According to the NHS's calculation of my BMI, I am overweight. Let’s not get carried away. BMI (Body Mass Index) and calories are a useful way to look at aggregate data.
They are important numbers in comparing one group of people to another, or to get an idea of how much energy (calories) you might be consuming on any given day. So they’re not completely
BMI and calories alone cannot represent a good indicator of how healthy you are, or how good your diet is for you.
I am a relatively strong and fit 26 year old, carrying little fat and eating a varied diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables. I've not once worried about my BMI. Yet according to the NHS, weighing in at 88kg, I am classified overweight
. I have never, ever, counted how many calories were in my daily diet. And I certainly do not intend on starting now.
I’ve inputted some serious data into the NHS’s BMI calculator
- my level of activity, out of three options (inactive, low activity, or moderate activity).
With this data, the NHS web page informed me that:
My first reservation
- I am overweight (with a BMI of 25.7)
- My healthy weight range is between 63.3kg and 85.9kg, and
- My daily calorie intake should be between 2236 and 2874kcal.
about this is: why on earth is my level of activity reduced to 3 options? “Moderate activity, at least 2.5 hours of exercise each week” is the most active option. I’m flabbergasted. 2.5 hours per week? Is that our national target? Talk about setting the bar low.
My second reservation
: the target bodyweight. While the range is wide and fairly forgiving, I find it difficult to accept that with the extremely limited data I’ve inputted, the website is capable of giving me such a unilateral decision. “Healthy weight range for this height: 63.3kg – 85.9kg”. Should I be concerned for my health? The result seems to indicate so.
My third and final reservation
about this result is the lack of information given to the user. The NHS is basically telling me that “a calorie is a calorie”. In other words, off I should go to eat between 2236 and 2874 kcals per day and happily ever after I shall live.
BMI and calories are great for looking at gross data, but have no right in guiding the way you live.
If you would like to improve your diet, here’s my tuppence. Start by eliminating highly processed food. Ready meals tend to be full of saturated fats, salt, sugar and other super refined starches. Consider swapping these empty calories for nutrient dense foods. Think fresh seasonal vegetables. Nutrient rich carbs such as quinoa or sweet potatoes. Lean meats and oily fish. You may end up eating the same number of calories, but the impact on your health will be incomparable.
Next, if you are concerned about certain food types, if you are worried about potential intolerances, or feel you may be suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), I can only urge you to visit a nutritionist or a doctor. An informed, personalised diet plan will help you on your way to maximising your health. The benefits will outweigh what any generic diet can offer. While there may be benefits to a Paleo diet, a Mediterranean diet, a vegan diet, or indeed any other diet, nutrition is best considered on the individual level. Your body will respond differently than others' to different food types (indeed different calories). Two individuals with the same symptoms visiting the same nutritionist may well walk away with different nutritional advice.
Finally, once you've established a good base-diet, consider supplements. At Motion Nutrition, we offer a range of products than can help you burn fat and feel energised. We'll help you get the most out of your workouts and feel great about it. Check out our Fat Loss section here
So if like me, you think that running head down into a Paleo diet is dangerously generic, consider what a BMI calculation and a number of calories might mean for your lifestyle…
Nada, that’s correct.
PS: it's summer time, eat cherries!