What Is a Healthy Body Weight?

Whether you track it consistently, or prefer to ignore it, there’s more to your weight than just a number. BMI, or your body mass index, is another way to track your health. It measures your body fat based on height and weight. To find your BMI, follow this link to a calculator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sounds simple enough, only it’s not. BMI is not a perfect measurement and may not be accurate for everyone – especially athletes, older adults, and people who have lost muscle mass.

Like the number on the scale, BMI is just one part of the healthy body weight calculation. Physical activity, the quality of food you eat, and the sleep you get, all play a role in determining your healthy body weight.

Why Body Weight Matters

Body weight, according to the CDC, is a balance between the number of calories consumed and the number of calories burned. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that a healthy body weight is not just about looking good, but also reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

It’s also essential to focus on the quality of the food you eat, not just the quantity. A healthy diet should consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Processed foods, sugary drinks, and saturated and trans fats should be limited. The AHA recommends following a diet rich in nutrients.

Physical activity is also crucial for maintaining a healthy body weight. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week for adults. This can include activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling, or swimming. Resistance exercise, such as weightlifting, can also help build muscle and improve body composition.

In addition to regular exercise, it’s also important to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases. The CDC recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night for adults.

It’s also essential to be mindful of portion sizes and to eat slowly. The Mayo Clinic suggests using smaller plates and bowls to help control portion sizes, as well as taking time to chew your food and savor each bite.

Start Small

While reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is a long-term goal, it’s important to make small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle rather than trying to make drastic changes all at once. This could include swapping sugary drinks for water, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.

A healthy body weight is essential for overall health and well-being. This can be determined by using methods such as body mass index and waist circumference, as well as by focusing on the quality of the food you eat, getting enough physical activity and sleep, and being mindful of portion sizes. Making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle can help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight over time.

A Range of Results

While outside factors like fitness level have an impact, it’s still important to understand what the numbers are telling you. Once you’ve calculated your BMI, here’s how the CDC suggests analyzing the result:

  • A BMI of 18.4 or less — you may be underweight
  • A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 — you are within a healthy body weight
  • A BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 — you may be overweight
  • A BMI of 30 or more — you may be obese

Dietician Consultations Available

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard, especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dieticians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietitian: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

The program is available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

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French Fries

The Fast Facts about Fats

Why is that so often the most enjoyable foods are the unhealthiest? Deserts, French fries, and pizza may taste completely different, but they share a common nutrient: fat.

Fats, along with carbohydrates and protein, are the nutrients you use in the largest amount. They are the components in food that we need for energy and to maintain the body’s structure and systems.

Fats are why foods like bacon or porkchops taste good. But the tastiest fats are the fats you want to steer clear of.

Not all fat is good for you. Some are great and they promote heart health. Others contribute to the buildup of cholesterol and can lead to heart disease or diabetes. But how do you know which fats are healthy, and which can lead to health problems?

Bacon Cooking in Oil

The Difference in Fats

The fats we eat are called dietary fats. You can find them in nearly everything except most fruits and vegetables.

There are two main kinds: saturated and unsaturated.

  • Saturated fat keeps its shape at room temperature. You find it in butter, full-fat cheese, high-fat meat, lard, whole milk, and full-fat yogurt.
  • Unsaturated fat is usually liquid at room temperature. It’s in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the number of calories from saturated fat to less than 7% a day. That’s because it tends to raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels which can increase the risk of stroke or heart disease.

Food companies will add what are called “trans” fats to foods for flavor. Some trans fat occurs naturally in very small amounts in red meat and dairy products. You are likely to find it in baked and fried foods.

Guacamole and a Halved Avocado

Unsaturated Fat

This is the good stuff. Eating foods high in unsaturated fats improves cholesterol levels, reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

The two main types of unsaturated fat are:

  • Monounsaturated fat — Found in canola, olive, peanut, sunflower, and safflower oils, avocados, most nuts and peanut butter. You will also find it in beef, chicken, and pork.
  • Polyunsaturated fat — Found in corn, cottonseed, soybean, and sunflower oil, along with flaxseed, pine nuts, pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

Omega-3 fatty acid in another polyunsaturated fat. It’s been shown to reduce blood clotting and reduce irregular heartbeats. It’s found in fatty fish like herring, salmon, and sardines.

