat varieties will show you that just because a product is fat-free, it doesn’t mean that it is “calorie-free.” And, calories do count! See FAT-Free Versus Calorie Comparison for more information. Always read the Nutrition Facts food label to find out the calorie content. Remember, this is the calorie content for one serving of the food item, so be sure and check the serving size. If you eat more than one serving, you’ll be eating more calories than is listed on the food label. For more information about the Nutrition Facts food label, visit How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Food Label.
Q2: If I eat late at night, will these calories automatically turn into body fat?
A2: The time of day isn’t what affects how your body uses calories. It’s the overall number of calories you eat and the calories you burn over the course of 24 hours that affects your weight.
Q3: I’ve heard it is more important to worry about carbohydrates than calories. Is this true?
A3: By focusing only on carbohydrates, you can still eat too many calories. Also, if you drastically reduce the variety of foods in your diet, you could end up sacrificing vital nutrients and not be able to sustain the diet over time.
Q4: Does it matter how many calories I eat as long as I’m maintaining an active lifestyle?
A4: While physical activity is a vital part of weight control, so is controlling the number of calories you eat. If you consume more calories than you use through normal daily activities and physical activity, you will still gain weight.
Q5: What other factors contribute to overweight and obesity?
A5: Besides diet and behavior, environment, and genetic factors may also have an effect in causing people to be overweight and obese. For more, see Other Factors in Weight Gain.
Q1: Is it true that I can get all the vitamins/minerals I need from the food that I eat?
A1: It is true that healthy individuals can get all of the vitamins and minerals they need from a well balanced diet. Not sure, you can consult your physician. They have many options available to check your vitamin and mineral levels through simple tests.
Q2: What is the difference in water soluble and fat soluble vitamins?
A2: There are two groups of vitamins, water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins (the 8 B vitamins and Vitamin C) can dissolve in water and be excreted by the kidneys. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored by the body (except for vitamin B12, which is stored in the liver). Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) dissolve in fat and are transported by fat in the body. Excess fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat tissue, and are not excreted by the kidney. Because of this storage, they can build up to toxic levels if too much is taken, especially vitamins A and D.
Q3: Is there a law that requires food labels to list ingredients that commonly cause food allergies?
A3: The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which went into effect January, 2006, requires that food labels identify in plain English if the product contains any of the eight major food allergens – milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soybeans.
Q4: What are the most common foods that people are allergic to?
A4: An article in the FDA Consumer Magazine, Food Allergies: When Food Becomes the Enemy , lists the most common foods to cause allergies in adults as shrimp, lobster, crab, and other shellfish; peanuts (one of the chief foods responsible for severe anaphylaxis); walnuts and other tree nuts; fish; and eggs. For children, it lists eggs, milk, peanuts, soy and wheat. Children typically outgrow their allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat, while not usually outgrowing allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shrimp. Adults usually do not lose their allergies.
Q1: How much should I try to exercise?
A1: The generally accepted recommendation for people just starting an exercise program is to aim for about 150 minutes per week of moderately intensive exercise. Overweight and obese individuals may need to gradually work their way up to this level. Over time, experts recommend that individuals work to increase their exercise to 180-300 minutes per week.
Q2: Should I warm up before exercise?
A2: Absolutely. See your healthcare professional or physician before starting any exercise program. Here are the “Exercise 5” to remember:
- Warm-up (walk around or start the activity at a slow pace for about five minutes to get your heart rate up)
- Cool-down (a reverse warm-up; you want to bring your heart rate down)
- Stretch again
Q3: Is it possible for me to exercise too much?
A3: Yes! If you are just starting out – take a day off every other day. If you feel that you are fatigued during the day, feel like your soreness is not recovering properly, have caused damage to muscles, or generally are not feeling well, then you may be doing too much exercise too quickly. Your body needs time to recover. If you feel you have created a medical issue for yourself, then consult your physician.
Q4: What are some warning signs you should look for while exercising?
A4: You should immediately stop exercising if you feel:
- Unusual pain, such as pain in your left or mid-chest area, left neck, shoulder or arm during or just after exercising.
- Sudden lightheartedness, cold sweat, pallor or fainting.
These might not be the only signs your body will give you. Other signs can include headache, dizziness, nausea and muscular or joint pain. Remember, listen to your body and consult a healthcare provider if you experience any unusual or concerning symptom.
Q5: I’m on a diet to lose weight. Won’t doing exercise just make me hungrier?
A5: Moderate exercise usually does not increase appetite and may actually help to control it. And people who exercise regularly are more likely to keep the weight from coming back after losing weight.
Q6: I’m a woman and I want to start weight training. Will I get big, bulging muscles from doing this?
A6: No, if you start weight training you will not get big, bulging muscles. When you start weight training you will get stronger and build some muscle. If your percentage of body fat is high, you will not see any difference right away but you will feel it.
Some benefits of weight training:
- It will increase your muscle mass and muscle burns more calories than fat
- Resistance exercise, such as “free weights, weight training machines or exercise bands” can improve bone mass, which can help prevent osteoporosis
- More energy and strength to get you through everyday life
Q1: What is self-monitoring?
A1: It is the general concept of observing and recording (tracking) your behavior.
Q2: How can self-monitoring be used to aid weight loss?
A2: Self-monitoring can help your weight loss efforts in several ways. It can help you more accurately gauge your behaviors. For instance, we know that when people are asked to recall what they ate over the past day or two, they tend to unknowingly report fewer calories than they actually took in. It also allows you to more accurately track your progress towards goals you set for yourself.
Self-monitoring can also help you learn about your behaviors. As an example, by self-monitoring your eating you might learn that you tend to overeat if you go more than 4 hours between meals. That would be very useful to know.
Then there’s the accountability piece of self-monitoring. Although we don’t typically like it when people look over our shoulders, recording our behaviors does tend to hold us more accountable to the behaviors we’ve committed to changing… even if we’re the only ones who’ll ever see what we record. There’s an interesting phenomenon called “behavioral reactivity,” which in the context of self-monitoring, means we tend to change our behaviors when we start watching them. The positive effect of this is that it often keeps us from doing things we’d rather not witness ourselves doing.
If you still need justification for why you should self-monitor, people who self-monitor LOSE MORE WEIGHT! The effectiveness of self-monitoring for weight loss is consistently supported by scientific research.
Q3: What should I self-monitor?
A3: Although you could self-monitor any number of behaviors/outcomes, self-monitoring your weight, food/beverage intake, and exercise are probably the most important to your weight management efforts.
For more information on how to self-monitor your weight, including a weight tracking graph, click the following link (link to: www.muschealth.com/weight/graph)
For a printable food diary and more information on recording your food/beverage intake and exercise, click the following link (link to: www.muschealth.com/weight/FoodDiary).
There are also many great online and app-based self-monitoring programs that can be very helpful in tracking your weight-related behaviors/outcomes. MyFitnessPal.com, FitDay.com, LoseIt.com, SparkPeople.com… just to name a few.
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