Woman Smiling as She Unpacks Fruits and Vegetables

Make a Change

Remember, not all fat is bad, but you want to be smart about the fat you eat. There are some simple ways to swap out the saturated fat for foods rich in unsaturated fat.

  • Switch to oil instead of butter for sauteing. Use canola oil instead of butter when you bake.
  • Eat salmon two to three times a week instead of red meat.
  • Take the skin and fat off chicken.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables instead of pre-packaged, processed foods.

We Can Help Put You on a Healthier Path

No matter your age, what you eat has a huge effect on your overall health. Healthy eating isn’t hard – especially when you have someone to empower you to make good decisions and teach you how healthy food can be delicious. Our registered dietitians provide individually tailored nutrition plans to members of every age.

Patients with the following are encouraged to see a dietitian: diabetes, heart-related conditions, those considering bariatric surgery, pregnancy, gastrointestinal-related conditions, and patients with any other nutrition-related condition.

This program is available to all AltaMed patients at no cost. Ask your doctor for a referral or call (888) 499-9303 to enroll.


Tips for Customizing Your Fitness Routine

The new year brings a new chance to rework your fitness routine. Too often, we look at what others are doing as rules for ourselves. The best way to create a successful fitness routine is by building a routine around your life and what you enjoy.

It requires taking a personal approach, fitting it into your schedule, setting achievable goals, tracking your progress, and rewarding your efforts. Once in place, a customized fitness routine will serve you well this year and for many years to come. You can do this!

Your Fitness Level

It helps to know how fit you are and it’s OK if you’re not as fit as you thought. Take some measurements before starting an exercise regimen so you can track your progress. Things to record include:

  • Your pulse after walking 30 minutes
  • The distance you can walk in 30 minutes
  • How many standard or modified pushups you can do at a time
  • How far forward you can reach while seated on the floor with your legs in front of you
  • The circumference of your waist just above your hipbones

Have Health Issues?

You should talk to your doctor before you start exercising if you’re over age 50 or have chronic health issues. You want to be especially careful with heart conditions, balance issues, and muscle weakness.

You can still exercise of course. You should just consult with your physician about the proper exercises to do, how frequently, and for how long.

Keep Your Routine Well-Rounded

There are so many great ways to stay active. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Better yet, mixing up your physical activity between endurance and strength/balance exercises will lead to a bigger variety of health benefits.

Here are some common endurance exercises to try:

  • A brisk walk
  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming laps
  • Riding a bike
  • Climbing stairs
  • Zumba
  • Sports such as soccer or basketball

Combine these workouts with strength and balancing training such as:

  • Lifting weights
  • Weight machine training
  • Bodyweight exercises like push-ups, lunges, or squats
  • Jumping rope
  • Sprinting
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Pilates

No matter what kind of workouts you enjoy, it’s important to find the right balance for your body. Tired from a long walk or run? Switch things up the next day with a yoga routine or free weights. Remember to give yourself rest days, too.

Sticking with the Program

Exercise should become a habit for each of us. We eat, sleep, shower, and we should exercise. So, don’t think about exercising in terms of dropping weight for that high school reunion, or to get ready for swimsuit season. Think about it as part of your life:

  • Make it personal — Think about what you like to do, the time you have, and your physical condition. You want to be able to sustain your workout, especially if you plan to go from sedentary to active.
  • Make it fit — Don’t be afraid to schedule time to exercise. Work and family obligations are important, but so are you. You make a schedule for those other commitments. It’s time to commit to yourself. Give yourself some grace to adjust until you are an expert at your new routine.
  • Set goals — These goals should be realistic. Don’t expect to run a mile on your first day of exercising. Build up to it over several weeks, or maybe even months. Walking is a great start. You don’t even have to walk every day. You just have to get used to moving.
  • Track progress — Record how long you walk, how far you go, and how long it takes to travel that distance. You can measure all sorts of things. Keep a written record. You will be amazed at your progress, and it will serve to motivate you toward other goals.
  • Reward your efforts — Celebrate those victories. Don’t do it with treats you may regret. Download a book to listen to on your walk. Get yourself a new water bottle or pair of exercise shoes. Do something to reward your hard work.

Helping You Get Started

AltaMed is focused on your overall wellness and can help you get started on a fitness routine that works for you. Talk to your AltaMed physician if you want recommendations on where to begin, or to help you create the routine that’s best for you.

Call AltaMed at (877) 462-2582 to get stared with us today.

What Is a Healthy Body Weight?